2015 International Conference — Stockholm, Sweden, and Helsinki, Finland

scandanaviaDon Bowyer, Chair
2015 International Conference Program Committee

The 2015 International Conference of The College Music Society took place June 18-24 in Stockholm and Helsinki, with conference activities taking place one night on a cruise ship crossing the Baltic Sea between these two capital cities.

There were 144 registered attendees, a record for CMS international conferences. This total included six retired members, eleven student members, and 23 traveling companions.

Highlights of the conference included five keynote presentations by prominent Scandinavian musicians and educators:

• Peder Hoffman, from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, gave an informative presentation on music education in Sweden.

• Heidi Partti, from the Sibelius Academy, presented an equally informative session on music education in Finland.

• Atso Almila, from the Sibelius Academy, delved into conducting studies in Finland, including an historical perspective.

• Christian Lindbergh (trombone), Jens Lundberg (bandoneon), and Roland Pöntinen (piano) performed pieces from their 2014 album Trio Tangophoria. Musically, this may have been the outstanding performance of the week.

 • Arja Kastinen gave a fascinating lecture-demonstration introducing us to the Kantele, a traditional instrument from Finland. During the course of her presentation, she showed and performed on at least a half dozen different instruments.

The Tensta Folkdanslåg introduced us to traditional Swedish music during our welcome dinner on the first night. Besides playing and dancing, the group taught our attendees traditional Swedish dancing and showed off their traditional nyckelharp instruments. The dance instruction proved useful two nights later when the group spent Midsummer’s Eve in Stockholm’s outdoor history museum called Skansen. Festivities at Skansen included traditional music and dance, along with other activities that may or may not have included an appearance by a mythical Näcken, playing the violin late into the night. 

Additional local cultural activities included:

• City tour of Stockholm, including a guided walking tour through the winding lanes of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (Old Town).

• City tour of Helsinki, including visits to Helsinki’s Sibelius Monument and Rock Church.

Guided tours of the palace and opera theatre at the royal palace of Drottningholm outside Stockholm. The opera theatre, in particular, was a special event as our tour went under the stage – not part of the typical tourist activity.

• A guided tour of the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, home to a remarkably preserved Swedish warship from 1628.

• A visit to Jean Sibelius’s country home of Ainola.

• A guided tour of the Helsinki Music Centre, a beautiful and modern performing arts center shared by the Sibelius Academy, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

• A traditional smorgasbord with all the trimmings as we sailed aboard the M/S Gabriella, winding our way through the nearly 30,000 islands of the Swedish archipelago.

The program of presentations by CMS members included papers, lecture-recitals, performances, workshops, demonstrations, and composer concerts.  There were a total of 76 presentations and 13 compositions included. The 76 presentations involved 95 unique presenters while the 13 composers included nine who were not among the presenters. A total of 104 individual CMS members shared their creative activities with the conference. Additionally, there were 15 performers involved in the composer concerts, all of whom also participated elsewhere in the conference – ten who presented and seven who were composers performing on their own pieces. Finally, registrants came from approximately 90 different institutions.