Wright State University: American Innovators Series

The Music of Stuart Saunders Smith: Continuing the Transcendentalist Tradition

Transcendentalism and Experimentalism

Wright State University Department of Music, Feb. 2-3, 2013

Colloquium on Stuart Saunders Smith and the Transcendentalist Tradition

Sat., Feb. 2, 3-7 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 3, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Concert 1: The Music of Stuart Saunders Smith Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m., Schuster Hall Guest Artists, featuring Dr. Lisa Cella, flute

Concert 2: The Music of Stuart Saunders Smith Sun., Feb. 3, 2 p.m., Schuster Hall WSU Percussion Studio, Gerald Noble, director

The 2013 American Innovators conference will focus on the music of Stuart Saunders Smith. It will at the same time explore the heritage of the transcendentalist and experimental traditions in music.

Stuart Saunders Smith has carved an unusual niche in modern American music. Although he is usually associated with the experimental tradition, many elements of his music, such as its often direct and powerful expressivity, do not fit neatly into the Cageian ethics of experimentation without concern for ends. The literary allusions and influences in his work also indicate that his music is oriented toward expressive and experiential aims rather than concerned primarily with autonomous processes. On the other hand, many aspects of his compositional outlook––such as his modular approach to form, his welcome of chance interactions in performance, and his allowance of broad latitude to the performer in determining many details and even the form of the work presented––place it close to the experimental tradition.

One central idea to be explored in this conference is the possibility that transcendentalism can be viewed as the strongest influence in Smith’s music, and a powerful influence in experimentalism as well. Certainly two of the leading figures in the American experimental tradition, Charles Ives and John Cage, were both grounded deeply in the transcendental tradition.

A wide range of topics involving aesthetic, cultural, and political questions connected to transcendentalism, the experimental tradition, and Smith’s music are welcome.

The Saturday evening concert will feature Guest Artist Dr. Lisa Cella from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has premièred numerous compositions by Smith. It will also include performances by several participants in the seminar.

All conference participants are invited as guests to the Sunday afternoon concert featuring the WSU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Mr. Gerald Noble.

Presentations at the Colloquium should last no longer than 30 minutes, followed by a 10-minute question/discussion session. Either abstracts (maximum three pages, excluding figures, tables, and bibliography) or complete papers may be submitted.  When submitting a proposal, please indicate what media will be used in the presentation (CD, projector, etc.). An electronic classroom with stereo will be available for the Colloquium; the room will also have an upright piano.

All submissions should include full contact information for the author and indicate the author’s academic position, if applicable. The deadline for submission of paper or abstract is Jan. 10, 2013.

Some or all papers from the colloquia may be published in the forthcoming “American Innovators” book series.

Submissions can be sent electronically to franklin.cox@wright.edu or mailed to:

Dr. Franklin Cox

Department of Music, Wright State University

3640 Col. Glenn Highway

Dayton, OH 45424-0001

(937) 767-1165