Gathering attempts to bridge the gap between science and music
The Alliance for Research in Music Medicine recently held its 3rd annual international conference at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne campus. The conference's theme was "music and medicine: composing the science of healing" and encompassed a review of quantum physics through the latest trends in medicine and music therapy. Created to bridge the gap between science and music, the conference focused on how the human body's response to music is leading to new discoveries and applications in medical therapies. Attendees ranging from scientists, clinicians, technicians, performers, students and music lovers learned about new treatment strategies and the latest research on how music impacts inflammation and chronic disease. Convention-goers also contributed their own knowledge to help build research tools for developing innovative health-needs solutions through music and sound.
In addition to The Recording Academy's Rock The Convention events during the recent Democratic and Republican national conventions, Americans for the Arts and NAMM, the International Music Products Association, helped spread the message about the importance of music and arts education in American schools by hosting panel discussions on the arts. During the DNC in Denver, panelists included GRAMMY-winning artist John Legend, who said, "I have a very personal understanding of what music and the arts can do. As a nation, we need to keep investing in the future and give our children more of the arts." In connection with the RNC in Minneapolis, panelist John Rich of country group Big & Rich commented, "Music and the arts break down barriers — race, financial status and cliques — and really level the playing field with kids." He emphasized that making music available to children is mandatory, not optional.
The Metro Music Expo debuted Sept. 12–14 in Novi, Mich., providing musicians and music lovers of all ages and skill levels with a weekend of education, sound and lighting clinics, hands-on gear tutorials, networking and musical performances. Music industry panel topics included songwriting, music publishing and royalties, booking, and publicity. Featured speakers included Howard Hertz, Motor City Music Foundation board president and entertainment attorney, who addressed subjects such as management and new possibilities for artist revenue. As part of the convention's music education component, The Recording Academy's Sarah Mudler spoke on the "Careers In Music You've Never Considered" panel. Mudler appeared with Daniel Cronk, a professor at Ferris State University's music industry management program, and Isabelle Tulk, president of the Michigan Music Teachers Association.
In late September, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs held its annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and Simon Rodia Watts Jazz Festival, in addition to celebrating the grand opening of the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center. Among the festivities offered at the drum festival were a high school drum line challenge competition and an interactive drumming workshop with musician Chalo Eduardo. Adding to the diversity was the percussion section of the Liän Ensemble, which played classical and experimental Persian music alongside lyrics from mystical poet Rumi. The jazz festival featured performances by the L.A. Multi School Jazz Alumni Band and the JMP Orchestra conducted by musicians Patrice Rushen and Buddy Collette. Many national and international attendees congregated for the opening of the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, which is dedicated to young people and provides a variety of cultural programs in a safe, creative atmosphere for individual expression under the guidance of professional artists. Festivities at the opening included a tribute to Mingus, a student piano recital and remarks from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
In related news, the Liän Ensemble's concert was an exhilarating highlight of the triannual World Festival of Sacred Music held during the month of September in greater Los Angeles. In a fascinating exemplification of music as a universal language, the Liän Ensemble was joined on Sept. 13 at UCLA's Royce Hall by international artists Waldemar Bastos, Emiko Susilo (with guitarist Rob Levit), Indian folk musicians Rupayan, and Siberian throat-singing group Chirgilchin in a seamless melding of highly divergent musical styles. On Sept. 23 at the Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes, Calif., the ensemble again performed, combining intricate musical structure with an evocative blend of traditional and original compositions. Other festival events expressed music's inseparability from dance while also imparting lessons in the literature of each originating culture. Dancer Mythili Prakash was remarkable in her elegant interpretation of Eastern classical texts through the Indian dance form of bharatanatyam. Basing her production on the 12th-century Gita Govinda, dancer Sohini Ray created stunning visuals not only by showcasing rarely seen Manipuri dance drama but also through colorful, museum-quality costumes, exact replicas of those worn by temple deities. And, Jugalbandi Ensemble of Indian Music's mix of musicians proved that music transcends and unifies culture, age and gender. Free to all, the festival's closing ceremony on Sept. 28 in Santa Monica, Calif., hosted 300 artists and 4,000 attendees from young children to the elderly sang, danced and drummed.
(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for GRAMMY.com and GRAMMY magazine, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy and music-and-the-brain research.)