2020 Wrap-Up

The Annual Meeting of the South-Central Society for Music Theory, held at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, was a resounding success with one of our largest attendances to date, including 62 professors, instructors, graduate students, independent scholars, and undergraduates. The meeting was our first collaboration with CMS-South, and our first with an overall conference theme, this year entitled “Improvisation: Science, Practice, and Pedagogy.” Presenters and attendees arrived from many regions of the United States and Canada. This year we had 33 presentations that included standard papers, lightning talks, and posters (a new one for the conference). We had two fascinating keynotes and workshops by Dariusz Terefenko of the Eastman School of Music and Andrew Goldman of the University of Western Ontario. Both invited speakers highlighted different aspects of improvisation: Terefenko presented on the Rule of the Octave, and then helped participants in their realizations of it at the keyboard; Goldman explored a neuroscientific approach to improvisation, pondering philosophical issues concerning experiment design and laying a path for future empirical studies of the subject.

We hope to do another joint, themed conference soon with CMS-South since the collaboration was so smooth and cordial. The Vanderbilt administration was generous in donating services for technology and piano tuning. Local arrangement chairs Brendan McConville (Tennessee), Clare Eng (Belmont), and Kristian Klefstad (Belmont) did a fantastic job in organizing the conference and providing a steady stream of coffee and snacks.

There was no sign on the conference’s final day, Sunday March 1st, of the devastating tornado that ripped through Nashville and its surrounding towns two days later, as the weather was mild and sunny. Our thoughts go out to the victims and survivors of this terrible tragedy.

The conference featured many strong papers given by graduate students. The Best Student Paper Award was won this year by Jordan Lenchitz, a graduate student at Florida State University. His paper was entitled “Spectral Fission in Barbershop Harmony.”

In the Business Meeting, University of Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee) was selected as the venue for 2021, with dates TBD. (Download the Business Meeting minutes here.) The conference took in record revenue this year, more than $2,000, showing the benefits of registration by PayPal, an initiative by Treasurer Joseph Brumbeloe (University of Southern Mississippi) and Webmaster Trevor de Clercq (Middle Tennessee State University). For the first time, SCSMT put handouts online in the program, thanks to the efforts of Trevor de Clercq. Ben Wadsworth (Kennesaw State University) stepped down as President per society bylaws. Jeremy Orosz (University of Memphis) was elected incoming President (2020–2022) by acclamation. Rebecca Long (Chair, University of Louisville), Alex Martin (Stetson University), Matthew Boyle (University of Alabama), and Jordan Lenchitz (winner, Best Student Paper Award) were appointed to the Program Committee for 2020–2021, with two more names to be announced later.