Prior to her debut album release Song to a Seagull in March 1968, the Archives provides a fascinating chronicle of Joni Mitchell’s development as singer, guitarist, and above all, songwriter. Comprised of radio and television broadcasts, club dates, and home recordings on 5 CDs, we witness her transformation from folksinger of traditional and authored songs (“House of the Rising Sun,” Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee”) to becoming one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century. The collection includes early versions of iconic songs like “Urge for Going,” “Chelsea Morning, “Both Sides Now,” and “The Circle Game,” as well as over 25 previously unreleased original songs.
The UConn School of Fine Arts is hosting an online international Joni Mitchell conference on Friday April 9, 2021 featuring renowned scholars on her music and performances by students in the Department of Music. My co-researcher Megan Lyons and I will be presenting our research on the Archives at the morning session. Admission to the conference is free to the UConn Husky community. Information and registration is available on the conference website.
Professor of Music Theory
Music, University of Connecticut
Who is Peter Kaminsky? Peter Kaminsky taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at Louisiana State University before joining the University of Connecticut faculty in 1993. His research interests include the music of Ravel, text-music relationships, popular music, structural principles in cyclic works, and, recently, performance and analysis and its pedagogy. He has published articles and reviews in Music Theory Spectrum, Music Analysis, Theoria, College Music Symposium, Music Theory Online, Theory and Practice, The Cambridge Companion to Ravel, and the Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie. Kaminsky is editor and contributor to Unmasking Ravel: New Perspectives on the Music (forthcoming, University of Rochester Press).
You should listen to Regina Spektor’s music — but only if you’re ready for a brush with genius. Wild genius, that is, skyrocketing musically through the magical, heartbreaking, infuriating, absurd journey that is life. Nothing is lyrically off limits for Spektor — no topic too grand (“Laughing With”), no predicament too small (“Dance Anthem of the 80s”) to stir her imagination. A classically trained pianist (“Après Moi”), mediocre guitarist (“That Time”), and proud immigrant to the United States — when she and her family emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1990, with support from HIAS, she was just 9 1/2 — Spektor belongs to a cadre of gifted artists (Gary Shteyngart is another) for whom American promise, Jewish otherness, Russian melancholy, and familial closeness meld in a worldview that is wise (“Samson”), joyful (“On the Radio”), and occasionally bizarre (“Pavlov’s Daughter”). Whether she’s loving on New York City (“Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)”), mourning an impossible love (“Better”), parodying Second Amendment fetishism (“Uh-Merica”), dreaming up the baby boy whose clothes she’ll someday pin funkily at the beach (“Folding Chair”), or shredding the high priests of exploitation, greed, and unctuous politics (“The Trapper and the Furrier”; “Ballad of a Politician”), Regina Spektor’s America is a place we all should visit, and linger. Oh — and I hear she wrote the theme song for “Orange is the New Black.” Is it worth watching?
– Sarah Willen
Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Connecticut
Who is Sarah Willen? Sarah Willen is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut and Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at the university’s Human Rights Institute. She holds a PhD in Anthropology and an MPH in Global Health, both from Emory University. She is a two-time recipient of the Rudolf Virchow Prize from the Critical Anthropology of Global Health Caucus of the Society for Medical Anthropology. She is also the author of a 2019 book Fighting for Dignity: Migrant Lives at Israel’s Margins published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is co-sponsor of the first biennial conference on Expression, Language, and Music (ELM) at UConn. The Conference, which will take place on May 13–15, 2020, will be hosted by UConn’s Expression, Communication, and Origins of Meaning Research Group (ECOM), and will take place at The Lyceum in Hartford, Connecticut. Abstracts are due on December 9, 2010. Abstracts are welcome on a range of topic, including expression of emotions through speech, gesture, dance, and music, evolution of communication, meaning and structure in language and music, music cognition (including developmental and comparative perspectives), psychology/neuroscience of speech perception/production, philosophy of music, ‘Musical Protolanguage’. Abstracts should be accessible to an interdisciplinary audience that includes researchers who share interests with the conference themes. Preference will be given to abstracts that attempt to connect at least two of the three areas in the conference overarching themes (Expression, Language, Music).Please see below for more details.
Other sponsors of the ELM Conference include UConn’s Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The Conference’s core program committee is chaired by Professor Dorit Bar-On who was a Class of 2018–19 faculty fellow at UCHI.