Music, History, and Culture in the Shadow of the Great War - Professor Jennifer Campbell

Interdisciplinary Lecture Series Oct. 2 – Nov. 8, 2018
Music, History, and Culture in the Shadow of the Great War

Tuesday October 30th, 4:30 pm:  "The Noise of Silence in the Opera Silent Night"
Jennifer Campbell, UK Assistant Professor
Fine Arts, School of Music – Music Theory

Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night musically depicts the surprising events of Christmas Eve 1914, when several French, Scottish, and German soldiers along the Western Front declared a one-night truce and laid down their weapons. There is a duality in this historical moment:  although dedicated to serving their countries, these armed units were comprised of individuals who, for a night, forsook duty to their respective causes in order to connect with greater humanity. Similarly, there is a duality intrinsic within this opera. Because this is a musical work about a truce, it forces the listener to engage with concepts of silence (absence of gunfire) amidst sound (music of the opera).  Silence has several different meanings (e.g., absence of noise, stillness, omission, being forgotten, secrecy), and this paper examines the various manifestations of silence in this piece, including: Why does silence occur when the main female character enters one of the barracks? What is the silence associated with the “no man’s land” or the neutral space between the battle lines? And what sort of music (or “noise”) does the composer craft to narrate the silence of the battlefield and the other events that unfold?

Jennifer L. Campbell, Associate Professor of Music Theory in the UK School of Music, specializes in twentieth-century American music, focusing on composers Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Paul Bowles. She holds a Ph.D. in music theory and history and a M.A. in historical musicology from the University of Connecticut.  Dr. Campbell has shared her research at the annual meetings of the Society for American Music, the American Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, as well as the Composing American Opera Symposium (2015), International Musicological Society Congress (2012), Paul Bowles Centennial Conference in Lisbon, Portugal (2010), and Culture and International History IV Conference in Cologne, Germany (2009). She frequently undertakes interdisciplinary projects, exploring connections between music, dance, art, politics, and cultural identity and has published in the journal Diplomatic History (2012), in the volume Paul Bowles—The New Generation Do You Bowles? (2014), and in the book Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance (Oxford University Press, 2017).


University of Kentucky, Niles Gallery - Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library
Co-sponsored by UK Opera Research Alliance and UK Opera Theatre

As the UK School of Music Opera Theatre gears up to present Silent Night - the international sensation honoring the centennial of World War I’s conclusion by recounting a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history - join us as the Musicology program hosts a number of lectures covering the musical, visual, literary, and cultural context of World War I.  Then see the UK production of Silent Night Nov. 9-11 with a whole new appreciation!

 

Oct 30 2018, 4:30pm
Niles Gallery
Free and Open to the Public

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