International Conference "Performing Arts Between Tradition and Contemporaneity"
Theatre - Dance - Music - Visual & Multimedia Art - Arts Administration - Performing Arts Training - Stage Design & Technology

African American Composers in Culture and Context 
Interactive lecture by  Eric Hinton - Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Susquehanna University, and Michael Thomas Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Susquehanna University and Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin,  Germany. 

Eric L. Hinton is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Susquehanna University where he conducts the University Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, teaches trumpet, conducting, brass methods, and the history of literature of the wind orchestra. Dr. Hinton is founder and director of the High School Wind Ensemble Institute, a 7-day residential music camp. His book, Conducting
 the Wind Orchestra: Meaning, Gesture and Expressive Potential was published by Cambria Press in December, 2008. Dr. Hinton received his undergraduate
 and master’s degrees from Northwestern University and his PhD from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in the United Kingdom.

Michael L. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and the Coordinator of the Africana Studies Minor at Susquehanna University. He is currently on leave as a Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow at the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. His current work explores the aesthetics of race through the lives and work of W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, and Audre Lorde and their relationship to contemporary work in Black Aesthetics and the Africana Philosophy.


As musicians it is important to gain as complete an understanding the music we perform as possible. For some this may mean confronting certain blind spots in one’s cultural competency or becoming well versed in unfamiliar styles. We must also attempt to understand the impact that historical events might a work’s narrative. How do cultural traditions play through a 21st century lens? Our research discusses these questions in a way that hopefully makes this music accessible to everyone, performers and audience members alike.

Our presentation is grounded in a joint research project contextualizing the works of African American Composers featured in a concert organized by Dr. Eric Hinton in Spring 2019. We used our research on the works of these composers and the history of African American music in order to present the elements of the music that may be unfamiliar to most audiences to the performers, Susquehanna University students, and the general public prior to the performance. For the IUGTE conference, we will present an updated version of this talk with an emphasis on the importance of contextualizing the works of African American composers, and African American music, as a project of enculturating the audience into particular elements of the music that they may not have experienced.

For this conference, we will present a selection of the works performed along with musical elements drawn from the traditions of the “Sorrow Songs,” HBCU bands, the music of the Black church, and Pan-African music. The combination of these elements paints a picture of the rich contributions of African American music to the Western Musical tradition. We will also discuss the tension between works of African American music that intend to represent some aspect of “Black experience” and those works composed without a specific understanding of “Blackness” in mind. Our research on the cultural context of selected wind band works by African American composers discusses these questions in a way that hopefully makes this music accessible to everyone, performers and audience members alike.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse" and New International Performing Arts Institute



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