If my previous post about Paris (http://www.sequenza21.com/carey/?p=291) seemed fragmentary and hurried, it certainly was. With no internet access in my hotel, my plans of blogging about the Carter centenary conference at IRCAM (Colloque Carter, Ircam, 11-12 décembre 2008) had run amok.
(Hey! Didn’t this happen to me at Tanglewood too? File Under? » Tuesday at Tanglewood: Carter Scholars and Fromm Fellows)
I managed to grab a brief stint in a web cafe, only to find out that they had French keyboards: I kept hitting ‘q’ when I meant to type ‘a.’ With 30 minutes of access costing six Euros, I had to check emails and type quickly and then catch the Metro back to the hotel!
The conference was a stimulating and enlightening event. It brought together scholars from France, the US, Italy, Germany, and Canada to discuss Carter’s music from a variety of vantage points: analytical, musicological, educational, compositional, and biographical. I got the chance to meet a number of Carter scholars and learn a great deal about the reception and study of his work in Europe. I was particularly taken with papers by Max Noubel and by the IRCAM Computational Musicology team. Moreno Andreatta was most gracious in discussing the team’s research and showing me around. Max did an admirable job hosting and organizing the conference.
American scholars Andrew Mead (University of Michigan) and David Schiff (Reed College) were also there; it was a thrill to get to spend time with two of my favorite American Carterians. Schiff’s paper was a fascinating discussion of the artistic and cultural trends in the 30s and 40s in the US during the time of Carter’s shift from the language of his earlier music towards the more adventurous musical grammar of the First Quartet. Mead posed an elegant model for calculating and evaluating the large-scale polyrhythms in Carter’s music.
With only one day free after the conference, sight-seeing had to be done in allegro fashion. After a walk around town, we prioritized the Louvre, which had a wonderful exhibit on Boulez, and the Left Bank. Need I say that the food was amazing throughout?