As I sat down to write this (long overdue) letter to you, I realised that time is indeed, as Jennifer Egan claims, a goon, and sometimes it pushes you around: there have been so many positive and exciting developments to share this year regarding our Society, and yet here we are in the month of July and not a single newsletter has seen the light from my electronic pen in 2016. I can only apologise, and offer the following in the hope that the good news reported here will help pardon me!
As you know, a new Executive Committee was elected during the 2015 AGM in Cape Town. We were given a specific mandate which included key issues: our member demographics needed to be diversified, to become significantly more inclusive and representative; this needed to reflect in the constitution of our conferences; and SASRIM’s public profile should be developed and rejuvenated. We accepted this mandate wholeheartedly, and attempted through various means and strategies to address the issues raised at the 2015 AGM. Thus far I am happy to report that we received a record number of proposals for the 2016 Annual Congress, to be hosted by the Odeion School of Music in Bloemfontein from 25-27 August. This year, instead of a Call for Papers, the ExCo opted to send out a Call for Contributions, thus opening the door to a broader range of participation than what was common in the past. The wide variety of selected submissions cover diverse topics, and include speakers from all over South Africa as well as Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. We are very excited to welcome no less than 22 student presenters to this year’s conference, an exciting indication that our Society is energised not only by seasoned academics but also by a younger generation of scholars. The 67 selected proposals cover a range of topics, including African music; Jazz; Western Art Music; music analysis; Ethnomusicology; archival practice; music education; popular music; and music in Higher Education. The programme also includes three panel discussions; premiere performances by the Odeion String Quartet of works by five young South African composers (participants in the Kevin Volans Composers Meeting); performances by Jill Richards, Waldo Alexander and the Mageshen Naidoo Quartet; a workshop by Chopi specialist Matchume Zango from Mozambique; three lecture demonstrations; an exhibition; Poster presentations; as well as two keynote addresses, by Professor Guthrie Ramsey of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor Stephanus Muller of Stellenbosch University. We look forward to welcoming all members to this exciting event, and also to the Annual General Meeting, scheduled for 27 August at 12:00.
We are happy to report that SASRIM now has a brand new website (designed with care and insight by Pretoria-based designer Jana Hollander of Bloom Design), which we hope reflects something of the exciting possibilities and prospects that lie in wait for our Society. We are happy to receive any feedback from members in this regard; members are also welcome to submit additional content to the website by communicating directly with Santie de Jongh (email details are available on the website: www.sasrim.ac.za).
In spite of significant challenges, SAMUS volumes 34 and 35 are now in the final stages of preparation for publication (with volume 36 already in the advanced stages of preparation, and due for publication later this year). This combined volume – the first edition of our journal to be produced under the editorship of Willemien Froneman and Stephanus Muller – is ground-breaking in its concept, content and presentation, and promises to have significant impact in academic publishing, both here and abroad. In addition to a journal of high academic standard, members may look forward to receiving audio and audio-visual material in the form of DVDs and CDs that are related to submissions published in this volume.
In a year that has seen some of the most significant student protests and campus protests in this country in more than twenty years, and significant political upset together with challenging (but also productive) discussions that cut to the very fundamentals of the South African academic landscape, it is both daunting and exciting to continue our work in music research, teaching practice and performance as members of this Society. I look forward to welcoming you all in Bloemfontein in August, where we will be able to delve deep into these and other issues and discussions, in a space that will be as challenging as it is rewarding, and as stimulating as it is demanding. Free State bound!
Dr Mareli Stolp
Postdoctoral Fellow: Unisa
Chair: South African Society for Research in Music