The goal of this symposium is to stimulate an intercommunal and interdisciplinary conversation about the moral and social meanings of music as expressed in the opinions of musicians, theologians, secular leaders, and social critics within each of the Abrahamic traditions.
The vast accumulation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim repertoire over the centuries—both sacred and secular—stands as proof of the long-term commitment to music in each tradition. But within Judaism, Christianity and Islam there is also an historical legacy of polemic, in ways unique to each tradition, about the appropriateness of musical practices both in devotions and in the life of the community.
This is a legacy which waxes and wanes throughout the centuries, and which continues to evolve. The Israeli scholar of Islamic music, Amnon Shiloah, has described the role of music in the Muslim world as “polyvalent”, an idea which may be applicable across the Abrahamic spectrum—that is: music in all three traditions is respected for its power, and it is given cultural space in which to survive and even thrive, but it does not get a free ride. It must continually argue for its usefulness, and for its place in the spectrum of religious and secular values of its own culture, right up to the present day.
The symposium includes two concerts Let Us Repeat the Names of God, featuring Holy Cross St. Romanos the Melodist Byzantine Choir, Choirs of the New England Ghanaian Seventh Day Adventist Church, and a Jazz Quartet with Nedelka Prescod, Brian Levy, Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, Dave Santoro, and Bertram Lehmann, and DEVRAN: Music of Islam, Turkey & Renaissance Europe, featuring the Dünya Ensemble and the New England Conservatory Chamber Singers, and a full day of papers and discussion.
Please visit the conference website for a full description and to register for the symposium. All events are free and open to the public.
Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol and Robert Labaree, NEC Intercultural Institute co-directors
Boston Byzantine Music Festival, a program of the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross, and New England Conservatory's Intercultural Institute