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Brown Bag Lecture "American Musical Mavericks and the Quotidian Creativity of Community"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
12:00 AM
202 S. Thayer, room 2022, Ann Arbor

Mark Clague, music

As an ideological construct, the notion of the American maverick contains essential contradictions. The maverick is unorthodox, yet part of a tradition; radically independent, yet tethered to community. This mythos of the maverick maps frequently onto the American artist, who rejects European hegemony to blaze new trails into the expressive unknown. The San Francisco Symphony’s upcoming American Mavericks Series is built around this icon to features such independently minded composers as John Adams, Mason Bates, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, David Del Tredici, Morton Feldman, Lucas Foss, Lou Harrison, Charles Ives, Meredith Monk, Carl Ruggles, Morton Subotnik, and Edgard Varèse. Here national pride is located in individual musical pioneers who wrestle European influence into submission to forge a distinctive American sound. Yet, as events in the lives of these composers reveal, the creativity of the American maverick takes root in collectives, with the support of colleagues and patrons. Further, the inventions of the maverick gain meaning not through anarchic independence, but in connection with tradition, with society. This talk examines the music of Philip Glass, John Cage and others to explore ambiguities surrounding the maverick as icon of an American creative tradition, both communal and everyday

Mark Clague is associate professor of musicology, American culture, and Afroamerican studies at the University of Michigan, where he also serves as director of research for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. His research appears in the journals American Music (on the film Fantasia and critical editing), Black Music Research (on bandmaster Alton Adams), Michigan Quarterly Review (on Motown), and Opera Quarterly (on Chicago’s Auditorium Building), as well as in the forthcoming edited volume American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century (orchestra organization models). He edited the Memoirs of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr.: First Black Bandmaster of the United States Navy for the University of California Press, while the book “Music for the People”: Chicago’s Auditorium Building and the Institutional Revolution of Gilded Age Culture is set to appear with the University of Illinois Press. His writings on teaching music history and arts entrepreneurship appear in the journals College Music Symposium and Music History Pedagogy as well as the books Teaching Music in Higher Education and Disciplining the Arts: Teaching Entrepreneurship in Context. He served as project and city/institutions editor for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition and as executive editor for Music of the United States of America, a series of scholarly editions of American music.