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Professor Emily Richmond Pollock - Class of 1960 Music Lecture

Tue, April 2nd, 2024
4:15 pm

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Professor Emily Richmond Pollock of MIT School of School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences offers a Class of 1960 Lecture titled, American Opera Festivals, the Geography of Canon, and the Canonicity of Geography.

The operatic canon has changed substantially over time, but it also takes on distinctive characteristics in different places and institutional contexts. Opera festivals are a key site where these contingencies may be studied and analyzed. In the United States, festivals also challenge conventional conceptions of where it is possible to perform opera; this talk suggests that such places are themselves non-canonical in their distinct configurations of operatic space.

Emily Richmond Pollock is an Associate Professor of Music. First trained as an oboist and composer, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Harvard in 2006. She subsequently earned her M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2012) in music history and literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her first book, Opera after the Zero Hour: The Problem of Tradition and the Possibility of Renewal in Postwar West Germany, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Paul Sacher Stiftung, and the Class of 1947 at MIT.Pollock’s articles include “Damage and Renewal at the Württembergische Staatstheater, Stuttgart,” in Twentieth-Century Music (2022), “Pride of Place: The 1963 Rebuilding of the Munich Nationaltheater,” in Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor, ed. Tom Irvine and Neil Gregor (Berghahn Books, 2018); “Opera by the Book: Defining Music Theater in the Third Reich,” in the Journal of Musicology (2018), which was awarded the Kurt Weill Prize for distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900; and an article on Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s 1965 opera Die Soldaten, published in the 2014 Opera Quarterly issue “Opera and the Avant-Garde.” She has also written for the New York Times and Naxos Musicology International, and was interviewed for the New Yorker in 2022 with collaborator Kira Thurman from the University of Michigan.

Pollock’s research focuses particularly on conservatism, the historicization of modernist musical value, operatic institutions, and the relationship between modern musical style and convention. Her current research project, “Opera on Uncommon Ground,” is a fieldwork-based investigation of the institutional history and aesthetics of five American opera festivals.

Pollock has published several book reviews and a review essay of the 2006 stagings of Mozart’s comic operas in Salzburg. She greatly enjoys presenting her work at conferences and colloquia. In addition, with Anicia Timberlake, she organized an international conference on the topic of Music in Divided Germany. In 2020, she worked with Lisa Jakelski and Caitlin Schmid to co-organize a conference on Music Festival Studies.

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