Our 2022 conference, Diversity and Belonging: Unsung Keyboard Stories, in Ann Arbor, MI will be co-sponsored by Westfield and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Presenters tell the unsung stories of keyboardists and composers of color, notable musicians who have been left out of Western music history books and performance venues. In partnership with SphinxConnect, “transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.”

Video Previews

This month, we feature Matthew Bengtson, Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Michigan, who discusses and performs piano sonatas of George T. Walker. See https://youtu.be/l9o7AMYTdbs and https://youtu.be/HR9lcQ9KWIo



Call for Papers

Diversity and Belonging: Unsung Keyboard Stories
Wednesday, January 26 to Sunday, January 30, 2022
University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

Our communities face crises of diversity and belonging, of racial violence, and sexual and gender harassment as the old fear of difference takes on disturbing new forms. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these tensions and complicated our responses; at the same time, it has ushered in a new paradigm of virtual connection and digital presence that enables an unprecedented degree of inclusivity. Schools of music, concert halls, and cultural institutions around the world are questioning long histories of exclusion, and artists are newly empowered to recover and amplify the voices of historically marginalized groups.

The historical diversity of the keyboard’s many interfaces—ranging across the organ, clavichord, harpsichord, carillon, piano, and their electronic descendants—offers multiple pathways to explore the unsung stories of musical artists who have been ignored or discounted. The Westfield Center, in partnership with the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards, the Sphinx Organization, and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, is convening an in-person and online dialogue among keyboard scholars, performers, and instrument makers to expand and redefine the history of what it means to #LookLikeAKeyboardist.

We seek papers, recitals, and lecture-demonstrations that illuminate keyboard stories of womxn, African Americans, Latinos/as, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, indigenous people, queers, and other groups historically excluded from institutional recognition. We also encourage arts leaders, scholars, and instrument makers to document and explore the ways they have sought to make keyboard studies and historical keyboard performances more diverse and inclusive. Finally, we invite approaches that draw on global music history and postcolonial studies to question the very category of “historical keyboards” within a global context.

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas (and the umbrella term “keyboardists” here refers to performers, composers, builders, and scholars):

• Historical or contemporary keyboardists or composers for keyboard whose work has been marginalized
• Keyboard instruments played, built, or commissioned by marginalized individuals
• Keyboard-related ideologies of class, race, gender, and sexuality
• The (re)definition of “historical keyboards” in global contexts
• Effective strategies to address the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in keyboard performance, history, and building
• Barriers to the entry or advancement of minorities and womxn in keyboard professions

We welcome all submissions, especially from students and early-career performers and scholars. Available instruments will include a Silbermann-influenced Fisk organ, multiple harpsichords, Steinway grand pianos, a 60-bell Eijsbouts carillon and a 53-bell Taylor carillon, a late 1790s Walter-style McNulty fortepiano, and an 1866 Erard piano. We also welcome proposals for virtual presentations.

Please submit abstracts of ca. 300 words, describing a 25-minute paper, recital, or lecture-demonstration, to diversity-belonging@umich.edu by May 1, 2021. People proposing solo or chamber recitals are encouraged to include a link to a 7–10-minute audio/video recording (.mp3, .mp4, .mov, YouTube).