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Diversity and Belonging: Unsung
Keyboard Stories

January 26–30, 2022
University of Michigan School of Music
Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

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The historical variety 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 and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, in partnership with the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards, the Sphinx Organization, the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County, and the Michigan Theatre welcome you to 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.

Our communities face crises of diversity and belonging, racial violence, sexual and gender harassment, and other forms of bigotry in both old and 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.

At this conference, you will meet over 60 presenters and performers who take on topics of diversity, ethnicity, disability, and empowerment in keyboard music; music of the African diaspora; womxn in music; decolonizing and troubling the keyboard canon; gender constructions in jazz; and join Sphinx in their goal of “transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.” Participants will hear works that expand the keyboard repertoire, including world premieres of commissioned works by Karen Walwyn and Connor Chee; critical stories of our time–such as crisis and agency in Venezuela and endemic misogyny in Mexico–told via music; and engage with provocative plenary sessions led by Kira Thurman and Leon Chisholm. Greet old friends, meet new colleagues, and encounter people and resources that can support your future ventures in diversity and belonging.


D&B Committee: Matthew Bengtson; Mark Clague, co-chair; Alissa Freeman; Joseph Gascho; Tiffany Ng; Kola Owolabi; Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, co-chair; Louise Toppin