Diversity and Belonging: Unsung Keyboard Stories – Final Report
The Diversity & Belonging conference was a trailblazer for Westfield and for the University of Michigan. We furthered our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; featured diverse works, topics, presenters, and performers; and garnered ideas for future conferences and collaborations. Below is a select list of DEI highlights from the conference.
Photo Collage of Select Contributors, courtesy Alissa Freeman
- 1. Presented 17 world premieres, including the first commissioned works for carillon by Navajo composer Connor Chee and Black composer Karen Walwyn; Collaborative Investigative Compositions by Ana Avila, Tracie Mauriello, Marielba Núñez, and Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra; Connor Chee’s Sandpaintings for piano; and new transcriptions and works inspired by Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre.
- 2. Featured more than 60 presenters and performers who offered topics of diversity, ethnicity, disability, and empowerment in keyboard music; music of the African and Latinx diaspora; womxn in music; decolonizing, troubling, and expanding the keyboard canon; critical stories of our time––such as crisis and agency in Venezuela and endemic misogyny in Mexico––told via music; and provocative plenaries by Kira Thurman and Leon Chisholm. Many presenters shared perspectives informed by their own diverse identities, including racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender identity, disability status, et al.
- 3. Attracted 214 registered attendees, and more than 400 public audience members.
- 4. Hosted Ellen Rowe’s all-women jazz octet.
- 5. Highlighted more than 30 students in recitals, presentations, and masterclasses.
- 6. Provided travel and housing funding for presenters, as needed; offered a pay-what-you-can registration option to promote inclusivity.
- 7. Created a permanent digital presence via our YouTube playlist: hrefhttps://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqskdv-b6yzQOYBHoEnoNhN0aU2zxMVke.
- 8. Produced a 92–page keepsake program book rife with resources, available digitally: https://westfield.org/public/DB_digital_program_book.pdf.
- 9. Provided a land acknowledgment, community standards, accessibility guide, diverse caterers, and student opportunities.
- 10. Offered virtual and in-person sessions to maximize accessibility for the audience.
- 11. Introduced new topics for Westfield.
- 12. Will result in a publication of select D&B conference proceedings in Keyboard Perspectives, Vol. 15.
- 13. Attracted many first-time Westfield conference attendees.
- 14. Deepened connections with diverse U-M alumni.
- 15. Forged collaborations with the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County, SphinxConnect, and the Michigan Theater.
- 16. Received $43,100 in funding from U-M’s SMTD and Office of DEI, including support from U-M’s Sally Fleming Masterclass Fund, Early Music Fund, EXCEL, Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation, Department of Film, Television, and Media, Organ Department, Piano Department, Stearns Collection, Institute on Research for Women and Gender (IRWG), CEW+, Armbruster Fund, and Campus Sustainability.
- 17. Received enthusiastic support from Westfield donors, who contributed $12,175. Awarded $2,000 from the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and $1,000 from the NYC AGO Centennial Fund.
- 18. Created templates of DEI infusion (CfP wording, community standards, programming, etc.) for future Westfield conferences.
- 19. Launched research pathways by fostering connections and sharing ideas between new colleagues. For example, Patricia García Gil and Alissa Freeman are collaborating on a project to unearth 18th-century keyboard compositions by women whose works have been largely overlooked.
- 20. Offered new outlooks and insights to students outside of common trajectories in academic keyboard studies.
- 21. Initiated a Facebook page, social media, and virtual connections for the conference and beyond.
- 22. Provided avenues for audiences to hear diverse musical expressions from keynoters who included Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist of the Reverón Trio, and Karen Walwyn in her piano recital on African American music. Karen featured video clips from her live D&B performance in her Price documentary.
- 23. Generated a list of resources, including specific keyboard music editions of diverse composers, DEI-classical-music videos created by presenters and participants, and resources for finding and researching music by composers of diverse backgrounds and identities.