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Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1500 20211120T1550 America/Chicago Queering Masculinities AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
Exploring Marriage in/during Crisis: _Company_ and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

_Company_, a musical from 1970 about marriage and the 1960s cultural upheaval surrounding gender and sexuality, began to renew the interest of artists and audiences impacted by HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. It appears to be an unorthodox choice, as the show never directly addresses HIV/AIDS and only briefly mentions homosexuality. However, _Company_'s creators held a hallowed place in gay history by the 1990s, and the show's notorious openness and search for meaning in modern life allowed for a flexibility of interpretations not found in other shows with a more traditional plot structure and protagonist.

This paper shows how and why _Company_ could become a prism through which many angles of the HIV/AIDS crisis could be analyzed – through activism and awareness; through a statement about the value of marriage; or finally, through the importance of gay Black representation on stage. Bookwriter George Furth's extensive documentation of the 1990s revivals provides a rich archive from which to draw conclusions, as well as analysis of three major revivals.

The first, a 1993 benefit/reunion concert for the newly merged Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, honored the lives of artists such as Larry Kert and Michael Bennett, who had since passed away from AIDS complications, eschewing any shame around the disease. In contrast, the 1995 Roundabout Theatre production championed a more conservative, traditional point of view, celebrating monogamous marriage and adamantly denying any homosexual reading of _Company_. The production tried to set the show outside of the boundaries of time, implying a concept of marriage that is unchanging and eternal, and one that could possibly protect from the disease raging in the background. Finally, the Donmar Warehouse production in 1996, starring Adrian Lester, as the first Black Bobby, meant reconsidering marriage and sexuality from a non-white perspective. The production also reinstituted a scene where Bobby mentions homosexual activity in the past, a statement wrought with implications as the AIDS crisis had ravaged gay communities, particularly gay communities of color. Together, these three productions outline the complicated and messy nature of responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis within the Venn diagram of the gay and Broadway communities.

Presenters
AP
Ashley Pribyl
The Missouri Symphony
Leonard Bernstein’s _Serenade (after Plato’s “Symposium”)_ and his Homosexual Musical Circle: The Homoeroticism and Lyricism of a Musical Gift
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

In 1954, Leonard Bernstein completed his violin concerto _Serenade (after Plato's "Symposium")_, which he dedicated to the memory of his mentor Serge Koussevitzky, as well as to Natalie Koussevitzky. Scholars and critics have frequently discussed the work's philosophical program concerning "love," either criticizing it or arguing for its value. Plato's text, however, does not just theorize love, but focuses on homoerotic relationships. In light of studies of Bernstein's sexuality, including Nadine Hubbs's investigation of the circle of homosexual composers that included Bernstein, Paul Laird and others have proposed that Bernstein would have been attracted to Plato's text due to its homoerotic content.

Examining both unpublished archival and published sources, I build on this claim to argue that Bernstein's _Serenade_ was in large part a musical gift for a few members of Bernstein's inner circle of homosexual friends. My paper adds a new layer to the existing understanding of the work as a multivalent musical gift, by considering factors beyond the piece's public dedication and the piece's more hidden use of material from existing piano works also dedicated to other friends, the Five Anniversaries. Unpublished letters between Bernstein and David Diamond support my reading. Diamond's unqualified enthusiasm for the piece likely encouraged Bernstein to keep the Platonic program in the work, despite his worries that critics would find it pretentious. Later published praise from Marc Blitzstein adds to the sense that it was Bernstein's closest homosexual friends who had no reservations about the piece's quality, even as it was publically criticized for its program and the lyricism that Blitzstein prized. This latter aspect opens up the possibility that the piece's lyricism-which might be read as a queer temporal approach-also harmonizes with the work's homoerotic source of inspiration. The _Serenade_ thus invites us to continue to consider how Bernstein's sexuality inflected not just the programmatic ideas but also the aesthetics of his concert instrumental music, perhaps even beyond this case.

Presenters
JR
Jennifer Ronyak
University Of Music And Performing Arts, Graz
Re-Listening with Julius Eastman
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

  What does it mean to listen to a composer who is "black to the fullest [and] a homosexual to the fullest?" I am asking this question not so as to listen for a gay-sound, queer-sound, or black-sound, but so as to inquire as not only a line of research, but also as an active petitioning for another way of interacting with both music and identity, and conclusively with listening itself. Any analytical project involving a de-colonial, non-racist, queer, etc. stance, requires to re-figure listening-listening does not happen, as so often assumed in musical analytical practices, from a neutral ground. In this essay, I listen to and with Julius Eastman's declaration and his musical works/workings, as a way to rethink listening and with such the musical work, the composer and their surroundings/spaces.

   This re-figuring of listening is in dialogue with Guck's (2006) and Steinbeck's (2013) call for a rethinking of the fiction an analyst tells when analyzing a work, which is of course entangled in post-colonial projects. Similarly, Cokes (2013) thinks of listening, transposed by Afro-diasporic practices, as a technology-an active passivity that allows for the redefinition, re-questioning, and re-mattering of what is and what can be(come). This notion of listening is the starting point for my essay.

   In the process of thinking through listening the labor behind listening, as well as the shape that listening takes is sounded-every listening requires resources and is entangled in questions of labor. When we listen to Julius Eastman as a composer alongside his invocations and declarations, then music is changed, then listening is transmorphized and reshaped. In this sense listening to this wandering figure is a deterritorializing. When we listen to Black and queer then Black and queer can listen. Similar to Julius Eastman I ask what happens when the listener can be "black to the fullest [and] a homosexual to the fullest."

Presenters
JC
Jessie Cox
Columbia University
The Missouri Symphony
Columbia University
University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz
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