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American Musical Instrument Society

holds meeting at Yale: Summer 2007

The Collection hosted the 36th annual meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society June 27 - July 1, 2007.  An international assembly of over 150 individuals from 26 states and 14 countries gathered on the Yale Campus to attend the symposia, papers, demonstrations, panels, and performances presented in conjunction with this meeting. 

At the core of the conference were 55 presentations given by museum curators, scholars, collectors, and musical instrument enthusiasts which focused on topics from the Middle Ages to the present. A brief sampling of titles indicates the diversity of topics considered: Musical Instruments as Symbols of Female and Male Identity; The Maturation, Use, and Abuse of the Heckelphone; A Reconstruction of the Rickenbacker “Frying Pan”: The First Electric Guitar; Jewish Culture and the German Organ-Building Tradition: The Organ in the Synagogue; and A Brief History of Turntablism: Is the Turntable a Musical Instrument?. Representing Yale’s staff, Susan Thompson gave an overview of the Collection’s history and its holdings, while Nicholas Renouf presented a paper on the provenance of the museum’s Bechstein piano that once was in the possession of Richard Wagner.

School of Music alumni Mingzhe Wang (M.Mus., 2003; MMA, 2006) and Ryosuke Yanagitani (M.Mus, 2004; MMA, 2005) contributed performances on the clarinet and piano respectively during an evening concert which featured nine of the Collection’s historical keyboard instruments. Special assistance for this event was rendered by the School of Music’s piano curators, William Harold and Brian Daley, who had responsibility for tuning the instruments. Collection Associates Rebecca and Jeffrey Arkenberg provided invaluable assistance by maintaining public visiting hours at the museum and operating audio/visual equipment during the paper sessions.

Generous sponsorship of the conference was provided by Yale’s Office of the Provost, as represented by Barbara A. Shailor, Deputy Provost for the Arts, and by the Target Corporation, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additional funding was provided by the Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation, the George P. O’Leary Endowment, the Lawrence S. Wilkinson Endowment for Educational Enhancement, and the Associates of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments. In addition, collaborative support was provided by the Yale School of Music, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Yale Music Library. Nearly 150 participants from all over the world took part in the proceedings, making it one of the most successful conferences in the Society’s history.

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