An International Conference

Faculty of Music, University of Oxford

15–16 March 2017

logologo-ircam rma-logo-170

The first UK conference devoted entirely to the discussion of spectral music will take place in Oxford in March 2017, organised by the Faculty of Music in association with Ircam, Paris, and generously supported by the OUP John Fell Fund, Diaphonique (the Franco-British Fund for Contemporary Music), Maison française d’Oxford and the Royal Musical Association.

Registration is now open! Please click on the link.

The draft programme is now available. Please click on the link.

If you have any queries, then please email the conference address: spectralism@music.ox.ac.uk

The term spectral music, coined by composer Hugues Dufourt in 1979 and now in wide use (despite ongoing disputes over its appropriateness), represents a music derived from the analysis of the structure of sound itself, and explores exciting new forms, timbres, temporalities and modes of expression. It first emerged in France in the 1970s, but its roots extend back possibly as far as Rameau, and certainly to such key figures of the twentieth century as Debussy, Messiaen, Stockhausen, Ligeti, Xenakis, Partch, and still today La Monte Young. Grisey, Murail, Dufourt and Levinas were early pioneers of this aesthetic. Today the impact of ‘spectral thinking’ can be found across a very wide range of international musical practices.

This conference aims to examine a broad gamut of critical issues springing from the idea of spectral music. The title ‘Spectralisms’ (in the plural) reflects the conference organisers’ wish to encourage discussion of the topic from the widest possible range of critical perspectives.

The conference keynote speaker is Tristan Murail, co-founder of Ensemble L’Itinéraire in 1973 and of the spectral movement. His key works include Mémoire/Érosion, Gondawa, Désintégrations, L’Esprit des dunes, La Barque mystique, Winter Fragments and Le Désenchantement du monde. Formerly professor at Columbia University, currently visiting professor at Shanghai Conservatory, he remains one of the world’s most influential living composers. He will address the question, ‘Who invented spectral music?’

The invited guest speaker is composer and commentator on contemporary music, Julian Anderson, Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music, London. His recent works include a Violin Concerto, ‘In lieblicher Bläue’, Van Gogh Blue and Incantesimi premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle. The title of his talk is, ‘The map versus the territory: towards a redefinition of spectralism’.

The conference also features a concert given by the London Sinfonietta of music by Murail, Grisey, Saariaho and others. It will take place in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building on 15 March 2017 at 19.30. The music in the programme will be introduced by Tristan Murail.

Further information about the conference – including details about registration, accommodation, travel, and the programme – can be consulted by clicking on the appropriate links on the left.

The programme committee is:

  • Jonathan CROSS (University of Oxford) (Conference Director)
  • François-Xavier FÉRON (CNRS–LaBRI)
  • Robert HASEGAWA (McGill University)
  • Gascia OUZOUNIAN (University of Oxford)
  • Caroline RAE (Cardiff University)

If you are interested in this conference, you might also be interested in this Call for Contributions to a Special Issue of the journal Twentieth-Century Music, guest edited by Jonathan Cross, devoted to the idea of ‘spectral thinking’.