Scholarly Symposium

Department of Music & Dance, UMass Amherst

Isabella van Elferen
Isabella van Elferen, keynote speaker
Organizers: Ernest May, Evan MacCarthy, and Erinn Knyt

Link to online pdf program book =>

Friday, April 21, 2023, 7:30-9pm, Free, Bromery Rm. 419
Presentations & Panel Discussion: “What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Bach and Timbre?”  Details =>
Saturday, April 22, 2023, 9:30am-5:30pm, Bromery Rm. 419
Symposium Presentations  Details =>

Panel Discussion & Remote Sat. attendees: Free
In-person attendees (Sat.): $25 general; $5 students (lunch included)
Cash or check accepted, day of Symposium
REGISTRATION FORM (both remote and in-person attendees) =>

J.S. Bach and Timbre

Isabella van Elferen, Keynote speaker

Symposium Overview:
Although the works of J.S. Bach have been considered from many different perspectives, the topic of timbre has been little explored in relation to his compositions. Timbre is a complex and multi-faceted concept that involves both the sounding musical object and the aesthetic experience of the listener. It brings together scientific, aesthetic, and artistic considerations.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars exploring timbral issues in relation to Bach’s compositions from material, philosophical, theoretical, or historical perspectives. Topics could include, for instance, an exploration of Bach’s expertise with selecting and combining organ stops, the innovative scoring of his orchestral works, his transcription practices, instrumental/timbral word painting in the vocal works, architectural spaces or timbral environments in which Bach’s music has been performed, the timbres of diverse instrument choices by performers, the timbral effects in recording Bach’s compositions, or timbral color choices involved in the re-working, performance, and reception of the Bach repertoire in its various manifestations throughout the late eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries in diverse locations and contexts around the globe.


Isabella van Elferen, Keynote speaker (Kingston University, London)
Christine Blanken (Bach-Archiv Leipzig)
Johann Sebastian BachDaniel Boomhower (Dumbarton Oaks, Director of Research Library)
Rachel Gain (Yale University)
Erinn Knyt (University of Massachusetts Amherst
Emily Kraine (Northeastern University)
Joel Lester (CUNY Graduate Center, Mannes College of Music)
Ernest May (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Jeana Melilli (University of Florida)
Markus Rathey (Yale University)
Joshua Rifkin (Boston University)
Mary Barres Riggs (Dancer, Dance History Scholar)
Robert Riggs (University of Mississippi)
Yo Tomita (Queens University Belfast)


Emily Dolan (Brown University)
Evan MacCarthy (University of Massachusetts Amherst, Five College Visiting Asst. Professor)
Ernest May (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

(See the Schedule and/or the Presenters/Moderators pages for details)

ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM (both remote and in-person) =>


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