ANU School of Music scores popular music studies regional and global conferences

Tuesday 22 September 2015

One Direction, Madonna and John Lennon will be on the bill at ANU this December.


Obviously not performing, they are instead among artists to be discussed at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music’s (IASPM) regional branch conference to be hosted in Canberra for the first time.

It comes as the School of Music will also host the IASPM global conference in 2019, bringing with it around 500 delegates from around the world.

“It’s a huge win for our School, a huge win for our Research School, and I’m so proud we’ll get to host it here,” says the School’s Dr Samantha Bennett.

Dr Bennett has pushed popular music research in Australia. Her ANU colleagues, Dr Stephen Loy, has researched classic rock, particularly Led Zeppelin, while Dr Julie Rickwood from the Research School of Humanities and Arts specialises in Australia’s a capella scene.

The conference in December will cap the School’s 50th anniversary celebrations and will include Andrew Farriss, the creative force behind INXS and the 2015 Coombs Creative Fellow, which is also marking 50 years.

The School’s expansion from its classical music foundations has this year included a tape restoration and digitisation project with the National Film and Sound Archive and revamping its outdated recording studio with a full refurbishment and state-of-the-art Neve Genesys console

“Popular music” is that which does not stem from the Western music tradition, rather from folk and blues music, Dr Bennett says.

“It’s music for the people, and that could mean anything. It can mean indigenous music, it means folk music, hip-hop, commercial music, music from the X Factor TV show and or global music.”

More than 80 papers have been submitted for the December conference on topics including Kurt Cobain, New Zealand jazz and hip-hop MCs, with academics coming from New Zealand, Oxford and around Australia.

In securing the rights to the biennial conference in 2019, the School’s bid was supported by Vice-Chancellor Ian Young and former RSHA Director, now College interim Dean, Professor Paul Pickering.

They were backed by entities such as the association’s Australia-New Zealand executive, the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra Convention Bureau and former ACT Chief Minister, Katie Gallagher.

“It’s fantastic to see that the Canberra bid has been successful,” Senator Gallagher says. “All the best to the organisers of this event and I know that all those attending from around the world will enjoy their stay in our beautiful city.”

The gatherings will highlight the university’s links with Canberra’s national cultural and collecting institutions.

In December, the School and Conference will pair with the Canberra Museum and Gallery and launch an exhibition on the late Wendy Saddington, an Australian blues, jazz and soul singer.

“In 2019, the international IASPM conference will be here, but we will have satellite activities at the National Film and Sound Archive, National Library, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery,” Dr Bennett explains.

“We’re really keen on linking in with our amazing cultural institutions here in Canberra, and they’re really keen on linking with us.”

Updated:  9 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications