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2014 / HAMMELBURG

Report 21st Conference of IGEB

Hammelburg, July 17th to 22nd, 2014 (IGEB 1974 – 2014)

by Austin Glatthorn

From 17 until 22 July 2014, the International Society for the Research and Promotion of Wind Music (Internationale Gesellschaft zur Erforschung und Förderung der Blasmusik or IGEB) held its 21st biennial conference in Hammelburg, Germany.  This was a particularly special conference for the society as it marked the 40th anniversary of its foundation in 1974.   The theme of this year’s conference, ‘education in wind bands and music amateurs in the past and present’, attracted over 35 participants from across Europe, the Middle East, and North America.  Alongside the papers delivered at this six-day conference, there were many social and cultural activities planned for those attending.

Hammelburg Germany, where the conference was held, has the distinction of being the oldest winegrowing town in Franconia (located in north west Bavaria, about 75 miles from Frankfurt).  The town is also home to the Bavarian Music Academy Hammelburg, where the majority of papers were held.  In addition to being the conference location, most participants also stayed in the academy’s accommodation where they also enjoyed meals inspired by local cuisine.  The academy itself is located on a hill and is situated just above the city and below a castle further up the hill (today a winery).  Its grounds are shared with a seventeenth-century cloister, which served as one of the concert venues and added to the charm of the location.  The centrality of this location made everything much easier – the conference room was in the same building as the accommodation, there were a number of indoor and outdoor concert venues, the dining hall and a bar located in a cellar built into the hillside were all onsite.  Furthermore, Hammelburg’s city centre was only a ten minute walk away.

Although the conference theme was ‘education in wind bands and music amateurs in the past and present’, there were a great diversity of papers.  There was a wide range of topics concerning pedagogy, repertoire, musicology, performance and organology.  For instance, the conference began with papers by German military musicians investigating education in military music and it concluded with papers examining saxophone orchestras and the saxophone in nineteenth- and twentieth-century central Europe.  Other papers examined themes such as the contributions made to the wind band repertoire by composers spanning the eighteenth-century to the present day.  While there were even more participants, thirty-five scholars presented papers from over thirteen countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States (thirteen states different states were represented).  For a full conference programme, please visit: www.igeb.net.

The conference days were filled with papers, as they began each day at 9am and continued (with a lunch break and three short coffee breaks) until roughly 6pm.  Following dinner there were social evenings.  The majority of these included a concert that highlighted a local ensemble – from a folk music quartet to a full German military band – and was attended by both conference participants and citizens of Hammelburg.  After the concert finished, many IGEB members would end their day at the stone cellar (Felsenkeller) where they could socialise or continue scholarly discussion over a drink. 

The highlight of this conference occurred on 20 July, which was well planned and well executed as not only did it offer a respite from the normal routine, but achieved a delightful mix of academics, culture, sightseeing, and local history and cuisine.  The day began when the group boarded a bus bound for Würzburg (located just thirty minutes south of Hammelburg).  Here, the group was greeted by the President of the University of Würzburg.  Following the president’s welcome address, the conference continued with a session of papers.  These were given in the Tuscany Hall (Toscanasaal), a beautiful room adorned in marble found in the Würzburg Residence Palace.  These papers concluded the academic portion of the day.  Next the group embarked on a cruise down the river Main, where they enjoyed coffee, cake, and the performance of a local wind music trio.  After the circular trip was over, IGEB members were driven to the small town of Sommerach, where the mayor greeted the society and gave a short presentation on the ‘history and tradition of Wind music in our village life’.  Participants were taken on a short tour of the town’s main historic civic buildings, including the centuries-old wine cellar where they were invited to sample local wine; ensembles from the local music school performed in each of the stops.  IGEB members were then brought to the nearby town of Volkach, where they visited the music school.  Here the director of the school gave a presentation, which included its history and teaching philosophies.  The day ended with a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant.

The conference wrapped up with a full day of papers on the following day and ended with a very excellent performance by the German Federal Armed Forces, Music Corps 12 in the courtyard outside.  All in all the conference was a superbly planned and executed.  Furthermore, the conference fees were at a very reasonable rate (which included all room and board).  Perhaps the best aspect of the conference, however, was not the location, activities, or even the papers, but the other academics and musicians that one had the opportunity to meet.  As any international conference, it was a great chance to encounter musicians from all over the globe to discuss different experiences and common interests.  Although the location of the next IGEB International Conference has yet to be determined, all of the participants left on 22 July looking forward to the next conference.

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