Session/Séance 7b: CSTM Panel 1. Saturday/samedi 27 May 2017. 9:00AM - 10:30AM, EJB 120
Pathways and Places, Borders and Bridges: Musical Communities in a Small Canadian City
Chair: GORDON SMITH (Queen’s University)
1. “An Incredibly Rich Town?” Barriers and Bridges in Kingston’s Choral Community
Margaret Walker, Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario is the home of a self-described “incredibly rich” choral community. Comprising more than twenty community vocal groups in addition to dozens of church, school, and collegiate choirs, Kingston’s choral scene owes its abundance in large part to Protestant Christian roots and an English Loyalist past. On the surface, this concentration of musical activity also seems a clear reflection of Kingston’s educated, affluent, and overwhelmingly “white” population. Yet, although some groups reinforce and build on this part of the city’s heritage, a growing number of non-auditioned amateur groups brazenly challenge choral music’s conservative reputation. Furthermore, many choir directors deliberately reach beyond standard repertoire in well-intentioned attempts to cross economic, cultural, and stylistic barriers. Using recent fieldwork, including observations of formal and informal choir performances, interviews with music directors and choristers, and analysis of organizational websites, this paper explores the paradox of Kingston’s simultaneously homogeneic and diverse choral scene.
2. On the Fringe: Punk, Place and Social Media in Kingston, Ontario
Marlie Centawer, Queen’s University
Sitting at a crossroads between three of Canada’s largest cities, Kingston is connected to some of the largest acts in Canadian popular music. Although outside the thriving Indie rock scene and often overlooked by those interested in the musical life of the city, Kingston’s punk musicians maintain their own active subculture. The recent demise of two established places in the punk scene, The Artel and The Sleepless Goat, has placed Kingston’s punk musicians further on the fringes of the city. I examine the pathways of punk as they intersect with definitions of DIY culture and some of the barriers related to the distribution, promotion and performance of punk music in Kingston. Central to my paper is Doreen Massey’s work on space, place, and gender (1994), a survey of punk and DIY culture as they have existed historically and contemporary in Kingston, and conversations with local musicians, promoters, and fans.
3. “Leaving our Hearts in Skeleton Park”: Music, Place and Belonging in Kingston, Ontario
Jamie McKenzie-Naish, Queen’s University
The Skeleton Park Arts Festival (SPAF) in Kingston, Ontario, emerged in 2006 as a grassroots, community-organized music festival at McBurney Park, known by local residents as Skeleton Park. Having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, this festival has developed to become a multi-arts and multi-site community event. Nevertheless, with its origins and evolving practices intimately tied to a specific spatial geography and identity, SPAF provides a fertile case study through which to consider the relationship between music, place, and community. Drawing on Kay Kaufman Shelemay’s concept of musical communities as collectivities (2011), I explore the modalities and dimensions of community as co-constituted through a series of relational social imaginings and musical practices. SPAF serves as a map, which simultaneously performs and makes sense of community as both symbolic and experiential (Cohen 1985). This in turn makes use of its boundaries (symbolic and physical) as a generative resource to proliferate various points of entry and exit, interconnection and dislocation. Using a broadly narrative ethno- graphic approach, I map the map – capturing and exploring the voices, perceptions and practices which give shape to and define the presence of this musical community. My paper thus highlights three distinct narrative themes that have emerged as both particular and critical to SPAF as a musical community: geographical location; proliferation of musical/creative practices; and competing ideals of outward inclusivity vs. inward neighbourhood focus.