Lecture & DakhaBrakha at Amherst College: April 7, 2017

I’ll be speaking at Amherst College in advance of DakhaBrakha’s concert there on the evening of April 7. Haven’t heard of the NPR darlings and breakout Ukrainian musicians DakhaBrakha? You can check out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert here. Tickets for the Amherst show are available here. Lecture is free and open to the public (4:30, Fayerweather Hall, Pruyne Lecture Hall).

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The title of my talk is: “Ethno-Chaos: Hearing DakhaBrakha in the Context of Contemporary Revolutionary Ukrainian Politics.”

This lecture will contextualize some of the sonic influences that DakhaBrakha alchemize in their self-described ethno-chaos band. As they morphed from claiming to be apolitical musicians to touring as “Ambassadors of the Maidan Revolution,” DakhaBrakha exported a political message to audiences throughout Western Europe and North America; since the 2013-14 revolution, they have forged creative alliances that also suggest a particular progressive politics. In the current global climate, as the Ukrainian state faces an existential threat from continuing aggression from Russia, artists such as DakhaBrakha articulate their hopes and frustrations through their musical performances. Situating their creative experiments within a bigger emerging Kyivan arts scene, we will examine the sonic markers utilized in specific songs and ask what kinds of stories they tell about the complex geopolitical landscape of contemporary Ukraine. Through an exploration of “soundmarks of sovereignty,” this lecture will decode some of the layered histories of social belonging that their richly hybrid songs evoke.

The Academic Hustle

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This spring, I’ve been hustling to one conference after the next, breaking out my best (intellectual) moves, trying my best to look the (academic) part, pointing my finger in the air like I just don’t care (not really that part). I’m suffering from audience whiplash, or something, where I can’t remember anymore if the audience I’m speaking to needs me to show a map of Ukraine and drop some basic facts (“Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and is a large country that borders…”) before I launch into a particular argument, or whether the audience is comprised of people who have written important books on the region, and who would be insulted if I assumed that they didn’t know who the current ruling party was, or which song is most popular on the radio. Since March, I’ve presented at: the Bard Sound SymposiumASN in NYC, EMP in Seattle, Imperial Reverb at Princeton, and am about to shuttle off to Cambridge University to give a lecture on Crimean Tatar music for the Crimean Tatar Language & Culture Workshop taking place on May 19-20. Excited for this one, especially now that we can just spend a lot of the time talking about Jamala’s Eurovision win!

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Chornobyl Songs Project to be released on Smithsonian Folkways on April 7

I’m very pleased to announce that the Chornobyl Songs Project album, recorded in 2011, is going to be released on Smithsonian Folkways records on April 7, 2015. I’m planning an album release concert on Saturday, April 25th at the Ukrainian Museum in the East Village, NYC, and a smaller affair at Bard College (featuring Zozulka) on Wed, April 22nd. You can listen to a sneak preview of the record on the Smithsonian Folkways website hereChornobyl_cover_1

Missive from Bard

It was nothing if not a hectic summer. We moved from Toronto to Virginia, bought a cute old house in the Hudson Valley, and unpacked our U-Haul. Then we left for a month-long trip to Ukraine, where Lesia learned to run, and did so through various sites in Kyiv, Lviv and numerous Hutsul villages. We returned in early August to begin the process of settling in, and then spent Labor Day weekend in Hunter, where Zozulka had a performance at the Grazhda Music & Arts Center of Greene County, which was all kinds of wonderful. Yesterday, I led my first two classes at Bard College (“Introduction to Ethnomusicology” and “Musical Exoticisms”). Both courses are way past their enrollment limits, which may bode well for the future of ethnomusicology on this campus. Following the first day of classes, and missing my little family, we drove over to Woodstock’s Big Deep for a beautiful late summer, early evening swim. 

And now, back to class prep.  

DakhaBrakha + Colloquium at Boston University (Oct. 2)

Next Wednesday, October 2, I’ll be introducing the amazing Ukrainian “ethno-chaos” band DakhaBrakha (who are on their first North American tour) at Boston University’s “Global Music Lunchtime Concert Series.” That evening, at 5 PM, I’ll be giving a talk (titled “Chornobyl Songs: ‘Nature’ After Nuclear Disaster”) as part of BU’s Musicology & Ethnomusicology Department colloquium series.

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Torontonians should note that DakhaBrakha will also be in town as part of the Small World Music Festival on October 6th at Revival Bar.  At noon on that day, the Kosa Kolektiv will be hosting an intimate masterclass with the members of DakhaBrakha at St. Vladimir’s Institute – definitely worth checking out.

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