Sounds of Two Worlds:
Music as a Mirror of Migration
to and from Germany
September 13 and 14, 2002
Memorial Union, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Free and open to the public
This conference brings together scholars, folk artists, and the public to explore the role of music in the migration experience and the shaping of ethnic identity. By looking at the music of Germans who immigrated to America, specifically Wisconsin, as well as the music of immigrants and minorities who live in Germany today, we hope to create a broader understanding of and appreciation for the history and culture of this state while at the same time addressing humanities issues of global importance in the past and present.
German-speaking Europeans migrated to the American Midwest mostly in the second half of the nineteenth century. To this day, there are many music groups, bands, and choirs that identify themselves with German-speaking regions of Europe. From Pomeranian dance groups and Moravian trombone ensembles to a cappella singing societies, German polka bands, and Swiss alpenhorn players, music societies have negotiated ethnic identities and contributed to the fabric of American and Wisconsin history.
More than a century later, Germany itself has changed from a country of emigration
to one sought out by immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, Asia, and
Africa. Now these immigrants bring their music to Germany and influence the
German music scene. Popular Turkish music can be heard on German radio and television,
music clubs specializing in African jazz have opened in Central European cities,
traveling musicians from Russia and the Ukraine share their folk tunes on German
streets, and klezmer music can again be heard in Berlin.
Treating music not only as living culture but also as living history, this conference seeks to reach a wide audience through a variety of formats, including presentations with follow-up discussions, evening concerts, an exhibit, and a teacher workshop.
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