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Friday, November 17th, 2017
Lecture - Demonstration: Myths, Lies and Truths: Romanticizing Traditional Cultures This interactive lecture explores the ways that historical forces, commercial agendas and technological change can result in a romanticization of traditional cultures — to the point that members of that culture no longer measure up to our distorted perceptions of what they're supposed to be. Using the case study of Sephardic music from the former Ottoman Empire, we explore these shifts in both their inadvertent and intentional forms. How is it that music from the turn of the 20th century became perceived as Medieval? Who gains, and who loses, when traditional music is taken beyond its native contexts? Through field recordings from Sephardic communities in the Balkans and Mediterranean, as well as live performance from the award-winning Guy Mendilow Ensemble, this lecture traces the changes to these traditional songs with powerful implications for us today. Topics include: What challenges do modern creatives face when working with traditional material — especially from endangered cultures? What are implications for questions of authenticity? How can audiences navigate exploitative marketing traps?