Graduate Students featured at RESONANCE Conference

Eugenia Conte and Jillian Fischer

Graduate students Jillian Fischer and Eugenia Siegel Conte.
UCSB graduate students Jillian Fischer (Musicology) and Eugenia Siegel Conte (Ethnomusicology) participated in "RESONANCE," the Graduate Center for Literary Research's 4th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Friday, May 12, 2017 on the UCSB campus. Ms. Fischer served as the moderator for the first panel in the conference, entitled "Bodies, Spaces, Sounds," and Ms. Conte presented her paper "Empty Echoes: Open Space and Cultural Loss in Estonian Choral Practice" as a part of that same panel. Ms. Conte's abstract is outlined below:
Empty Echoes: Open Space and Cultural Loss in Estonian Choral Practice

The resonant space in European cathedrals seems particularly designed for choral music. Singers and listeners are bathed in a wash of sound in a space built for contemplation and devotion. However, this resonant space can also reflect traumatic reaction and cultural rupture. This paper will approach the topic of trauma and cultural loss in Estonia during the Soviet era, and demonstrate how sacrilization of community provided acoustic and metaphorical spaces for cultural preservation through choral practice in Soviet-stripped Estonian Orthodox churches. Using a combination of trauma studies, sound studies, and voice studies, I will discuss Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s compositional style, developed during the Soviet occupation. His liturgical choral piece “I Am the True Vine,” allows us to see how repetition and fragmented vocal lines mirror traumatic memory (Freud 1920) in a way that is only apparent to the singers, rather than the listeners, whose experience of the piece is pleasant and meditative. The singers’ hidden effort can represent subversive efforts of cultural preservation during the period of Soviet occupation; and resonant memory inherent in cultural loss is mimicked in the cathedral acoustic where the piece is performed. The physical, aural, and metaphorical resonances discussed in this paper mine repetitive echoes of trauma and reverberance within the hollow acoustic of stripped Estonian Orthodox churches (Thompson 2002; Engelhardt 2015) to unpack the physical realities and metaphorical possibilities of “resonance” within cultural, and trauma, studies.
About Eugenia Siegel Conte
Eugenia is a Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She recently completed a MA in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, researching identity in choral music and performance in Oahu, Hawai‘i. Previously, she earned an MA in Music Research at Truman State University, focusing on gender and sexuality in Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw. She is currently interested in voice studies and sound studies, and how they may be applied to choral musical practice.
About Jillian Fischer
Jillian Fischer is an MA/PhD candidate in Musicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her BA from Lawrence University with majors in music and English literature before working as an elementary teacher in Chicago. Her current research interests include how the use of borrowed music in film shapes the audience's perceptions of music as well as how music is used to reconstruct traumatic memories.

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