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Mar. 7th, 2011 | 07:08 am

Well, as I had anticipated, the audience at the recital was small.

Apparently, the campus publicity person had forgotten to send out the usual publicity. Once my friend, who had invited me to perform at his college, found out that the usual publicity mechanisms had failed, he sent out an email to a standard list of concert patrons. Of course, I had also sent an email around at my university. No one came from there. My former mentor said he would come and then changed his plans and became unavailable. I had sent something around on FB, and my partner had emailed a few friends.

Ultimately, the audience consisted of my friend who invited me to perform, my partner, two of my partner's friends from church, and one of my brother's friends and his wife. It was nice to perform, and now I can claim I gave a recital this semester. We all went to dinner afterward at the campus cafeteria and traded old pot stories from the town that some of us used to live in.

Also, I wrote program notes during a small window of opportunity I was able to find on a Sunday in late January or early February, since all of the rest of my time was filled up with course prep, audition testing, or unpaid professional service for a music theory organization. Somebody on my friend's campus messed up and the programs were never printed. In the end, it didn't matter since the audience was so small.

Oh, well, I'll claim the recital and the program notes as professional activity on my CV. Not that that will earn me significant recognition for merit. Because of the salary at which I entered the system, and everyone crying poor these days, I don't suppose the salary inequity will ever be addressed. I'll probably still be the lowest-paid associate professor in the entire university system after the end of this year, just--as I discovered a couple of years ago--I had been ever since my promotion.

And while I'm at it, I think I'll spend a few minutes reflecting on the colloquium presentation that a graduate student in our department gave the other afternoon. It should be said the he requested to give his presentation two days before spring break. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about having to make a special trip to campus to host the presentation (which is my job this year, as it has been for the past few years). Nonetheless, I dutifully sent out announcements, made posters, and posted them myself throughout the building. There are six faculty members in the combined academic areas of music history and theory in our department. Of those six, three of us were present at the presentation. One faculty member is on leave in Berlin this year. (He's a pain in the ass anyway, and most of us are relieved that he's gone this year.) One, who is the senior member of the area that I'm in, owns an organic farm and is notorious for blowing off appearances on campus after regular hours. He, of course, was absent. The faculty member who is my former mentor is now doing some administrative work (for course release and salary increase, of course). He ran in late and left early, looking around apprehensively like a caged animal. Another faculty member was preparing students to go on a trip to Ecuador to perform some music that had recently been rediscovered there. He was unavailable since he was occupied with logistics for that. So, only two faculty members out of six were there for the entire presentation, and one of us for part of it. There were also only three graduate students present in addition to the presenter.

After the presentation, the other faculty member suggested that a way be found to remind the members of the graduate student cohort that they are expected to attend colloquia. I agreed that this was a good idea, and offered to contact the new director of graduate studies once he returns from Ecuador. Also, our $1000 per annum funding for engaging guest speakers was eliminated a couple of years ago. This same faculty member suggested that we revisit that situation to see if we might be able to reinvigorate the colloquium series in the future.

So, it's not just that there is a lack of support for my particular professional work in the department. Scholarly work in general is treated in the department as if it were an obligation and a luxury that no one can afford in terms of time or $$.

I'm also on the admissions and scholarships committee now (since I had extra duties dumped on me for no extra pay when my former mentor went into administration and received course release and a salary increase). The number of auditionees has been decreasing since there have been some changes in the music education program a few years ago. There is quite a lot of frustration, despair, and dark humor around the table at admissions and scholarships meetings.

Suffice it to say that I'm not just "choosing" to be in a bad mood or to have "negative thoughts" about these cirucmstances, as some New Agers might say. (Fuck them anyway, as a matter of principle.) If there is a silver lining in an any of this, it is that no one seems to be targeting me for particular lack of support. There are clearly problems and frustrations that affect many people in our department and in other music and arts departments as well (based on my conversation with my friend at the other college yesterday). It may well be that this kind of inertia and despair in arts education is a normal part of difficult economic times. One of the composers I've been working on became frustrated with the aesthetic trends in American music in the 1930s and changed his focus to practicing astrology and writing about it. Maybe having his example before me is not a bad thing, and maybe it's not just coincidence that I discovered his work right after 9/11.

Well, time to get dressed and go see the tax accountant.



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