GSIM 2016: Music and Radicalism, Radicalism in Music

The 19th Annual Graduate Students in Music conference (GSIM), for which I was a co-chair with Tom Johnson, was held this past weekend (April 22–23). The conference is entirely organized by graduate students within the department of music at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

“Music and Radicalism, Radicalism in Music” was the theme of the conference, and our keynote speaker was Jonathan Pieslak of City College of New York. (View the full schedule here.)

I live-tweeted the conference in an effort to publicize the event and the presentations via social media (#GSIM2016). It was my first attempt at live-tweeting a conference and it was quite the learning experience! The 140-character limit means that you have to distill each talk to its most essential points, which are only sometimes laid out clearly by the presenter. I tried to @ people whenever I could to include them in the digital conversation, but a surprisingly small minority of people have Twitter handles.

Here’s a best-of from #GSIM2016.

About Abimbola Cole Kai-Lewis, “The Hard Cashless Society: Radical Economics and the Music of Hip-Hop Collective Cashless Society”:

Oksana Nesterenko, presenting on the works for feral choir by Phil Minton:

From a lecture-recital, “Suffering Serene Waves: Radical Ecology of the Interior in Nono’s Late Period” by pianist Jade Conlee:

Composer Alec Hall presents on the state of composition of “new music”:

Unsurprisingly, a talk on Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer  by Allison Smith provoked lively discussion:

Here is a taste of Jonathan Pieslak’s keynote talk, “The Sonic World of the Islamic State”:

And finally, the GC’s own Elise Steenburgh presented on the relationship of Khmer-Rouge-era Cambodian song with present day Cambodia:

And finally….


Overall I think it was an excellent and successful conference, made possible through the collaboration of dozens of students. The topic managed to embrace composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, and performance, thus representing all the subdisciplines of music within the Graduate Center’s music department—this is no small task!