To Begin Again: Music, Apocalypse, and Social Change

Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference, February 19-20, 2021:
To Begin Again: Music, Apocalypse, and Social Change
In the midst of a pandemic, environmental disasters, post-truth politics, and glaring social injustices, the global atmosphere feels apocalyptic. As we doomscroll our way through “unprecedented times,” music moves along with us, enabling individual expression, collective response, or momentary distraction in the face of impossibly challenging circumstances.
If an apocalypse is an “end of times,” apocalyptic events serve as new beginnings and catalysts for massive change. On varying scales, apocalypses have happened and will continue to happen. Intersectional analyses of phenomena such as chattel slavery, colonization, and climate change reveal the disproportionate effects of these ongoing apocalyptic processes on marginalized communities. Recent calls for abolition and reconstruction – change that dismantles old systems while creating new ones – have rung out nationwide, and echo beyond US borders. And throughout these world-ending and world-beginning events, music participates and persists.
The 2021 Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference seeks to examine how music, musicians, sound, and musical objects address apocalyptic concepts and theories, broadly construed. We welcome proposals from graduate students in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, music composition, performance, and anyone interested in music beyond these sub-disciplines.

This year’s conference will be held online from Friday, February 19, to Saturday, February 20, 2021, hosted by the Graduate Music Forum of Harvard University’s Department of Music in Cambridge, MA.

Presenters are invited to submit proposals for papers, lecture-recitals, or other scholarly presentations on any subject of musical interest.

Submissions were due Monday, November 23rd, 2020. Please contact the Conference Co-Chairs Cana McGhee and Siriana Lundgren with questions at