The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

Anna-Lise Santella, presenting: “Why the Orchestra?: Music as a Social Force in America and the Rise of American Women’s Orchestras.”


We welcome Anna-Lise Santella, graduate student in the Department of Music presenting: “Why the Orchestra?: Music as a Social Force in America and the Rise of American Women’s Orchestras.”

Abstract: In 1927, a small book titled Music as a Social Force in America and the Science of Practice advocated for amateur music-making as a solution for a wide variety of social ills.  At the heart of the book’s argument stands the community orchestra, which unifies and enlivens a divided and stagnating community.  Using this book as a window on attitudes about orchestral music-making and urban development in the 1920s and ‘30s – attitudes that affected the direction of the Federal Music Project and still influence U.S. arts policy today – I examine the way in which the idea of the orchestra as an engine for social reform enabled the developing women’s orchestra movement in America and ultimately helped women create professional careers as orchestral musicians.

Bio: Anna-Lise Santella holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago, where she is currently completing her Ph.D in Musicology and Ethnomusicology with a dissertation titled, “’Lady Angels’:  Women’s Orchestras in the United States, 1871-1945.”  She has written articles on women’s orchestras for the Women Building Chicago:  1790-1990, A Biographical Dictionary, and for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.  Her article “Modeling Music:  Early Organizational Structures of American Women’s Orchestras” is included in a collection of essays on the orchestra in 19th century America edited by John Spitzer and currently under review at the University of Chicago Press.  Other research interests include Irish seisiuns in America as a cultural crossroads and the music in Kundalini Yoga as a representation of American-Sikh Identity.  In addition to her academic work, Anna-Lise has had an extensive career in orchestra administration, worked as a singer and choral conductor, and is currently teaching jazz and classical violin and Irish fiddle in McHenry County, Illinois.

Ethnoise! The Ethnomusicology Workshop
March 4, 2010
Goodspeed 205

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.