The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

EthNoise! presents Kate Brucher


Please join us on today (Thursday, February 17) from 4:30-6pm on Zoom for a presentation from Kate Brucher, Associate Professor of Music and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at DePaul University School of Music, and the incoming editor for the journal Ethnomusicology. Ailsa Lipscombe, Ph.D. Candidate in Music, will serve as the respondent.

“Public Infrastructure and Musical Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Abstract: Public spaces such as city parks, plazas, and streets have been used as outdoor performance venues to provide communities with safer spaces to gather during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Open air performances have been viewed as consistent with good public health practices, but these events have also been considered beneficial for fostering a sense of connection among participants and spurring economic recovery during the pandemic. In this presentation, I examine how over the course of the pandemic, recreational and political infrastructure – public spaces, municipal agencies– have taken on greater significance to local music scenes and how, in turn, musical endeavors have promoted engagement with these infrastructures.

The City of Chicago provides a case study for this project. In March 2020, lockdown ended public performances throughout the city, and musicians of all genres lost opportunities to perform. Professional musicians and the many people working in supporting roles in the music industry lost income along with the institutions and businesses that host performances. While many performers pivoted to online platforms, open air spaces –especially those maintained by the Chicago Park District – offered opportunities for in-person musical activity. This includes events sanctioned by the city through initiatives such as Night Out in the Parks as well as block parties, concerts, and festivals organized by community organizations, local park councils, non-profit groups, and private businesses. Through interviews with musicians, audience members, park district employees, and other stakeholders and observation of ongoing activities, I explore how these performances have engaged local communities with public spaces. This project sheds light on how public spaces help sustain musical life and potentially revive cultural economies in a post COVID 19 pandemic world.

Kate Brucher is an Associate Professor of Music and teaches courses in ethnomusicology, music research methods, and global musics at the DePaul University School of Music, where she currently serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. She is Incoming Editor for the journal Ethnomusicology and previously served as its Book Reviews Co-Editor. Kate has published on Chicago’s music scenes, global brass band traditions, music and locality, and Portuguese music. She has edited, with Suzel Ana Reily, Brass Bands of the World: Militarism, Colonial Legacies, and Local Music (2013) and the Routledge Companion to the Study of Local Musicking (2018).

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