RISM at the 2022 IMS Congress in Athens

Thursday, September 15, 2022

While one of RISM’s sponsoring organizations, the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) holds a congress each year, offering us the chance to share the latest news about our work in person, the International Musicological Society (IMS) puts up full congresses only quinquennially. This year the congress—organized around the overall theme “Music across Borders”—took place from 22 to 26 August in Athens, and in conceiving our contributions we sought both to remind our colleagues of RISM’s 70th anniversary and to give them an update about our latest developments.

The RISM session, held on 23 August in the beautiful Multipurpose Room of the Music Library of Greece “Lilian Voudouri”, consisted of a roundtable discussion entitled “RISM at 70: Perspectives of a Project without Borders” as well as a general information session. Due to last-minute health complications, the roundtable eventually offered a lineup somewhat different from the one originally published in the official program: Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl (Vice-President of both the IMS and the RISM Association), Christina Urchueguía (Secretary General of the IMS), Laurent Pugin (Secretary of the RISM Association and Co-Director of the RISM Digital Center) and Leonardo Waisman (elected member of the RISM Association) offered insights into the 70-year-long history of the project with Balázs Mikusi (Executive Director of the RISM Editorial Center) acting as moderator. Points of particular concern were the multiple shifts of interest regarding the source types to be covered, the ever-fluctuating involvement of certain countries and the resulting imbalances in RISM’s coverage on a global scale, the technological changes we had to keep up with in the past three decades, and of course the perspectives for the post-2025 period, when the RISM Editorial Center can no longer be funded under the auspices of the German Akademienprogramm which has enabled our work for over four decades.

The highlight of the informal second part of the session (simply entitled “What’s New at RISM?”) was without a doubt the last item on the program: a presentation by Andrew Hankinson (RISM Digital Center) of RISM Online, the new gateway to our data that should help researchers answer some old research questions, while also inspiring them to formulate new ones. In addition, brief reports were offered by Balázs Mikusi about the work of the RISM Editorial Center, by Laurent Pugin on the latest achievements of the Digital Center, and by Jennifer Ward and Rodolfo Zitellini (RISM Editorial Center and Digital Center, respectively) about the ongoing development of the Muscat cataloging application, and how it could help musicologists and students in pursuing their research into uncharted repertories and collections.

The next IMS congress will take place in 2027, the year when the Society will celebrate its 100th anniversary and RISM its 75th. The location of the event has not yet been announced, but we shall certainly be around and offer some programs that call attention to the crucial role the IMS played in conceptualizing and realizing the RISM project in the late 1940s and early ’50s, in an effort to take stock of the surviving musical sources after the devastation of World War II.

Image: Roundtable discussion with (from left to right) Leonardo Waisman, Christina Urchueguía, Balázs Mikusi, Laurent Pugin, and Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl. Photograph courtesy of RISM.

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