RISM Lecture on Mexican Sources Now Online

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The series of RISM Lectures, originally conceived as in-person events, first came to be realized during the COVID-19 pandemic in virtual form. Its first two incarnations – dedicated to the music archives of the Cappella Sistina and the Bach collection of the Berlin States Library were held exclusively online. As travel restrictions gradually fell away, we dared to plan the third event as a hybrid one from the start, and it indeed took place on 7 October 2022 in the Plenary Hall of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, with some part of the audience joining us via Zoom (a format we also now plan to keep for similar events later).

But the third RISM Lecture also proved to be special in other respects. Having started the series with two presentations focusing on celebrated music collections of the Old Continent, on this occasion we ventured into lesser-known territory not only by uncovering an archive likely unknown to the vast majority of the audience, but also by crossing the Atlantic—in a conscious effort to call attention to the global scope of RISM, and the great of amount of work that still awaits us if we want successfully to live up to our name as an “international inventory.” In addition, this was the first Lecture that formed part of (and in fact served as the festive opening for) a larger event: “Musical Sources: Past and Future – An International Conference Celebrating 70 Years of RISM”.

The three-day anniversary conference sought to provide an overview of the diverse methodological and practical challenges researchers of musical sources have to grapple with, and has in the meantime also been made available on our YouTube channel – even though, due to an unfortunate technical glitch at the venue, only some of the videos are available. Indeed, the original recording of the Lecture itself was affected by the technical problem, and we would like to thank our three speakers—Lucero Enríquez (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Analía Cherñavsky (Universidade Federal de Integração Latino-Americana), and Drew Edward Davies (Northwestern University)—for making the effort and rerecording the entire presentation with kind assistance from Professor Víctor Manuel López Menacho (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco campus) and Vele Comunicación. At the same time, we sought to turn the need to prepare a new recording into an advantage, and so on this revised version the middle section is presented in Spanish but has subtitles in English—a perfect solution that should make watching the recording worthwhile even for those who attended the live presentation.

Rather than a mere demonstration of RISM’s global interest, we believe that this third RISM Lecture offers valuable insights also for a larger audience by problematizing certain ossified notions of colonialism, the relationship between “periphery” and “center,” and by highlighting peculiar ways in which sources may reflect on long-forgotten musical practices. Besides, we were of course particularly pleased to hear Dr. Enríquez’s concluding thoughts, which suggest that RISM’s recent efforts to open its gates have not gone unnoticed and we in fact have dedicated allies who can help us reaching out to ever more sources, scholars, librarians, and (last but by no means least) musicians:

“The change that has taken place in RISM in recent years has been spectacular for us: it has been getting closer to the cataloger, making more flexible the access to its system, opening its fields to diversity and allowing the multiple integration of its online catalog. For us, it really means having reached the port we needed after sailing for 18 years. We see a promising future, not without challenges. Perhaps the main one can be phrased in a question: How to preserve universality while allowing the particularities of diversity? Being gathered here today shows that it is the task of all of us; those of us who work with, for and from RISM.”

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