By Randi Eichenbaum
Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Professor of ethnomusicology Janet Sturman demonstrates new equipment designed to transfer records into digital sound clips to be used for field studies. Sturman was invited to speak at a conference in Ixtapa, Mexico.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 3, 2005
Mexico may be known for its fine tequila and lenient drinking laws, but the land across the border can offer an educational and cultural experience beyond the art of intoxication, specifically in the area of music.
UA associate music professor Janet Sturman will take ethnomusicology to the University of Tampico in Tampico, Mexico, at the “Foro Internacional de Educacion de Musica,” or for all you non-Spanish speakers, the Forum of International Music.
Sturman began her education at Wittenberg University in Ohio, where she received her bachelor’s. She then went on to receive her master’s at Hunter College in New York and finished her formal education when she received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University.
The ethnomusicologist and pianist has the privilege of speaking with other music scholars from Mexico, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. Sturman is not familiar with any of her fellow speakers except Evaristo Aguilar, with whom she has a previous connection. Aguilar, a composer and percussionist, works as a professor at the University of Tamaulipas and will help in hosting the event.
“I met Aguilar when he came last year for the 49th annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology,” Sturman said in reference to the convention that was held last year at the UA. “We hosted this conference, this is a big, big conference, and we had over 500 people come.”
The theme of this year’s forum is “Music in the Third Millennium,” Sturman said, adding that she is looking forward to speaking to the university’s music students and other academic guests.
“I’m going to talk about the importance of educating students of music in their region,” Sturman said. “It is really important to understand the traditions of music. Culture is a very important part of the development of any society and we tend to take it for granted just as entertainment.”
Beyond that, Sturman also will speak on the technological aspects of music and the importance that students and faculty alike be involved in the industry. She feels that anybody should be able to download music that pertains to his or her own culture.
The professor’s trip to the forum will be no road trip, however. For those who have not ventured in Mexico past Rocky Point, Tampico is located on the Gulf of Mexico.
“I’ve never been there, so this will be very exciting,” Sturman said.
This is not the first time, however, that Sturman has taken ethnomusicology internationally. She started an ethnomusicology program at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose in the spring. Sturman will include her hopes of bringing Costa Rican music to the rest of the world in her presentation next week.
Sturman will be departing for Mexico at the end of the week, a few days prior to the forum so she can attend a music festival being held in the area. For Sturman, this is not exactly a vacation because all the information that she acquires from her trip will be useful in her teachings back at home, specifically a Latin American music course at the UA she is currently teaching.
“The more I know about this, the better,” Sturman said.