Published: April 16, 2018

Unique lecture and music performances presented at MSU

Contact(s): Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043, Beth Brauer-Delaney Communications and Brand Strategy

Modern hot-button issues haven’t always been modern. In fact, topics brought to the forefront today by the #MeToo movement and social divisions over race and sexual orientation have been addressed through the arts for decades.

Now, the MSU College of Music will present a first-of-its kind series of presentations and performances that explore the deeper meaning in significant musical works of the past 100 years. Visitors can gain insight on important topics and then immediately hear the music that inspired and reflected those issues.

It all takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 20-22, 2018 in Cook Recital Hall in the MSU Music Building. Called “20th- and 21st-Century Song Cycles for Voice and Piano,” this special event can be attended as a full conference or attendees can choose which presentations and performances they would like to attend and witness them for free (no ticket required).

Select presentations will also be broadcast live on the web. Visit the College of Music Livestream site to browse upcoming events.

MSU associate professors of music theory Michael Callahan and Gordon Sly created the event and are among the MSU faculty who will present their insights.

Other sections will be conducted by visiting faculty. MSU students and guest performers will bring the music to life with voice and piano, live on stage. A full schedule of events can be found online.

“There are many academic conferences where presenters go quite in depth on their topic, and you feel fortunate if you hear a pre-recorded snippet of the music being studied. We want to do something different and engaging,” explained Callahan. “We’ll not only have professional quality performances of the music immediately following a talk, we’ll also open it up to questions from the audience and have an interaction about the music and topic at hand.”

Over the three-day period, there will be 14 total presentations and performances. A select number of them will also be available via the college’s Livestream channel.

“Scholars and presenters will be here from all over the country,” said Sly. “It is a great opportunity for people interested in music, social issues, and the arts in general to participate casually to whatever extent they would like.

Composers like Barber, Higdon, Bolcom, Britten and Shostakovich will be discussed and performed with opportunities to dig into the deeper meaning today of these important works.”

All sessions are free and open to the public. is generously sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association.

A new superpower on the horizon. Michigan State University scientists look to the sun to solve Earth's biggest problems. Read our paid post on the New York Times site