A Virtual fundraiser for the international camp for democratic leadership:
Charles Ives and the Ideals of Democracy
Thursday,June 10 7:30-9:00 pm EST
Join Richard Giarusso–Kallion Advisor and Chair of Musicology at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University–for a Zoom lecture and discussion on the democratic legacy of Charles Ives: one of the most important American composers of the 20th Century. Funds raised will benefit the International Camp for Democratic Leadership. Donations are encouraged but not required for registration.
In early 1920, the American composer and insurance mogul, Charles Ives, launched a campaign in support of a 20th amendment to the United States Constitution. Building upon ideas explored in earlier writings, Ives outlined an amendment to establish a form of direct democracy whereby voters would shape the legislative priorities of the US Congress. When his plan to publish his ideas in a number of leading newspapers failed, he undertook a letter-writing campaign to prominent political figures, including Willam Howard Taft (then Kent Professor of Law at Yale), who was the only one to send him a real response. Ives’s proposal is often dismissed as a bizarre chapter in the life of an eccentric iconoclast who never let impracticality stand in the way of an idea. The far-fetched details of Ives’s amendment notwithstanding, the basic concept is rooted in a sincere and abiding belief in the highest ideals of what a democratic society could be.
Ives’s understanding of democracy was inextricably linked with his identity as an artist and a musician. With the story of Ives’s campaign for 20th amendment as a historical touchstone, this presentation will consider ways in which music and musical practice can be understood as a canvas for the development and application of democratic thinking. Specifically, we will explore three ideals of democracy—involvement, dialogue, and progress—as they are reflected both in repertoire and the dynamics of musical performance. Examples will be drawn from music and writings of Ives, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Cage, and others.
The presentation will also feature a virtual performance of Ives’s setting of John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” — recorded by Richard Giarusso and pianist Andrew Jonathan Welch.