Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 SEAMUS national conference with 6 Digital Arts students. This annual event is hosted by a different university each year and we were lucky enough to have it at the University of Miami in 2011. This was a great opportunity for our students to travel down the interstate and experience some high-quality electro-acoustic music.

DIGA students at SEAMUS 2011. Back row: Hunter Lee, Patrick Sante, Jon Van Hoff. Front row: Meg Spivey, Liz Pollock, Michelle DuCharme.

The program consisted of 14 concerts in only 3 days, in addition to a variety of paper sessions detailing technical and aesthetic issues relevant to the field. Not for the faint of heart! But it is such a unique experience to be saturated in computer music and hang out with practitioners from around the country (plus a few from across the Atlantic).

I think the students left with a better picture of the variety of interests present in the field and appreciated the chance to “rub shoulders” with composers, performers and researchers who have made this type of music their passion. Some of people whose work we kept talking about (in no particular order) were: Adrian Moore, Bruno Ruviaro, Stephen David Beck, Butch Rovan, Elainie Lillios, John Gibson, Robert McClure, Meg Schedel, Ted Coffey and Scott Wyatt. There were others, but these folks seemed to have the most buzz in our conversations.

Also present at the conference was Chester Udell (BM DIGA 2005), who presented his piece Wakdjunkaga: the Trickster for soprano saxophone and interactive electronics. The piece was commissioned as a result of his winning first place in last year’s student competition. It was good to see Chester again and see how he progressing toward his doctorate from UF.

My piece also apply was featured in the Genelec Listening Room. Housed in one of UM’s audio production rooms, this venue featured a jukebox-style presentation where visitors could choose the pieces they wanted to hear and then enjoy listening to them on a set of quality speaker (with intense low-end, I must add!). It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere for featured composers to gather, hear each others’ work, and chat in between about the music.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was meeting Max Mathews, widely acknowledged as the “Father of Computer Music”. Dr. Mathews was responsible for many of the first experiments in sound synthesis and analysis involving a computer while working at Bell Labs in the 1950s. His programming language for sound synthesis, known as Music I, established many conventions that persist to this day in languages such as Csound and RTcmix. The Max programming environment is also named in his honor.

Now in his 80s, Dr. Mathews is still a regular attender at national and international conferences. He was gracious enough to chat with us for a bit after one of the concerts and pose for the following picture. From left to right: Michelle DuCharme, Hunter Lee, Meg Spivey, Liz Pollock, Dr. Mathews, Dr. Wolek, and Patrick Sante.

Max Mathews takes a moment to pose with DIGA students and Dr. Wolek.

Special thanks to Kristine Burns and Colby Lieder for hosting such a fine conference. It was a very busy and very memorable trip to Miami for SEAMUS where Stetson and Digital Arts were represented well!

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