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Sound and the Sacred

Friday, Nov 17, 2017 - Saturday, Nov 18, 2017
Sound and the Sacred, a UCLA-CMRS conference organized by Sharon Gerstel.

Sound—whether thunder or psalmody—plays a role in the formation and perception of the sacred. Religions acknowledge the importance of sound, manifested in the voice of God, the call to prayer, collective chant, and other profound ways. Sound unifies communities in sacred worship and affirms sacred hierarchies. It is captured in images and contained in built environments. Sound—human, angelic, primordial, heavenly— is critical to spiritual transformation. The connection of sound and the sacred is born in the first cry of a child emerging from the womb, and at death, sound is the last sense to leave the body. Sound is never extinguished; reverberations are theorized to be omnipresent and eternal. Sound fades beyond human cognition but lingers in the atmosphere.

This symposium addresses questions that are at the forefront of current academic research in the humanities and sciences. It showcases projects on the acoustical measurement of ancient, Early Christian, Byzantine, Western Medieval, Islamic and Renaissance temples, churches, and mosques. These projects engage scholars in innovative explorations of sound and its reception, particularly within sacred landscapes. This symposium also considers orality/aurality and performance/reception, through diachronic, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches.

Funding for this conference is provided by the Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies. Co-sponsored by: Center for Musical Humanities at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; UCLA Department of Art History; UCLA Center for the Study of Religion; UCLA Dean of Humanities; UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture Initiative

Advance registration is requested. Please click here to complete the short registration form.

No fee. Limited seating. Self-pay parking in lots 2, 3, and 4. Parking information at https://main.transportation.ucla.edu/campus-parking/visitors

9:30 Coffee and light refreshments
10:00 Welcoming Remarks
David Schaberg
(Asian Languages, UCLA), Dean of Humanities
Sharon E.J. Gerstel (Art History, UCLA), CMRS Associate Director, Conference Organizer
Session I  |  Chair: Kathryn A. Morgan (Classics, UCLA)
10:30 Ronald L. Grimes (Ritual Studies International)
“Sounding Ritual”
11:15 Discussion
11:30 Angelos Chaniotes (Institute for Advanced Study)
“The Sound of Greek Worship”
12:15 Discussion
12:30 Father Maximos Constas (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology)
“‘Her Voice was a Voice of Power’: Creation through Sound in the Byzantine World”
1:15 Lunch Break
Session II  |  Chair: Elizabeth Randell Upton (Musicology, UCLA)
2:30 Mark Kligman (Ethnomusicology and Musicology, UCLA)
“Contemporary Jewish Sounds in New Spaces: A Case Study of B’nai Jeshrun in New York”
3:15 Discussion
3:30 Robert Fink (Musicology, UCLA)
“The Shoebox and the Vineyard: Sound, Space, and Tradition in the Design of Modern Concert Halls”
4:15 Discussion
4:30 Sharon E. J. Gerstel (Art History, UCLA) and Chris Kyriakakis (Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California)
“Sensing Sacred Acoustics”
9:30 Coffee and light refreshments
Session III  |  Chair: Ann Marie Yasin (Art History & Classics, University of Southern California)
10:00 David J. Knight (Archaeologist, University of Southampton)
“Sensory Reflections of San Vitale; From Sixth-Century Ostrogothic Ravenna, to Dante, and Beyond”
10:45 Discussion
11:00 Bissera Pentcheva (Art History, Stanford University)
“The Elevation of the Cross in Hagia Sophia: Image, Relic, Space, and Music”
11:45 Discussion
12:00 Nina Ergin Macaraig (Archaeology and Art History Koç University)
“Mimar Sinan’s Qur’anic Soundscapes and the Case of the Hadım İbrahim Paşa Mosque in Istanbul”
12:45 Lunch Break
Session IV  |  Chair: Susan Boynton (Music, Columbia University)
2:00 Graeme M. Boone (Music, The Ohio State University)
“Exquisite Harmonies:  Late Medieval Counterpoint and Architectural Design”
2:45 Discussion
3:00 Kacie Morgan (Musicology, UCLA)
“Voice of the Cathedral: Sound and Space in Twelfth-Century Notre-Dame Polyphony”
3:45 Discussion
4:00 Isabelle Marchesin (Institut national d’histoire de l’art)|
“Monastic Chant as Spiritual Habitat in a Twelfth-Century Manuscript”
4:45 Discussion
5:00 Kristine Tanton (Art History, Université de Montréal)
“Linking Heaven and Earth: French Romanesque Sculpture and Epigraphy in the Monastic Choir”
5:45 Reception
Session V in Powell Library Rotunda
7:00 Ian Krouse (Music, UCLA) in conversation with Vatsche Barsoumian (Director, Lark Musical Society)
7:30 Spyridon Antonopoulos (Music, City, University of London) in conversation with Alexander Khalil (Institute for Neural Computation, UCSD)
8:00 Cantor Jack Mendelson (Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music) in conversation with Mark Kligman (Ethnomusicology and Musicology, UCLA)


 Download a PDF of this program schedule.


Friday, Nov 17, 2017
Saturday, Nov 18, 2017



View Organizer Website