Humanities symposium on music, myths and mountains

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 13, 2004 – "Music, Myths & Mountains," a three-day humanities symposium, will be held at Virginia Tech from Oct. 28-30. This event will feature performers and scholars from all over the world, including Central Asia, Ukraine, Scotland, and Canada. Presentations will cover various topics, ranging from "Mountains in Movies" to discussions of Kentucky folk tales and the legends of Ukrainian mountain villages.

All events are free and open to the public.

The event kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Squires Recital Salon with pianists Kent Holliday and Nick Ross for an evening entitled "Classical Music and Mountains."

After a full day of topics on Friday (presentations listed below), local author Sharyn McCrumb will read from her novels with interpolated "mountain ballads" that appear in the novels performed by Jack Hinshelwood. Born and bred in Appalachia, McCrumb's mountain roots and her Scots-Irish heritage reveal themselves in the body of her work. McCrumb, a New York Times best-selling author, earned a master's degree in English from Virginia Tech. She will be performing at 7:30 p.m. at the Donaldson Brown auditorium.

Saturday features another full day of sessions, and the symposium will conclude that evening with a lecture-recital by folklorists and musicians Alan Jabbour and James Reed, called "Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier." Former director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Jabbour is trained as a classical violinist, then studied folk fiddle with the legendary Henry Reed. This evening of folklore and fiddling also will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Donaldson Brown auditorium.


Friday, Oct. 29

9 — 11:30 a.m. Session I: (Karl Precoda, moderator)

John C. Tibbetts: "Mountain Movies: Summits of Experience"

Esti Sheinberg: "The Musical Meaning of the Mountain in Israeli Song"

Feza Tansug: "Music, Myths, and Mountains: Nomad Aesthetics in Kyrgyzstan"

1:30 — 2:30 p.m. Session II: (Michael Saffle, moderator)

The 2004 CHEW (Commonwealth Humanities Endowment Lecture):

Inna Golovakha-Hicks: "Who Listens to Fairy Tales Today? Myths, and the True Life of Fairy Tales, in Ukrainian Folk Communities of the Mountains and Plains (The Auditory and its Role in Fairy Tales' Functioning)"

2:45 — 4:30 p.m. Session III: Room to be assigned (Nyusya Milman, moderator)

Anita Puckett: "Religious Myths in Appalachian Activism: The Re-Application of Linguistic Ideologies of Power"

Olesya Britsyna: "Repeated Recordings in the Study of Local Oral Prose Narrative Traditions of Two Ukrainian Villages (Plains and Mountains)"

Saturday, Oct. 30

9:00 — 11:30 a.m.Session IV: (Michael Saffle, moderator)

Ian Mitchell: "The Manufacture of Myth; Stories and Songs from the Scottish Mountains"

Susan Spaulding: "Traditional Dance as Icon: Hoedown Island, Kentucky"

Kenneth DeLong: "Turtle Wakes: The Mountain, the Myth, the Opera."

1:30 — 4:00 p.m. Session V: (Elizabeth Fine, moderator)

Jimmy Dean Smith: "'Ghosts in the Tunnels': Resurrected Myth in the Greatest Hits of Harlan"

Jeff Mann: "Mountain Modes: Seven Dulcimer Poems"

Mac Traynham: "Local music-making"

For additional information, contact Bep Cooper at (540) 231-5812 or by email at

The conference website is located at

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