BFE Annual Conference (Kent) 2016: New Currents in Ethnomusicology

Conference dates: 
14 Apr 2016 to 17 Apr 2016


Report from the 2016 BFE Annual Conference: New Currents in Ethnomusicology.

School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, Chatham Dockyard Campus, 14th-17th April 2016

Report compiled by Liam Barnard


The sun shone on at least the first and final days of this four-day gathering, the weather being typically British for the Friday and Saturday! Of course this made no difference to the fun and relaxed atmosphere that presided over this year’s annual conference. The quality of the papers was more than consistently excellent, and some unexpectedly deep conversations were initiated in question times, enabled somewhat by experimenting with maintaining a degree of anonymity beyond the review process, even through the process of grouping successful papers into sessions based upon themes. 

Despite the minor hiccough of lunch arriving half an hour late on Friday, the quality of the catering and the service provided by their team was exemplary, including organising the inaugural Society for Ethnomusicology Ice Cream Social, so successful an idea developed by Stephen Stuempfle of the SEM that Kent Hospitality have decided to offer this as a catering option for other conferences in the future! The evening wine receptions, one sponsored by T & F publishers and the other, in honour of the great Prof. David Hughes, added to the smiles and happiness that was a feature of our annual gathering this year. A favourite Facebook quote of mine regarding the conference read “It feels like I’ve just been on a holiday with all my friends!”. And smiles there were a-plenty during and after Prof. Jonathan Stock’s excellent and hugely entertaining keynote speech - “Sounding the Bromance”. After a long but rewarding three days of papers, Saturday night was party night in Coopers Bar, across the road from the Dockyard Campus, where the musical collaborations and the display of talents stretched on until closing time at midnight. Who could forget David Hughes’ performance of his JapRap, or the surprising versatility of Ruard Absaroka’s beatboxing! From Ceilidh Folk to Argentine Tango to Chicago Blues, the musical globe kept spinning throughout the evening.





          Keynote: Prof. Jonathan Stock                                               Wine reception in honour of Prof. David Hughes


By the time the plenary session commenced late on Sunday morning, with Tim Cooley’s take on the Shipping Forecast, accompanied by strains of the classic Radio 4 callsign, “Sailing By”, the sun was shining again, bathing our dockyard in golden morning light. This was a conference which took over a year to organise, and I must please extend my thanks to Byron Dueck, Barley Norton, Kevin Dawe, Jonathan Stock, Richard Lightman, Ruth Herbert, Alan Payne, Tom, Philippa, the BFE volunteers, Sam Cunningham, Jacky Olsen and everybody else who made this joyous celebration of ethnomusicology happen, and that includes everybody who came down to Chatham and shared our dockyard with us! 

Now it’s all over until Sheffield in 2017 it seems like a bit of an anticlimax for us to return to our daily academic lives. We hope you have as many happy memories to take with you as we have of hosting our four days in April, and that you take the Sunday sunshine with you wherever you go over the next year!

Some pictures of our BFE AGM at Kent University. Including some wonderful music provided by Liam Barnard and ShzrEe Tan. Thank you to all our membership for being there! See you next year in Sheffield!



                                 All that jazz!                                                                    BFE AGM is about to start