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Ray Smith Symposium presents 'War in Iraq' concert, symposium, seminar Nov. 14-16

October 20, 2010

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

The Ray Smith Symposium at Syracuse University continues its yearlong exploration of “Music of Conflict and Reconciliation” with a special three-day event titled “The War in Iraq.”

The program encompasses a Society for New Music concert, featuring Arab-American composer/performer Simon Shaheen, on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 4:30 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel; a symposium on post-9/11 music, and music of the Iraqi war with professors Jonathan Pieslak (CUNY Graduate Center) and J. Martin Daughtry (New York University) on Monday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Grant Auditorium of the College of Law; and a mini seminar with Pieslak and Daughtry on Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the SU Humanities Center Seminar (room 304) in the Tolley Building.

For more information about the events, which are free and open to the public, call (315) 443-4185, or visit

“Since 9/11, music has become increasingly politicized,” says event organizer Amanda Eubanks Winkler. “Some artists have written songs in support of the troops and of the first responders at ‘Ground Zero.’ Others have written blistering critiques of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and of the policies of the Bush administration. And because of the emergence of new technologies, soldiers fighting overseas are able to create and widely disseminate their own music for the first time in history.”

The Society for New Music concert features one of today’s most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers. “Simon Shaheen defies categorization,” says Winkler, who doubles as associate professor and chair of art and music histories in The College of Arts and Sciences. “In addition to being a virtuoso on the violin and oud (a pear-shaped stringed instrument used in the Middle East), he is an incomparable composer whose music fuses Arabic, jazz, Western classical and Latin American traditions.” Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award from the White House in 1994.

The concert features selections by Shaheen, Persian-born composer Rezi Vali and Egyptian-Canadian composer Karim Al-Zand. The performances are by members of the Society for New Music, a Syracuse organization that commissions and advocates works by regional composers. Images by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, a Spanish Romantic painter and printmaker, will be projected onstage throughout the concert.

The ensuing program features a presentation by Pieslak titled “For Duty, Honor, and Country: The Recruiting Music of the U.S. Military and the Islamic State of Iraq.” He is a music theorist and award-winning composer whose areas of research include critical theory, rhythm and meter in metal music, and music and war. Pieslak is joined by Daughtry, whose presentation is titled “A Painful and Necessary Noise: Thoughts on the Sonic Dimension of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Daughtry is a prominent ethnomusicologist whose expertise encompasses music and memory, music and politics, and the significance of sound in conflict zones. Symposium respondents include Mehrzad Boroujerdi (SU) and Eliot Bates (Cornell University).

The Ray Smith Symposium continues with “Refugees and Exile” (Feb. 17-18) and “Reconstruction and Reconciliation” (March 24-25). In addition to Winkler, faculty organizers include associate professor Carol Babiracki, assistant professor Theo Cateforis and Stephen Meyer, associate professor.

“The War in Iraq” is sponsored by the Ray Smith Symposium; art and music histories; Office of the University Arts Presenter; Society for New Music; Department of Religion; the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon initiative; and the SU Humanities Center.

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