Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference Department of Music, Birmingham University, 4-6 July 2014

By Tess Knighton

This year’s Med-Ren was, as always, both intensive and fun. There were more participants than ever this year, over 200, with five simultaneous sessions throughout. In effect, the conference is becoming the victim of its own success, as this kind of expansion is going to prove difficult to sustain; it’s already imposible to avoid obvious clashes between sessions of interest to the same group of people. For example, the morning session dedicated to music and the Habsburgs clashed with another on the Alamire manuscripts. As usual, there were two ‘Iberian’ sessions, plus another, dedicated to the Requiems, that was also almost exclusively Iberian in content. Apart from music for the dead, early Iberian processionals, manuscripts and treatises, as well as a statistical survey of cathedral musicians’ salaries formed the bedrock of the sessions, together with a very intriguing (and pretty convincing) interpretation of possible hidden meanings in the Agnus dei of Morales’s five-voice Missa L’homme armé by Bernadette Nelson.

Our papers both related to new research undertaken over the last year for the URBANMUSICS Marie Curie Foundation project: Ascensión spoke on ‘“Música para los reconciliados”: Music and Inquisitorial Acts of Faith in Renaissance Iberian Cities’; and Tess on ‘Music and Piety in Sixteenth-Century Barcelona’.  Both papers generated some useful debate.


The photo shows Tess speaking in the Concert Hall of the new Bramall Music Building at Birmingham, with the newly commissioned medieval organ as backdrop and a skull and crossbones from a book of will from the Notarial Archive in Barcelona on the Powerpoint screen. Thanks to Sam Blickan for the photo!

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