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Image by courtesy of Cristina BerioThis International Congress presents a variety of approaches to the cultural legacy of Cathy Berberian (1925-1983, see also a short biography of Cathy Berberian) from various disciplines in the Humanities. Berberian was an extraordinary vocal performance artist, a cant’actrice, who broke with musical conventions and found ‘unheard’ ways of bringing the voice to meaningful expressions. Her invaluable legacy and contribution to the development of (electro-)vocal music calls for an interdisciplinary approach.

Cathy Berberian did not accept the traditional dichotomy between ‘high’ and ‘low’ music and constantly strived for cross-overs with pop culture and folk music. She had a big influence on many avant-garde composers and vocal/theatrical performers after 1950. A muse and an inspiratrice, she remained in the shadows of the composers and the authors with whom she collaborated. This solicits a discussion on the status of the performing musician as (co-)author, and on the differentiation between score and vocality/theatricality, as well as the gender aspects involved.

This venue brings Berberian’s pioneering work to the foreground through lectures and discussions, and attempts to place it in a broader historical context of contemporary vocality and musical performance art. Guest speakers are among others Berberian’s daughter Cristina Berio, composers Louis Andriessen and Sylvano Bussotti, vocalist and music professor Carol Plantamura, biographer Marie Christine Vila and musicologist David Osmond-Smith. International academics will discuss the work of Cathy Berberian and issues of contemporary vocality in relation to their latest research.

Further, the award-winning documentary on Cathy Berberian ‘Music Is The Air I Breathe’ (1994) by Carrie de Swaan will be shown, as well as unpublished archive materials of various performances. A concert (in co-operation with the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ on 28 April) will close the program.