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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Sportin' Life

Three times systemic racism hindered Buck and Bubbles’s show business career

Since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020, social justice activists have targeted systemic racism in housing, education, and law enforcement. Less attention has been paid to entertainment. As the recent controversy over racial bias in the Academy Awards suggests, however, this problem has always existed in show business. The career of legendary vaudeville team Buck and Bubbles shows how it worked.

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Music Therapy Perspectives

Managing the power of music to foster safety and avoid harm

Pulitzer Prize recipient and American playwright Lynn Nottage shared in a recent interview, “What music can do is get to the emotion with incredible economy and efficiency.” This capacity that music holds to reach in and connect to the wide range of emotions we experience as human beings can be a wonderful asset as it accesses those feelings we want to revisit and are ready to express. This becomes challenging and potentially harmful when it relates to unexpressed or unresolved emotions and experiences.

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Dreams of Love: Playing the Romantic Pianist

The Piano meets The Power of the Dog

In Jane Campion’s 1993 film “The Piano”, and her new film, “The Power of the Dog”, the grand piano serves as more than the emblematic instrument of feminine domestic music-making and of European bourgeois culture transported to the hinterlands of the nation or empire; it also functions as a gender technology because it regulates the metaphorical sound-body of the woman who plays it.

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Magnificat by Tawnie Olson

Tawnie Olson: re-imagining the Magnificat

Several years ago, a choir in which I sang premiered a piece by a successful male composer. The music and text combined to suggest a Blessed Virgin who was inoffensively meek, sweet, and… small. I was not the only singer who found this composer’s vision unsatisfying. After one rehearsal, a normally-reserved alto walked up to me and fumed, “Tawnie, you have to compose a feminist Magnificat!”

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The Music Parents' Survival Guide by Amy Nathan

Silver linings from the COVID-19 shutdowns at music schools

“Our teachers and students and families are so excited to be back, to see everyone again,” said Brandon Tesh, director of the Third Street Music School in New York City. His school resumed in-person classes in September 2021 after 18 months of online instruction, caused by government-ordered school shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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Oxford Music

A history of the Carols for Choirs angel [gallery]

A blog taking us through the many iterations of the iconic Carols for Choirs cover design, from the first version in 1961 through to the current design. The thread throughout all of the covers is an illustrated angel, which can be found on every cover version, in various shapes and sizes!

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The Oxford Book of Carols

Christmas with Ralph Vaughan Williams and The Oxford Book of Carols

The inter-war Oxford Book of Carols (published in 1928) was the brainchild of Reverend Percy Dearmer—a socialist, high church Anglican liturgist who believed that music should be at the core of Christian worship. Today the OBC is a world-renowned publication that shines as as a beacon of experimentation within tradition: a visionary musico-poetic collection of the most profoundly partisan nature.

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Carols for Choirs

Carols for Choirs: the journey to press

A history of the first ‘Carols for Choirs’ book, first published in 1961. Looking at materials from the OUP archive, we trace the journey from the initial idea through to its eventual release and unexpected success.

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Freedom girls: Voicing Femininity in 1960s British Pop

Voicing 1960s femininity: not just a “girl singer” [playlist]

“The disc charts cannot stand many girls, no matter how gorgeous they look,” claimed Beatles manager Brian Epstein in A Cellarful of Noise, his memoir of the 1960s. He was explaining why he’d only ever represented one female performer—Cilla Black. His justification falls back on the then-conventional wisdom that girl singers were an anomaly, were each other’s competitors, and that there wasn’t an audience for their work.

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The Musical Theater of Tommy Tune

The musical genius of Tommy Tune: “old plus old equals new”

From the beginning, Tommy Tune was pulled as if by centrifugal force toward dance and the Broadway musical. He was taking dancing lessons by the age of five, but his early ambition to be a ballet dancer was abandoned when he shot up in height during his teenage years. He later joked about his extreme height, saying, “Sometimes, instead of thinking of myself as six-foot-six, I tell myself I’m only five-foot-eighteen.”

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SHAPE and societal recovery from crises

The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.

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Jazz on a Summer's Day

Inspiring women in jazz, with Nikki Iles

As a teenager, I took clarinet and piano lessons at the Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays. I always particularly loved the chamber groups and small group music-making, so in some ways, it’s no surprise that I ended up in the jazz world! My dad was a semi-pro jazz drummer and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the music of Oscar Peterson, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella and George Shearing as I grew up.

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