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Research Grant – Spring 2007 Title or Proposal: Faculty member: Unit: From the Slums of Calcutta to the Concert Halls of London: The Life and Music of Indian Composer John Mayer (1930-2004) [and Intercultural Music for flute, oboe and piano] John Robison School of Music Abstract: These funds will be used to cover air travel, ground transportation, lodging, and registration fees for the Fourth Biennial International Symposium on Composition in Africa and the Diaspora, which will held at Cambridge University in England on August 1-4, 2007. The applicant will be reading a paper on the music of Indian composer John Mayer, and also participating with two faculty colleagues in a concert of contemporary music by African, Africa-American, Asian and Latin American composers. Proposal: The purpose of this proposal will be to do two presentations, one scholarly paper and one concert, at the Fourth Biennial International Symposium on Composition in Africa and the Diaspora. One of the main purposes of this conference is to establish dialogues in music between African, Asian and Latin American scholars, composers and performers. The applicant’s scholarly presentation will be on Indian composer John Mayer (1930-2004), who will be of great interest to the people at Cambridge University since Mayer lived in England for most of his adult life. The paper will discuss the high points of Mayer’s life, including the difficulties of becoming a musician when a person is born into the lowest caste system in Indian society, the Indian government scholarship that enabled him to emigrate to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music, his years playing violin professionally with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and his development as a composer from 1955 until his unexpected accidental death in 2004. Particular emphasis will be placed on Mayer’s commissioned works for his friends in England (flutist James Galway, violinist Erich Gruenberg, cellist Rohan de Saran), and on the music that he composed for his famous Indo-Jazz Fusions ensemble. Mayer’s tendency to integrate Indian with Western elements will be explored through a discussion of melody, rhythm, and sound quality in his music. The concert is being planned in collaboration with two faculty colleagues. Kim McCormick and Naomi Niskala. It fits in nicely with the theme of the conference since it includes flute, oboe and piano trios by one African composer (J. H. Kwabena Nketia) and one AfricanAmerican composer (William Grant Still), as well as music for flute/tanpura/piano by John Mayer and oboe/piano by one Latin American composer (Alceo Bocchino or Luis Antonio Escobar). The applicant will play oboe on the trios and the Indian tanpura on Mayer’s composition. USF faculty member and Taiwanese composer Chihchun Lee has indicated that she will compose a new work for flute, oboe and piano that will also be given its world premiere at the conference. If Drs. McCormick and Niskala are not able to participate in the conference due to lack of funding from the Division of Sponsored Research, then the organizer of the conference has indicated that he will supply this applicant with a pianist so that a similar concert can still be performed at Cambridge. The applicant’s paper on John Mayer deals with an innovative composer who crossed disciplines between performance and composition, and between traditional Indian and classical Western styles (including jazz). The proposed concert features music that is unpublished and/or unavailable on CD. For these reasons, both proposals fit in with our emphasis on diversity, on the contemporary arts, and our desire to produce internationally recognized, distinctive research. In addition, if awarded, the applicant’s presence at the conference in Cambridge will enable him to travel to Germany before or after the conference to conduct research on another project.