Prominent Advocate for Musical Sustainability to Deliver Regents’ Lecture

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Musician, scholar, and leading arts director Huib Schippers brings his wealth of experience to UCLA when he delivers the UC Regents’ Lecture as part of his Fall 2022 appointment as Regents’ Professor in the ethnomusicology department of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The lecture, titled “Sound Futures: Why Some Music Practices Thrive, Many Struggle, and Others Disappear,” will be held on Monday, November 7 at 1:30 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall, is free and open to the public, and will be livestreamed.

Schippers’ question is a vital one for understanding the problems of cultural survival and relevance in the modern world. He is at once laudatory and critical of international efforts to preserve the intangible elements of art music, particularly the 2003 UNESCO Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which specifically attempted to preserve such cultural events. Schippers’ conception of music as existing within an ecosystem allows for insightful examination of the cultural, political, and social factors that influence musical traditions’ survival or failure.

“I will explore how we can work with communities—from Indigenous elders to opera lovers—to ensure their music practices remain vital, and sustainable, on their terms,” said Huib Schippers. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Having been at the School of Music for a month, Schippers has enjoyed sharing his research on and experience with cultural sustainability, the music industry and music education with eager students, helping them widen their perspectives within and beyond academia. 

Schippers enjoys a wealth of experience in the arts world. He ran a record shop in Amsterdam in the 1980s while also working as a music journalist and founding a music specialist magazine. In the 1990s, he was instrumental in opening world music schools in Amsterdam and worked with conservatories in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.

From 2003 to 2015, Schippers directed the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre in Brisbane, Australia, and in 2016 he assumed the position of Director and Curator of the celebrated Smithsonian Folkwayslabel.

“Having Huib Schippers here at the department of ethnomusicology as Regents’ Professor for Fall 2022 provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from a legendary figure in the world music scene,” said Roger Savage, chair of the ethnomusicology department at UCLA. “At home in the recording industry, music journalism, world music education, festival management, and academic administration, Dr. Schippers shows how a passion for the musics of the world can lead to an exciting professional career that engages multiple skill-sets.”

A prolific public intellectual, Schippers has written more than 100 articles in scholarly journals and high-profile publications. His 2010 monograph, Facing the Music: Shaping Music Education from a Global Perspective, published by Oxford University Press, challenged its readers to abandon their own cultural biases and relearn music education in a culturally diverse world. Schippers brought his own five-decades of experience in music education to bear on his subject. In the words of one reviewer, “Facing the Music should be required reading for all music educators.” A Mandarin version of this book will be published next month.

Schippers’ most recent scholarly work examines different global music cultures as ecosystems all their own. His research has been collected in two collected volumes edited by Oxford University Press, Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures (2016) and Music, Communities, and Sustainability: Developing Policies and Practices (2022).

“Faculty are thrilled to welcome Dr. Schippers, whose depth and breadth of knowledge across multiple realms of musical work are unparalleled,” said Roger Savage. As part of his appointment, Schippers is teaching classes in The Herb Alpert School of Music, and is conducting individual research and career mentoring to students.

“Having worked with universities and arts organizations around the globe, I was delighted to be invited to take on this prestigious role at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music,” said Schippers. “Particularly in the field of ethnomusicology, UCLA has played a leading role for the better part of half a century, and it’s a delight to have face-to-face meetings with so many wonderful colleagues—especially after the pandemic—and to work with students and the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.”