Awards presented at the 2005 Annual Conference

Click on the award to view the citation read at the conference.


Lowens Book Award (2003) Presented to Gage Averill for Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony

Four Parts, No Waiting by Gage Averill represents a successful combination of historical musicology and ethnomusicology. Subtitled "A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony," Averill's book offers a survey of popular American quartet singing from nineteenth-century minstrelsy, vaudeville and the early recording industry through the twentieth-century revival known as "barbershop."

The "barbershop" movement began in the 1930s as an amateur revival of a previously professional genre, emphasizing male camaraderie and nostalgia for mythologized small-town values and way of life. Institutionalized as SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc.), this movement, which spawned a separate organization for women singers (the Sweet Adelines), embodies a distinctive subculture of quartets, choruses, clubs, conventions, competitions, repertory, and performance practices.

Averill places this development in the broad contexts of music, the entertainment industry, politics, social class, gender, race relations, and culture, offering an important contribution to the study and interpretation of this highly characteristic and popular but often overlooked aspect of America's musical life.

Lowens Article Award (2003) Presented to Stanley Kleppinger for "On the Influence of Jazz Rhythm in the Music of Aaron Copland" American Music, Volume 21 No. 1 (Spring 2003)
(Citation by Lenore Coral and Paul Laird)

Musicologists often cite jazz influence on concert music, but we seldom go beyond superficial musical characteristics to describe such an influence. It is agreed that jazz played a major role in Aaron Copland's formulation of an "American" compositional style, but this influence has seldom been described in any real depth. In 2003, Stanley Kleppinger's article "On the Influence of Jazz Rhythm in the Music of Aaron Copland" (published in American Music 21/1 [Spring 2003]: 74-111) made a major contribution to our understanding of Copland's relationship with jazz, and his use of its rhythmic influences in his compositions. For the power of Mr. Kleppinger's arguments, his virtuosic handling of sources, and his comprehensive understanding of this complicated topic, the Irving Lowens Award for Best Article Committee chose his work as the best article on an American topic published in 2003.

Mr. Kleppinger has distilled what jazz rhythm meant to Copland through a study of Copland's own writings and writings of others in the 1920's at the start of Copland's career. Copland was a prolific and insightful writer who carefully articulated what jazz rhythm meant to him, helping to show how his ideas developed over time. His use of polyrhythm, a technique he admitted was not confined to the jazz idiom, had to be combined with harmonic and melodic jazz gestures and even with suggestions in program notes to put the listener in the jazz receptive mood. Although Copland stated that his Piano Concerto was the last work in which he used jazz idioms, Kleppinger finds the same rhythmic devices in works throughout Copland's compositional career. He suggests that these markers, while sometimes subtle, help to identify Copland's music as American.

Please join us in congratulating Stanley Kleppinger as we award him the 2003 Irving Lowens 2003 Best Article in American Music Award.


Lifetime Achievement Award (2005) Presented to Dena Epstein

(citation by Mary Wallace Davidson)

The Society for American Music this year honors a distinguished music librarian, scrupulous scholar, and prolific author. Dena Julia Polacheck was born in Milwaukee on Thanksgiving Day a few months before America entered World War I. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music in 1937 at the University of Chicago, she took a Master's degree in library science in 1943 at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Supporting her studies as an art and music cataloger, she cataloged a newly acquired collection of 800 Chicago music imprints published before the great fire, which in turn led to her magnificently documented master's thesis, revised and published in 1969 as Music Publishing in Chicago before 1871: The Firm of Root and Cady, 1858-1871. Four years later Da Capo Press reprinted the Board of Music Trade's Complete Catalogue of Sheet Music and Musical Works, 1870 with her extensive introduction documenting the activities of the Board's publishers through the Copyright Act of 1891.

While she was in graduate school, Dena married Dr. Morton Epstein. After holding professional positions at the Newark Public Library and the Library of Congress, she became a mother in 1948 and raised their family in New Jersey. On one of her many weekend trips to the New York Public Library to find her next research topic, she discovered a citation of the Civil War diary of William Francis Allen, the first author of Slave Songs of the United States in 1867, and began to explore his background and that of his co-editors, particularly Lucy McKim Garrison. Although these sources bore some fruit, she still had obtained almost no documentary evidence about music among the slaves. She thus systematically expanded her research into other diaries, novels and poetry of the period, as well as diaries of slave owners in Jamaica and Barbados. In 1977 she published what Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. has recently called her "definitive, indeed monumental study," Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War (reissued in 2003). Along the way she made an airtight case that the banjo was indeed African in origin. As she noted, "Applying normal library reference techniques to that problem worked, if you were patient enough and took enough time."

In 1964 she became curator of sound recordings and later assistant music librarian at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library until her retirement in 1986. Always active in the Music Library Association, she was its president from 1977 to 1979, and received its citation for distinguished service in 1986. In 1996, as an anniversary present, her husband established MLA's Dena Epstein Award for Archival and Library Research in American Music. She has also served on the Sonneck Society Board, chaired its Publications Committee, been a member of the editorial board of the Black Music Research Journal, and served on the National Advisory Board of the Center for Black Music Research.

Since 1962 Dena has written and spoken widely in a variety of venues documenting topics related to early African American music, 19th-century American music publishing, and American music librarianship. She has also contributed biographical articles to Notable American Women, 1607-1950, The New Grove, and The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Since her alleged retirement, Dena has published about two dozen articles and reviews, and edited her mother's autobiographical manuscripts about the impact of Jane Addams (first published in 1989 as, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl). In the 1990s, Dena and Mort transcribed a hand-written catalog of conductor Theodore Thomas's orchestral library (over 3,000 items). Dena is still applying those "normal library reference techniques" to identify all of Thomas's extant marked sets among the Chicago Symphony Orchestra library's current collections.

Hilda Polachek wrote that when Dena was born that Thanksgiving Day, her eyes were "blue as gentians. We had much for which to be thankful." We too have much for which to be grateful: Dena's lifetime of extraordinary contributions to American musical life, and her personal modeling of familial and collegial intelligence, good will, and good humor.

Distinguished Service Citation (2005) Presented to Anne Dhu McLucas

(Citation by Paul Wells)

For 2005 the Society for American Music presents it Distinguished Service Citation to our hostess for this conference-Anne Dhu McLucas. This citation is bestowed each year on a member who has given "exemplary and continued service to the Society and its mission." It is hard to imagine any member of our Society more deserving of this award than Anne.

A member from the earliest days of the Sonneck Society, she has served our organization in virtually every way possible. She was a member of the editorial advisory board of American Music from 1985-1989; served as Second Vice President from 1987-1989; was Program Chair for the Hampton, Virginia conference in 1991; was a member of the Nominating Committee from 1999-2001; chaired the search for a new journal editor in 2000-2001; chaired the Honors Committee from 2001-2003; and held the Society's highest office, that of president, from 1997-1999. Her service as president was particularly noteworthy for the steadfast and graceful way in which she shepherded us through the difficult and emotional business of changing our name. This was a matter that demanded exceptional tact and diplomacy, and Anne handled it admirably. If all of this were not enough, she was generous-or foolish!-enough to volunteer to host this year's conference, and has done so with characteristic energy, intelligence, and poise.

Anne's presence at society conferences is a given. As our membership has changed and grown over the years, there has always been a core of people whom one can be assured of seeing every year, and who comprise the human essence of the Society. Anne Dhu is one of these. Her friendly and caring demeanor has helped make many a new member feel welcome in our ranks. She is one of those who make the Society the exceptionally human organization that it is.

It probably goes without saying that Anne's love for and dedication to the Society for American Music flows naturally from her love for and dedication to American music. Her musical and scholarly interests in are refreshingly catholic, ranging from 18th century musical theater to contemporary popular music; from traditional balladry to the works of John Cage; from the music of Mescalero Apache rituals, to the traditions of Irish-Americans. Her scholarship reflects this breadth, and she is mistress of the tools of a remarkable range of academic disciplines, including musicology, ethnomusicology, folklore, and gender studies. This is all very much in keeping with the spirit of our Society, and is in large part what makes Anne such a valued member of it.

No doubt I've neglected to mention some committee that she chaired, or overlooked some important task that she carried out, but detailing more accomplishments would simply belabor the obvious: Anne has contributed enormously to the growth, sustenance, and management of our society on many levels, for the entire time of its existence. It is a tremendous honor for me to present this year's Distinguished Service Citation to one of the stalwart members of the Society for American Music-and one of my own dearest friends-Anne Dhu McLucas.