Ted Levin is a fascinating man. Upon my entrance into Shattuck 156 on Tuesday night for the “Ethnomusicologist as Cultural Entrepreneur” lecture, I was struck by an imposingly tall professor who is not only an expert on East Asian musical tradition and the process of finding, recording and transmitting these types of music, but who is also equipped with an arsenal of languages readily at his disposal for translation and communication purposes.
This outstanding capacity for not only getting to know the musicians with whom he works but also for immersing himself in the language and culture of these artists amazed all who attended his presentation. Though I was momentarily distracted by his Dumbledore-like appearance, Levin lectured about the magic inherent in the cultural diversity between musical traditions around the world, not wizardry.
Professor Levin, a friend of the beloved “Didgeri-dean” of the conservatory, Brian Pertl, currently holds a post at Dartmouth, but spends the majority of his time abroad. For those conservatory students who are interested in, fascinated by or completely obsessed with world music and ethnomusicology, well, you certainly missed out.
Beginning with a brief summary of his international adventures and musically related exploits, Professor Levin’s lecture focused on the process of “amplifying the voices of musicians who need to be amplified, because they’re being drowned out by more popular, westernized music; documenting [musical traditions] that need to be documented before they are erased.”
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