The 2012 Joint Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, American Musicological Society, and the Society for Music Theory will take place in New Orleans on November 1-4. This fourth joint meeting of the three societies (following 1985 in Vancouver, 1990 in Oakland, and 2000 in Toronto) will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street, just across from the southwest edge of the French Quarter. A pre-conference symposium, “Crisis and Creativity,” will be presented on Wednesday, October 31 at Tulane University, a straightforward thirty-minute St. Charles Avenue streetcar ride from the conference hotel.

Please note that the pre-conference and conference dates coincide with Halloween and All Saints’ Day, a busy time in the French Quarter and elsewhere in New Orleans. Travelers are advised to book hotel and travel reservations early to ensure availability. Voodoo Experience, a festival featuring touring rock, indie and hip-hop acts, will be taking place in town on October 26-28, the weekend before the conference. Halloween in New Orleans, the night before the conference, is a tourist destination due to the city’s reputation for ghost tales and voodoo practices. November 1, known as La Toussaint in and around New Orleans, also has its observances. So please come and join us, but know that we will have plenty company in exploring the area!

Although New Orleans markets its food and music heavily to tourists, skeptical minds should not jump to the conclusion that the music scene is over-hyped. In fact, we are planning few if any special events at the conference hotel so that everyone will have ample opportunity to explore the clubs throughout town to hear live performances of a range of genres including blues, bounce and hip hop, brass bands, funk, jazz, and zydeco. We will be preparing insider’s guides to clubs and restaurants, as well as describing how conference-goers can self-organize expeditions out on the town. We encourage SEM Sections and Special Interest Groups to contact us for ideas on how to tailor their 2012 offerings to the New Orleans context.

The pre-conference theme of Crisis and Creativity concerns the roles of music in response to crises including Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the BP Gulf oil spill and other environmental concerns of coastal Louisiana, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. We are also planning afternoon field trips the same day to sites that were built or rebuilt since the hurricane and flood, such as the House of Dance and Feathers (a museum showcasing cultural traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs) and the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village.

It takes about a half hour to get from the New Orleans airport to downtown. Our hotel operates an airport shuttle service for a fee; details are available on the Sheraton website. The hotel is convenient to all three streetcar lines and several city bus lines that can take you to attractions well outside the French Quarter, including the music clubs on Frenchmen Street, the galleries on Julia Street, Jim Russell Records and other shops on Magazine Street, the Ogden and other museums in the Warehouse District, and much more. Adjacent to the hotel, the French Quarter is only a mile across and is well worth the walk through distinctive architecture to many restaurants and to sites such as Jackson Square, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Old U.S. Mint.

In addition to all of the welcome distractions that New Orleans provides, we also anticipate a lively interdisciplinary conference with our musicology and music theory colleagues, one full of thought-provoking discussions and reunions with old friends. Along with our counterparts in AMS and SMT, we look forward to welcoming you to New Orleans for this historic joint meeting.

SEM 2012 Local Arrangements Committee
Mark DeWitt, Chair
Chris Goertzen
Joyce Jackson
Maureen Loughran
Matt Sakakeeny
Dan Sharp