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Music Theology


Forthcoming Conferences

Church Music & Worship Conference

A two-day international conference held at Durham University and Durham Cathedral.

Following on the from success of the York Conference on Church Music held in February 2017, the organising committee for Church Music & Worship invite proposals for this two-day international conference to be held in the Pemberton Rooms at Durham University and Prior’s Hall at Durham Cathedral on the 27 and 28 April 2018.

Past Conferences

Society for Christian Scholarship in Music Annual Conference 2016

Boston University
11 - 13 February 2015

The Society for Christian Scholarship in Music seeks proposals for its upcoming annual meeting, which will take place at Boston University, February 11-13, 2016. Dr. Karen Westerfield-Tucker, Professor of Worship at Boston University, will present the keynote address (

Individual papers, panels, and lecture recitals on any topic pertaining to music in a Christian context are welcome. Individual papers are 25 minutes long; panels (with three people) are one and a half hours; and lecture-recitals, one hour. We invite submissions representing a variety of approaches and perspectives, including history, ethnomusicology, theory and analysis, philosophy and theology, liturgy, and critical theory.

SCSM encourages submissions from current graduate students. A $250 prize will be awarded for the best paper presented by a graduate student at the 2016 meeting.

The Society for Christian Scholarship in Music is an association of scholars interested in exploring the intersections of Christian faith and musical scholarship. We are an ecumenical association, reflecting the world-wide diversity of Christian traditions, and seeking to learn from scholars outside those traditions. As scholars of Christian convictions, we are dedicated to excellence in all our work as musicologists, theorists, ethnomusicologists, performers, liturgists, and theologians. Conference registration is open to all interested persons: undergraduate and graduate students, as well as independent and affiliated scholars. For more information about SCSM and about previous conferences, see

Please send a 250-word abstract for individual papers and lecture-recitals, and a 500-word abstract for panels, including all names, affiliations, and contact information. Send submissions or any questions to The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2015.

Jazz Utopia Conference
Birmingham City University
14 - 17 April 2016
CFP Deadline: 1 September 2015

The fourth Rhythm Changes conference: Jazz Utopia will take place at Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom from 14 to 17 April 2016.

Keynote Speakers
Professor Ingrid Monson (Harvard University)
Professor Raymond MacDonald (University of Edinburgh)

They invite paper submissions for Jazz Utopia, a four-day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers across the arts and humanities. The event will feature academic papers, panels and poster sessions alongside an exciting programme of concerts delivered in partnership with the Birmingham Conservatoire and Jazzlines.

Jazz has long been a subject for utopian longing and hopes for a better future; it has also been the focus of deeply engrained cultural fears, visions of suffering and dystopian fantasies. In its urgency and presence jazz is now here. As improvisational and transitory, jazz is nowhere. Utopia is nowhere and now here. Jazz is utopia. Or: jazz is utopian desire. Jazz Utopia seeks to critically explore how the idea of utopia has shaped, and continues to shape, debates about jazz. We welcome papers that address the conference theme from multiple perspectives, including cultural studies, musicology, cultural theory, music analysis, jazz history, media studies, and practice-based research. Within the general theme of Jazz Utopia, we have identified three sub-themes. Please clearly identify which theme you are speaking to in your proposal.

Proposals are invited for:
• Individual papers(20 minutes) – up to 350 words.
• Themed paper sessions of three individual (20 minute) papers – 350 words per paper plus 350 words outlining the rationale for the session.
• Seventy-five minute sessions in innovative formats – up to 1000 words outlining the form and content of the sessions.

Please submit proposals (including a short biography and institutional affiliation) by email in a word document attachment to:

The deadline for proposals is 1st September 2015; outcomes will be communicated to authors by 1st October 2015. All paper submissions will be considered by the conference committee: Christa Bruckner-Haring (University of Music & Performing Arts, Graz), Nicholas Gebhardt (chair; BCU), George McKay (University of East Anglia), Loes Rusch (University of Amsterdam/BCU), Catherine Tackley (Open University), Walter van de Leur (University of Amsterdam/Amsterdam Conservatory) and Tony Whyton (University of Salford).

The conference builds on the legacy of the Rhythm Changes research project. Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities was funded as part of the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) Joint Research Programme, which ran from 2010-2013. The project team continues to develop networking opportunities and champion collaborative research into transnational jazz studies.

Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives

Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford 4-7 August 2015

The 2015 conference is focused on a sustained reflection about the theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches used to study congregational music. What new methodological approaches whether from the hard sciences, social sciences, humanities, or theological disciplines can be brought to bear on timely research questions, such as congregational music's relation to indigenization, transnationalism, religious experience, and ethics? What new understandings about congregational music are generated with the introduction of theoretical perspectives from, for example, gender studies, postcolonial thought, neuroscience, or political economy? Although the Programme Committee will prioritise papers that bring new insights to any aspect of theory or methodology, papers addressing other topics relevant to Christian congregational music are also welcomed.

Hebrew Melodies: Music and the Bible in Nineteenth-Century Europe

25-26 June 2015
King’s College London

The idea that nineteenth-century composers and performers drew inspiration from the Bible is uncontroversial. Yet insufficient attention has been paid to the relationship between the contemporary transformations in religion, music, history, archaeology and biblical scholarship in nineteenth-century Europe.

While new historical sciences called into question the historicity of the Bible, controversies raged over the performance, publication and censorship of new and old musical forms. From oratorio to opera, from parlour song to pantomime, and from hymn to broadside, nineteenth-century Europeans encountered elements of the biblical past in musical form. Music, both elite and popular, played an important role in the formation, regulation and contestation of religious and cultural identity and became a way of addressing questions of class, nation and race. At the same time, new intellectual formations, including the beginnings of ethnomusicology, were often underpinned by a sense of biblical and musical history. This conference will initiate an interdisciplinary discussion between scholars of music, cultural history, literature, theology and biblical scholarship, with the aim of revealing points of intersection and exchange between these disciplines and activities in the long nineteenth century.

'Music, Death and Grief in the Long Nineteenth Century'

Thursday 4 June 2015, Durham University

The Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and INMT welcomed scholars to Collingwood College for a one-day conference on 'Music, Death and Grief in the Long Nineteenth Century'. Responses to death in the nineteenth century were often musical. Whether it was the massed choir singing for the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852, or a pious evangelical woman reciting the text of a favourite hymn on her bed as she died a ‘good death’, music was employed to comfort the dying and the bereaved. The elegiac lieder of Schumann and the cathartic singing at death rituals in rural Greece offer two disparate examples of how the ‘work of mourning’ could be achieved through musical composition and performance. Death could also be represented and understood in musical terms, such as after the outbreak of cholera during a Paris carnival in 1832 which inspired the portrayal of Death playing the fiddle in Alfred Rethel’s ‘Death as a Cutthroat’. This one-day interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the role of music in response to death and grief in any part of the world between 1780 and 1918. It is a subject that may be addressed from many perspectives, from history to psychology and from literature to philosophy. Musicological and historical studies are welcomed, as well as papers exploring the theology of death, the psychology of grief, and literary and artistic representations of music, death and grief during this period.

Putting Theology into Musical Practice

Saturday 24 January 2015, Prior's Hall, Durham Cathedral

This study day run by INMT was for anyone interested in the relationship of theology and music, whether from the perspective of practice in the local church or academic study.
Speakers:Canon David Kennedy (Precentor, Durham Cathedral); Canon James Lancelot (Master of the Choristers and Organist, Durham Cathedral); Canon Rosalind Brown (Canon Librarian, Durham Cathedral); Professor Bennett Zon (Durham University)

Music, Theology and Justice

The purpose of this interdisciplinary conference is to gather together scholars interested in exploring further the relationship between music and theology. In particular, the conference will consider theological issues raised by the social practice of music, and implications for justice, ethics, morality.

University of St Michael's College at the University of Toronto
24-25 October 2014

Society for Christian Scholarship in Music Annual Conference

The conference features scholarly papers and lecture recitals on topics relating contemporary and historical music to worship, theology, liturgy, hymnody and other aspects of Christian faith.

Emory University
12-14 February 2015

Crosscurrents in Music and Theology Conference

This one day-conference seeks to build on that conviction by exploring the rich variety of crosscurrents that are currently evident between the disciplines of Music and Theology.

University of Sheffield, UK
6th December 2013

Society for Christian Scholarship in Music 2014 (formerly the Forum for Music and Christian Scholarship)
The conference features scholarly papers and lecture recitals on topics relating contemporary and historical music to worship, theology, liturgy, hymnody and other aspects of Christian faith.

Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
21 - 23 February, 2014

Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives
This conference explores the multifaceted interaction between local and global dimensions of Christian congregational singing by drawing from perspectives across academic disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, ethnomusicology, and theology.

Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, UK
1-3 August 2013

2013 Charles Wesley Society Annual Meeting
The Charles Wesley Society invites members and guests to participate in its annual meeting, where papers and presentations will seek to interpret and promote the life and work of Charles Wesley.

Note: the August 2013 meeting will be held in Durham, England. For more information, go to:

The Renewal of Sacred Music and the Liturgy in the Catholic Church: Movements Old and New
The conference seeks to explore, through critical analysis, former and present efforts to revive the Church’s sacred liturgy and music, particularly as exemplified by Msgr. Schuler’s work. Questions central to the conference theme include: (1) Which efforts have resulted in a true restoration of the Church’s liturgy and sacred music? (2) Upon which principles has authentic liturgical and musical renewal operated in the past? (3) Which reform actions have had deleterious effects on sacred music and the liturgy? While the conference will focus on sacred music, other aspects of liturgy (theology, history, architecture, documents, etc.) will also be considered for inclusion in the proceedings.

The Church of St. Agnes and Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota

13-15 October 2013

Tallahassee Church Music Conference

This conference is a biennial, ecumenical event held in Tallahassee in odd numbered years. Its goal is to promote mutual understanding in the practice and theology of music. It brings musicians, clergy, and congregants together for seminars, discussion forums, and masterclasses devoted to church music. Concerts and worship services also provide the public with a broad and representative spectrum of music and worship.

Tallahassee, Florida 31 January - 2 February, 2013

Music and Theology in the European Reformations
This conference will feature leading theologians, historians, biblical scholars and musicologists from throughout Europe and North America and will address the relationship between music and theology during the sixteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the question of reformation in all its forms (Lutheran, Calvinist, Catholic, and Radical).

KULeuven, Heverlee, Belgium 19-21 September 2012

17th Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music
The Seventeenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music will take place at The University of Edinburgh from Wednesday 27 June to Saturday 30 June 2012.

For the conference program, go to

University of Edinburgh, Scotland
27-30 June 2012

Music and Transcendence
An interdisciplinary conference exploring the ways in which music relates to transcendence. Papers consider the ways in which music relates to infinite and 'ultimate' meaning as well as the ways in which music enables the creation of meaning and fulfilment within an 'immanent' frame.

For more information, go to

Cambridge, UK
29 November, 2011

Music and Liturgical Reform, 1611-Present: A Conference in Honor of the Death of San Juan de Ribera (1532-1611)
The Valencian Institute of Music, a public agency promoting music in Spain, presents an international conference including sessions on (1) the preservation of older music, (2) Tridentine reform, and rhetoric in sacred music composition, (3) the effects of Catholic reform on liturgical music 1600-1850, (4) the effects of liturgical music and reform in the modern period.

The University of Valencia (Spain)
29 June - 2 July 2011

Arvo Pärt: Soundtrack of an Age
a conference celebrating Arvo Pärt's 75th birthday, featuring interdisciplinary papers with a focus on musical analysis, hermeneutics, performance, media studies, theology, and spirituality

Southbank Centre, London
24-25 September 2010

Theology,Aesthetics, and Culture: Conversations with the Work of David W. Brown
a forum for careful theological, historical, biblical, philosophical, and literary engagement with five major volumes from David Brown FBA, Wardlaw Professor of Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture at the University of St Andrews

St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, Scotland
6-8 September 2010

14th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music: BACH Theme
a large biennial conference with around 150 presentations on topics related to Baroque music, including many on Bach and theological themes

Queen's University Belfast
30 June-4 July 2010

'Theology and the Arts': Society for the Study of Theology 2010 Conference
exploring issues such as "What is the relationship between different art forms and other modes of theological interpretation? Is art true, or subjective, or both? What are the limitations of artistic representation? How may art be employed in teaching, whether in church or academy? What are the places of art in prayer and liturgy?"

University of Manchester
12-14 April 2010

Arvo Pärt and Contemporary Spirituality Conference
an examination of Pärt's music using and developing cross-disciplinary methodologies drawing on media studies, theological studies and different analytical approaches to music

Boston University
25-27 March 2010