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1997 Lecture: Adelaida Reyes
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Adelaida Reyes will present the 1997 Charles Seeger Lecture at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 25, 1997.

The following is a slightly revised version of the introduction by SEM President Kay Kaufman Shelemay on October 25, 1997:

The composer Gustav Holst once said, "The critical faculty is important, as necessary, as divine, as the imaginative one: it is impossible to overrate the real critic.”

Born in Manila, Adelaida Reyes (known to her friends as "Dely”) spent many of her early years surrounded by the trauma of WW II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. The daughter of a physician and amateur violinist who wanted a child who was a pianist, Adelaida Reyes became one, graduating from St. Scholastica College in the Philippines in 1951. After a brief period of concertizing, and after having a family of her own, she, to paraphrase her own words, "dialed a different part of her brain.” By the early 1960s, she moved off the performing stage to become a music critic for the Philippine Evening News and The Manila Daily Bulletin.

A pivotal juncture in Adelaida’s life came about in 1964-65, when she accepted a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship for music and music criticism. This brought her to live in the United States, as well as to Columbia University for the first time, where she spent a semester in residence. Since there was no available program in music criticism, she entrepeneured her own, undertaking apprenticeships with mentors who included Peter Yates on the West Coast and Miles Kastendieck of the Christian Science Monitor.

After a brief return to the Philippines, Adelaida Reyes immigrated to the United States, settling in New York City near her sisters and mother who had come earlier. Her own life as an immigrant—a self-described "flying Dutchman”—included heading the first Filipino family in Waldwick, NJ. These experiences, both good and bad, paved the way for her sensitivity to the complexity of the migration process and resonate in her later work among other refugees from Southeast Asia.

Although she says that she didn’t come to New York to study ethnomusicology, it is where she ended up, entering the doctoral program at Columbia University. Her distinguished career at Columbia, supported by a Presidential Fellowship and Ford Foundation grants, culminated in a ground-breaking dissertation in 1975: "The Role of Music in the Interaction of Black Americans and Hispanos in New York City’s East Harlem.” Here Adelaida Reyes Schramm took the lead in moving ethnomusicological scholarship into the domain of urban studies, providing at once a virtuoso case study of musical interaction in the complex Harlem environment and a detailed theoretical and methodological map for the practice of a new field called urban ethnomusicology.

Visiting positions at Columbia University Department of Music followed for many years to come, as did others at New York University and Juilliard, but by 1974 the now tenured Professor Reyes Schramm had already made a commitment to Jersey City State College, which was to remain her academic home throughout her career. Jersey City, too, was the site of several important research projects she headed, such as a faculty seminar for studies in ethnicity, supported by a Title IX US Government grant. Reyes Schramm’s growing interests in ethnic interaction in the urban setting helped move ethnomusicology in these directions as well. Her classic article, "Ethnic Music, the Urban Area, and Ethnomusicology,” was published in Sociologus in 1979. A subsequent investigation of free and public music events appeared in the 1982 Yearbook of Traditional Music and was reprinted in Japanese translation. Adelaida Reyes Schramm edited volumes that have influenced the wider world of ethnic studies as well, such as, in 1980, Let’s Meet our Neighbors: Studies in Ethnicity.

Exploration into ethnic communities in New Jersey aroused Adelaida’s interest in the large Vietnamese community in her region. Her first article on this topic, "Tradition in the Guise of Innovation” (Yearbook of Traditional Music, 1986) provided a thoughtful reconsideration of the relationship of immigrant cultural life to that of its premigratory home. In 1987, Adelaida Reyes received a grant to study the music of Vietnamese in New Jersey. This pilot study moved her full force into the field of migration studies. In quick succession, she received funding from the Asian Cultural Council in 1988 to do exploratory field work in Philippine refugee camps, and in 1990, to extend her study with the help of an NEH summer grant to Vietnamese communities in Orange County, California.

The 1990s have involved Adelaida Reyes in reconceptualizing the processes of forced migration on expressive culture and have resulted in edited volumes such as a special issue on "Music and Forced Migration” for The World of Music in 1990 and an array of articles published internationally. During the last seven years, she has had three extended residencies at the Refugee Studies Programme at Oxford University, and we now await the publication of her book forthcoming from Temple University Press: Musical Images of Forced Migration: Etudes from the Vietnamese Experience.

If Adelaida Reyes has contributed greatly to a changing world of ethnomusicology, drawing upon linguistic methods in particular to provide new frameworks for conceptualizing music in complex environments, she has also made a major contribution as a teacher and mentor. She has been an inspiration to both students and colleagues, whom she continues to advise sagely. In this context we can appreciate, too, the impact of her early work in shaping Adelaida’s spectacular skills at critical thinking, and the ability to level constructive advice in educational and academic review processes. Many have had the benefit of her incisive and creative thought processes.

Adelaida Reyes’s early work as a music critic also paved the way for a lifelong commitment to the world of performance and new music. Active as a board member of the performing group Continuum and the National Asian-American Theatre Company, she has also given years of dedicated service to the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In conclusion, Adelaida Reyes has made a stunning contribution to ethnomusicology and the world of the arts and education. She has been instrumental in leading ethnomusicology into new fields of endeavor, including urban ethnomusicology and immigration studies. Her early work on music and ethnicity provided one of the first theoretical frameworks for continuing studies of musical difference. She has taught and mentored so many, always the wise critic emerging to level incredibly thoughtful and useful suggestions that have improved numerous term papers, articles, and monographs. In introducing her 1997 Charles Seeger Lecture, "From Urban Area to Refugee Camp: How One Thing Leads to Another,” I would only suggest that you should listen very carefully. One never knows where the ever creative Adelaida Reyes will try to take you, as she continues to draw upon new theories, to invent new methods, and to carry us with her into new fields of endeavor.
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