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Parthenon Symposium: Making Ancient Vases Sing: Musical Imagery in the Art of South Italy

February 21, 2019 6pm

Join us for a conversation with the AIA (Archeological Institute of American) on musical imagery on ancient vases.

Speaker: Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati, Robert H. Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate for Digital Projects, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

About: Music was an integral component of daily life in the ancient Mediterranean world. The importance of music to religious ritual, celebratory banquets, personal entertainment, and even mythological narratives is made manifest through a wide variety of literary, visual, and archaeological evidence. During the 4th century BCE, for example, in one region of South Italy (or “Magna Graecia”) alone, nearly 1,700 vases decorated with musical imagery have been recovered. On these South Italian red-figure vases, music and musicians were represented in a plethora of contexts, ranging from generic nuptial and funerary scenes to Dionysian and mythological compositions. This presentation will begin with a survey of the corpus of musical imagery in 4th century South Italian red-figure vase-painting. Subsequently, the vases will be analyzed using two different, but complementary, approaches: a traditional, iconographic method and a contemporary, data-driven one. The hybrid, analogue/digital approach utilized in the presentation will demonstrate the complexity of ‘reading’ musical imagery on South Italian vases as documents of contemporary performance practice. In addition, it will highlight the agency of artists and artists’ workshops in the creation and dissemination of ancient perceptions and ideals about musicians and their instruments.