The 2023 Congress in Cambridge from the President's Perspective

The first diary of the 2023 IAML Congress in Cambridge, enthusiastically written by the Chair of the Organizing Committee, Margaret Jones, prompted me to write a short summary of the congress week from my perspective as IAML’s President.

Regretfully, I only managed to find time to attend a few sessions. I did, on the other hand, participate in Committee meetings, the Forum of National Representatives, the Forum of Sections and, naturally, the General Assembly. Apart from this, the week started and ended with two Board meetings, both with very busy agendas. I can assure you that there is a lot of energy, creativity and devotion in all these different groups that fills with me with a strong optimism about the future of our Association!

As you remember, IAML held Board elections in May. At the General Assembly it was a pleasure for me to thank the two Board members who now finished their terms: Past-President Stanisław Hrabia and Vice-President Jane Gottlieb. At the same time, I was happy to introduce the two new Vice-Presidents Stefan Engl and Jan Guise. Last, but certainly not least, I was delighted to announce that the newly elected President-Elect is Rupert Ridgewell. Rupert will take over the position as IAML’s President from me after the General Assembly in Stellenbosch next year.

By the way, were you among the members who followed the General Assembly as it happened? With rudimentary technique we managed to stream it for the first time ever—not without some flaws, I should probably add... This, our first try, proved that streaming the General Assembly can be done without having to invest huge sums of money, which is a great thing.

Rupert Ridgewell has served eminently as IAML’s Programme Officer during seven years (two terms plus one extra year due to the pandemic). This role will from now be taken over by Anna Pensaert, who will continue as Vice-President for a second term. Jürgen Diet will also continue to be the Board as Vice-President for three more years. He will stay on as the Board’s liaison with the national branches. Stefan Engl will assume responsibility for the Publications Committee after Jane Gottlieb. Finally, Jan Guise will oversee the work of the so-called DAMO Committees (Development, Advocacy, Membership and Outreach).

Please, watch out for a coming invitation on IAML-L to the online meeting “IAML Members Meet the New Board” that will take place in December. This time we will have another format than last year. Instead of group discussions in breakout rooms, it will be a roundtable discussion with the Board members led by a moderator. There will be plenty of time for questions from the participants and we will finish with a social gathering.

The DAMO Committees have a special significance within our Association with similar remits, and a close collaboration is therefore essential. Apart from coordinating their work, Jan Guise will also continue as Chair of the Outreach Committee. Houman Behzadi is the new Chair of the Advocacy Committee, succeeding Anna Pensaert who worked commendably in this position during seven years.

Maybe you are interested in getting engaged in one of IAML’s Committees? You are most welcome! It is an excellent way to start your involvement in IAML on the international level. IAML has members in many different countries all over the world and it is desirable that the committees reflect this. I was very pleased when I noticed the geographical spread of the Membership Committee. After active recruiting, it now has members from Canada, Croatia, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Oman and South Korea. The Board is planning an online meeting with the title “IAML Members Meet the Committee Chairs” some time during the first half of 2024. The Chairs will be very happy to answer any questions you may have!

I take this opportunity to remind you that all national reports can be found on the IAML website. While reading the reports it has struck me that several national branches offer further training for their members. I think a collaboration between the branches on this has a great potential. I am sure that it would be a valuable membership benefit that could also help us to attract new members. Courses dealing with cataloguing printed music and sound recordings would most likely be much sought after. Further training could also focus on matters around digitization, preservation, pedagogy etc. Other courses could deal with music in libraries on a more basic level and aim at colleagues who are “forced” to deal with music without subject knowledge, primarily in public libraries. The UK & Ireland Branch has for many years arranged the very popular course, “Music for the Terrified”, which might serve as a model. NB: all courses will be taught by world-leading experts on the subjects – I mean us! This will be the topic for our second online meeting with the National Representatives.

IAML’s national branches are often called the backbone of our Association. I am very gratified to note that many Chairs have adhered to my request for them to write a short introduction about their respective branches for IAML’s website. Others are in the pipeline!

Another novelty on the website is a page with IAML Memories. IAML has a long and well-documented official history, but many members will have treasured personal memories that they might like to share. These will form a parallel history of IAML to complement our formal archive. All recollections are very welcome, not least those of senior members whose memories may go further back. Is there somebody you would like to encourage to share his or her IAML memories this way? Or perhaps you would like to write something yourself? Contributions of any length, with or without images, should be sent to the IAML Historian.

IAML’s Web Editor Jennifer Ward and our Webmaster Richard Ranft have also created an image bank on the IAML website. It is meant to complement to Instagram and Flickr – something like a small archive of photos that can be used for promotional purposes. If you have photos you think would be nice to save for the future, please send them to the web editor. Remember that people must consent to have their picture published and the name of the photographer should be included. To start with, I have archived the images from IAML’s 70th anniversary poster exhibition. They are all free to use. I have also added a few more photos that I think mirror our Association in different ways. If nothing else, we will need more photos for our 75th anniversary that is coming up soon!

It is a great pleasure for me to announce that the General Assembly in Cambridge awarded an Honorary Membership of IAML to Roger Flury, the President of IAML 2010-2013. The proposal came from Vice-President Rupert Ridgewell and the Board was happy to support the nomination. I was especially glad because I had the privilege to serve as the Secretary General during Roger’s presidency. These are years I recall with warm feelings. I recommend that you read Rupert Ridgewell’s beautifully composed citation on the IAML website.

A big thank you, once more, to the organizers of the 2023 IAML Congress in Cambridge and congratulations to the members of the IAML UK & Ireland branch for such a successful celebration of your 70th anniversary! A special thank you for all the kind references to the 70th anniversary of the Swedish IAML Branch during the week (Svenska musikbiblioteksföreningen was also founded in 1953). It was much appreciated!

I would like to draw your attention to all the material from the congress that can be found on the IAML website: Paper and poster presentations with slides, reports, minutes, recordings, photos, videos and congress diaries – even a YouTube playlist!

We now look ahead to the 2024 IAML Congress, which will be held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. It is a unique chance for us to reach out to our colleagues on the African continent. An invaluable resource is the database with contact information to African institutions with music holdings, mostly audio-visual archives, compiled by Wilhelm Delport, a member of the Organizing Committee. The first thing we must learn is not to mix “IAML” with “ILAM”, which is the International Library of African Music, situated in South Africa! On behalf of next year’s congress organizers, I extend a warm welcome to Stellenbosch 23-28 June!

I take the liberty to end this report on a personal note. Right after the congress I had a private “post congress tour” to the lovely house in Shropshire where Roger Flury lives with his husband David Vine. It was wonderful to spend the weekend in the charming company of Roger and David. It was also inspirational for me to see how productive one can continue to be as a retiree (since I am approaching my own retirement…). The Golden Shore. An Autobiography by Warwick Braithwaite, edited and annotated by Roger has just been published and David successfully carries on his work with DavidVineMusic. There is also time for gardening, cooking and travelling!

IAML is not only an organization for professional development, but also offers camaraderie and friendships. I think it was significant that the Farewell Dinner in the magnificent Dining Hall of King’s College ended by the song “Auld Lang Syne” sung by the chorus “Ensemble of Friends”. We all joined in, of course!



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