Illinois researchers to digitally preserve history of live musical performances, including Krannert Center events

Stephen Downie
J. Stephen Downie, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, and Co-Director of the HathiTrust Research Center
Professor Michael Twidale
Michael Twidale, Professor and PhD Program Director

A project to preserve the history of live musical performances and the relationship between live music and communities will use material from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The project, involving researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will develop an online archive of musical events.

"The Internet of Musical Events: Digital Scholarship, Community, and the Archiving of Performance," known as InterMusE, aims to preserve access to the record of historical live musical performances through digital archiving of concert ephemera such as programs and posters. It also will collect oral history interviews with concertgoers.

The project is funded by the United Kingdom's Arts and Humanities Research Council, and it is part of that organization's UK-US New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions program.

The lead institution is the University of York. Project team members include musicologists, archivists, computer scientists and performance providers at several institutions, including Illinois information sciences professors and co-investigators Michael Twidale and J. Stephen Downie, who is also the co-director of the HathiTrust Research Center; co-investigator Maureen Reagan, the associate director for marketing at Krannert Center; and graduate student in musicology Kathleen McGowan. They will work with concert materials from various sources, including Krannert Center.

The researchers will use the materials to form case studies for exploring music's role in community life during the past century – particularly relevant as the performing arts recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers will develop tools and techniques to examine the archival data for new patterns and trajectories of change over time, and to help arts organizations understand their musical histories and traditions. They also will create online open-access portals to link with existing collections, providing a widely accessible digital archive of musical events.

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