Class of 1960 Lecture
Prof. James Parakilas


Professor James Parakilas of Bates College gives a lecture titled Inner Need/Social Bonds: The Double Life We Lead in Music on Tuesday, April 15, at 4:15 p.m. in Bernhard Music Center Room 30 on the Williams College campus. This lecture is sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund and is free and open to the public.

About the Lecture
In research across fields from biology to ethnomusicology, music is treated as a form of social behavior: a language of affective communication, a medium of social bonding. In psychology and neuroscience on the other hand music is studied largely as an interior process: a cognitive system through which we dwell in our memory, regulate our emotions, and manipulate our consciousness. Both approaches correspond to everyday experience of music: music may make us feel connected to those around us, and it may transport us to realms cut off from others. But what model can bring together these two sides of our life with music? A key may be to examine certain constituent phenomena of musical experience, like entrainment, and consider what unites their operation on the mental (neuronal) level with their operation on the social level (within a musical ensemble).

About James Parakilas
James Parakilas is the James L. Moody, Jr. Family Professor of Performing Arts at Bates College, where he has been teaching music since 1979. He has pursued several lines of musicological research: studies of musical genre, particularly focusing on the work of Chopin (from Ballads without Words: Chopin and the Tradition of the Instrumental Ballade, Amadeus, 1992, to “Disrupting the Genre: Unforeseen Personifications in Chopin,” 19th-Century Music, Spring, 2012); studies of musical canons (including “The Operatic Canon,” forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Opera); cultural history (including Piano Roles: 300 Years of Life with the Piano, Yale, 2000); and opera history (including the textbook The Story of Opera, W.W. Norton, 2012).  In 2011, with the support of a Phillips Fellowship, he embarked on his current project, the study of questions about music and human consciousness in the light of recent psychological and neuroscientific research. He has also held two NEH research fellowships and been a board member of the American Musicological Society and the College Music Society.

At Bates James Parakilas teaches courses in classical music history and performance, music and drama, music and religion, and music and the mind. As a pianist he performs with the Trio les Amis and in the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra.

The Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, established at their 25th Reunion, brings eminent researchers from other colleges and universities to campus to give colloquia and work with students in the classroom.