University of Pittsburgh
November 23, 2009

Pitt to Host Dec. 4 Symposium on Cultural Rights

Music in a contentious debate concerning international law and creative rights

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-Today, music, as both a cultural practice and a commercial product, is enmeshed in a contentious debate concerning international law and the rights attached to individual creativity.

This controversy will be examined at the University of Pittsburgh in a symposium on music and cultural rights from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Kurtzman Room of the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

The symposium is a follow-up to an April 2005 conference at Pitt that offered global and local perspectives on the study of cultural rights through music. The papers presented at that conference are chapters in "Music and Cultural Rights" (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2009), a new book coedited by Andrew Weintraub and Bell Yung, Pitt associate professor and professor of music, respectively. The symposium celebrates the publication of the book, which provides individual case studies that demonstrate how musical aspects of cultural rights play out in the specific cultural contexts of China, Hawaii, Peru, Brazil, and others.

According to Weintraub and Yung, "cultural rights" refers to a group's ability to preserve its culture, raise its children in the ways of its forebears, continue to communicate in its language, and not be deprived of its economic base by the globalized environment in which it is located.

In addition to Weintraub and Yung, the following experts are scheduled to speak:

o Beverley Diamond, Canada Research Chair in Music and Ethnomusicology,

Memorial University of Newfoundland;

o Michael Madison, professor of law, University of Pittsburgh; and

o Damien Pwono, executive director, Global Initiative on Culture and Society,

The Aspen Institute.

Following the presentations, there will be a 5 p.m. reception featuring music by members of the University of Pittsburgh Gamelan Ensemble. In addition to Pitt's music department, sponsors include Pitt's Asian Studies Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Russian and East European Studies, School of Law, and Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, contact Andrew Weintraub at or visit