Arts Building, Riverside, CA 92507 #florencebayzseries
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UC Riverside Department of Music presents:

Ben Harbert (Georgetown) - book talk, Instrument of the State: A Century of Music in Louisiana's Angola Prison

part of the

2023-2024 Florence Bayz Music Series

The Florence Bayz Music Series offers online concerts, lectures, and presentations of academic research by Department of Music faculty, postdoctoral researchers, students, and international guest artists and scholars.

Deborah Wong, coordinator.

Events during the 2023-2024 academic year will be held in person at ARTS 157 on Wednesdays at 12 noon. Location may be subject to change.


Events are free and open to the public.

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Angola Prison is the largest and one of the most notorious prisons in the United States, built into a slave plantation that Louisiana bought in 1901. It has also been the most musically significant. Harbert’s work chronicles dozens of musicians and bands over 120 years, showing how music is a vital resource for prisoners. That resource, however, is conditional, as the administration uses music in many ways. The history of this musical dialogue offers a unique perspective on incarceration, politics, and the development of music in the twentieth-century American South. The lecture will highlight the musical, political, and intellectual role of jazz in the prison, from the 1950s through the 1960s.



Benjamin J. Harbert is a Professor of Music and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Georgetown University. He joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of American Music Documentary: Five Case Studies of Ciné-Ethnomusicology (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) and director of Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians (Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2013). He is the Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Audiovisual Ethnomusicology. Harbert has been a teaching fellow at University of California, Los Angeles and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion, and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.



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Event Details

  • Migle
  • Adriana Artigas

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