50 Years Of Collecting And Preserving Voices In American Music | Connecticut Public Radio

50 Years Of Collecting And Preserving Voices In American Music

Jan 22, 2020

Nestled in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale University is an audio and video collection featuring many of the major musical figures of our time. 

The Oral History of American Music includes interviews with a wide range of musical figures, from Charles Ives to Laurie Anderson.

There are nearly 3,000 recorded conversations with white, black and Hispanic creative artists from the worlds of classical, jazz and experimental music.  

OHAM celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  There will be free concerts and events in New Haven beginning Jan. 29.

Connecticut Public Radio spoke with OHAM director Libby Van Cleve and composer Tanner Porter, whose new work “The Making of a Memory” will premiere as part of the celebration.  

“One needs to have a sense of history, but also their motivations, their inspirations, their cultural heritage,” said Van Cleve of collecting oral histories.    

“It gets to preserve a little bit of a person’s soul,” added Porter. “And in a time when it’s important to look at where our historical narratives are coming from, it’s refreshing to get a direct story from the person who’s telling it.” 

Libby Van Cleve and Tanner Porter
Credit Diane Orson / Connecticut Public Radio

To learn more about the Oral History of American Music visit: https://web.library.yale.edu/music/oham