Vivian Perlis, founder of Yale's Oral History of American Music (OHAM), will be honored at a special concert held during the Society of American Music's 42nd Annual Conference in Boston, Mass.
The concert, performed by pianist Alison D'Amato and soprano Tony Arnold, will notably feature songs by Charles Ives (the subject of Perlis’s first interviews), and early interviewee Virgil Thomson. The rest of the event will include American song repertoire by composers featured within the OHAM archives.
Since its founding by Perlis in 1969, OHAM has amassed a collection of over 2600 audio and video recordings of interviews with major musical figures, including Aaron Copland, John Cage, Steve Reich, Duke Ellington, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. It has grown to become one of the most predominant collections of such interviews in the United States. The in-depth interviews featured in the collection provide a unique insight into the life and works of the interviewees, described in their own words. Through the dedicated work of OHAM's staff, the collection continues to expand today, adding ever increasing numbers of interviews with both emerging talents and established artists.
While Perlis retired from OHAM in 2010, she continues to assist OHAM through her position as Senior Research Scholar for the archive. The current director of OHAM, Libby Van Cleve, notes that "Vivian Perlis's work has contributed mightily to the study of American music. The invaluable primary source materials she created with America's most significant musical figures continue to be used by the scholars and students of the Society of American Music and many others. Her legacy continues with OHAM's ongoing interviewing activities. We are delighted to see her work receive this well-deserved recognition."
More information on OHAM's collections and how to access them can be found on their website.