Translation in Music: An International Interdisciplinary Symposium

25/05/2014 - 26/05/2014, All Day


For many, music is a ‘universal’ language, yet it is often wedded to words in one specific language, whether poem, song text or opera libretto. And these texts require translations that respect both the nature of the original language and the expression of the music itself – a deft dance that should celebrate a perfect marriage, but often results instead in a messy divorce.

This two-day interdisciplinary symposium is designed to bridge the often glaring gap between words and music. It brings together international scholars from the fields of Translation Studies, language (Welsh, German, French, Italian, Spanish and English) and musicology with practitioners who deal with musico-linguistic challenges on a regular basis, such as composers, singers, translators, and opera subtitlers.

Our focus will range from the study of historical translation practices to current challenges in intercultural musical communication and adaptation. While both Translation Studies/Linguistics and Musicology are flourishing fields in themselves, very little interdisciplinary scholarly work has been undertaken. The goal of the conference is to bring these two fields together as well as to open a dialogue between theoreticians and practitioners that will result in more extensive collaborations between these two otherwise often unconnected worlds.

The two days focus respectively on ‘Opera in Translation’ and ‘Song in Translation’, comprising presentations, round-table discussions, and illustrative musical performances in collaboration with Welsh National Opera.

Keynote and invited speakers include Errollyn Wallen (Composer),  Professor David Johnston (Translation Studies), Professor Susan Youens (Musicology), Dr Sebnem Susam-Saraeva (Translation Studies) and Jonathan Burton (Royal Opera House, London).

The conference will end with a lecture-recital of a section of Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins (in translation) by soprano Sian Cameron and Sophie Rashbrook, WNO Nicholas John Trainee Dramaturg.

The conference is supported by the Learned Society of Wales and the Royal Musical Association and is organised by Dr Monika Hennemann (Cardiff University), Dr Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University) and Dr Clair Rowden (Cardiff University).

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School of Music
Corbett Road
CF10 3EB

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The conference is a free event, open to all staff, students and the general public. Prior registration is required by emailing, and charges will be made for refreshments and meals.


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