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The American Musical Instrument Society


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American Musical Instrument Society
Annual Meeting, May 23-26, 2018
Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania

Meeting Poster

AMIS 2018 Announcement

After our excursion to Scotland with the Galpin Society in 2017, AMIS returns to our roots during May 23-26, 2018, with a down-to-earth program focused chiefly but not exclusively on North American topics, especially those relevant to our venue, historic Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Here, hosted by Moravian College (founded 1742) amidst National Landmark structures housing many unusual instruments, we'll celebrate the legacy of craftsmen including colonial Pennsylvania-German organ builders John Clemm and David Tannenberg; piano makers such as Philip Bachman and John Christian Malthaner; luthiers John Antes, C. F. Martin, and C. F. Hartmann; antebellum wind-instrument dealer Heinrich Guetter; and today's prolific, visionary harpsichord builder Willard Martin. These craftsmen represent an unbroken, richly documented regional tradition of Moravian instrument making and playing extending over nearly 275 years.

AMIS last convened here in the Lehigh Valley in 1991. Since then, the music collections of the Moravian Archives, the Moravian Historical Society, and the Moravian Museum have grown significantly. Recent research in their holdings has led to identification of the oldest known American clavichord, by Tannenberg (1761); fresh attention to the curious, early American violins of Antes and Hartmann (a previously unknown 1763 Antes cello has just surfaced!); new information about piano making in Pennsylvania, the cradle of the American piano industry; and better documentation of an array of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European brasses and woodwinds played by local musicians. Among the brasses, for example, is a horn with a rare early type of Berlin piston valve. We'll also inspect instruments of the famous Moravian trombone choirs, including a Dresden trombone by Johann Gottfried Leydholdt, dated 1761.

In addition to the Moravian Museum, Archives, and Historical Society, we'll visit other nearby sites including the enlarged and renovated museum of the venerable C. F. Martin guitar company; American Archtop Guitars, home of prized handmade guitars; and optionally the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, the new, Smithsonian-affiliated National Museum of Industrial History, Willard Martin's harpsichord workshop, and, for those so inclined, the Sands Casino Resort. A few miles farther afield, in Easton, Pennsylvania, is the impressive Sigal Museum of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, opened in 2010, with its own fascinating instrument collection (yes, that Sigal family).

The Early American Industries Association, whose concerns overlap with AMIS's, will be meeting at the same time in Bethlehem, so we hope to schedule some joint events. On our own, we'll enjoy music-making, ample time to relax and explore Bethlehem's easily walkable historic district, and most importantly a strong program of presentations representing the varied interests of our membership.

Every effort is being made to control costs, since Bethlehem has now become a popular but pricey tourist destination. We have made arrangements for convenient, inexpensive but basic lodgings in modern student accommodations ("The Hill") just a few steps from Moravian College's music building, where most of our sessions will take place. A limited number of less spartan accommodations will be available, including the luxurious Hotel Bethlehem, also only a few minutes' walk from the music building. Bethlehem and Nazareth are car-friendly, so driving to the meeting is encouraged. The area is also served via direct bus from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to neighboring Allentown, and by Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) in Allentown. Note: Not all the historic buildings we will visit are ADA-compliant; some stair-climbing will be necessary. Group transport will be by chartered bus, but private cars are welcome.

Conference Committee

  • Laurence Libin (chair),
  • Stewart Carter
  • Blair Flintom (Moravian College)
  • Dick Boak (Martin Guitars)
  • Willard Martin (Martin Harpsichords)
  • Paul Peucker (Moravian Archives)
  • Megan van Ravenswaay (Moravian Historical Society).

For further information see these websites:

Rev. 10 Jan 2018


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