JCU Speaker Series Presents "To What Strange Place" by Ian Nagoski

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The 2012 Media and Communication Speaker Series kicked off with a lecture and Q&A session with Ian Nagoski, who talked about his most recent work, a 3-disc set called “To What Strange Place”, depicting the music of the Ottoman-American diaspora in New York City in the 1910-20s.

A record collector, music researcher, musician, record producer and curator, Nagoski is first and foremost a true music lover. His infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter, a fascinating and all-but forgotten slice of American music history, was not lost on the crowd of students and members of the JCU community who gathered in the Aula Magna Regina.

After a brief presentation from Professor Sarram, Nagoski entertained the audience with the story of how he started collecting records and how he ultimately stumbled upon these recordings, projecting his love of music and the joy that comes with browsing through stacks and stacks of old 78rpm records, in the search of something different, unique and outside the norm.

He then moved on to looking at the lives and works of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in New York City between 1916 and 1929, leaving behind their home countries, such as Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Armenia. The growing demand for recording artists from the two main record companies of the time, Columbia Records and Victor Records, created a strong, multicultural music scene, which was ultimately brought to an end by the Great Depression of 1929.

With the aid of sound clips from the time, as well as amusing, often poignant anecdotes, the talk proved a compelling one from start to finish, and was closed off with a Q&A session, in which the enthusiastic audience posed more interesting questions about a scene that remains to this day forgotten in the “official” telling of how American popular music recording was born.