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Sue Bush
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ASCAP Deems Taylor Award To W. Anthony Sheppard

12:00AM / Tuesday, December 12, 2006

W. Anthony Sheppard
Williamstown - On December 7, The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded W. Anthony Sheppard, associate professor of music at Williams College, with its prestigious Deems Taylor Award for his 2005 article "Cinematic Realism, Reflexivity and the American 'Madame Butterfly' Narratives."

The ceremony was held in the Allen Room, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.


The article examines two cinematic versions of the "Madame Butterfly" tale. Produced near the beginning of the sound era, the 1932 rendition struggles to co-opt Puccini's opera and thereby create a fully cinematic Butterfly.

In contrast, "My Geisha," produced three decades later, aspires to challenge Orientalist representation by reflecting back upon Puccini's and Hollywood's Butterflies with "hip sophistication."

"Both films work simultaneously with and against the Butterfly cannon in intriguing ways, shaped by prevailing American perceptions of race and gender," says Sheppard.

"In investigating the relationship between these films and Puccini's opera, I raise broader issues of comparative genre analysis, focusing particularly on exotic representation on stage and screen, and ask whether film, in its bid to project exotic realism in both sound and image, succeeds in surpassing the experience of staged Orientalist opera?"

All articles published in the U.S. on any musical topic were eligible for the Deems Taylor Award, now in its 39th year. Sheppard's article, published by the Cambridge Opera Journal, was one of only two academic journal publications that received this honor.

Sheppard joined the Williams faculty in 1996 and has taught "Musics of the Twentieth Century," "Popular Music: Revolutions in the History of Rock Opera," and "Musics of Asia," among other courses.

His research interests focus on Asian and Euro-American musical interactions and influence, Euro-American experimental vocal music and theater, and film music.

Sheppard will deliver a pre-performance lecture at the Metropolitan Opera in conjunction with the world premiere of Tan Dun's "The First Emperor" on December 21.

Sheppard's publications include his award winning book, "Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater" and the prize winning article "An Exotic Enemy: Anti-Japanese Musical Propaganda in World War II Hollywood."

He received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1991 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1996.



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