February 1, 2009

Mt. Allison President's Speech: “Do You Like Rock Music?: The Enduring Attractions, Complexities and Frustrations of Contemporary Popular Music.”

On Wednesday Mount Allison University President Dr. Campbell held a public lecture on Rock Music. The opening of the speech set the tone for a pretty informative and enjoyable time:

Do you like rock music? My view is simple and it is this: good rock music expresses one or the other of two primary human impulses: sex and violence. Especially good rock music touches on both sex and violence. Now of course pretty much all cultural and artistic practices and content address the transcendental human problem of uncertainty. Hence the great themes of culture: love and hate, birth and death, survival and nothingness. And good rock music provides a ceaseless energetic, assertive and contemporary flow of strategies for addressing the basic uncertainties of life and for accessing and constructing life.

Here's a few pictures...it's a lecture...so they aren't the most thrilling pictures...but this is Mount Allison University President Dr. Robert Campbell at Brunton Auditorium:

And here are a few short videos I took of the event:

Mount Allison University Lecture: "Do You Like Rock Music?"

The Influence and Commercialization of Music

Mount Allison University Lecture: "Do You Like Rock Music?" Top Ten List

Mount Allison creates a lot of press releases about events it hosts...this description is one of the most interesting I've read:

President Campbell rocks Brunton — Jan. 28
2009-01-12 15:48:47

SACKVILLE, NB — Brunton Auditorium will hold a capacity crowd at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 28 as Robert Campbell, President and Vice-Chancellor of Mount Allison, gives a public lecture entitled “Do You Like Rock Music?: The Enduring Attractions, Complexities and Frustrations of Contemporary Popular Music.” Everyone is welcome to attend and there is no admission charge.

Perhaps this seems a surprising lecture topic from a man known, especially quite recently, for his research on postal systems. However, Dr. Campbell is also an aficionado, and indeed an expert, on contemporary popular music, something which many students, faculty, and community members might not know about him. With an encyclopedic knowledge and an extensive collection of pop music recordings, Dr. Campbell holds his own next to the best popular music scholars.

When reflecting on his own love affair with music, Dr. Campbell identifies two “lives” — one in the mid to late 1960s and the other from the late 1970s onwards. He is not just a collector of recordings, but during these periods has witnessed landmark concert performances, from the Beach Boys and Cream in Montreal to the first London concert by UB40 and the Clash. This love of music has become a family affair; Dr. Campbell has attended over a dozen live concerts with his children in Toronto, a year of club shows in Amsterdam, and plans next summer to see the likes of Blur in Hyde Park. He says his favourite individual pop artists of recent times are Paul Weller (The Jam, The Style Council), Damon Alburn (Blur), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), and reports that the most space on his iPod is currently populated by New Order, Radiohead, and Manic Street Preachers. His talk on January 28 takes its title from the third album of Brighton-based band British Sea Power, and reflects on the nature of the contemporary popular music scene.

Elizabeth Wells, head of the music department, comments, “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Campbell to our speaking series to expand our offerings on music from a wide variety of cultural contexts. Although some people associate the ‘conserv’ strictly with classical music, we also offer courses in jazz, musical theatre, and most recently, the Beatles. Dr. Campbell’s talk enhances our dialogue with the community on what matters and intrigues us about music of all kinds.”

Dr. Campbell’s talk will take place on Wednesday, January 28 at 4 p.m. in Brunton Auditorium. Like all Colloquium Musicum events, it is free and open to all.


Photo caption: Mount Allison University President Dr. Robert Campbell will present a public lecture on pop music on January 28 at 4 p.m. in Brunton Auditorium.

A local paper, the
Telegraph-Journal also took an interest in the story:

University president by day, Radiohead fan by night

Published Monday January 26th, 2009

Music Robert Campbell added to school's music department speaking series as a punk power pop aficionado


SACKVILLE - He's a typical suit and tie wearing university president known for his public policy insights a career in academia and a fondness for researching postal systems.

Click to Enlarge
Adam Huras/Telegraph-Journal
Mount Allison University president Robert Campbell will reveal his wilder side this week during a lecture about music on the Sackville campus.

But that isn't the Mount Allison University president students will see this week.

Robert Campbell, a Radiohead fanatic with a history of club hopping around the world, will talk about what he does after the university day ends.

In a lecture on the Sackville campus, the man who conducted a review of Canada Post will tell all about his concert-going days when he was in Montreal clubs with the Beach Boys and Cream and a decade later in London to witness the Clash during the emergence of punk.

He and his family also recently took a sabbatical in Amsterdam to spend nights hanging out in the power pop scene.

"It's a private life thing, but in this particular case it might be fun," Campbell said. "But I'm a public policy guy, not a musicologist."

His name has been added to the school's music department speaking series as a punk power pop aficionado.

A Montrealer growing up in the 1960s, Campbell took to live concerts to see the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and James Brown when they first began their touring rounds.

But with his teenage days then behind him, he launched into an academic career.

"And that might have been the end of the story for me," he said. "As adults you get up, you get serious, you have a career, you have kids and then, dare I say it, you go to the Eagles concert 40 years later."

But Campbell decided to get his Ph.D. at the University of London in the late 1970s.

The British punk scene took form and pulled him in.

"That to me was like I won the jackpot," Campbell said.

"I was a graduate student with lots of time on my hands. I could go to clubs, I could travel around, I was anonymous enough as a student to do these sorts of things."

He saw the Clash, the Skids and UB40 live in small British clubs.

"I was smack dab in the middle of the British invasion and pop explosion and that was an epidemic," he said.

"From the late 70s on it's been a part of my life ever since."

Campbell has a regular flow of British power pop delivered to him in the mail, music he gets to listen to during his morning jog or on airplanes to conferences.

His iPod is currently filled with New Order, Radiohead, and the Manic Street Preachers, part of what he says is 95 per cent British post punk and power pop, with some electronic work mixed in.

His favourite bands of last year include Vampire Weekend, an American indie rock band, and Ting Tings, an English pop duo.

"I like relatively aggressive, lively music," Campbell said of his tastes.

"It has to fit with my morning run through the Sackville marsh."

He doesn't crowd surf, isn't the owner of a litany of black T-shirts, and you won't find him in the pit of bodies mashed together in front of the stage, but certain concerts will move Campbell to buy plane tickets and assemble his family.

With four university-aged children, two studying in Holland, and a wife equally passionate about music, a concert is the perfect means to meet up.

The 2008 summer break found the family in Amsterdam to see Radiohead. A few years earlier, on sabbatical he saw more than 30 shows in small Amsterdam clubs.

Campbell already has tickets for the family to see Blur in Hyde Park after school's out this summer.

"It's definitely a family thing for us," Campbell said.

Campbell's lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, will focus on his world tour of concerts, talk about why we listen to the music we do, as well as taking a look into the nature of the contemporary music scene.

"One of the attractions of rock 'n' roll is its energy and I think each generation of kids has to come up with a strategy on how to survive and how to access the world," he said.

"There are different strategies on how to do that. University is one, politics is another, getting socially engaged, and then music is another."

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