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ICTM: Bonding cultures for the Peace of Humankind

Music has been proven to bring people together; in doing so, they discover more similarities than differences. The International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) was formed for that reason. The ICTM supports the notion that music acts as a bond among peoples of different cultures and thus contributes to the peace of humankind.

Since 1947, delegates from countries around the globe have gathered to study, practice, document, preserve and disseminate information on traditional music and dance.

ICTM Executive Board

The formation of the organization is credited to Maud Karpeles and Steuart Wilson. Maud served as the honorary secretary of the International (Advisory) Folk Dance Council. She organized the International Conference on Folk Song and Folk Dance in London at the Belgian Institute in September 1947. Twenty-eight countries appointed delegates to attend the two-day event funded by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. On the last day of the conference, the vice chairman, Steuart Wilson, proposed to form the International Folk Music Council (IFMC), which was approved unanimously.

That same year, the officers and Executive Board members appointed 140 music and dance experts from 35 countries and regions as correspondents. The first IFMC conference was held a year later in Basel, Switzerland. The organization's name changed to the International Council for Traditional Music at the 26th World Conference in Soule in August 1981. The ICTM publishes an annual journal, Yearbook for Traditional Music.

Conferences held biannually offer both the ICTM membership and the general public opportunities for exchanges on a broad range of issues. ICTM study groups allow members to gather for Study Group Symposia. There are currently 27 Study Groups that focus on various scholarly topics.

Svanibor Pettan of Slovenia currently serves as the ICTM President and has an impressive history with the organization.

He has served as the ICTM national representative of Croatia and Slovenia; Chair of the Program Committee of the 38th World Conference; co-founder and Chair of the Study Group on Music and Minorities, founder and Chair of the Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology, member of the Executive Board, Secretary General, Vice-President; and been the guest editor of the Yearbook for Traditional Music. He has also twice served as President of the Cultural and Ethnomusicological Society Folk Slovenia, which serves as ICTM's National Committee for Slovenia.

"Our organization is truly international, with representatives in 128 countries and regions on all continents. Our primary/official language of communication is English," he said. "My professor of ethnomusicology, Jerko Bezić at the University of Zagreb, raised my interest in ICTM during my BA studies in Zagreb (Croatia, then Yugoslavia), and I became a member as an undergraduate student a bit more than four decades ago, in the early 1980s. My principal professional areas of interest include music and politics on a war-peace continuum, music of the world, music and minorities, music and gender, and applied ethnomusicology. My past and present fieldwork sites include central and southeastern Europe, Australia, Egypt, Norway, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and the USA. The scholarly frame of ICTM continues to be broad enough to accommodate such diverse interests and inspire further research, intellectual exchange, and use of our knowledge, understanding, and skills in music and dance to make our world a better place."

Catherine Foley, Emeritus Senior Lecturer in Ethnochoreology, The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, at the University of Limerick in Ireland, has been a member of the ICTM Executive Board since 2017, where she is responsible for managing the workings of the ICTM.

"I am also involved in a number of the Executive Board's Committees, and I was the elected Chair of the ICTM's Study Group on Ethnochoreology for two terms (2014-2018; 2018-2022). In addition, I was co-chair of the 44th ICTM World Conference at the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, in 2017; I was also Chair of the 27th Symposium of the ICTM's Study Group on Ethnochoreology, again at the University of Limerick, in 2012," she said.

Catherine got involved with the ICTM in 1996 when she started to present my research at ICTM events, including world conferences and Study Group in Ethnochoreology symposia. "I took up a position at the University of Limerick in 1996 to design and lead the Ethnochoreology program; this was the first program of its type at any university in Europe. My involvement with the ICTM provided me with a valuable professional network."

The 47th ICTM World Conference will be in July 2023 in Legon, Ghana. "As president of this remarkable scholarly community, I will have multiple obligations in Ghana," says Svanibor. "My special wish is to see many colleagues from different African countries actively participating in our major gathering in 2023." Catherine will be attending the conference in Ghana as well. "I am looking forward to meeting up with other ICTM colleagues and to hearing their research presentations. I am also looking forward to visiting Ghana and being exposed to Ghanaian culture."

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