Professor Andrew Kirkman
Professor Andrew Kirkman

The book, full title “Music and Musicians at the Collegiate Church of Saint Omer: Crucible of Song, 1350–1550" by Professor Andrew Kirkman is a delve into how music played an exceptionally important role in the late Middle Ages - articulating people's social, psychological and eschatological needs.

The process began with the training of choirboys whose skill was key to institutional identity. That skill was closely cultivated and directly sought by kings and emperors, who intervened directly in recruitment of choirboys and older singers in order to build and articulate their self-image and perceived status. Using the documentation of an exceptionally well preserved archive, this book focuses on music's functioning in an important church in late Medieval Northern France.

It explores a period when musicians from this region set the agenda across Europe, developing what is still some of the most sophisticated music in the Western musical tradition. The book allows a close focus not on the great achievements of those who cultivated this music, but on the personal motivations that shaped their life and work.

The American Musicological Society is the largest organisation for music academics in the world, so I was delighted to receive this award, both for myself and for my many collaborators, living and dead… After burrowing through an archive for many years one gets the feeling one knows the long-dead colleagues whose daily lives one’s been immersed in. Perhaps not surprisingly those lives feel oddly familiar: the thrill comes from learning not just about the ‘great achievements’ of an era, but also the ‘bus-ticket’ level of life: its day-to-day routines, bonds, fights, struggles, hopes and dreams.

Professor Andrew Kirkman - Peyton and Barber Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Andrew Kirkman is Peyton and Barber Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham (UK). His publications include Music and Musicians at the Collegiate Church of St Omer (Cambridge, 2020) The Cultural Life of the Early Polyphonic Mass (Cambridge, 2010), and Contemplating Shostakovich: Life, Music and Film (Ashgate, 2012), edited with Alexander Ivashkin. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Early Music History, and 19th-Century Music.

He is director of the award-winning 'Binchois Consort,' which records little-known Renaissance repertory on the Hyperion label. He is also a violinist and, with pianist Clipper Erickson, released in 2013 a recording of world premiere performances of violin sonatas by Cyril Scott.

The AMS is the largest and most prestigious musicological society in the world. It is dedicated to advancing the study and teaching of music through a broad array of programs, including grants, fellowships, awards, publications, and events. The Early Music Award is given for outstanding work on music before 1550. Awardees are honoured in an Awardees Newsletter sent out during this year’s 2023 Joint Annual Meeting in Denver and at the AMS Awards Announcement and Reception at that meeting.