The musicology program proudly recognizes our fall 2018 graduates: Ph.D. recipients, Dr. Sarah Lucas and Dr. Hang Nguyen, and master’s degree recipients, Lily Gaetgaeow and C.A. Norling. Congratulations on a job well done!
The first half of the semester has been especially productive. Here are a few of the activities that students and faculty have been pursuing:
Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber has received a grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa for her research into Iowa women’s clubs promotion of the music of Iowa composers in the early twentieth century. She was interviewed about her research for an issue of The Little Village. In September Wilson Kimber presented a paper, “American Women’s Concerts and the Idea of a Middlebrow Canon” at the “Musicology Now” conference: “The Idea of the Canon in the 21st Century Canon,” held at Smith College.
Dr. Matthew Arndt recently attended a première performance of Heaven and Earth, a collaborative choral composition commissioned by the St. John of Damascus Society and part of the Psalm 103 project. The idea of the project is that “a setting of the Vespers psalm, collaborated on by six different Orthodox composers, will be performed and recorded by Cappella Romana, and then be used as the basis for a film project that will be an Orthodox meditation on science and faith.” The composers are Matthew Arndt, John Michael Boyer, Alexander Khalil, Kurt Sander, Richard Toensing, and Tikey Zes. The program also featured the première of Dr. Arndt’s setting of The Jesus Prayer, interpreted by one listener as an expression of postmodern spirituality, by another as an expression of apophatic theology.
Several graduate students also shared recent research at fall conferences. Cody Norling presented “The Touchtone (1728) Revisited: James Ralph and the Polemical Politics in Early-Eighteenth-Century London,” at the Midwestern chapter of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Andrew Tubbs contributed to the “Broadway Bodies” conference at Washington University in St. Louis with a paper on eugenics and disability in Oklahoma! The AMS Midwest conference featured multiple speakers from Iowa: Lisa Mumme spoke about onscreen musical performance in Mad Max, and Sarah Lucas (Ph.D. 2018, now at Drake University) gave a talk on Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Several new publications from faculty and students are also now available. Dr. Trevor Harvey released a new episode in the Ethnomusicology Today podcast series on embodying air guitar. In it, he speaks with scholars Sydney Hutchinson and Byrd McDaniel. Cody Norling’s introduction to a facsimile reprint of Spontini’s Julie, overture is out from Musikproduktion Hoeflich. Dr. Platte has two new articles out as well. One is on “unheard” music and musicians from Gone With the Wind, published in The Southern Quarterly. He has also contributed a chapter on music and special effects to the brand-new anthology, Adapting The Wizard of Oz: Musical Versions from Baum to MGM and Beyond (OUP, 2018).
The Conference Scene
Students and faculty have already contributed to a variety of conferences this summer.
MA student Cody Norling gave a paper at the Fourth Annual Midwest History Conference titled “‘R.Hutchinson, Iowa City’: A Case of Musical Cultivation in Nineteenth Century Iowa.” It was reportedly the largest gathering of Midwest historians since the 1930s!
MA student Andrew Tubbs presented research related to his thesis at the annual Song, Stage and Screen conference at UCLA. His paper was titled “Sumpin’ Wrong Inside Him: Ethnicity, Disability, and Eugenics in Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!”
Both Ph.D. candidate Megan Small and Dr. Nathan Platte attended the annual Music and the Moving Image conference at New York University. Megan presented a paper titled “Animal Sounds for Human Audiences: The Music of Koneko Monogatari and The Adventures of Milo and Otis.” Dr. Platte chaired multiple panels and gave a paper on jazz and constructions of authenticity in the capital punishment film, I Want to Live!
New Teaching Opportunities
During the spring 2018 semester, Ph.D. candidate Kelsey McGinnis taught a new course, “Topics in Human Rights: Archives and Activism,” as part of the Provost’s Global Forum and Obermann Humanities Symposium, “Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice.”
The course, designed for undergraduate students from all majors and programs of study, introduced students to physical and digital archives and to archivists, activists, and scholars who utilize archival material to promote social justice locally and globally. Kelsey also curated a collection of sources related to archival research and social justice, which can be found here. Kelsey’s participation and teaching was supported by a HASTAC Fellowship awarded by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.
Other students and alumni are preparing new courses for the fall. Ph.D. candidate Sarah Lucas will work as a music history instructor at Drake University for the 2018-19 academic year. Ph.D. candidate Michele Aichele will teach music history courses at Texas A&M University and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. Dr. Jessica Kizzire (UI 2017) will start a new teaching appointment at the University of New Haven.
Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber’s research on (and performance of) elocutionists and their music was recently featured in an interview with Iowa Public Radio host Barney Sherman. The full interview with musical excerpts is available on the IPR site here.
Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik was among the presenters who gathered in Cleveland, Ohio for the “Beyond Genre: Jazz as Popular Music” conference at Case Western Reserve University in April. The conference was convened to explore “the middle ground between popular music and new jazz studies.” The program featured papers by David Brackett, Sherrie Tucker, and other scholars from the fields of jazz and popular music studies, and considered a diverse array of musical voices, ranging from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Fred Astaire, and Bing Crosby to NG La Banda, Solange Knowles, and Jason Moran. Pianist and composer David Ake and collaborators Ralph Alessi, Ben Monder, Drew Gress, and Mark Ferber closed the proceedings with brand new jazz/popular music, treating conference participants to music from their new release, Humanities.
Dr. Suhadolnik’s talk, “Friendly Meetings Abroad: Navigating Geographies of Genre on Basin Street,” used the 2018 “United We Swing” release (see link above) by New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Wynton Marsalis Septet as a springboard for her place-based examination of popular arrangements of Spencer Williams’s “Basin Street Blues,” a tin-pan-alley-hit-turned-jazz-standard. Drawing from her book project, Navigating Jazz: Music, Place, and New Orleans, individual case studies—the 2007 duet rendition of “Basin Street Blues,” recorded by Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson, as well as arrangements recorded by Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Eric San (a.k.a. DJ Kid Koala)—demonstrated the ways in which differing notions of New Orleans as musical place have inflected the popular reception of recordings of “Basin Street Blues” with divisive notions of, and about, New Orleans music. In this vein, Suhadolnik’s presentation traced the connections between the varied representation of New Orleans in popular music, and the larger, multifaceted construction of New Orleans as an important “jazz city”.
Aaron S. Allen
Aaron S. Allen is director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program and Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he also served as the institution’s first Academic Sustainability Coordinator. A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 2006 with a dissertation on the nineteenth-century Italian reception of Beethoven. His B.A. in music and B.S. in environmental studies are from Tulane University. Aaron has published on campus sustainability, Beethoven reception, and ecomusicology. He is co-editor with Kevin Dawe of the collection Current Directions in Ecomusicology (Routledge 2016).
Fundamental to the sound of Western art music, the violin family forms the backbone of most ensembles from chamber to stage. Professional violins depend on at least two endemic natural resources: Italian spruce for the soundboards, and Brazilian pernambuco for the bows. The highest quality bows are made of only wild-grown pernambuco (pau brasil) from Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest. Pau brasil was so important that European colonial powers warred over it with each other and with indigenous peoples; eventually, the country Brazil was named after the wood. Today, the tree is nearly extinct: 8% of the original forest is extant, and only 5% of pernambuco habitat remains. But Italian red spruce has fared better in the unusual Alpine microclimate of the Val di Fiemme’s Paneveggio Forest. The species is widely distributed, but Paneveggian spruce makes excellent resonance wood for soundboards, which has contributed to the renown of this “forest of violins.” Despite various threats during the past millennium, Fiemmesi traditions have preserved the forest; today, more trees grow than loggers harvest, and musicians regularly make pilgrimages to their sacred groves in the Paneveggio. The values accorded to musical traditions and the instruments necessary for them can reverberate through individual tree species to particular forests. Western art music, an endangered (if elite) tradition that might need preservation, contributes both to threatening and to protecting the unique resources on which it depends. In other words, our aesthetic choices have ethical ramifications that impact the world in negative and positive ways.
The musicology faculty and students at the University of Iowa are looking forward to the fourth annual Iowa Musicology Day, to be held on April 14. The conference will be held in Room 2 (the Choral Room) of the Voxman Music Building. The conference is free and open to Iowans interested in musicology.
9:00 Registration and morning refreshments
Megan Small, University of Iowa, “On the Sunset Trail: The West in Iowa”
11:30- 1:00 Box Lunch (see below)
Marian Wilson Kimber, University of Iowa, “‘It’s up to the women’: Women’s Peace Songs for Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s”
Nathan Platte, University of Iowa, “Jazz and the Ethics of Authenticity in I Want to Live!”
3:30- 4:30 Session 5: Introduction to the Arthur and Miriam Canter Rare Book Room, Katie Buehner, Music Librarian, Rita Benton Music Library
More Conference Information
Two musicology Ph.D. students have received special recognition for their ongoing research. Kelsey McGinnis accepted a Graduate Research Excellence Award from UI’s Research Council and Graduate College. Cited by the selection committee for her highly original work, Kelsey is writing a dissertation on the role of music in the U.S. military’s reeducation program for German POWs during WWII.
Hang Nguyen, whose dissertation explores the use of social media by American orchestras and opera companies, received a Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship. This competitive fellowship from UI’s Graduate College provides funding for students who are completing their dissertations.
Hearty congratulations to Hang and Kelsey!
Wednesday, March 21, 4 pm, in Vox 2. In cooperation with the European Studies program of the University of Iowa, the Musicology and Music Theory Colloquium will present a special lecture by Anna Leonard, Lecturer and curator Curator of European Art at the Smart Museum of Art of the University of Chicago. Leonard specializes in 19th-century European art, particularly that of France and Belgium. Her research interests include Symbolism and Wagnerism, attention and modes of aesthetic experience, time in painting, and nationalism and internationalism. A primary area of scholarly focus has been the relations between visual art and music, which are the subject of a book she co-edited with musicologist Tim Shephard, The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture (2014), the first comprehensive reference work in this field. She has published six exhibition catalogues at the Smart Museum, chapters in several edited volumes, and an article in the Art Bulletin. Leonard’s presentation is entitled “Present at the Creation: The Romantic Iconography of the Turned Canvas,” and the abstract follows.
Abstract: This paper addresses the motif of the turned canvas or canvas seen from the back, found in certain portraits of artists at work c. 1810–25, as a manifestation of Romantic theories of the work of art. The turned canvas invited beholders to complete the concealed work of art in their imaginations, just as artistic creation itself was viewed at the time as a largely internal process rather than a physical or manual one. My presentation explores the implications of these ideas for Romantic representations of artists at work. It pays special consideration to what were perceived to be the raw materials of creative inspiration, not just for painters but for composers as well. Evidence shows that the conception of painting as an imitation of nature—prevalent in classical aesthetics from the Renaissance onward, and particularly the seventeenth century—underwent significant revision in the Romantic period, drawing closer to non-mimetic processes of musical creation. The phenomenon of Beethoven portraiture is brought in to show how understandings of his compositional process not only influenced the representation of pictorial artists but also encouraged a redefinition of the work of art, following musical paradigms, as something essentially immaterial and even invisible.
Musicology students and faculty attended the annual meeting of the Society for American Music, held in Kansas City, February 28 through March 4. Professor Sarah Suhadolnik appeared as a speaker for a workshop, organized by the Committee on the Conference, entitled “Strategies for Designing, Doing, and Discussing Digital Humanities Projects.” Professor Marian Wilson Kimber, along with doctoral piano student Natalie Landowski, presented a lecture-recital, “In a Woman’s Voice: Spoken-Word Compositions by American Women.” The recital highlighted compositions discussed in her recent book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017). At the student lunch and business meeting, master’s student Andrew Tubbs was elected co-chair of SAM’s student forum for the upcoming year. Congratulations Andrew!
Katherine E. Ramsey, MA in Musicology (2015), has taken a position as the Research and Instructional Librarian for Music, the Arts, and the Performing Arts at Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library at the University of Alabama. Ms. Ramsey recently received a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in flute and English. Ms. Ramsey has a special interest in fostering information literacy in the digital age.