Lisa Mumme (MA, Musicology) won the National Opera Association’s 2018 Scholarly Paper Competition with her paper, “‘Angelica di voce’: Ángela Peralta as Nineteenth-Century Diva.” Lisa will present her paper at the NOA’s annual conference in Salt Lake City in January 2019 and the piece will appear in The Opera Journal in December 2019. Lisa’s achievement marks the third time an Iowa student has won the competition. Previous winners include alumnus Jared Hedges (MA, Composition) and PhD student Cody Norling (Musicology). Congratulations, Lisa!
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.
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!
Hang Nguyen, a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology, was recently hired to work as an assistant librarian at the State Historical Society in Iowa City. Thus far, Hang’s duties have included working with an author to acquire materials for a forthcoming book, helping colleagues prepare for the Archives Crawl event on February 24th, 2018, assisting patrons with genealogy and Iowa history queries, and compiling finding aids and inventories for special collections materials. She is also writing her dissertation on the use of Twitter and Facebook Live in contemporary classical music events.
Katheryn Lawson’s article, “Girl Scout Contrafacta and Symbolic Soldiering in the Great War,” is featured in the most recent issue of American Music (Fall 2017). The research draws from her 2013 MA thesis in Musicology, “Little soldiers and orphans: musical childhoods lived and constructed in World War I.” Katheryn is now a Ph.D. student in American History and Museum Studies at the University of Delaware.
Dr. Trevor Harvey recently released his seventh episode for Ethnomusicology Today, a podcast that he hosts and produces for the Society of Ethnomusicology. In this episode, he interviews Dr. Maríe Abe on the mingling of Japanese chindon-ya (a musical advertising practice) and anti-nuclear power protests in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. You can listen to this episode and others from the series here.
Dr. Nathan Platte’s book Making Music in Selznick’s Hollywood was recently published by Oxford University Press. With the release, Nathan contributed a piece to the Oxford University Press blog: “Unanswered Questions in Gone With the Wind’s Main Title.” Special thanks to music librarian Katie Buehner, Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik, masters student Lisa Mumme, PhD student Megan Small, and Diane Platte, who offered editorial guidance.
Warren Sherk, Manager of Special
Collections for the research library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has posted a review and author interview. Copies of the book are available at Prairie Lights.
With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge the many contributions of our students and faculty at recent conferences.
In mid-October, music librarian Katie Buehner hosted Midwest MLA (Music Library Association) in the UI’s Voxman building.
Music librarians from across the region turned out en masse to see the new music library and share presentations. Katie Buehner and her predecessor, Ruthann McTyre (now at Yale University), offered a vivid account of the music library’s tribulations and ultimate triumph following the destructive flood of 2008. In her talk, “The Rare and the Ordinary: Teaching Music History with Archives and Special Collections,” Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber reflected on different student-directed projects she has devised for graduate seminars. MA student Cody Norling served as “posterchild” for Wilson Kimber’s presentation by sharing (via poster) research he had developed under Wilson Kimber’s mentorship: “The Boston Glee Book in Iowa City: A Primary-Source Case Study Midwestern Musical Uplift.”
In addition to hosting visitors at home, faculty also journeyed abroad. Dr. Christine Getz presented on “The Last Years of the Tini Press” at the Società Italiana di Musicologia meeting in Lucca, Italy. Dr. Daniel Thompson went to Puebla, Mexico, to present a paper titled “A Reassessment of Nattiez’s Musical Semiology” at the annual Semiotic Society for America conference. In his presentation, Thompson offered a rereading of Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s musical semiology through Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, thereby exploring the ideological preconditions for the existence of “music.”
That same weekend, Dr. Trevor Harvey and MA student Andrew Tubbs attended the Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Denver. Drawing from recent ethnographic research, Andrew gave a paper on a Denver-based theatrical group: “A Phamaly Affair: Advocacy and Cultural Participation through a Disabled Repositioning of Cabaret.” Dr. Harvey attended the Publications Advisory Committee, where he represents the SEM podcast series (currently at six episodes, with a seventh forthcoming).
At the American Musicological Society meeting this November, PhD student Kelsey McGinnis presented a paper titled, “‘Americanism is to be plugged!’: Music, POW Reeducation, and the United States’s ‘Intellectual Diversion Program’ during World War II.” Dr. Wilson Kimber gave another presentation titled “Women Composers at the White House: Phyllis Fergus and the Concerts of the National League of American Pen Women.” Dr. Christine Getz served as a panelist on a special session titled “Musicology and Digital Technologies: Access, Sustainability, Education, and Scholarly Communication.” Drs. Sarah Suhadolnik and Nathan Platte served on the AMS Committee on the Publication of American Music, which functions as an advisory board for the Music of the United States of America (MUSA) series.
These are (it bears emphasizing) only a selection of recent activities. Congratulations and many thanks for everyone’s efforts and accomplishments!
When 1400 fourth graders arrived at the UI School of Music for an orchestra concert in October, they met an ensemble with whom they had already been introduced. That introduction was made by PhD student Megan Small and UI music librarian Katie Buehner, who produced two short videos specially tailored for the program and its fourth-grade audience. Working with a very tight schedule, Megan and Katie filmed members of the orchestra, presented commentary on the featured composers and compositions, and gathered orchestral recordings from the University of Iowa’s audio archive. Teachers shared the videos with their classes before the concert, thereby giving students a personalized and engaging encounter with their local orchestra. Megan and Katie’s contributions to the event served a key role within an exciting partnership between area public schools and UI’s School of Music.
The Music Theory and Musicology areas recently welcomed two new faculty members: Dr. Daniel J. Thompson and Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik. Among their wide-ranging teaching and research initiatives, both share interests in jazz history and contemporary performance. We are thrilled to have them join the UI community, and we look forward to sharing updates on their work in the future.
Sarah Suhadolnik joins the faculty at the University of Iowa as a scholar and teacher of American music, with special interests in jazz and popular music. She has presented papers at national and international conferences, including the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the American Studies Association, and the International Musicological Society. Her publications include articles in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd Edition, and a study of the contemporary singer-songwriter Adele featured in the 2016 Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. She has also served as a member of the editorial staff for both the Music of the United States of America series and the University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative, and acted as the managing editorial assistant for the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education (2015-2017). Suhadolnik’s teaching has been recognized by the University of Michigan (Glenn McGeoch Memorial Scholarship in Musicology), and includes extensive experience as a teaching consultant.
Suhadolnik received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation, Navigating Jazz: Music, Place, and New Orleans, was supported in part by the Lillian A. Ives Graduate Student Fellowship at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, and is currently under contract with University of Michigan Press. Before joining the faculty at the University of Iowa in 2011, she taught at Michigan and Western Michigan University.
Daniel J. Thompson joined the University of Iowa School of Music in August of 2017 as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music theory and analysis—including courses in the undergraduate musicianship sequence, tonal analysis (Caplin), atonal theory, and fundamentals of music for non-majors.
Daniel received the Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from Florida State University in 2017 with a dissertation that recontextualizes the semiotic theories associated with musical “topics” (inferred style references taken as symbols of cultural themes) within hard bop—a widely celebrated Afro-modernist movement in American jazz (c. 1954–65). As a graduate assistant in both music theory and jazz studies at Florida State, Daniel taught undergraduate courses in music theory, aural skills, and jazz piano. He studied composition with Ladislav Kubík, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Robert Mueller; digital music and computation with Mark Wingate and Clifton Callender; and jazz piano with Bill Peterson.
As a scholar, Daniel’s eclectic theoretical interests largely intersect with semiotics (sign systems), psychoanalytic theory, and cultural criticism. He has given talks at the national meetings of the Society for Music Theory (SMT) and the Semiotic Society of America (SSA), as well as several regional and graduate-student music conferences. His review of William Echard’s Psychedelic Popular Music: A History through Musical Topic Theory is forthcoming in Popular Music, and an article related to his dissertation is currently in peer review.
As a composer, Daniel’s work has been performed at the Dimenna Center for Classical Music and Spectrum (both in New York City) and at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, NY. His miniature summoning a skeleton specter was performed by clarinetist Thomas Piercy and pianist Yusuke Satoh in the “Tokyo to New York” concert series (Tokyo, 2014); remnants—a work for clarinet and live electronics—premiered in 2017 at Florida State University’s Eighteenth Biennial Festival of New Music. Daniel’s ongoing creative work largely consists of electronic music (typically a blend of real-time synthesis, live processing, and sample manipulation in SuperCollider or Max/MSP)—taking the form of sound installations, works with live choreography, improvisations, and fixed media. Outside of the digital realm, Daniel also remains active as a jazz-piano soloist.