An alumna’s upcoming visit to campus, a new video, and an article about UI’s Special Collections

This post is an unabashed grab bag of timely updates. Enjoy!

First, we are honored to have alumna Dr. Jama Stilwell (Cornell College) back on campus for an Obermann Center Humanities for the Public Good symposium this upcoming Friday (November 1). The symposium brings back Ph.D. alumni to share reflections on their careers in academia and beyond. Information about the symposium may be found here (registration is free), and Jama’s discussion panel will be from 2:45-4:00.

Next, Ph.D. candidate Megan Small took time to collaborate again with music librarian Katie Buehner on two new orchestra-related videos. The videos where shown to Iowa City elementary students before their field trip to Voxman for a concert with the symphony orchestra. The videos cover a lot of ground: in addition to offering engaging previews of the featured music, they also include a primer on conducting an orchestra (some students enjoyed time on the podium). A concert etiquette guide for the young in heart is included here:

Third, Prof. Nathan Platte recently published a brief reflection on his study of Hollywood scripts and other film-related materials held in the special collections of Simpson College and the University of Iowa. The article was featured on the UI Libraries’ and Rita Benton Music Library’ main pages, and may be enjoyed here.

The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium at Iowa: Call for Papers and Scores

The 24th annual Midwest Graduate Music Consortium will be hosted here at Voxman, March 6-7, 2020. The website for the conference and the call for papers and scores is now live! Learn more about the conference here and the process for submitting paper proposals and scores here.

Midwest Graduate Music C.jpegMGMC is a joint venture organized by graduate students from the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, and the University of Iowa that promotes the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate and advanced undergraduate students. The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium invites paper and performance submissions for its upcoming conference. We welcome proposals pertaining broadly to topics falling under the disciplinary classifications of music studies (ethno/musicology, music theory, performance, and pedagogy) and sound studies, as well as topics on the transdisciplinary frontier between music and its conceivably numerous neighbors.



Bidding farewell to summer…

“So, what did you do this summer?” It’s a familiar refrain during the early weeks of fall term.

Chicago Civic Opera House.jpegSummer for PhD student Cody Norling meant finding that elusive balance across research, writing, and teaching. He kicked off his dissertation research by spending a week in Northern Illinois University’s “Historic Scenic Collection, 1865–2012,” which houses an abundant supply of materials relating to Chicago’s Civic Opera company.

He also finished an article manuscript on the Iowa State Normal Academy of Music for a forthcoming volume on Midwestern identity formation in the 19th century.

And, finally, Cody designed a new course titled “Rhetorics in/of Western Music” for UI’s Department of Rhetoric, where he serve as a TA. Intended as an undergraduate introduction to rhetorical inquiry and participation, the course utilizes the analysis of musical sounds, processes, and discourses within the study of persuasion and academic argumentation.

Cody’s class is now well underway, along with those of the other musicology TAs, Arthur, Elissa, Lexy, and Monica. We’ll follow up with updates from them as the semester progresses.

Spring Term Updates

Finals just finished here in Iowa City, and already the Summer term has begun. As students and faculty transition to new courses and research projects, here’s a few highlights from the latter half of Spring term:

UI students, faculty, and music librarian journeyed to the University of Northern Iowa in late April for the fifth annual Iowa Musicology Day. Two students and two faculty presented:Image result for aqua follies minneapolis

Megan Small (PhD): “Aqua Follies” (on the music from the 1953 Aqua Follies water ballet performance at the Minneapolis Aquatennial)

Ben Owen (DMA) “The Musical Architect: the Influence of Cathedral Architecture in the  Music of Herbert Howells”

Nathan Platte (Musicology), “(Re)sounding Archives: Listening for Presence and Absence in Hollywood’s Archival Collections”

Marian Wilson Kimber (Musicology), “Musical Iowana: Iowa Women’s Clubs and the Promotion of Iowa Composers”

At the Society for American Music conference in New Orleans, three faculty members chaired individual sessions while three students shared recent research:

Society for American Music, 2019

Kelsey McGinnis (PhD candidate): “Not for Your Entertainment: Film, Music, and Reeducation in America’s German POW Camps”

Cody Norling (PhD pre-candidate) “Classical Music Popularized, Popular Music Dignified”: The May Valentine Opera Company and Operatic Dissemination on the Chautauqua Circuits”

Andrew Tubbs (MA): “It Doesn’t Go to My Head”: Jazz, Womanhood, and the Body in New Orleans (1947)”

Christine Getz recently shared new research in a paper titled, “Who were the ‘heirs of Francesco and Simon Tini’?” Her paper was part of the “Women in Society” panel at the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music conference in Durham, NC. By drawing on new archival evidence, Getz argued that “the heirs were women and minor male children who did not live to adulthood, and, further, that the women resorted to some of the same techniques for survival adopted by other females who had inherited or married into paper vending, printing, or bookselling dynasties of the era.”

Megan Small, PhD candidate and current music director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, presented at the American Hungarian Educators Association conference in Pittsburgh. Her paper, “Bridging Identities: A Case Study of Frigyes Hidas,” establishes a new biographical reference for Hungarian composer Frigyes Hidas, based on research completed in 2014-2015 on the Fulbright Student Research Grant.

Lisa Mumme successfully defended her masters thesis, “Not Things: Gender and Music in the Mad Max Franchise.” In the fall, Lisa will continue her studies in the musicology PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis.

In April Nathan Platte participated in a public discussion panel on film music hosted by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the Iowa City Public Library (other panelists included Corey Creekmur, Associate Professor of Film Studies, local filmmaker Kaitlyn Busbee, and FilmScene programing director Rebecca Fons). The following week Nathan visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he gave an invited talk on music in Robert Wise’s films and met with graduate students from the film department.

With her pianist, Natalie Landowski, Marian Wilson Kimber has continued to perform the musical readings by women composers she explores in her book, The Elocutionists: Women Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017).  They have performed for the American Association of University Women in Cedar Falls, the Des Moines Women’s Club, and as the William A. Hammond Lecture on the American Tradition at Ohio State University. Wilson Kimber has presented her recent research on Iowa women’s clubs’ promotion of Iowa composers for the State Historical Society of Iowa, which can be seen here:

She gave the keynote address, “American Women’s Concerts and the Idea of a Middlebrow Canon,” for the Midwest Chapter meeting of the American Musicological Society at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she was also elected the chapter’s representative to AMS’s national council.


New exhibits from Dr. Suhadolnik’s classes open in Voxman and online

During the Fall 2018 term, Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik worked with students from two of her courses to create exhibits grounded in locally-oriented research. Designed in collaboration with music librarian Katie Buehner, both exhibits are now open at the Voxman Music Building and feature companion websites hosted through the Rita Benton Music Library blog.

exploring our sounds.jpgExploring Our Sounds: Traditions of American Music Making at the University of Iowa

What is American Music? What does the idea of “American” music making mean for different University of Iowa artists and audiences?

In what ways have University of Iowa musicians, audiences, conductors, critics, and historians contributed to the musical identity of the United States? In what ways might they do so in the future?

The students of the Fall 2018 offering of the graduate musicology seminar in American music invite you to consider these questions as they relate to the place of American music in the past, present, and future of the University of Iowa School of Music.

The “Exploring Our Sounds” exhibit, which is on display throughout the Spring 2019 semester on the first floor of the Voxman Music Building, showcases our responses to these questions. Throughout the semester, we will be posting on the objects and themes of this exhibit in greater depth. Lisa Mumme (MA, musicology) has already contributed a post on Ernst Krenek’s Symphonic Elegy, performed by the UI Symphony Orchestra in 1965.

In Our Lives: The Beatles Yesterday and Today

panel 3 from the in our lives exhibitsIN OUR LIVES was designed in the Fall 2018 offering of Donna’s “World of The Beatles” course. Participating students studied her materials–donated in Donna’s name to the Rita Benton Music Library–and worked together to flesh out the different themes that now define their multimedia, multidirectional account of the enduring legacy of The Beatles that stretches across each fin. The exhibit design is a tribute to the rich learning experiences Donna created for University of Iowa students, and a preview of the valuable learning experiences her collection will support for years to come.



Matthew Arndt presents on The Dark Side of Oz in New Zealand, Canada

With assistance from the University of Iowa School of Music and International Programs, Matthew Arndt presented a paper entitled “The Dark Side of Oz as Allegory of Spiritual Transformation” at the annual meetings of the New Zealand Musicological Society at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. According to Arndt, “The Dark Side of Oz, the mashup of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz, has established itself as an inspiring work of art, giving rise to live shows as well as new music and art. It is also a decidedly open work, having no identifiable author and no generic conventions. Faced with these interpretive challenges, scholars have hardly examined the phenomenon in artistic terms at all, with the exception of John Richardson. […] This study adopts the premise that the meaningfulness of the mashup is grounded […] in its affordance of a conceptual blending of the album’s musical-lyrical content with the film’s narrative. […] As a prism selectively activates color, so the album serendipitously activates elements in the film to present an allegory of spiritual transformation that closely matches the analysis of this process in St. Theophan the Recluse’s magisterial The Path to Salvation.”


Faculty Activities: Extreme Winter Weather Edition

Even midst snow, slush, and more snow, there are publications, presentations, and podcasts to share and celebrate. Enjoy here some of the recent work from the faculty.

Journal of the Society for American Music Volume 12 - Issue 4 -

Marian Wilson Kimber’s research on women composers’ concerts at the White House during the 1930s is featured in the current issue of the Journal of the Society for American Music (12:4). Her article illuminates the role of the National League of American Pen Women, who supported “a substantial agenda proposed by Phyllis Fergus, its music director and later president, to achieve national recognition for its composer members.”

Sarah Suhadolnik journeyed to Dublin in January to present her paper, “Placing the Music of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band” at the international Documenting Jazz conference. In this talk, Sarah uses “the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as the basis for a new theory of musical remodelling, a concept that relates music to place, and place to music, as a means of sustaining a sense of cultural permanence.”

Nathan Platte’s book, Making Music in Selznick’s Hollywood (Oxford University Press, 2018), was just named an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2018” by Choice. His new book project on Robert Wise is profiled here by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, where Nathan served as a fellow-in-residence.

Trevor Harvey, founding editor of the Ethnomusicology Today podcast, just released the ninth episode, “Performative Ecology in Micronesia.” In this episode Dr. Brian Diettrich “explores the concept of performative ecology in his discussion of ótoomey (summoning breadfruit) and ocean wayfinding and voyaging songs in the islands of Chuuk. Through his study of both historical and present-day musical performances in Chuuk, Diettrich explains how knowledge about social, spiritual, and environmental connectivity is bound up in musical performances.”

National Opera Association Recognition

Image result for angela peraltaLisa 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!

Highlights from the fall season

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.

Heaven and Earth.jpg

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).