Musicology Alumni

Virginia Danielson (’71) conducted award winning research on the famous Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum and is the curator of the Archive of World Music at Harvard University.

Brian Pertl (’86) is the Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music.

Peter Marsh (’88) specializes in Mongolian music and teaches ethnomusicology at California State University East Bay.

Kathleen Noss Van Buren (’99) teaches at the University of Sheffield, UK, and is active in the growing field of applied ethnomusicology, researching how musicians and organizations use music to promote community education about social and health issues.

Stephanie Webster-Cheng (’00) received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburg in 2008, studying politics, music, and children’s music education in Modern China, and specializing in Suzhou tanci, a ballad-singing genre from Southeastern China.

Michael O’Brien (’01) recently finished his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has conducted field research in Buenos Aires, Argentina on contemporary tango music and globalization, music education and cultural policy. His dissertation is an ethnography of two schools of música popular — tango, folk music and jazz — in Argentina. He has presented this research at academic conferences in the U.S., Mexico, and Argentina.  Michael studied cello and string pedagogy at Lawrence and continues to write music for strings in a variety of styles. His compositions have been published by Latham Music, Ludwig Music, and the National Cello Institute. As part of his research, Michael began to study the bandoneón, the iconic tango instrument related to the accordion. He currently plays this instrument in a tango ensemble, Quinteto Yzafa, for which he also composes and arranges.

Anna Stirr (’02) studies popular song, nationalism, and gender in Nepal and is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnomusicology at the University of Oxford.

Rebecca Dirksen (’03) is a graduate student at UCLA studying Haitian music.

Ansel Wallenfang (’03) received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study erhu (Chinese two stringed bowed lute) in China and tabla (Hindustani paired drums) in India.

Elissa Harbert ('05) graduated from Lawrence University with a Bachelor of Music magna cum laude in oboe performance. She is now a musicologist specializing in music of the United States, focusing especially on issues of cultural memory and historical representation in musical theater and film. In Fall 2015, Elissa joined the DePauw University School of Music in Greencastle, Indiana, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Musicology. From 2013-2015, she held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she taught the history of European and American music as well as a popular series of music appreciation courses at a senior living center. After finishing her studies at Lawrence, Elissa earned a Master’s degree in oboe performance from Wichita State University and performed with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she completed her Ph.D. in Musicology at Northwestern University with departmental honors and a cognate area in U.S. cultural history. Her dissertation, “Remembering the Revolution: Music in Stage and Screen Representations of Early America During the Bicentennial Years,” was awarded the American Musicological Society’s Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship, grants and fellowships from the American Heritage Center and Northwestern University, and was a finalist for the Society for American Music Dissertation Award. She is currently working on her first book, which explores depictions of U.S. history in Broadway musicals from 1925 to the present.

Emma Ashbrook (’09) conducted fieldwork during a summer in the Czech Republic and presented the results of her research in a senior lecture-recital entitled “Without Borders: Issues of Authenticity in Music and Tourism in Prague.”

Chiara Terzuolo (’09) is currently earning her Master of Music degree in koto performance at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London.  While a student at Lawrence, Chiara spent a summer in Japan and had the opportunity to work at a Shinto shrine and study music alongside other young Japanese women working there.  Based on her experiences and research, Chiara presented a paper entitled “’Of Miko and Music’: Shinto-style Musical Training” based on her research at the 2009 Conference of the Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology in Minneapolis, MN.  She was awarded a Fulbright grant to study koto at Kobe University in Japan in 2009-2010.

Harjinder Bedi (’10) – Based on two summers in West Africa studying Ewe dance and drumming traditions, funded by the Goldsmith Grant for African Study and the Lawrence Senior Experience Grant, Harji mapped the social landscape of the dance “Adzogbo” as it shifts in meaning along historical and geographical lines from Benin to Togo to Ghana.  Previous scholars have focused primarily on the rhythmic patterns and timbres of Ewe music itself, but Harji is one of the first to account for its connections to notions of national, ethnic, linguistic, and gendered identities.  Harji worked under the guidance of anthropology professor Brenda Jenike and ethnomusicology fellow Sonja Downing, and presented his findings in a senior lecture-recital and at the 2010 Conference of the Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology in Chicago, IL.

Maura Cook (’10) examined the relationship between music and the American wedding ritual over multiple terms of study and ethnographic research.  She is now working in Chicago with AmeriCorps.

Aviva Milner-Brage (’10) studied Balinese gamelan music and cooking in Bali after graduating, and is now a graduate student in the ethnomusicology program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Stacey Stoltz (’11) attended the Cudamani Summer Institute after graduating and is now using her experience in Balinese gamelan and other world percussion traditions in her teaching as a music educator.

Helen Rowe graduated in 2013 with a B.Mus. in Violin Performance.  She was awarded honors cum laude for her honors project—“A Study of Music, Embodiment, and Meaning in the World of Portal.”  Helen is currently in the Ph.D. program at UCLA, studying the ways in which first-person video game players and their virtual worlds musically identify, interact, and create aesthetic understanding.

Maia Perez ('14) is pursuing a M.Mus. in Historical Musicology at Boston University.  She is primarily interested in revivals, particularly the Period Instrument Revival and its socio-cultural impact. Her other interests include various (and cross-disciplinary) modernisms, and intersections of music and literature.

Alexis VanZalen (’14) completed her B.A. in History and a B.Mus. in Organ Performance and received awards in both disciplines, including prizes in the American Guild of Organists Young Artist regional competitions. She graduated summa cum laude for her honors thesis in music history on the seventeenth-century organist Dieterich Buxtehude’s civic and musical self-fashioning. Alexis is now attending the Eastman School of Music where she is working towards a Ph.D. in musicology and an M.Mus. in early music performance. She remains an active performer and scholar and has presented her research at Vanderbilt University’s German Studies Conference and the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music. She is planning a dissertation on French baroque music and recently won Eastman's Jerald C. Graue Fellowship for the best graduate student paper for her essay, "A Native American Tyrant King, A Blubbering African Coward, and Erotic African Dancers: Exotic Spectacle in Quinault and Lully's Cadmus et Hermione (1673)."