Category: Current Students

Stony Brook Composition Student Wins Fulbright Scholarship

Congratulations to Eric Lemmon, Stony Brook Ph.D. composition student, on being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. In Eric’s own words:

“The Fulbright will be conducted at the Züricher Hochschule der Künste in Zürich, Switzerland. While there I will be developing a participatory algorithmic computer music system that explores the politics of audience participation under Patrick Müller and Martin Neukom as my Ph.D. thesis work. I will be working at both the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology and collaborating with faculty and students in the Transdisciplinary Program.”

 

Stony Brook to Host Sound and Secularity Symposium

“Sound and Secularity” is a day-long symposium at Stony Brook University on April 12, 2019 that will engage what it means to speak, sing, and listen when secularism falters as the dominant frame for modern religious and political life. Scholars from several disciplines—anthropology, music, history, and religion—will join Stony Brook faculty to discuss how secularity and religious faith shape conceptions of sound and the meanings we attach to them.

  • WHEN: April 12, 10 am to 6 pm (registration at 9, full schedule on the website)
  • WHERE: Humanities Institute 1008
  • WHO: Visiting Scholars in Music, Religion, History, and Anthropology; Stony Brook Faculty from Music, History, and WGSS.
For more information and to register, please visit the “Sound and Secularity” website: you.stonybrook.edu/soundsecularity

Music Students Win Graduate Student Awards

DMA Candidate Ju Hyeon Han won the President’s Award to Distinguished Doctoral Students,  and will present a synopsis of their research (geared to a non-specialist audience) at a symposium held in conjunction with the Graduate Awards Ceremony. One of the winners will be asked to give a commencement speech at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.

Ph.D. Candidate Matt Brounley won the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, and will be invited to participate in the August 2019 Workshop for New Teaching Assistants, presented each year to new doctoral students during graduate orientation events.

Congratulations to Niloufar Nourbakhsh, recently announced as a winner of the Second Annual Hildegard Competition for Female, Trans, and Nonbinary Composers from National Sawdust

National Sawdust, the renowned Brooklyn music incubator and performing arts venue, has announced the winners of its second Hildegard Competition for emerging female, trans, and nonbinary composers: inti figgis-vizueta of the USA, Niloufar Nourbakhsh of Iran, and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir of Iceland. All young professionals at the start of their careers, the three winners will be honored in concert on June 4 at National Sawdust, where their newly commissioned works will be premiered by the National Sawdust Ensemble, anchored by cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and making its formal debut under the baton of Lidiya Yankovskaya. By creating new opportunities for female, trans, and nonbinary composers, and by exploring the myriad mechanisms by which gender impacts the ways music is perceived, the competition illustrates National Sawdust’s extraordinary commitment to amplifying voices underrepresented in the world of new music.

The inauguration of the Hildegard Competition sought to redress a serious imbalance. As The Guardian reports, of 1,445 concerts presented at major venues around the world last year, only 76 featured compositions by women. Similarly, Bachtrack found that just 13% of the contemporary orchestral works performed worldwide last year were written by women. Since the award’s founding in 1943, only 14 out of 138 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Music have been female, and only seven women have won. As for trans and nonbinary composers, comparable figures are hard to come by, presumably because they have yet to be formally tracked. As the Los Angeles Review of Books put it, “As we take action to rectify the disturbing gender disparity in the music industry, let’s also include trans and non-binary musicians who deserve equal access and opportunity alongside cisgender women and men.”

Last season, by explicitly soliciting submissions from nonbinary composers and assembling an all-female team of composers to judge the competition and provide follow-up mentorship, National Sawdust succeeded in creating a singularly safe and nurturing environment for composers typically failed by the system. For its second season, the mandate of the competition was expanded still further. The 2018-19 edition cast an even broader, more inclusive net, expressly inviting submissions from trans composers. To reflect this increased diversity, and better enable the judges to serve meaningfully as both mentors and role models, this year’s team has been expanded from three to five members, comprising trans female composer Gavin Rayna Russom as well as cis female composers Angélica NegrónTania León, Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, and National Sawdust Co-founder and Artistic Director Paola Prestini.

The three 2018-19 Hildegard Competition winners were drawn from a substantial pool. After announcing the competition in October, National Sawdust received no fewer than 142 submissions from emerging composers in Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Scotland, Serbia, Turkey, Uruguay, Wales, and 24 of the United States. To demonstrate their career progress, all applicants certified that they met two of the following three criteria: that they had received no commissions of $5,000 or more, that there were no commercially released recordings of their work, and that there had been no performances of their work by a professional ensemble (except within a university setting). The applicants were then judged on their past compositions and on their curriculum vitae, personal statement, and description of the work they would compose if they won. In an attempt to remove the barriers traditionally faced by composers, neither letters of recommendation nor application fees were required.

Winning composers inti figgis-vizueta, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir will now each be commissioned to write a new work for performance and professional recording at the June 4 concert, and subsequent release on in-house label National Sawdust Tracks. As well as composing for chamber ensemble and electronics, as stipulated last season, they now have the option of submitting a vocal composition. They will also receive coaching and mentorship from the five judges, and will each receive a $7,000 cash prize.

Runners-up Bahar RoyaeeYaz LancasterMeara O’ReillyNina ShekharAngela Slater, and Sugar Vendil will also have works premiered by the National Sawdust Ensemble at the June 4 concert. An art installation of graphic scores by runner-up Monica Demarco will accompany the performance.

More information here: https://bit.ly/2Xci1Oo

Jon Fessenden, PhD Candidate in Music History & Theory, published in Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Congratulations to Jon Fessenden, PhD Candidate in Music History & Theory, on the publication of his article “Autistic Music, Musicking, and Musicality: From Psychoanalytic Origins to Spectral Hearing, and Beyond,” in Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 13 (2019): 1–19.

Read the summary below, and check out the article at the link! Delighted to see your research in Music and Disability Studies reaching an international audience, Jon! https://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/toc/jlcds/current

Abstract:
Observations of autistic musical behavior have been recorded for as long as the modern concept of autism has existed. Early autism researchers such as Leo Kanner identified autistic musicking—including listening and performing—as skilled but bizarre: autistic musicality was subsequently conceptualized from a psychoanalytic perspective as integral to the self and deeply interconnected to a pervasive pathology. Upon the decline of psychoanalytic approaches to autism in Anglophone research, autistic musicality transformed into more a myth than a serious topic of inquiry. However, a flurry of diverse studies over the past two decades has reignited interest in the topic. Music scholars drawing from disability studies began celebrating autistic musicians, and offered theories of autistic hearing and listening. In the sciences, trials revealed curious auditory processing abilities among autists, including perceptual strengths in tasks involving pitch, and weaknesses involving time. I argue that this specific combination—termed “spectral hearing”—is not only a sensory–cognitive imbalance, but portends to a neurodiverse aesthetics of perception. Like autism itself, autistic musicality is infinitely varied; however, spectral hearing and other differences appear as common subtypes that can be explored by integrating disability studies concepts, scientific data, and personal experience. Autistic musicality is a rich topic deserving of further consideration, as greater knowledge would help elaborate the nuances of the autistic lifeworld.

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