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Department News


James Spinazzola, DMA, will serve as Interim Director of Cornell University Winds for the 2014-2015 academic year.

James has extensive conducting experience; he was formerly Associate Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Activities at the University of Indianapolis, where his duties included the direction of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra, and the instruction of courses in conducting and woodwind techniques. He also served as Conductor of the New World Youth Philharmonic, and, as a guest conductor, he has worked with numerous regional, all-state, and collegiate bands, orchestras, and jazz ensembles.

As part of a postdoctoral fellowship, James has worked over the past two years under outgoing Director of CU Winds Cindi Johnston Turner, who has accepted a position at University of Georgia, Athens, and Director of Orchestras Chris Younghoon Kim. An accomplished saxophonist, he has also coached combos in Cornell’s Jazz Ensembles program and has provided individual instruction to saxophone students.

shepherd_sean_ Alumnus Sean Shepherd’s Songs will be premiered by the NY PHIL on June 18th as part the Beethoven Piano Concertos Festival.  Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Shepard’s Songs will be performed between Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 2 and No. 3. Additional performances will be given June 19-21 as part of the month-long festival.  Shepherd earned his DMA in composition in May 2014 and has a Faculty Residency at the Tanglewood Music Center this summer. Congratulations Sean!

julia-webAlumna Julia Adolphe’s Dark Sand, Sifting Light received its world premiere on June 5th by the New York Philharmonic as part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL.  The piece was one of three works chosen, out of a field of over 400, as part of American Composers Orchestra’s EarShot: the National Orchestra Composition Discovery Network. Earshot gives emerging composers the opportunity to have their work realized by professional orchestras.  As an undergraduate, Adolphe studied composition with Steven Stucky and voice with Judith Kellock. She is now pursuing her DMA at USC’s Thornton School of Music. For more information about the premiere, read Anthony Tommasini’s article in the NY Times.

Orchestra and Solosti

Cornell Orchestras earned 2nd place in the collegiate orchestras category for the 2013-2014 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.  Announced at the League of American Orchestras National Conference in Seattle, WA on June 5th, the awards are presented each year to orchestras of all sizes for programs that challenge the audience, build the repertoire, and increase interest in music of our time.  Since 2008, Cornell Orchestras have garnered one of the top three prizes six times due to their strong commitment to new works and living composers. Composers featured this year include: Roberto Sierra, Joseph Phibbs, Niccolo D. Athens, Lou Harrison, Ian Doyle, Ray Li and Soundspace Team, James Spinazzola, and Tania Leon. Congratulations to Cornell Orchestras!



tomorrow is the questionTomorrow is the Question
New Directions in Experimental Music Studies

In recent decades, experimental music has flourished outside of European and American concert halls. The principles of indeterminacy, improvisation, nonmusical sound, and noise, pioneered in concert and on paper by the likes of Henry Cowell, John Cage, and Ornette Coleman, can now be found in all kinds of new places: activist films, rock recordings, and public radio broadcasts, not to mention in avant-garde movements around the world.

The contributors to Tomorrow Is the Question (edited by Benjamin Piekut) explore these previously unexamined corners of experimental music history, considering topics such as Sonic Youth, Julius Eastman, the Downtown New York pop avant-garde of the 1970s, Fluxus composer Benjamin Patterson, Tokyo’s Music group (aka Group Ongaku), the Balinese avant-garde, the Leicester school of British experimentalists, Cuba’s Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC, Pauline Oliveros’s score for the feminist documentary Maquilapolis, NPR’s 1980s RadioVisions, and the philosophy of experimental musical aesthetics.

Taken together, this menagerie of people, places, and things makes up an actually existing experimentalism that is always partial, compromised, and invented in its local and particular formations-in other words, these individual cases suggest that experimentalism has been a far more variegated set of practices and discourses than previously recognized. Asking new questions leads to researching new materials, new individuals, and new contexts and, eventually, to the new critical paradigms that are necessary to interpret these materials. Gathering contributions from historical musicology, enthnomusicology, history, philosophy, and cultural studies, Tomorrow Is the Question generates future research directions in experimental music studies by way of a productive inquiry that sustains and elaborates critical conversations.

“Tomorrow Is the Question brings together eleven essays with a pithy and thorough introduction that beg new questions for experimental music studies from a global perspective. This book will set scholars on new paths waiting to be trod.”
-Pauline Oliveros

“This book explodes the traditional map of experimental music. Rather than drawing a new one, the authors invite us on a journey of global exploration, where we encounter a creative landscape of astounding richness and diversity.”
-Anne C. Shreffler, Harvard University

“Tomorrow Is the Question provides a welcome break from conventional approaches to the study of experimental music.  The result is a stimulating collection of essays that highlight the rich and irreducible variety of experimentalist practices. By opening up these new avenues, this book will have a decisive impact on future research in this field.”
-Bernard Gendron, author of Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club

On April 23, 2014, the music webzine The Drone hosted the internet premiere of Domestic Infelicity’s animation for “Under Awnings,” a song from lecturer Annie Lewandowski’s 2013 recording Do You Burn?. Watch the animation here:


Cornell Alumna Fang Man has been awarded a Discovery Grant from Opera America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers. She is part of the first round of eight recipients, chosen from 112 applicants, to receive this new award. Each recipient will be given $12,500 to support the development of their work.  The work that she is being honored for is the Golden Lily, an opera in three acts, based on the late sixteenth-century Chinese anonymous novel Jin Ping Mei.  The opera focuses on the novel’s female protagonist Golden Lily, who is one of the most (in)famous femme fatales in Chinese literature.

Fang is currently a Research Assistant Professor of Composition in the University of South Carolina’s School of Music. Congratulations Mandy!

First year musicology student, Matt Hall, won the Irene Alm Memorial prize by the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music for the best paper given by a graduate student at the Society’s annual spring conference. His paper,  entitled “Concerts Royaux, 1670-1700: Genre, Style, Performance Practice,” generated a particularly lively discussion among the attendees at this year’s conference, held in San Antonio, Texas.  Congratulations, Matt!

g27-CD-coverTwo pieces by Norbert Palej (DMA, 2008), The War and the Poet and Rorate Coeli, were included on the program for Centaur Records that was nominated for a JUNO Award on February 4th, 2014.  The recording was nominated for Classical Album Of The Year Vocal/Choral and features soprano Shannon Mercer and Toronto’s group of twenty-seven (g27) chamber orchestra, with Eric Paetkau conducting.  The program also features Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été. The awards will be handed out at ceremonies on March 29 & 30 in Winnipeg. Congratulations Norbert!

Roberto Sierra



Naxos Classical has released a new CD of orchestral works by Roberto Sierra, Sinfonía No. 4 / Fandangos / Carnaval (Nashville Symphony, Guerrero). Sierra’s works have been performed by orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the Americas and Europe. Major commissions and performances include: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and Phoenix Symphony.”Picking works for a recording is always a delicate balancing act,” Sierra said of this new work. “In this case the conductor, Giancarlo Guerrero, wanted to make the Sinfonia no. 4 the central work, since he premiered the piece with the Nashville Symphony; he also wanted to do Fandangos, which was the first work of mine he conducted. Then, there was the question of a work to complete the CD. After discussions we both agreed that Carnaval was the ideal companion piece.” Please visit the Naxos Classical site for full CD information; or to read a full review, see Grego Applegate Edwards’s Classical-Modern Review.