Skip to main content
Lincoln Hall

Department News

Ko-Tonia-BMI AwardThird year graduate student Tonia Ko is one of nine young composers to win a BMI 2015 Student Composer Awards.  The competition, now in its 63rd year, is designed to recognize and encourage young composers who exhibit superior musical compositional ability. Deirdre Chadwick, BMI Foundation President, commented that she hopes, “winning this award helps them trust their instincts, take chances, and move forward with confidence.”  The winners receive scholarship grants to be applied toward their musical education.  More at:

Anaar Desai-StephensAnaar Desai-Stephens has been awarded the  American Musicological Society’s Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship. The highly competitive prize was created to promote an increased presence of underrepresented minorities in the field of musicology.  The fellowship supports a graduate student at the dissertation writing stage of their program for a full year. Anaar is one of two recipients of the fellowship, nation-wide.  Congratulations Anaar!


Alejandro L. Madrid, associate professor in the Department of Music at Cornell University, has been invited to present a series of lectures at the Jornadas Universitarias “Julián Carrillo” in Mexico City on June 4-6, 2015. The event marks Mexico’s National University and Fonoteca Nacional’s commemoration of the 50th death anniversary of Mexican microtonal maverick Julián Carrillo. Madrid’s presentations, entitled “‘… y hermosísima patria será’: National and Post-National Transfigurations in Matilde,” “The Thirteen String Quartets: Continuities and Discontinuities in an Imaginary Cycle,” and “Reading Carrillo: The Future that Never Was,” are part of his upcoming monograph, In Search of Julián Carrillo and Sonido 13, which is scheduled to be released by Oxford University Press in early August. Besides the lectures, professor Madrid will present, in collaboration with the Momenta Quartet, a concert featuring Carrillo’s quartets nos. 1, 4, and 8. The events will be broadcast via live stream in the following link:


A live performance in a busy shopping area of Paris by lecturer Annie Lewandowski’s group Powerdove has premiered on la Blogotheque. Started by French filmmaker Vincent Moon in 2006, La Blogotheque’s Take Away Shows are a series of improvised video shoots of live performances in unexpected outdoor locations. The Take Away Shows have a large following online, having captured over 200 performances by bands including REM, Arcade Fire, and Sigur Ros. The performance by Powerdove was filmed in September 2015 following the release of their recording “Arrest.”


Stephen SpinelliThe Department of Music is pleased to announce that Stephen Spinelli will be the Assistant Director of Choral Music starting July 1, 2015.  Stephen is currently working toward a DMA in Choral Conducting (anticipated in 2016) from Northwestern, and will be relocating to Ithaca from Chicago.

Prior to starting at Northwestern, Stephen served as the director of middle and upper school choirs at Abington Friends School in Philadelphia. He also held positions as the choral director at Philadelphia University, and as assistant conductor to the Pennsylvania Girlchoir.   Additionally, Stephen held visiting faculty appointments as director of women’s choirs at Villanova University, and as the Director of Choral Activities at Moravian College. He is an accompanist for the Bennington Voice Workshops in Bennington, VT, sings with The Crossing in Philadelphia, and serves on the board of Roomful of Teeth.

Please join us in welcoming Stephen Spinelli to Cornell’s Department of Music!

The music video for lecturer Annie Lewandowski’s “When You’re Near” has premiered on the French webzines New Noise and Magic, and the US webzine OZY. Directed by Eben Portnoy and filmed in Los Angeles and Costa Rica, the video accompanies the first track from Powerdove’s 2014/2015 release Arrest. In the OZY premiere, music journalist Kate Crane writes: “Don’t look for emotion in this woman’s voice – but don’t think that means you can walk away unmoved. For Lewandowski, virtuosity, or showy technique, ‘is not where the musical nourishment is.’ Rather it lies in sophisticated, sub-basement rhythms and a wiry tension. It’s in the eaves and rafters of vacant sonic space; the charmingly Midwestern straightness of Lewandowski’s delivery; and in the clanging, rushing din of unlikely tools.”



Commissioned for Cornell’s 150th Anniversary, Professor and Interim Chair Roberto Sierra’s latest work, Cantares, premiered at Carnegie Hall on Sunday April 19th, as part of a program entitled Music U created to celebrate five Ivy League composers.  The program was performed by the American Symphony Orchestra with Leon Botstein conducting and Assistant Professor Robert Isaac directing the Cornell Glee Club and Chorus and was a “huge success for all involved,” said Professor Sierra. Cantares will be performed at Ithaca College’s Ford Hall on Saturday May 2, 2015. For more information on all of the outstanding performances, read the review at Oberon’s Grove.

Third year graduate student Tonia Ko has been chosen as the 2015-2017 Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence. Ko receives a commission to write a work for pianist Daniel Lebhardt, who will premiere the work in his recital debuts in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York in the Rhoda Walker Teagle Concert at Merkin Concert Hall on February 23, 2016 and at the Kennedy Center on March 1, 2016. She will receive a second commission for a work to be premiered in the 2016-17 season in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York and Washington, DC.
The Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence Program began in 1994 as an initiative of the Young Concert Artists, Inc. Alumni Association. It receives support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the William B. Butz Memorial Fund, and the Alumni musicians of Young Concert Artists.
Composers are nominated for the YCA Composer Program by a nationwide committee composed of alumni and current artists of Young Concert Artists, composers and conductors on the program’s National Composer Recommendation Panel, ASCAP, and BMI. Tonia Ko was nominated by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. A panel of YCA Alumni consider the applicants’ recordings and scores. The final selection is made by a current YCA Artist who will premiere the work on tour and in their New York and Washington, DC debuts the following season.

For more information about Tonia Ko, visit her student profile page and her website.

CanBekirBilirBW (134x200)

First year composition student Can Bilir was selected as a composer for the European Broadcasting Festival MUSMA V (Music Masters on Air). As part of this selection he received a commission for which he produced, Quintet II. This work will be performed in four upcoming Festivals including: Klara Festival, Festival de Wallonie, Culturescapes, and Ankara Music Festival.

Additionally, Can Bilir’s lastest work Quintet III for Oboes was chosen to be part of the 2015 Impuls Academy.

For more information, visit Can Bilir’s website.




It has been a busy year for Eric Nathan (Composition, 2012)! In addition to his duties as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College, he finished recording his debut CD with Joseph Alessi in February, and has just announced that he has accepted a tenure-track position of Assistant Professor at Brown University. Congratulations Eric!


For more information on recent and upcoming performances of Eric’s work, please visit his website.