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The Musicology Colloquium and Composers’ Forum feature talks by distinguished scholars and composers.

Student Activities

Palonegro 2It should come as no surprise that the Cornell Music Department’s graduate students use their years at this institution to refine their broad knowledge of their areas of expertise, preparing themselves to be at once teachers, scholars, and active performers or composers. But this process of professional preparation is characterized by a brand of interdisciplinary collaboration unique to Cornell. Encouraged by the flexibility of the department’s degree programs, graduate students in musicology, composition and performance practice often don the hats of their peers; many musicologists and composers are accomplished performers on both modern and period instruments, while performance practice students and composers regularly produce first-rate scholarly work.

Because so many students are deeply committed to these other musical or musicological outlets, intra- and interdepartmental collaborations arise naturally and regularly. Musicology and performance practice students perform the works of resident composers, while students from all three disciplines sing in the Collegium Musicum or Chamber Singers, and composers create music for dance concerts in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. The recent establishment of the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center has also facilitated interaction between composers and students in fine arts. And the Petits Violons de Cornell (image at right), the department’s baroque orchestra, typically includes graduate students in musicology.

When students collaborate to produce events, rarely is performance left out of the mix. In 2007, a musicology student, Rachel Lewis, coordinated with graduate students from the Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance to put on “Queer Vibrations,” the second conference on queer musicology ever to have been produced in the world, and ensured that one evening’s activities constituted a concert of homoerotic arias and duets. In 2006, Kristin Kane, a student in performance practice engaged the help of musicology graduate students and internationally renowned performers to produce the first revival of Francesco Cavalli’s Elena (Venice, 1659). And a Debussy festival in 2005 produced by pianists in the performance practice and musicology programs involved a demonstration by the department’s Javanese gamelan, as well as pre-concert discussions with faculty members Roberto Sierra, Kristin Taavola, and composition student Stephen Gorbos.

Current and future graduate students should be delighted to learn that these kinds of collaborations are sure to continue; in 2008, yearly funds were made permanently available to facilitate projects that involve students in all three degree programs and that enable those students to bring in and interact with renowned performers, composers, or musicologists.

— Emily Green, PhD (2009)