Spring flowers (and publications and presentations)

We look to spring for warmth, life, and, hopefully, some much-needed sunny weather. Over the past few weeks, we’ve also witnessed a gaggle of conference presentations and publications from graduate students. Hearty congratulations to all who shared new work, organized conferences, and supported their peers!


Cody Norling (PhD Musicology) and Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber coauthored a review of digital archives for The Journal of the American Musicological Society. Check out their review of The Metropolitan Archives, Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century, and Re-envisioning Japan: Japan as Destination in 20th-Century Visual and Material Culture here.

Rebekah Erdman (PhD Musicology) wrote liner notes for Prof. Nicole Espositio’s new album, Dancing in Dreams, which features arrangements of Debussy, Fauré, Ravel, and Piazzolla for flute and harp.


Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, Northwestern University

Danielle Bridges (MA, Choral Conducting)

“The (Re)Maker of Spirituals: Pursuing “A Fairer Paradise” for All in Eva Jessye’s Paradise Lost and Regained”

Michael Pekel (DMA, Choral Conducting)

“Pitch Collections and Form in Jonathan Harvey’s Missa Brevis”

Mitchell A Widmer (DMA, Voice)

“O Gott Vater, wir Loben dich: The Singing of the Old Order Amish in Johnson/Washington County”

Zane H Larson (PhD, Theory)

“Hyperpop: An Unbridled Queer Sonic Space”

Ryne T Carlson (PhD, Theory)

“Love and Loss: Schubert’s Borrowing from the “Little” A-Major Sonata for “Der Unglückliche”

Sarah Hansen

“Schelomo: A Cultural and Musical Examination of Jewishness in Ernest Bloch’s Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra”

Thanks also to musicology students Cody Norling, Anastasia Scholze, and Christos Sidiropoulos, who assisted with planning and moderating sessions.

Midwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (MIDSEM)

Rebekah Erdman (PhD, Musicology)

“Mediated Melodies “Jone o’ Grinfilt” and Problems with Preservation” 
University of Iowa

Christos Sidiropoulos (MA, Musicology)

“Music Apprenticeship, Transmission and Experience in the Villages of Drama through the Thematic Analysis of Semi-Structured Interviews” 
University of Iowa

Matt Mason (PhD, Composition)

“Nicki Minaj: An Analysis of Gender in Flow” 

Individual students also journeyed (physically and virtually) to additional conferences, including:

Black Identities on the Operatic Stage

Cody Norling (PhD, Musicology)

“‘A Marked Success of the Race”: The South Side Opera Company (1920–1922) and Community Networks of Support in Chicago’s “Black Metropolis”

CUNY Graduate Students in Music 

Zane H Larson (PhD, Theory)

“L.O.L. or Go To Hell: Structures of Comedy in Moss and Marlow’s Six

AMS Midwest Chapter

Christos Sidiropoulos (MA, Musicology)
“Intercultural Combinations and Redemption in Music of Zorba the Greek

Harvard Graduate Music Forum – For A New World: Music and Decoloniality

Zane H Larson (PhD, Theory)

“Hyperpop: an Unbridled Queer Sonic Space”

Trevor Harvey helps bring “Esteban and the Children of the Sun” to a broader audience

Last semester, ethnomusicologist Trevor Harvey played a critical role in coordinating Esteban and the Children of the Sun, a multimedia performance envisioned and composed by former Director of Jazz Studies at Iowa, John Rapson, who passed away in July 2021. This intensely collaborative endeavor brought together local musicians, far-flung friends, faculty, students, and Iowa alumni to explore through performance the astonishing life of Esteban de Azemmour, an African man who journeyed across North America in the sixteenth century.

We invite you to learn more about the significance of this project and hear from Dr. Harvey in the Daily Iowan short documentary, which features John Rapson, family members, and fellow musicians (posted below). And although the performance took place months ago, Dr. Harvey’s work on the project continues as he helps direct efforts to share this work more broadly through an in-development film. For more on Esteban, check out:

Jennifer New’s article on the project for the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

Daneil Boscaljon’s article for the Little Village Magazine.

Delaney Orewiler’s article for the Daily Iowan.

Daily Iowan mini-doc on John Rapson and Esteban and the Children of the Sun:

The Music Research Forum features brief presentations from School of Music faculty

On February 8, come savor a multi-course meal of music research. Each presenter will offer a ten-minute morsel.

If Music Is a Language, Does It Have Sentences? 

Mathew Arndt, Music Theory 

Discursive Constructions of Musical Ability  

Adam G. Harry, Music Education 

Melody in Sign Language Music 

Anabel Maler, Music Theory 

“It’s up to the women”: Women’s Peace Songs for Eleanor Roosevelt 

Marian Wilson Kimber, Musicology 

Music-Based Mindfulness Practices for Stress-Related Symptoms and Disorders 

Abbey Dvorak, Music Therapy 

How to Write Film Music with an Archive 

Nathan Platte, Musicology 

Rebekah Erdman wins National Opera Association Award

Rebekah Erdman

Congratulations to Musicology PhD student Rebekah Erdman, who won the National Opera Association’s 2021 Scholarly Paper Competition! Her paper, “The Immortal Hour of the English Choral Drama,” discusses the popularity and reception of the choral drama The Immortal Hour by British composer Rutland Boughton (1878-1960). Rebekah has been invited to present her paper at the NOA’s national conference in Houston in January 2023 and to publish her paper in Opera Journal. Rebekah is now the fourth Iowa student to win the competition. Previous winners include alumni Lisa Mumme (MA, Musicology), Jared Hedges (MA, Composition), and PhD candidate Cody Norling (Musicology).

Interview with Dr. Wilson Kimber

By Student Contributor Anastasia Scholze

Anastasia Scholze is an MA student in Musicology. She holds a BA with an emphasis in Voice Performance from the University of Iowa. Her research interests include film music, women in music, and surrealism. Recently, she has worked as an ICRU Fellow with Dr. Nathan Platte on the film music podcast Sounding Cinema, and as the Classical Music Intern for Interlochen Public Radio, where she helped research and produce The Interlochen Collection. Outside of the classroom, Anastasia enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and playing guitar and piano.

On Sunday, October 24, Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber gave a recital in the Stark Opera Studio titled In a Woman’s Voice: Musical Readings by Women Composers. She was accompanied by her musical partner, Dr. Natalie Landowski, a University of Iowa DMA Piano alum and Western Illinois University instructor of piano. Together, the duo, known as Red Vespa, performs “musical readings,” a form of spoken word performance that gained popularity with American women in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Most often, these musical recitations were written and performed by women for women. In this recital, Red Vespa performed works by Frieda Peycke (1884-1964), Phyllis Fergus (1887-1964), Lalla Ryckoff (b. 1891), Nettie Arthur Brown (1864-1914), and premiered pieces by another University of Iowa alum, Lisa Neher.

I was able to talk with Dr. Wilson Kimber a bit about here recital; here’s what she had to say.

Anastasia: Your group is called Red Vespa. Where did the name come from, and can you give some background on the group?

Dr. Wilson Kimber: Natalie was a student in some of my classes while doing her DMA here at Iowa, and I was on her dissertation committee. I asked her to be part of this project when I was working as a fellow at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. We started in 2017 and had our first performance here in Musicology Colloquium, as an experiment. We went on to perform for the National League of American Pen Women at their meetings in Washington, DC and in Des Moines, for a Society of American Music meeting and an American Musicological Society meeting, and at Ohio State University.

As for the name, Vespas are little and sporty, and the pieces we perform are also short and sporty. Vespa also means wasp in Italian, and the pieces have some sting to them!

A: When was the last time you performed before COVID?

MWK: For a class at Western Illinois University, where Natalie teaches, in February 2020. We were scheduled to perform at a big women in music conference at Ball State University, but this got cancelled right as COVID was beginning.

A: What do you perform? Do the pieces change every concert?

MWK: Since we’ve mostly been seeing different audiences for each performance, we do a lot of the same pieces. But we’ve experimented with converting short songs by Carrie Jacobs-Bond into recitations, and for this concert, we premiered some pieces that we commissioned. (The pieces by Lisa Neher.) We program our pieces in groups by related topics, because that is what composers Phyllis Fergus and Frieda Peycke used to do on their programs in the 1920s and 1930s.

A: Can you tell me a bit about performance practice issues and practicing?

MWK: The voice part of the pieces is un-notated (when it comes to rhythm and pitch.) When you first see the text laid out on the page with the piano accompaniment, sometimes it looks like it should be heard right with the piano. But often, you have to recite around chords, especially at the ends of pieces. Natalie and I do a lot of practicing endings; each piece tends to end with a punchline, so I deliver the ending punchline, and Natalie waits to play the final chords after that. Otherwise, it would get drowned out. There’s also a lot of practicing pacing and timing.

A: What was your favorite part about being able to perform these pieces, especially because it’s been a while?

MWK: Hearing people laugh. Also, there’s something that happens when you perform these pieces for a live audience instead of just in a practice session. It’s fun to see how each audience reacts differently to the pieces. These works were originally written by women for women, so when we take these pieces to women’s groups, they love them. Musical readings, with their punchlines, are an art form that’s meant to communicate with the audience.

Dr. Wilson Kimber also mentioned that in the writing of these comical works, humor was a form of power for women. They were pushing back against established social norms and constructions for women, with humor, in a less threatening way.

You can read more about Dr. Wilson Kimber’s research on musical reading performances and elocution in her book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word.

This Weekend: Red Vespa Performs Musical Readings by Women Composers

Professor Marian Wilson Kimber Pianist Natalie Landowski (Western Illinois University)

Sunday, October 24, 2021 – 7:30pm
Stark Opera Studio, Voxman Music Building University of Iowa School of Music

Livestream: https://music.uiowa.edu/about/live-stream-concert-schedule

The duo Red Vespa, consisting of musicology professor Marian Wilson Kimber and pianist Natalie Landowski of Western Illinois University will return to the concert stage this week to present a recital of musical readings by American women composers. Wilson Kimber explored the brief, comic spoken-word pieces in her 2017 book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word. Red Vespa has appeared in Boston, Kansas City, Chicago, Washington, DC, and at Ohio State University.

The video that will be made of their recital has been awarded the Sight and Sound Subvention from the Society for American Music.

Red Vespa will also premiere a new work created for them by Portland composer and University of Iowa alumna Lisa Neher, Upon a Broken World. 

You can read more about the new piece in Wilson Kimber’s essay on the Women’s Song Forum: https://www.womensongforum.org/2021/10/19/musical-readings-on-a-broken-world/.

Dr. Suhadolnik’s collaborative research published in Sounding Together

Sarah Suhadolnik’s work with colleague Monica Hershberger is featured in the new, open-access collection Sounding Together: Collaborative Perspectives on U.S. Music in the 21st Century (eds. Charles Hiroshi Garrett and Carol Oja). Digital access to the entire book is free, and you can check out Sarah and Monica’s chapter, “Music, Travel, and Circuitous Reflections of Community,” here.

Late Spring Conference Highlights

Iowa’s spring semester concluded in mid-May, just in time for students and faculty to share recent projects at three different conferences.

Iowa Musicology Day (May 22) brought together a coalition of Iowa students from several disciplines. John Tappen (MA, American Studies) presented a paper titled “The US Army’s Sonic Campaign for Neoliberal Militainment.” Anastasia Scholze (BA, Voice, incoming MA in Musicology) shared her research on the art and ethics of vocal dubbing in West Side Story (1961). Rebekah Erdman (PhD, Musicology) spoke on Rutland Boughton’s opera The Immortal Hour and the legacy of the English Choral Drama. Michael Pekel (DMA, Choral Conducting) introduced audiences to the spiritual philosophies underpinning Jonathan Harvey’s choral works. Cody Norling (PhD, Musicology) and Dr. Nathan Platte participated in a pedagogy session, where they shared course projects that gave students opportunities to engage with historical musical practices through archives and composition.

The IASPM-US Conference was a 5-day program for almost 200 participants that ran from 5/18-5/22. As acting secretary for the organization, Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik helped to organize and host the event. She also participated as panel chair and presenter. Entitled “WHO DAT? Music, Media and the (Re)defined Spirit Nation,” Dr. Suhadolnik’s paper was drawn from her overlapping research on popular music, place, fandom, and digital media.

Finally, at the Midwestern History Conference (May 26-27), Cody Norling presented “Opera Evangelism: Creating a Musical Metropole in 1920s Chicago.”

Whew. I think we’re ready for a little summer rest and recreation now. Congratulations to all of the presenters!

Marian Wilson Kimber reflects on women’s song for Thomas Hampson’s “Song and Beyond”

Dr. Wilson Kimber recently joined Stephen Rodgers (University of Oregon) and Christopher Reynolds (UC Davis) for a conversation on American women’s song of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The discussion draws from Dr. Wilson Kimber’s recent work on Women’s Song Forum and her book (and related performances) from The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word. Thanks to IDAGIO and the Hampsong Foundation for hosting the gathering and posting the discussion!