As we wrap up the 2020-2021 academic year it’s important to reflect upon all that we’ve accomplished this year. The creativity and ingenuity of our students, faculty, and staff have kept us engaged in musical research, performance, and education.
This year that musical exploration has included the new “Do the Work Wednesdays” series and Anti-Racism Resources page. Through this series’ twenty-nine installments, the department has highlighted the incredible lives of great artists of color, examined issues of racial justice in the music industry and music education, and challenged readers to expand their repertoires and “do the work.”
Below are reflections from some of this year’s series contributors and department faculty members. As we look to “what’s next,” personally, for the department, and for this series, let us each remember the call to “do the work” of creating a more just and equitable department, community, and society.
“I wrote my installment for the DWW series back in August when the semester was just getting started. I had just joined a weekly dissertation writing group and was still getting used to my cohort comprised of students from lots of different programs and areas of study. Part of our process is that we each announce a SMART goal for that session to the group. When I shyly told them I was planning to write an artist spotlight for this series, I was truly shocked by the enthusiasm for this initiative. They all wanted to learn more about it and offered to read my draft and made me promise to share the link to the series with them as soon as it was live. It inspired me to see this project attract such a diverse audience and to see how much of an impact it made on them.” -Kendall Winter, Third-Year Musicology Graduate Student
Read Kendall’s DWW: Sweet Honey in the Rock (August 19, 2020).
“Early this spring semester while preparing to teach a counterpoint class on chorale partitas, it occurred to me – in the spirit of the recommendations for theory teaching voiced by Dr. Philip Ewell and others – that I could use a Negro Spiritual as the source tune for the presentation of two-voice contrapuntal techniques. While still addressing 18th-century practice in the style of J. S. Bach, I decided to select a tune from this American repertoire rather than using the Lutheran chorale melodies Bach had explored. On the recommendation of Professor LaToya Lain, an expert on spirituals who teaches this repertoire in classes at UNC, I worked with the Wallace Willis melody, Steal Away to Jesus. What began with simple two-voice, note against note counterpoint became more florid, moved to three- and four-voice settings, and eventually to fugue. Along the way, I consulted the harmonizations of H. T. Burleigh and J. Rosamond Johnson. Several students in the class also chose spirituals for their own contrapuntal variations.” -Professor Allen Anderson
Read DWW: Philip Ewell’s “Confronting Racism and Sexism in American Music Theory” (August 26, 2020).
“Having the DWW series this year has helped me to be a better musician. The skills we are using and refining constantly as musicians–listening, openness, reflecting, investigating–are the very skills that DWW has helped me to grow in a context beyond, and supportive of, music-making. I’m grateful for this series and for these growth opportunities.” -Associate Professor Nicholas DiEugenio
Read Dr. DiEugenio’s DWW: Violinists Melissa White and Elena Urioste (September 30, 2020)
“I greatly appreciated the opportunity to be involved in the “Do the Work Wednesday” series. Participation inspired me to take a deep look at what DEI-related content I know well and the areas in which I could use additional learning and experience. As a woman of color, it could be easy for me to think that I know the BIPOC experience in this country. While I have certainly encountered my share of interactions (both positive and negative) involving my race, it would be foolish to think that I can relate to the experiences of Asian Americans, Indigenous People, the Latinx Community, African Americans, or any number of circumstances that, while sharing a common thread, are different from mine. This series has been a good reminder of that fact and the reality that we all have work to do to make our country and indeed our planet a more fair and equitable environment for all people. I look forward to the continuation of these conversations in the Department of Music and the collective wisdom to be shared amongst my colleagues.” -El Fisseha, Business Manager
Read El Fisseha’s DWW: Teaching Tolerance (October 21, 2020).
“I think about questions of racial equity, of how to make my courses do the most good possible, and how I should study and write about music all the time. These weekly columns from colleagues and friends have helped illustrate how much our whole community is thinking about and working on these questions. I’ve learned something from every post! And the columns have pushed me to put my own goals into more concrete words and actions.
The series of posts has also reinforced the idea that change has to happen at all levels: little decisions about what to include in a particular lesson plan, and big decisions about the future of our curriculum and educational structure. At whatever level we may be working right now, the changes we make matter.” -Professor Jocelyn Neal
Read Professor Neal’s DWW: Musical Change a’Coming (March 3, 2021).
“It was wonderful to engage with a series that brought faculty, staff, and students together around a common and crucial goal. Working on the Martha Flowers article allowed me to discover the importance of her legacy. It brought me into a deeper understanding of her artistry through the power of poetry. To feel an artistic connection with another person is one of the most profound feelings and is a true bridge to better understanding. Writing the article on Meredith Monk’s ATLAS gave me the space to present the concept for our production–from its early conception, imagining this story on a road trip over the summer–along with presenting student interviews and performances as a preamble to our audiences before its virtual debut this Spring. It also reminds us that the actions of our political system have consequences and calls on us to never forget the children who needlessly died in ICE detention centers between August 2018 and May 2019.
I hope that the DWW series continues to inspire progressive change within the UNC-CH community and beyond.” -Assistant Professor Marc Callahan
Read Asst. Prof. Callahan’s DWW: Martha Flowers: A Black Music Faculty Trailblazer and DWW: ATLAS: Telling their stories (March 17, 2021).
“I was honored to have been asked to contribute to the DWW series this semester. Reading the weekly installments and providing a contribution to the series has broadened my own views, opened up new conversations with friends and colleagues, and inspired me to continue doing the work to learn about the musical artists whose voices have gone underrepresented.” -Crystal Wu, BMus ’13
Read Crystal Wu’s DWW: A drop in the bucket (April 21, 2021).