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The department is proud to announce the 2022-2023 graduate musicology student cohort! Hailing from Florida, South Carolina, France, and North Carolina this group of four scholars comes to Carolina with unique research interests and perspectives.

“I want to emphasize their individual expressions of intellectual curiosity and willingness to explore the possibilities that music studies writ large has to offer. This cohort is poised for great things.” -Professor Michael Figueroa, 2021-22 Director of Graduate Admissions

Get to know Kira Gaillard, Joshua Harton, Matteo Sammartano, and Justin Wilson and their research interests below.


Kira Gaillard

Kira Gaillard (she/her) recently graduated from the University of Florida where she received a Master of Music in music history and literature with a cognate in vocal performance. Previously, she attended the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where she obtained a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. After graduation, she enjoyed a career in performance and music education in both the public and private sectors.

Kira’s current research topics marry her background in opera performance with her interest in gender studies and passion for representation in today’s art music repertoire. Her graduate recital, entitled “When There Are Nine,” featured the work of exclusively female composers and questioned the implications of canonical vocal art music repertoire. Kira’s thesis concentrated on the late works of composer Marc Blitzstein and explored how issues of masculinity, sexuality, and censorship became entwined with the tensions of the McCarthy era. Kira’s other research interests include representations of the American South in twentieth century opera. As a recipient of an Emerging Scholar Award from the Southern Futures initiative, she hopes to pursue this research as part of UNC’s exciting cohort working to redefine the American South.


Joshua HartonJoshua Harton (he/him) earned his BA from Belhaven University and his MM from the University of South Carolina). His master’s thesis focused on Saint-Saëns, neoclassicism, and the early music renaissance in France, where nationalism and modernism intersected between 1860-1890. Having also written on Byrd’s politically and religiously charged position in Tudor England, Stravinsky’s convenient nationalism in fin-de-siècle Paris, and capitalist co-optation of Beethoven and Orff in North and South Carolina during the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic, Joshua enjoys thinking about moments of musical and historical fluidity, particularly as sonic markers for close, sociocultural listening. Similarly, interests in failure—both as a component of privilege (the opportunity to fail) and in its curatorial role (canonicity)—and musical/cultural borrowing are among Joshua’s primary pursuits. Additional research curiosities include but are not limited to: art, economy, games, gender/identity, literature, and religion. Joshua is a Swiss American, was born in NC, and has also studied at Eastern University, SUNY Albany, and UNC-Greensboro.


Matteo SammartanoMatteo Sammartano (he/him) is originally from Aix-en-Provence, France, and received a Master’s degree in Musicology from Aix-Marseille Université.

His former research project focused on the representation of the Night in Early music, with an emphasis on baroque opera’s “sleep scenes”. He worked as an intern at the Opera de Marseille library in 2018 and as an Assistant Editor at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2019.

His current interests are in baroque cello, French baroque music, and the study of animality and the use of animals as representation or embodiment in the construction of musical material.


Justin WilsonJustin Wilson (he/him) comes by his love of music honestly, as he started playing piano around age 3. He has devoted much of his life to the study and performance of music, and he earned a B.M. and M.M. in Vocal Performance from St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN) and Towson University (Towson, MD), respectively. He also holds a J.D. from Duke University.

Justin has a multi-decade career as a professional opera singer and practiced law in Washington, D.C. for several years. His research interests encompass opera in the 21st century, music in drag culture, and music and addiction. When not singing, reading, or researching, Justin can be found playing Dungeons & Dragons and teaching private lessons in piano and voice.

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