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One of the most exciting parts about each new academic year is welcoming new students to the Carolina music community. This year, we’re excited to welcome four new graduate musicology students from across the country. These scholars have varied research interests including historical musicology; popular music and fan culture; sopranos of color in opera, musical theater, and gospel music; and ludomusicology.

We reached out to each of them to learn more about their research and what drew them to UNC-Chapel Hill. See what they had to say and get to know them a little better as we welcome these newest Tar Heels!

Danny AllenDanny Allen is a native of North Carolina and holds a B.A. in Piano Pedagogy (2017) from Campbell University where he studied piano under Dr. Richard McKee.  He also earned experience as a conductor and trumpet player with the Sandhills Wind Symphony.  His current research interests include ludomusicology, music of Japan’s Kabuki Theater, music and Geisha, and Western classical music in East Asia.  In addition to his scholarly work, Danny teaches piano in Chapel Hill, working with Harmony Music Studios since 2021.

My name is Danny Allen and I am originally from Benson, North Carolina.  As a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I hope to do research related to the music of Japan, including traditional Japanese music, Western classical music in Asia, as well as modern music in Japanese video games and anime.  I chose Chapel Hill after working with Dr. Richard McKee during my undergraduate years at Campbell University; a graduate of the musicology program at UNC, Dr. McKee was my biggest inspiration to continue on towards graduate work in musicology due to not only his guidance as my piano instructor, but also due to his passion for teaching music history.

Mick AndersonMick Anderson is a historical musicologist from Virginia’s stunning Allegheny Mountains. He holds a BA in Music with concentrations in Sacred Music and Choral Conducting from the College of William & Mary in Virginia; an MS in Arts Administration from Shenandoah Conservatory; and an MA in Musicology from the University of New Hampshire. He also completed extensive graduate work in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting. Mick’s teaching experience includes History of Western Music; Film Music; World Music; and Women and Music. Mick’s capstone project for the MA in Musicology at UNH explored Felix Mendelssohn’s close relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel, and how Fanny’s sudden death was the catalyst for the unusual composition that became Felix’s final work before his grief led to his own untimely death. Mick is a current participant in the Sustainable Mentorship Program of the American Musicological Society and is the host of Great Sacred Music on The Classical Station (WCPE 89.7).

I chose UNC-CH because of its tradition of excellence, its status as a Research 1 Doctoral University, the reputation of its top Musicology program, and its exceptional faculty. I was also attracted to UNC’s first-rate music library, the Carolina Symposia in Music and Culture, and the department’s commitment toward diversity and inclusion.

Eden JonesEden Jones, a native of Wisconsin, received her M.A. in Music in 2022 with a double concentration in Musicology and Violin Studies from Houghton University in Houghton, New York. Eden also holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Violin Performance from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Between 2014-2019 Eden lived in South Korea working as an English teacher and performing violinist where she regularly enjoyed collaborating with local musicians in traditional night markets. She wrote her master’s thesis on the emerging popularity of K-pop in recent years within the U.S., focusing on changing dynamics within the popular music industry as it relates to fan culture, digital connectedness, and globalization. She has presented this research at the 2022 joint annual meeting for the American Musicological Society as well as the 2022 East Asian Music Symposium. Eden has also researched and presented on connections between the violin and human singing voice and how these have been (or can be) used throughout history both as a pedagogical tool and to inform expressive performance. Some of her additional research interests include musical diplomacy, music and mental health, music and aesthetic theory, music and philosophy, and religious music. Outside of music research, performance, and occasional composition, Eden enjoys spending quality time with people, swimming laps, rock climbing, volunteering, and seeking out new experiences. She is an enneagram 1, despite her friends believing her to be a 7.

One reason I was drawn to UNC was the welcoming community of music faculty and graduate students. I believe this is a place where I will be able to form important relationships within the field while learning from a diverse pool of brilliant music researchers. As someone especially interested in music and its various roles within culture, I look forward to deepening my understanding of related issues within musicology and learning to express these findings in effective and meaningful ways.

Taylor SmithPianist and soprano, Taylor Smith, is a native of Connecticut. Taylor received a Bachelor of Arts in Music History and Analysis, summa cum laude, from Northeastern University in 2016, and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies, concentrating on voice, from The Hartt School in 2021. Throughout her schooling and within the community, Taylor has served as an accompanist, pianist, and singer. From these experiences, she has performed a wide range of works that consist of opera, sacred hymnody, classical, gospel, jazz, R&B, Afro-Cuban jazz, and musical theater. When she begins her Ph.D. studies at UNC, Taylor looks forward to researching the remarkable and pioneering influence that sopranos of color—across opera, musical theater, Broadway, and gospel—have had on representation. Some of her additional research interests include music and psychology; the relationship between Frédéric Chopin’s personality and his solo piano works; classical and jazz piano performance, technique, and harmony; and music and Christianity. While at UNC, Taylor also aspires to continue performing both inside and outside of the university community in the hopes of demonstrating her versatility as a performer, educator, and scholar, and inspire others on their journeys toward becoming performers and performer-scholars.

What I really like about UNC is that the Department of Music doesn’t force its students to choose between a path in “ethnomusicology” or “musicology” like it’s a mandatory checklist item. Rather, students are afforded the opportunity to learn from both disciplines, as well as from composition, music theory, and even areas outside of music. That way, students can view their interests not just from one type of research, but from an interdisciplinary perspective. I’ve been told so often that there’s so much overlap between the fields of ethnomusicology and musicology in 2023 that it’s growing harder to identify which “side” of the research an artist, composition, or genre “belongs” to. That’s why, as I begin my Ph.D. studies at UNC, I look forward to researching some of my varied, yet interconnected interests: representation in vocal genres led by sopranos of color; the psychology of music; and voice and piano.

We look forward to these newest Tar Heels joining our musical community this month and seeing all they accomplish during their time here! Welcome, Danny, Mick, Eden, and Taylor!

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