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James W. Pruett Lecture: Philip Ewell

April 9, 2021 @ 4:15 pm


James W. Pruett Lecture in Music and Culture: Philip Ewell, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Hunter College, CUNY

“Confronting Antisemitism in American Studies”
With the possible exception of discrimination against women, antisemitism is arguably the world’s oldest form of discrimination. For many centuries, and for millenia if one believes ancient religious texts, Jews have faced unspeakable horrors for simply being Jewish. In American music studies, however, because Jews have had a measure of success, especially in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it’s easy to be lulled into the false belief that antisemitism is not a thing, is not operative in what we do in our American music institutions. This is untrue. In this talk I’ll discuss how antisemitism most certainly exists in our music institutions and in our interpretations of the music we teach and play, after which I’ll offer a few ideas on how to confront antisemitism in American music studies.

Philip Ewell received a B.A. in music from Stanford University, an M.A. in cello performance from Queens College (New York), and a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music in Russia, before embarking on doctoral studies at Yale University in music theory. His dissertation, advised by Allen Forte, focused on the music of Alexander Scriabin and included archival work in Moscow, Russia, and studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Yuri Kholopov. 

Philip’s specialties include Russian music and music theory, twentieth-century music, twentieth-century modal theory, and rap and hiphop music. He has writings published in Music Theory Online, Indiana Theory Review, Journal of Schenkerian Studies, and Popular Music, among other journals. He was the founding editor of Gamut, the online journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, and served as the chair of the Committee on Diversity of the Society for Music Theory from 2007 to 2010. He is currently the Vice President of the Music Theory Society of New York State. 

An active cellist and chamber musician, he is at home as both a classical and a contemporary musician, playing either his acoustic or his 5-string electric cello. He has concertized in North America, Europe, and Asia, and has played under the baton of such luminaries as Gustav Meier and Pierre Boulez, in master classes for Janos Starker and Glenn Dicterow, and in backup bands for artists such as Johnny Mathis and Stan Getz. His primary cello teachers have been Stephen Harrison, Frederick Zlotkin, Barbara Mallow, and Anatoly Nikitine. 

Philip is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College. He holds a joint appointment with the CUNY Graduate Center. 

For more information about Philip, go to 

For registration and the Zoom link for this event, please email Melissa Camp at

This lecture is part of the 2020-21 Carolina Symposia in Music and Culture lecture series.


April 9, 2021
4:15 pm
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