News and Events
Yuxin Mei, PhD graduate student in ethnomusicology, has been awarded the prestigious Presser Award from the UNT College of Music. The $10,000 grant will allow her to travel to China to enhance her knowledge as director of the UNT Chinese Music Ensemble, as a scholar and teacher. She will work with prestigious musicians and ensembles in three different regions of the country to learn about and collect new and emerging Chinese ensemble repertoire as well as ancient and representative regional ensemble styles and notation techniques to broaden her own knowledge as well as that of the ensemble. Her long term goal is to create a manual for use by other Chinese ensemble directors in the US.
Dr. Steven Friedson, University Distinguished Research Professor, and Yuxin Mei, Director of the UNT Chinese Ensemble, received a China Venture Fund Grant to travel to China in Summer 2018 to recruit graduate students in ethnomusicology, investigate potential sites for research, and to scope out venues for a tour of the UNT Chinese Ensemble to China. They will be visiting the China Conservatory of Music, Beijing; Xi’an Conservatory of Music; and the Xing Hai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou.
The College of Music, under the auspices of the Ethnomusicology Area, initiated the first Chinese Music Ensemble at a Texas university in 2015. Directed by internationally acclaimed pipa (Chinese lute) artist, Yuxin Mei, the ensemble has recently been the recipient of a $25,000 grant, which funded the purchase of high quality, professional Chinese instruments, making the UNT Chinese Ensemble arguably the best equipped ensemble in the United States. As evidence of their growing national stature, the ensemble has been invited to play at the Confucius Institute of Denver for the Chinese New Year celebration in February 2018, and was honored to receive an invitation to participate in the prestigious "China West Lake International Youth Music Festival” in China.
This year, UNT students and faculty are making major contributions to the annual conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology, to be held in Denver, CO.
Graduate students Lizeth Dominguez, Thanmayee Krishnamurthy, Yuxin Mei, and José R. Torres-Ramos will be presenting papers in a panel they have jointly prepared, entitled "Musical Constructions of Masculinity: Identity and Authenticity Within Diverse Global Traditions." The panel is being sponsored by SEM's Gender and Sexualities Task Force.
Dr. Steven Friedson will be delivering the keynote speech for SEM's Eductation Section, titled "Being-Musical in a University Core Curriculum." Dr. Cathy Ragland will be a member of the President's Roundtable, discussing "Engaged Activism among Ethnomusicologists Responding to the Contemporary Dynamic of Migrants and Refugees." Dr. Vivek Virani has organized a panel sponsored by the South Asian Performing Arts section, entitled "Reconfiguring South Asian Devotional Music: Professionalism, Identity, Technology," in which he will be presenting his paper "'Instruments Resound in the Palace of Emptiness': Mysticism, Activism, and Entertainment in North Indian Nirgun Performance."
We're not only bringing our research, but also our music! Vivek Virani will be performing on tabla for the Music and Dance of Asia and the Middle East Concert. Cathy Ragland and Miguel Espinel will be DJing the Latinx Dance Party, and Nate Ash-Morgan will DJ an Afro Pop set at the African Music and Dance Night.
We are very proud that José R. Torres-Ramos, our first ever ethnomusicology doctoral student at UNT, has been selected for a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship! José's hard work and commitment have set an excellent standard for all future students in the program.
José will conduct 12-months of dissertation fieldwork in Mexico City and Guadalajara investigating how mariachi performers and audiences construct a lifeworld of musical machismo that indexes a notion of authentic Mexican cultural identity.
In 2016, José was awarded the Presser Graduate Music Award at UNT. His Presser funded project consisted of a three-month performance-research practicum in Mexico including the development of an ethnomusicological praxis for mariachi teaching and performance.
Last month, the UNT Chinese Ensemble, founded and led by doctoral student Yuxin Mei, participated in a fundraiser concert. The even, entitled "Hope for the Storm," was organized by the Richardson Mayor's Office in cooperation with the Texas American China Cultural Foundation, the Jiaping Shi Dance School, and the Network of Community Ministries. Other performers included students from the Jiaping Dance School, the Texas Boys Choir, and many community groups.
In total, the event raised over $12,000 towards relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Mayor of Richardson sent a personal letter of gratitude to the UNT Chinese Ensemble for their contributions.
The UNT Chinese Ensemble was founded by Yuxin Mei in 2016. Members include College of Music students Miguel Espinel, Joseph Gelle, Li Liu, Chen Mengyang, Samuel Miyashita, Alex Strader, Michael Thompson, and Jackie Yin, Xiao Yun, and several students from outside the college. We are very proud of the ensemble's engagement with the wider community, and of their compassionate efforts to help those in need.
The following ethnomusicology students presented papers at the regional Society for Ethnomusicology-Southern Plains conference on March 4 at UT-RGV in Edinburg, TX:
Graduate Students: Thanmayee Krishnamurthy- “The Vidhushi (Female Musician): Transcending Gender Norms in South Indian Karnatic Music.”Yuxin Mei – “Reinterpreting Pipa Voice: How Contemporary Chinese Female Pipa Performers Reconstruct Power by Negotiating with a Gendered Voice.” Lizeth Dominguez - “No Temo La Muerte: Death as a Construction of Authentic Masculinity in the Narcocorrido.” José Torres – “La Plaza Garibaldi: An Embodied Space of Musical Machismo.”
Undergraduates: Michael Cardenas – “Cumbia Tejana: Synthesis towards Unification in the Tejano Continuum” (also presented at the National Association for Chicana/o Studies Tejas Foco conference at Texas A&M, February 24). Vianey C. Rivera – “Me la quemo: Aesthetic Values within the Working Mariachi.”
Sean Peters, graduate student in ethnomusicology, will present his paper, "Speaking Through Noise: Punks in the Studio and the Importance of the Experiential," at the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southwest Chapter meeting on April 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He also received a scholarship package to study for the PhD in musicology at Cornell University starting in Fall 2017.
Cathy Ragland appears in the documentary film, “As I Walk Through the Valley,” which premiered at South-by-Southwest on March 14 – 17. The film, directed by Ronnie Garza and Charlie Vela, tells the history of popular music in Texas-Mexican border towns of the Rio Grande Valley from the 1960s-Present.
In March 2017, Vivek Virani participated in the 3rd Workshop on Cross-Disciplinary and Multicultural Perspective on Musical Rhythm, hosted by NYU Institute Abu Dhabi. He was one of 25 scholars invited to present at the conference, and also performed a solo tabla presentation at the "Musical Diversity" concert organized as part of the conference. In April, he has invited the renowned Indian folk singer, Prahlad Singh Tipanya, to UNT to present in a few of our ethnomusicology classes and has organized a concert for him and his troupe in the Recital Hall on April 11. Afterward,Vivek will accompany the troupe to Stanford, where he has been invited to present his research at the symposium on Singing Religious Poetry in North India. Vivek has received an invitation from the Government of Sindh, Pakistan, to present at the 3rd International Conference on Sufi Heritage in Karachi in early May.
Yuxin Mei, graduate student in ethnomusicology, has just been awarded the Vida Chenoweth Prize for best student paper presented at the Southern Plains Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology conference held in April 2016. The title of her paper is "Negotiating with Sound: The Living Sound Niche Created by the Chinese Immigrants in Plano-Dallas Area."
Ethnomusicology PhD student José R. Torres-Ramos has been awarded the Presser Graduate Music Award at UNT for 2016. José’s scholarly interests focus on the mariachi tradition including research, teaching, and performance. His Presser funded project consists of a two-month performance-research practicum in Mexico to include the development of an ethnomusicological praxis for mariachi teaching and performance. In addition to his ethnomusicological studies at UNT under the mentorship of Steven Friedson and Catherine Ragland, José serves as director of Mariachi Águilas de UNT, the ensemble founded in 2003 by Donna Emmanuel.
Sixteen graduate schools of music at accredited colleges, universities and independent institutions of higher education have been invited to present the Presser Graduate Music Award to an outstanding graduate music student whom they select. The program is designed to encourage and support in a special way the advanced education and career of truly exceptional graduate music students who have the potential to make a distinguished contribution to the field of music. The Presser Foundation operates under the will and Deeds of Trust created by its founder, Theodore Presser. It is one of the few foundations in the United States dedicated solely to the support of music and music education.
The Ethnomusicology area welcomes new faculty member Vivek Virani.
Vivek Virani is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at UCLA, completing his dissertation with the guidance of Daniel Neuman, AJ Racy, Timothy Taylor and Aamir Mufti. His dissertation explores how songs of South Asian devotional poet-saints are used to negotiate issues of culture, religion, and society at the regional and national levels. His broader interests in ethnomusicology include music and spiritual expression; music and community-building; music, religion and nation; and Indian classical music. Vivek has trained in classical tabla performance under world masters Suresh Talwalkar and Swapan Chaudhuri. He regularly performs South Asian classical, folk, and devotional music on tabla, bamboo flute, and other instruments. Recently, Vivek has contributed a chapter on altered states of consciousness in classical tabla compositions to be published in the volume Music and Consciousness 2 by Oxford University Press, and a chapter on caste reform through devotional singing to be published in the volume Songs of Social Protest.
Lizeth Dominguez, graduate student in ethnomusicology, presented her paper entitled “Parrandera, Rebelde, y Atrevida: Jenni Rivera’s Creation of a Discursive Space in the Banda Genre.” It was presented as part of a panel titled Women on the Edge: Angry, Ironic and Fluid Voices Navigating Race, Culture, and Politics at the Society for Ethnomusicology conference at UT-Austin on December 5, 2015.
Ethnomusicoogy graduate student, Yuxin Mei, played pi'pa with the Four Seasons of China Orchestra of the Confucius Institute at UT Dallas on November 7. She presented her paper entitled "Negotiating Decades of Change: the Houston Chinese Traditional Music Group" for the Association of Chinese Music Research at the Society for Ethnomusicology conference at UT-Austin on December 3.
Ethnomusicology graduate student Thanmayee Holalkere Krishnamurthy will be performing with her South Indian Carnatic ensemble at Tarleton State University (Stephenville, TX) on November 19th, 4pm as part of its International Week celebrations.
The new PhD in Music with Concentration in Ethnomusicology has received its final approval from NASM (National Association of Schools of Music)! We will be open to receiving applications for Spring and Fall 2016. More details will available on the Divison website soon.
Ethnomusicology graduate student Yuxin Mei gave lecture/demonstrations on Chinese traditional music and pipa performance at Dealey Montessori Vanguard and International Academy on May 13. The program was funded by the DFW World Affairs Council.
Cathy Ragland spoke at the Conference on Education and Culture: Cross-Border Challenges and Opportunities on May 1. It was co-hosted by UNT, Secretariat of Education in Jalisco, Mexico and the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas.
Thursday, April 30, 8pm, Voertman Concert Hall
Ethnomusicology Student Concert: “Hear the World: Music from India, China, and Mexico”
Vid. Thanmayee Krishnamurthy (Grand Karnatic Vocal Music)
Yuxin Mei (Traditional and Contemporary Pipa Music)
Lizeth Domínguez & José R. Torres (Music from the Mariachi Tradition)
Special Guests: Sean Peters & Lance Candler
The following papers were presented at SEM-SP on April 11-12 at Texas A&M, College Station:
“An Antique Practice in a Dazzling Guise: The Ritualization Process of Chun Wan, China Central Television's Chinese New Year's Gala” by Yuxin Mei
"Parrandera, Rebelde, y Atrevida: Jenni Rivera and the Performance of Masculinity” by Lizeth Dominguez
(also presented at SEM-SW on March 27 at the University of Colorado in Boulder)
“The Symbolic Dimensions of Mariachi Musicality” by José Torres