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January 16, 2013

Institute for Popular Music established

The University has established an Institute for Popular Music that treats the study of popular genres as seriously as classical music.

It’s an approach the institute’s founding director, John Covach, calls “both traditional and revolutionary” because it applies methods of analysis in musicology to provide a better understanding of popular music’s impact on society.

Inaugural lecture series

Wednesday, Jan. 23:
Jocelyn Neal ’95E (MM), ’02E (PhD), associate professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South, will present “Ladies Love Country Boys: Gendered Narratives and the Meaning of Country Music” at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library. Cosponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies.

Wednesday, Feb. 13:
James Davis, professor of musicology and chair of the musicology area at SUNY Fredonia’s School of Music, presents “Maryland, My Maryland: Regionalism, Patriotism, and the Song of a Divided Nation” at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library. Cosponsored by the American Studies program.

Wednesday, April 3:
Maureen Mahon, associate professor of music at New York University, will discuss “And the Colored Girls Go . . .  African-American Women Vocalists and the Sound of Race, Gender, and Authenticity in Rock and Roll” at 7 p.m. in the Gowen Room, Wilson Commons.  Cosponsored by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies.

As director, Covach will work with a group of seven faculty members from the University and an advisory board of 13 professors from the United States and the United Kingdom to develop programs that support research in fields including musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, and music performance. “The focus of the institute is to support and encourage academic studies in popular music in the form of lectures, books, and articles,” says Covach. “But we also want to support the performance aspects of this music, since making music is an integral part of studying it.” Covach has dual appointments in the College’s Department of  Music, where he is the Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor, and at the Eastman School, where he is a professor of music theory.

The institute will initially support five existing majors and programs at the University and will continue to add courses to the 25 currently in place. Additional initiatives include a speaker series, summer workshops or think tanks, in which invited scholars will train teachers in popular music and share their expertise with students and faculty, and the eventual creation of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships.

Visit www.rochester.edu/popmusic for more information.

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