Music Theory

Current Students

MA/PhD in Theory


Kiyomi Kimura Andoh


M. Jerome Bell is a first year Ph.D. student and Provost’s Fellow in music theory. He holds a B.Mus in music composition from Houghton College (2015), and a M.Mus with a double concentration in composition and conducting (choral and instrumental) from the same institution, where he graduated with honors and was inducted into the Pi Kappa Lambda musical honors society (2018). Jerome’s research interests include melodic analysis and expectation within popular and folk music (in addition to art music), as well as establishing and codifying the study of gospel theory—the study of Black American Gospel music—inside the music theory classroom. 

 

In his spare time, you will find Jerome going on and on about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type theory, and rooting for the Buffalo Bills! Jerome lives with his lovely wife, Hannah, and two beautiful cats (f.), Tim-Tam and Panini.


Christian Birkness is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate. He holds a BM in Music Theory from Eastman (2018), where he graduated with highest distinction and was elected to the Pi Kappa Lambda musical honors society, and an MA in Music Theory from Eastman (2020). His research focuses on 18th-century thoroughbass and diminution theory, its applications in the contemporary theory classroom, and potential connections to other musical styles or disciplines.

Christian was a tubist in the studio of Don Harry during his undergraduate studies, and remains a frequent collaborator with Tuba Mirum, Eastman’s Euphonium and Tuba ensemble. Christian is also an avid student of the humanities, especially the German language and German poetry. He is a recipient of the 2018 Anne T. Cummins Prize for distinguished work in the humanities during his time as an undergraduate at Eastman.

cbirknes@u.rochester.edu


Andrew Blake is a second-year Ph.D. student in music theory. Prior to his enrollment at Eastman, he earned a B.M. in Music Performance (Trombone) and a B.S. in Computer Science from Wright State University (2018), and a M.A. in Music Theory from Kent State University (2020). His research interests include music cognition/perception, 20th century music, and microtonal systems of organizing pitch (an interest which often intersects with the other two). His recent presentations have included “Tempering the Clavier,” a corpus study which examines the fugues of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier for possible hints as to which well temperament the composer had intended, and “All the Small Things: Microtiming Deviations in Contemporary Punk” (co-authored with Matt Chiu), which examined differences in expressive rhythmic timing across subgenres of punk music.

 
His teaching experience includes:
Rudiments of Music and Theory I/II (Kent State University)
Music Analysis (an online course for students enrolled in KSU’s 100% online Masters program in Music Education)
Fundamentals of Aural Musicianship/Aural Musicianship I (ESM 2020-21)
Tonal Analysis and Model Composition II (ESM 2021)
 
In addition to his studies and work at Eastman, he is currently the catcher for Absolute Pitch, the official softball team of the ESM theory department, and plans to join a community band in the Rochester area once things have opened up again.

Matt Chiu (he/him) is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Music Theory. Prior to his enrollment at the Eastman School of Music, he earned a B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Connecticut (2016) and a M.M. in Music Theory from Boston University (2018). He has presented at national and international conferences concerning music from the 19th (Liszt and Brahms), 20th (Debussy, Duruflé, Prokofiev, Reich, and Saariaho), and 21st (Math Rock bands, and punk rock) centuries. His research methods are primarily computational, focusing primarily on probabilistic and machine learning models. For more information, see here.

He currently serves as one of Intégral’s co-editors.

Outside of theory, Matt has enjoyed opportunities as a church organist, musical director, bar pianist, and circus accompanist/arranger. He lives happily with his (piano) four hands partner (and partner) Eron, and their 2 cats—all four of them enjoy birding in their own way.

mchiu9 @ u.rochester.edu


Richard Desinord


Jacob Eichhorn


David Falterman


Rob Hamilton


Trevor Haughton


Ruixue Hu is a first year PhD student in Music Theory. He graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a concentration in composition and he is going to obtain an Master of Music by research degree from Durham University soon, where he was supervised by Prof. Julian Horton and Prof. Ian Dickson to explore Anton Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony. From Guiyang, China, Ruixue is attracted to both Western and Chinese cultures and his research interests include neo-Riemannian theory, sonata form, symphonic studies, and Guqin, for which he is currently a student of Ms. An-yuan Li of the Guan school. In his leisure time, Ruixue enjoys watching soccer and playing badminton.


Lauren Irschick


Noah Kahrs

Noah Kahrs is a third-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory. His research focuses on tensions between compositional and perceptual approaches to music theory, particularly in post-1945 concert and experimental music. He has presented research on works by Abrahamsen, Amacher, Gubaidulina, Ligeti, and Lucier, as well as on chord spacing more generally, at conferences including SMT, MTSNYS, MTMW, and CogMIR, and has published in Music Theory Online, Tempo, and Mitteilungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Noah received his undergraduate degree from UChicago in Music and Mathematics. He received an MA in Music Composition from Eastman, and remains connected to new music as a board member for OSSIA New Music. He has visited every neighborhood of Chicago, and has ridden every line of the Chicago, Toronto, Portland, Pittsburgh, Paris, Berlin, and Singapore rapid transit systems.

email: nkahrs@u.rochester.edu


Hanisha Kulothparan is a first year Ph.D. student in music theory at the Eastman School of Music. Her research focuses on rhythm and meter in rap music and its intersections with gender studies. She has presented her work at several graduate conferences including the McGill Graduate Student Symposium, Florida State University Music Theory Forum, and University of Arizona Graduate Student Music Conference. She has also presented at regional conferences such as the South-Central Society for Music Theory and Music Theory Southeast. Her paper “Flow in the Alter Egos of Nicki Minaj” is the most recent winner of MTSE’s Irna Priore Prize for best student paper. Hanisha has been invited to several schools as a guest lecturer for her work on Nicki Minaj including Northeastern University, Queens University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Michigan State University.

Originally a Toronto native, she previously received her B.M. in music history and theory at Wilfrid Laurier University and her M.M. in music theory at Michigan State University. Outside of theory, Hanisha is a huge fan of puzzles and once finished a 5000 piece puzzle in a month.

Morgan MarkelMorgan Markel is a Ph.D. candidate in music theory.  She holds a B.M. in music theory from Northwestern University (2015) and a M.M. in music theory from UMass Amherst (2017). Her research interests include Schenkerian analysis and form and meaning in popular music, particularly in the works of Golden Age musical theater composers. She has presented her research at regional and national conferences, including MTSMA,  MTSNYS, NECMT, SCSMT, and SMT. In addition, she is the co-author of a report in the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy. Currently, she is the organist and choir director at Pultneyville Reformed Church in Williamson, NY. 

Braden MaxwellBraden Maxwell (bmaxwel2@u.rochester.edu) is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in music theory. He holds M.A. and  B.M. degrees in music theory from the Eastman School of Music and the B.A. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester. Braden studied piano at Eastman with Tony Caramia, and previously with Lisa Simon.  As a teacher of music theory and aural skills, he is particularly passionate about helping students overcome individual cognitive obstacles to dictation and transcription.  Braden’s current research pursues two lines of inquiry. His dissertation focuses on a novel music-theoretical approach to introspective phenomena in the music of Maurice Ravel. His interdisciplinary work through the Carney Lab focuses on the intersection of music, neuroscience, computational modeling, and psychoacoustics, investigating the role of the midbrain (inferior colliculus) in processing acoustic features that are critical for the perception of musical stimuli. Braden’s psychoacoustic work has been published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and he has presented at several conferences and meetings including the Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNYS), the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC) and the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). Recently, he and his co-authors won the first-place student prize at the Future Directions of Music Cognition conference for their paper, “A new auditory theory and its implications for the study of timbre,” available at https://osf.io/xa2tz/.


Derek J. Myler

Derek J. Myler (dmyler@u.rochester.edu) is a second-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory. He holds the B.M. in Vocal Performance from Weber State University (2015) and the M.M. in Music Theory from the University of Utah (2018). As a primary research area, Derek is interested in the music of Charles Ives, particularly in his polytonal and polymetric procedures, and the vantage points offered by cognitive science, phenomenology, and philosophy of time for understanding these techniques. Recently, Derek has also applied his familiarity with Polish-language scholarship and literature to questions of style and aesthetics in a corpus of works by Polish composers active in the first half of the nineteenth century. 

Before coming to Eastman, Derek taught music theory at the University of Utah as an associate instructor and served on the music theory faculty of the Gifted Music School in Salt Lake City. Derek also enjoyed many years in Utah working as a music director for community theatres, as a collaborative pianist with area ensembles, and as a piano tuner and technician.

Outside of music, Derek enjoys kayaking, running, bread baking, and spending time with his wife Shelby and their unfailingly entertaining three-year-old Zoë.


LukasLukas Perry

is a second-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory. He earned an M.A. in Music Theory and M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Minnesota and a B.A./B.S. in Music and Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound. He has worked as a full-time church organist and choir director and served as the artistic director of the Minnesota Center Chorale. Prior to coming to Eastman, Lukas taught music theory as an adjunct at Minnesota.

His interests include video game music theory, the music of Maurice Duruflé, and music theory pedagogy. He presented on harmonic sequences as indicators of polystylism in Anton Bruckner’s choral music at the 2017 South-Central SMT Conference as well as the compositional process of the fourteenth-century Cypriot Mass at the AMS New England 2021 Winter Conference. In addition to working as a teaching assistant, he teaches theory at the Eastman Community Music School and is the organist and choir director at Brockport First Baptist Church.

In his spare time, Lukas enjoys being outdoors—skiing, hiking, biking, and camping.

lperry9@u.rochester.edu


Alissandra (Lissa) Reed


Alex Rodzianko


Eron [iɹən] F. S. (she/her/hers) is a sixth and final-year Ph.D. candidate, a Sproull Fellow, and a music theorist. Originally from Decatur, Georgia, she earned her B.A. in music from Pomona College (2016) and her M.A. in music theory here at Eastman (2019). Eron believes that pedagogy, social justice, and research are all intertwined emotional and communicative acts. She views music theory as a creative pursuit—the use or formulation of any theory about any music. 

She is busily writing her dissertation on late-Classical concerto organization, including a concerto-centric punctuative form system and a hierarchically flexible interpretation of Schenkerian voice-leading. To balance and/or procrastinate that work, Eron likes to research mainstream 21st-century pop music. She has a forthcoming SMT-V on “Hot Flat 2,” which was previously a conference talk, and is working on a print article on “prosodic dissonance,” or mismatches between the stress patterns of text and musical setting. She has also presented on musical transcription as a spectrum of translation (MTSMA, EuroMAC 2021) and a potential double-tonic scale degree number system for pop songs (MTSE 2021). Here at Eastman, Eron has enjoyed teaching written music theory and aural skills, and was a 2021 recipient of the TA Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In Fall 2021, she is also teaching for an online graduate music analysis course at Kent State University.

In her non-professional life, Eron is a pianist, a songwriter, and a language and travel enthusiast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, birding, crosswording, indoor climbing, and the occasional video game. Her other loves include seasonal fruit, smelly cheese, high-budget movies with ludicrous car chases, her incredible friends and family, the best cats (Orizaba and Sierra), and her rad spouse (see Matt Chiu, above). 

Chat up my inbox: esmith49@u.rochester.edu


Ivan Tan 


Stephanie Venturino is a Ph.D. candidate music theory at the Eastman School of Music, where she also received an M.A. in music theory, a B.M. in music theory and saxophone performance, and a Performer’s Certificate, an award given for outstanding jury and recital performance. Stephanie’s research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century French music, harmonic dualism, melodic arabesque, and online/hybrid aural skills and music theory instruction in K-12 and university contexts. Her dissertation—on the concept of resonance in French music and music theory from 1900 to 1960—is supported by the University of Rochester’s Raymond N. Ball Fellowship. She has presented numerous papers at regional and national conferences of the Society for Music Theory and the American Musicological Society. Her single- and co-authored essays are forthcoming in Debussy Studies 2 (Cambridge University Press), Arabesque without End: Across Music and the Arts, From Faust to Shahrazad (Routledge), and The Eastman Case Studies. A dynamic and innovative teacher, Stephanie has received the University of Rochester’s Educational IT Innovation Grant, Eastman’s TA Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and the Eastman Community Music School’s Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Stephanie also has extensive ensemble, chamber, and solo experience as a classical saxophonist. She has frequently played with the Eastman Saxophone Project, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Eastman Wind Orchestra, and Musica Nova; she has also garnered top prizes in numerous local, regional, and national solo and chamber music competitions. Stephanie made her solo debut at the age of 16 with the Penfield Symphony Orchestra, and she has played at prestigious venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C) and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing, China). Her primary teachers have included Douglas O’Connor and Chien-Kwan Lin. 


Feel free to email Stephanie at sventuri@u.rochester.edu.


Julianna WillsonJulianna Willson is a second year Ph.D. student in music theory. She holds a B.M. from the University of Memphis in piano performance. During her undergraduate, she was a finalist in the University of Memphis Soloists Competition in 2016 and also received the Dean’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award at the end of her senior year. Her research interests have included intertextuality and meaning within 19 th century music and particularly within the music of Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel. Julianna has presented her research on Felix Mendelssohn’s allusions to Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata as a lightening talk at the South Central Society for Music Theory (2019). 


Contact info: jwillso2@u.rochester.edu


Lauren Wilson


MA in the Pedagogy of Music Theory


Natalie Pang is a second-year Masters student pursuing the MA in Music Theory Pedagogy and MM in Piano Performance, studying piano with Alexander Kobrin. She received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Music Theory from Eastman, and is a member of the music society Pi Kappa Lambda. As a pianist, Natalie has been first prizewinner of competitions such as the Canadian Music Competition and Montreal Classical Music Festival, and has performed in venues across the United States and Canada. While at Eastman, her love for Scriabin and interest in music theory led her to add the theory major and pursue research in topic theory and music semiology, Schenkerian analysis, and the promotion of underrepresented composers in performance and pedagogy. In her spare time, Natalie loves running and biking, songwriting, learning the theremin, and baking in an experimental fashion using generously approximate measurements.


BM in Theory


Owen Cummings (he/him/his) is a junior at the Eastman School of Music, earning a BM in cello performance, a BM in music theory, and a certificate of achievement in early music. His research interests include microtonality and its relation to intonation in tonal music, the progression of French harmonic language, Schenkerian analysis (particularly of post-tonal works), the history of the notation of musical time, the link between harmonic analysis and musicality in Baroque music, and the role of technology in the music theory classroom. As a cellist, he has both appeared as a soloist and been principal of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Youth Orchestra, the Ithaca Community Orchestra, and the Ithaca High School Chamber Orchestra. Owen has also frequently performed in various chamber music ensembles, having co-founded the Harlow String Quartet and performed at the Bowdoin and Mayfest International Chamber Music Festivals. He currently studies with David Ying, and previous teachers include Guy Johnston, John Haines-Eitzen, and Christine Lowe-Diemecke. Outside of cello, Owen has had compositions performed at the NYSSMA Young Composers Showcase and has sung in the ACDA Eastern Honors Choir and the NYSSMA All-State Choir. On the rare occasion when he is not creating or consuming music, Owen enjoys running, hiking, binging media content, and coffee with friends.

ocumming@u.rochester.edu


Jacob Hinton


Mary Jedynak Mary Jedynak is a first-year undergraduate student in Music Theory and Guitar Performance.  She studies guitar with Nicholas Goluses, and she is from Pittsford, NY. 


Zekai “Kai” Liu


Nathan McKinstry (he/him/his) is a senior undergraduate student at the Eastman School of Music, studying both music theory and trumpet performance. His bachelor’s thesis aims to understand the relationships between figured bass, counterpoint, and other chordal tablature systems, and the role they play in the analysis of music. Outside of music, Nathan holds many interests across academia, from math and the sciences through history, and incorporates aspects of these other academic pursuits into his musical and theatrical career. He also enjoys hiking, especially in his hometown hills of Pennsylvania, and sailing whenever the opportunity arises. 


Zixu Daniel Qin


Qiuwan Brena Zhao