MA/PhD in Theory
Kiyomi Kimura Andoh
Benjamin Baker is a fourth-year Ph.D. student and Sproull Fellow in music theory. He holds a B.A. in music and mathematics from St. Olaf College (2009) and a M.M. in jazz piano performance from NYU (2011). Ben’s research focuses primarily on improvisation, including the development and modeling of improvisational fluency, the role of improvisation in jazz and popular music, and related issues of genre and intertextuality. He also studies mathematical models of musical spaces. Ben has presented his work at the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Midwest, and the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic. He also serves on the board of the Music Theory Society of New York State, and the editorial staff of Intégral. He received Eastman’s TA Prize after his first year teaching in the undergraduate curriculum.
Prior to coming to Eastman, Ben worked for five years as a full-time freelance pianist in New York City. He remains active as a pianist, both in NYC and in Rochester. Outside of music, he enjoys running and following politics. He also recently completed a four-year term on the St. Olaf College Alumni Board.
Michael Blankenship is a sixth-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory and a Sproull Fellow. Before coming to Rochester, he received his B.A. in music from Grinnell College (2010), in beautiful Grinnell, Iowa, and spent the remainder of the year studying the early music of Penderecki as Grinnell’s Ninth Semester Music Fellow. His dissertation attempts to unravel the various structural relationships, common practices, and intersections of music and meaning in American rap music. Other research interests center on the grain of the voice, especially by examining form, song writing, and harmony in the magnificent diversity of American pop/rock music since 1950, as well as in art song since Beethoven. Beyond his academic interests, Michael is an avid culinarian, karaoke singer/rapper, and film watcher, as well as being an increasingly rabid supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Christian Birkness is a second-year Ph.D. student in music theory. 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.
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. Tuba Mirum has performed one or more of his compositions and/or arrangements on each of their concerts for the past four years, and he looks forward to continuing to write for the 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.
Matthew Chiu is a second-year Ph.D. Student 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 with research concerning mathematical models, macroharmony, and maximally-even rhythms. In 2019, he was awarded the Arthur J. Komar Student Award for his presentation on the discrete Fourier transform and Duruflé’s Requiem. Matthew also enjoys “casual” critical theory.
Outside of theory, Matthew has enjoyed opportunities as a church organist, musical director, bar pianist, and circus accompanist/arranger. He lives happily with his Piano Four Hands partner, Eron (and their 2 cats).
Richard Desinord is a third-year PhD student from Washington, D.C. He earned a BM in music education from Howard University and an MA in music theory from Penn State University. His research interests include harmony in neo-soul and contemporary gospel, the music of Robert Glasper, pedagogy, and the visualization of music theory. One of his personal and professional goals is to make music theory more accessible to and inclusive of people of color. Richard is a contributor to the upcoming Cambridge Stravinsky Encyclopedia. He enjoys smiling in his spare time.
Amy Fleming is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in music theory and a Sproull Fellow. Her primary research interests lie in the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially the music of George Crumb and post-tonal pedagogy. Amy holds a Master of Arts degree in Music Theory and History from The Pennsylvania State University, where she received the Creative Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Architecture and was elected to membership in Pi Kappa Lambda. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College (IL), where she graduated magna cum laude with a double major in Music Composition and Music History. While at Wheaton, Amy was commissioned to write a composition for the Wheaton College Women’s Chorale, and the resulting piece, “Plegaria a Dios,” was included on the Chorale’s most recent CD, “View Me Lord, A Work of Thine” (2009). This piece also won the Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music in 2010. Amy’s non-musical interests include Philadelphia Flyers hockey, canoeing, tennis, and deep dish pizza.
David Hier is a fourth-year PhD student in Music Theory. He holds a B.Mus in Composition and Theory and an M.Mus in Composition from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research interests include harmony and form in late romantic and early 20th century music, particularly in the work of Max Reger and Arnold Schoenberg, and German post-war music, especially that of Wolfgang Rihm. David has presented his research on the music of Arnold Schoenberg at the 2016 Arnold Schoenberg Symposium in Vienna, Austria and his research on the music of Roger Sessions at the 2017 EuroMAC conference in Strasbourg, France. He is currently working on his dissertation (proposal) which will examine harmony and voice-leading in Schoenberg’s atonal music (1908-1916 or so). David is also an active composer whose music has been played throughout North America. He came second in the 2012 Sejong Composition Competition and has been commissioned by McGill University and the Transmission Ensemble. In addition to music, David is a film buff, board game fiend and avid cook.
Noah Kahrs is a first-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory and a third-year graduate student at Eastman, having previously earned an M.A. in Music Composition. His research circles around the tension between compositional process and intuitive perception, particularly in post-1945 concert music. He has presented on works by Abrahamsen, Gubaidulina, and Ligeti at conferences including Music Theory Society of New York State, Music Theory Midwest, and Timbre 2018, and maintains his connection to new music by serving as technical director for OSSIA New Music, a student-run new music organization. He is also interested in broader music-perceptual issues, having presented a corpus study and won a best student poster award at Cognitively Based Music Informatics Research. Originally from Pittsburgh, he received his undergraduate degree from UChicago in Music and Mathematics. 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.
David Keep is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in music theory at the Eastman School of Music. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Lawrence University and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. His research interests include Brahms, music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, musical meaning, and the connections between analysis and performance. David has also written about the concept of virtuosity in music, contributing a chapter, entitled “Brahms ‘versus’ Liszt: The Internalization of Virtuosity,” to the volume Liszt and Virtuosity, forthcoming from University of Rochester Press. His research has been or will be presented at the Music Theory Society of New York State (2017, 2018), the Texas Society for Music Theory (2018), and the Society for Music Theory (2018). His paper “Developing Variation as Formal Determinant: Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Perspectives” won the Colvin Award for the best student paper from the Texas Society for Music Theory. A recipient of the University of Rochester’s Raymond N. Ball Dissertation Year Fellowship, his dissertation addresses the concept of re-creativity in Brahms’s Opp. 80-90, focusing on comparison of musical processes in different genres. David is currently engaged in a performance cycle of Brahms’s complete works for solo piano.
Catrina Kim is currently ABD and working on a dissertation on early Romantic introductions. She resides in Cleveland and teaches music theory and aural skills at the Oberlin Conservatory. A recipient of the University of Rochester Sproull Fellowship, she holds the B.M. in Piano Performance from the University of Houston (2013, summa cum laude) and the M.A. in Music Theory from Eastman (2016). She has presented papers on formal and aesthetic issues raised in works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn at the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory (2015 & 2016), the Music Theory Society of New York State (2016), the New England Conference of Music Theorists (2016), and the Texas Society for Music Theory (2013 & 2018). She served as co-editor of Intégral (Vol. 32), has previously taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and she currently serves on the Project Spectrum committee.
Braden Maxwell is a third-year Ph.D. student in music theory. He holds a B.M. in music theory from the Eastman School of Music and a B.A. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rochester. Braden studied piano at Eastman with Tony Caramia, and previously with Lisa Simon. Braden’s current research projects include investigation of the role of the inferior colliculus in processing complex stimuli, including its detection of beating in classic psychoacoustic stimuli and also its role in distinguishing musical stimuli. He is also interested in various theories (of) and analytic approaches to the music of Maurice Ravel. Braden has presented at meetings of the Music Theory Society of New York State (MTSNYS) and the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). He currently works for the Carney Lab and as a teaching assistant for aural musicianship classes at Eastman, where he is particularly invested in learning about and helping students overcome individual cognitive obstacles to dictation and transcription.
Molly Murdock is a second-year music theory Ph.D. student. She holds degrees from Michigan State University, University of Virginia, University of Central Florida cum laude and a conducting diploma from the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy in Hungary. In 2016, Molly received Eastman’s Annual Teaching Assistant Prize.
Molly’s primary research is 20th-century Hungarian composers, Erzsébet Syőnyi and Béla Bartók. She has presented her research for the International Kodály Society and is preparing an English edition of Bartók’s Twenty-Seven Choruses for Women and Children.
Molly created and runs MusicTheoryExamplesbyWomen.com, a database of compositions by women. At Michigan State University, she created the Women in Music Lecture Series, an ongoing project to showcase extraordinary musical women.
She spent many years in the Washington, D.C. area as a choral director in Fairfax County Public Schools and is the Founding Music Director of Riverbend Opera.
Aside from music, Molly volunteers at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, trains in jiu-jitsu, and is a part-time political activist.
Derek Myler is a first-year Ph.D. student in Music Theory. He holds a B.M in Vocal Performance from Weber State University (Ogden, Utah; 2015), and an M.M. in Music Theory from the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah; 2018). At Utah, his thesis examined ascending linear progressions in the expositions of Bach fugues and their tonal–prolongational implications. In addition to his studies on fugue, Derek’s research focuses on the music of Charles Ives. He is particularly interested in the vantage points offered by cognitive science for studying the perception of interactive polytonal and polymetrical forces in Ives’s mature music.
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. In Utah, Derek also enjoyed 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 literary theory, running, hiking, kayaking, baking, and spending time with his wife Shelby and their extremely busy two-year-old Zoë.
Alissandra (Lissa) Reed (she/her/hers) is a second-year PhD student and Provost’s Fellow in music theory. She previously earned a MA in music theory from Ohio State University and a BM in music theory from Florida State University. Conceiving of music as an experience that moves listeners and shapes their personalities, Lissa’s research interests include perception of emotion and meaning in music, relationships between music and language, protest and political expression in music, and music theory pedagogy. She has presented research at the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (2017).
Lissa is dedicated to breaking down systems of racism, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism. She sits on the committee for Project Spectrum (projectspectrummusic.com), a coalition dedicated to strengthening the pipeline for traditionally marginalized populations toward success in music academia. She spoke on the Society for Music Theory’s 2017 Committee on Diversity panel and is a founding member of Eastman’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Student-Faculty Alliance (DEIASFA).
Lissa plays cello and bass guitar, attempts to maintain her all-femme rock band in Columbus, OH, and might have finally learned how to produce hip-hop tracks by the time you’re reading this. She loves to cook and to play with her dog, Stevie Nicks. Having grown up in South Florida, no one can guarantee that she will survive multiple Rochester winters.
Sam Reenan is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in music theory. He holds the M.A. in music theory from Eastman (2018) and the B.M. in music theory and the B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Connecticut (2014). A recipient of Eastman’s 2017–18 TA Prize for Excellence in Teaching, he has taught throughout the Eastman curriculum, currently serving as supervisor for Sophomore Aural Musicianship. Sam is co-author of a 2016 article exploring seventh-chord voice-leading transformations, published in Music Theory Online. His dissertation focuses on issues of genre, form, and narrative in early modernist works described as “maximalist.” He has presented papers on a range of topics including pitch structure in Henri Dutilleux’s Ainsi la Nuit (Music Theory Society of New York State, Ninth European Music Analysis Conference, 2017), theoretical approaches to sonata form in Mahler’s late symphonies (Society for Music Theory, 2018), T. W. Adorno’s analytical aesthetics (Music Theory Midwest, 2019), and graduate instructor peer observation (Pedagogy into Practice, 2019). Sam has been editorial assistant with Music Theory Online since 2016 and is a current co-editor of Intégral. Outside of music theory, he enjoys sampling local coffee roasters, running, rock climbing, hiking in the Adirondacks, and attending operas at the Met.
Joseph’s research interests include phrase rhythm and musical form in 18th- and early 19th-century music, music cognition and perception, and music theory pedagogy. Joseph has presented his music theoretical works at the meetings of the the European Music Analysis Conference (2017, 2014), the Canadian University Music Society (2017, 2016, 2014), the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis (2017), the South Central Society for Music Theory (2017, 2014), the Music Theory Society of New York State (2016), Music Theory Midwest (2016), and the Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory (2014). Joseph was the recipient of the SOCAN Foundation/George Proctor Prize at the 2017 conference of the Canadian University Music Society and also the recipient of the Best Student Paper Award at the 2014 conference of the South Central Society for Music Theory.
As an interdisciplinary researcher, Joseph has collaborated with faculty and students from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Rochester on projects funded by the UR Provost’s Multidisciplinary Award (2012-2013) and other projects. In summer 2016, Joseph was awarded an all-inclusive travel award sponsored by the National Science Foundation to present at the International Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation, and Creativity in Cancun, Mexico. In the same summer, Joseph was selected as a Music Fellow by the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University to participate and to give a public TED-style talk at the 3rd International “Exploring the Mind through Music” Conference. In addition, Joseph has also presented his music cognition research at the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (2015, 2013), the Center for Research on Brain, Language and Music (2013), the New England Conference of Music Theorists (2013), and the Northeast Music Cognition Group (2012). Joseph served as the manager for the Eastman Music Cognition Lab from 2012-2014, and his co-authored article “Multiple Perspectives on Art-Science Collaborations” was published by the SciArt Magazine in June 2017.
A dedicated pedagogue, Joseph taught graduate and undergraduate courses in music theory at Eastman as a Teaching Assistant (2011-2016) and as a Summer Session Faculty (2016-2017). To recognize Joseph’s effective teaching, the Eastman School of Music awarded him the Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2015. Currently, Joseph is on the faculty at the University of Maryland Baltimore County teaching theory and keyboard skills, he also serves as the academic advisor for the Department of Music there.
Eron [iɹən] Smith is a fourth-year Ph.D. student, a Sproull Fellow, and an enthusiast of music theory. Originally from Decatur, Georgia, she earned her B.A. in music from Pomona College (2016) and her M.A. in music theory from Eastman (2019). She is in the preparatory stages of a thrilling, page-gripping dissertation on the form and tonal structure of Classical solo concerti (feat. Dr. William Marvin, advising), work she has enjoyed sharing at the Mannes School Graduate Conference, Music Theory Southeast, and the Society for Music Theory.
Eron is also researching the role of ^b2 in post-millennial pop, applications of translation theory to the analysis of musical transcription, and parameters affecting the memorability of unfamiliar melodies, among other projects. She is also a fan of languages and philosophy, and is committed to social justice as an everyday pedagogical practice. She is occasionally witnessed being a pianist.
Eron’s other loves include do-it-yourself projects and skills, hard workouts, road tripping in her Miata (Calliope), terrible dystopian science fiction, her incredible friends and family, the best cats (Orizaba and Sierra), and her omnipurpose partner (cf. Chiu, above).
Joseph VanderStel is a music theorist and web developer. As a music theorist, he is working on a dissertation on syncopation in 20th-century American popular music. As a web developer, his main project is currently an online platform for music theory learning, which he is building in partnership with local entrepreneurs. Joseph offers courses on web design at Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership, and in the University of Rochester Pre-College curriculum. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
A dedicated researcher, teacher, and performer, Stephanie Venturino is a third-year Ph.D. student in music theory at the Eastman School of Music. She received a B.M. degree (highest distinction) in saxophone performance and music theory from Eastman, as well as the coveted Performer’s Certificate, an award given for outstanding jury and recital performance. Other honors include grants from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and the Mildred R. Burton Fund, the Eastman Community Music School’s Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Eastman Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and election to Pi
Stephanie has recently presented her work at the annual meetings of the New England Conference of Music Theorists, Music Theory Southeast, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and the Society for Music Theory, as well as at the Debussy Perspectives: 1918–2018 conference in Manchester, England. Her research interests include twentieth-century French music, German harmonic theory, the history of music theory, and music theory and aural skills pedagogy. In addition to her school-year teaching at the ECMS, she teaches theory and aural skills for Summer@Eastman’s Eastman Experience: Summer Classical Studies program and the University of Rochester’s Early Connection Opportunity program.
As a saxophonist, Stephanie is an active ensemble musician, chamber musician, and soloist. A current member of the Eastman Saxophone Project, she has frequently played with 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 Kennedy Center (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.
Lauren Wilson is in her second year as a Ph.D. student in music theory at Eastman after completing an M.M. degree in music theory at Indiana University and a B.M. in guitar performance at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She focuses much of her research on 20th and 21st century music, and has presented work on instrumentation and musical structure in the music of Milton Babbitt at Music Theory Midwest. Recently, her research has centered on questions of timbre, texture, philosophy, and phenomenology, particularly in the context of electroacoustic music. Lauren finds it particularly exciting to study music that she can also play, and has enjoyed remaining an active guitarist in the process.
As a teacher, she strives to equip her students to engage critically with music, and she jumps at the chance to learn from them, as well. In addition to music, Lauren loves outdoor activities including running, rock climbing, and traveling. She also enjoys reading poetry, listening to heavy metal, and petting her cat, Florence.
MA in Theory Pedagogy
In complement to her ongoing doctoral candidacy in Organ Performance and Literature, Caroline Robinson is a first-year Masters student in Theory Pedagogy at the Eastman School of Music. Caroline studies organ with Professor David Higgs. Caroline attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for her undergraduate studies, after which she traveled to France on a Fulbright scholarship to study for a year at the Conservatoire à Raoynnement Régional de Toulouse. She holds the M.M. from Eastman in Organ Performance and Literature.
Caroline is the Second-Prize winner of the 2018 National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP). Caroline is also the First Prize winner of the 11th annual Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival (2008) and the 10th annual West Chester University University Organ Competition (2010). Caroline is a seasoned performer; summer of 2018 included concerts at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC, as well as recital for the 2018 Organ Historical Society Convention in Rochester, NY.
Caroline holds the post of Minister of Music at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Pittsford. Committed to promoting the pipe organ in both sacred and secular contexts, she also contributes to the mission of the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI), helping to coordinate outreach events and scholarly conferences launched by the Initiative. Caroline aspires to a career comprising performance, teaching organ and music theory at the collegiate level, and participating in liturgical music. Caroline enjoys distance running, having completed her first full marathon in May. She also enjoys cooking and traveling.
A Rochester native, Daniel Sawler is a first-year Master’s student pursuing a degree in Music Theory Pedagogy. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in composition, graduating with distinction (2018). He is also an active instructor of music theory and composition at the Eastman Community Music School.
BM in Theory
Emily Busby is a junior at the Eastman School of Music where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory, Music Education, and Double Bass Performance. She currently studies double bass privately with Professor James VanDemark and has also studied with Nate White prior to coming to Eastman. She is a graduate of Mount Olive High School in Flanders, New Jersey. In summers, she works as a double bass coach at New Jersey Youth Symphony, the organization she credits with “raising” her musically. She is also a member of Freelance Ensemble Artists of New Jersey, a non-profit organization committed to bringing free concerts to the public. She is primarily interested in studying works of the romantic era; most recently she wrote a paper examining Schumann’s Dichterliebe that focused especially on how the final song in the cycle relates to the rest of the work as a whole. Outside of classical music, she enjoys watching Rick and Morty, listening to alternative rock, and spending time with her cat.
Victor Labozzetta is a senior at Eastman, pursuing a BM in Percussion Performance and Music Theory. He studies with Michael Burritt, Rich Thompson, Chip Ross, and Jim Ross. A Jack Kent Cooke College Scholar, he is also an up-and-coming composer, writing several new percussion works in the past two years for the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, the University of North Florida Percussion Ensemble, Up/Down Percussion, and more.
Natalie Pang is a junior at Eastman, pursuing a double major in Piano Performance and Music Theory. She currently studies piano with Professor Alexander Kobrin. Throughout the years, she has won numerous awards at competitions including First Prizes at the National Finals of the Canadian Music Competition and the Crescendo International Music Competition, and was recipient of the McGill Conservatory’s Vera Black Scholarship. Natalie has performed around Canada and the United States, including orchestral performances and solo recitals around Montreal and appearances at Weill Recital Hall in New York, the Pro-Series Concerts for Isle La Motte Preservation Trust in Vermont, and venues around the Tampa-St Petersburg area for the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival. She has also been featured on the NPR classical music station WUSF 89.7.
Natalie is very drawn to the music of Alexander Scriabin, and recently wrote a paper exploring his Third Sonata, connecting musical analysis and historical context to his burgeoning attraction to mysticism. She hopes to delve into more research of his music and philosophies and explore a vast scope of his works. Natalie’s other interests include Schenkerian analysis, singing and songwriting, questing for fabulous food, and reading everything from Beethoven biographies to dystopian novels.