New musicology MA underway for fall

Jennifer Bain discusses the new musicology MA. (Photo: The Dalhousie Gazette)

June 19, 2009- The Dalhousie Gazette

By Samantha Durnford, News Contributor

Music buffs take note – Dalhousie’s department of music is now offering a master’s degree in musicology, the only program of its kind in the Maritimes.

Enrolment for the program, which begins in September 2009, has already begun and the graduate co-ordinator in Dal’s department of music, is excited.

“No schools east of Quebec City offer this MA,” says Jennifer Bain. “This is a good opportunity for our music students to take up.”

Bain says a musicologist is anyone who thinks and writes about music.

“We deliberately used the term musicology,” says Bain. “What we do isn’t narrowly defined. We wanted to provide a broad definition of music historians and theorists, with an emphasis on the common link it has between music and culture.”

Five faculty members will be teaching the new program and eight students will be admitted. The faculty members include Bain, Jacqueline Warwick, David Schroeder, Jérôme Blais and Steven Baur, all from the music department. One new faculty member may be hired.

Students taking the master’s of musicology will have to complete five seminars by the end of their two-year degree. Examples of seminars include research recordings, books and discussions about music history and theories.

This new program will also allow Dal’s current music students to continue their studies here.

Bain says professors are looking forward to having more graduate students around for mentorship to undergraduate students.

She also says after five years, the program will be reviewed to ensure it is working – a standard at Dal – and the cost of running it is worth the outcome.

Bain will be teaching a course of her own which studies 14th century French composer Guillaume de Machau. Bain says she will be bringing new articles to her students and showing them the latest research about Machau.

Baur, an assistant professor of music, is also eager for the program to begin.

“(The faculty) will get to keep working with some of our best students beyond their undergraduate degrees,” says Baur. “In recent years, we have been sending students to major graduate programs, including Harvard, McGill, University of Toronto, Stony Brook, and the University of Leeds, and, while I’m sure we will continue producing students that go on to such schools, it will be nice to keep some of these exceptional students in our own graduate program.”

Baur will be leading a seminar on music and social politics in 19th century North America. He says many professors are looking forward to teaching the master’s program.

“We’re all excited about designing and leading seminars at the graduate level, where topics can be explored more thoroughly and from a broader range of perspectives than is typically possible in undergraduate courses,” says Baur.

So far the program has received five applicants. Baur says this low number is expected because Dal just received notice a few weeks ago that the program was approved.

Mark Calvi applied to the program after graduating with a bachelor of music at Dal in performance in 1998. He has been a music teacher at local conservatories and a gigging musician – a musician who plays shows here and there.

“Studies in music beyond the undergraduate level has always been something I wanted to pursue,” says Calvi. “Without a music grad program east of Montreal, except for Memorial in Newfoundland (which offers a master’s in ethnomusicology) I, like many Dal music students and grads, knew that continuing in this field at a higher academic level meant leaving the Maritimes.”

Calvi says the program also supports the local music scene.

“This program will not only create growth in Dal’s music department, but it will inevitably promote more local interest and investment in our own community in terms of support for the arts, concerts, and more venues for musicians and the general public,” says Calvi.

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