Current Graduate Students in Musicology

Current Graduate Students in Musicology

Justin Balcor (, PhD student

Justin Balcor, a third year PhD student and FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellow, holds a BA in Music (Percussion) from Berea College, an MME (Music Education) from Eastern Kentucky University, and an MA in Musicology and Ethnomusicology from the University of Kentucky. Justin previously served as the director of the African Drum Ensemble at Centre College (Danville, KY), Kentucky Refugee Ministries’ Children’s Choir, and SambaLEX in Lexington, KY. His doctoral work focuses on musical instruments, national/gender identity, and musical constructions of masculinity in the Republic of Georgia, with a secondary emphasis on Sub-Saharan African music performance and pedagogy, particularly Ewe percussion and Zimbabwean mbira. Justin recently gave presentations at the annual Society for Ethnomusicology Conference in 2020, as well as “Race and Racism in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies: A Roundtable” at the University of Illinois on the topics of racism and the risks/experiences of BIPOC scholars conducting research in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

Michael Broussard (, MM student

Michael attended Louisiana State University from 2015-2019 and received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education, focusing in elementary music education. Being from Louisiana and a person of Cajun heritage, his core research interests include both the music landscape of Louisiana and the politics of music preservation in relation to tourism and commercialization. While at UIUC, he has organized and headed the making of music film work for both the School of Music and undergraduate course offerings. Furthermore, he is the acting Assistant Chimesmaster for our Altgeld Chimes community, which includes the organization of current chimes players and the performance of Altgeld Hall’s historic instrument.

Christina Horton (, PhD student

Christina (Tina) Horton received her Master of Music from UIUC, and her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Florida. Her master’s research project focused on the history of gamelan ensembles (a type of music from Indonesia) at the University of Illinois, the various communities involved with these ensembles, and the application of gamelan pedagogical methods in a US postsecondary setting. Her doctoral research is on a syncretic Filipino vocal tradition that dates back to the 16th century (pabasa ng pasyon) and its transmission in the United States through Filipino American Catholic communities. Since 2019, Tina has also served as the Chimesmaster for the Altgeld Chimes (bell tower) on campus and has worked on various event programming and archival work related to this program. She specifically organized Chimes Centennial week in October 2020, a series of events related to the bell tower’s 100th anniversary. Beyond this, Tina works closely with gamelan communities in Chicago, recently joined the Philippine Student Association at UIUC, and has performed in the UIUC Brazilian Music ensemble.

Sarah Kwilecki (, MM student

Sarah Kwilecki is a first-year MM student in Musicology. She is a Florida native and received her BA in English Literature with minors in Music and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Central Florida (2018). Her research interests are primarily in British music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with specific focuses on nationalism, cultural identity, and cross-cultural relations between England and other nations. She also studies the history of hymnody in the Protestant church, the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the intersections of music and literature, and issues of gender in music. During her undergraduate studies she studied abroad in England at the University of Surrey, which became a catalyst for her growing interest in British music and culture. She presented research with colleagues at the UCF Service-Learning Showcase on the Warren and Judith Kaplan Woman’s and Gender Studies Archival collection, for which she and her colleagues were awarded the Social Justice Award (2017). She has a diverse musical background and has explored many facets of the performing arts, including symphony orchestra and choir. When she is not reading or writing she enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing violin, listening to music, and spending time outside walking or running.

Samantha Lampe (, PhD student

Samantha Lampe is a 1st-year Ph.D. student in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Musicology Program. Her research interests consist of the performance of gender, race, and mental illness in musical theatre, along with how critics and audiences shape the interpretation of a show. In 2018, she received her Master’s degree in Musicology from Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. She was select to present her paper, titled “Look at Me I’m Femininity: The Female Persona in 1970s Musical Theatre,” for The Bruce Kirle Memorial Debut Panel in Musical Theatre/Dance at the 2020 national conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Her paper will be published in the Winter 2020 issue of Studies in Musical Theatre. She has presented at multiple regional conferences including the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium in 2018 and the AMS Midwest Conference in the fall of 2019. Outside of research, Samantha also enjoys performing and arranging pieces for piano and cello.

Kathleen McGowan (, MM student

Kathleen McGowan holds a Master of Music in Trombone from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a Bachelor of Music from Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on late Victorian and Edwardian music criticism, and her thesis examines the roles of and challenges faced by women music critics in England from 1880 leading up to the First World War. She received the 2019 Presser Foundation Award to conduct archival research at Girton College, Cambridge (postponed due to COVID-19). She has also conducted research on the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, seventeenth-century music printing in England, the relationships between music and British literature, and musics of the Celtic Revival.

She is a member of the North American British Music Studies Association, the American Musicological Society, and the Women’s History Network. At UIUC she serves as the archivist for ISAMS (Illinois Student Association of Music Scholars), and is an active member of the Illinois Trombone Consortium and studio.

Ian Nutting (, PhD student

Ian is a PhD student in musicology whose work on acousmatic sound (sound without a source or cause) attempts to develop an anti-disciplinary methodology out of a nebulous nexus of (ethno)musicology, sound studies, STS, and historical materialism. He is pursuing a certificate from the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory and his reporting on musicological events at the university can be found on the Unit’s blog “Kritik.” Ian’s current research concerns a set of phenomena known as the Hum: a “sound” experienced by a number of communities around the world since at least the 1970s that is unable to be accounted for by scientific investigation thus far. By pressing on the tension between the subjective aesthetic experience of those who hear the Hum and the attempts made to objectively measure and track the cause of this experience, the project seeks to rethink the political possibilities of aesthetic experience through the liquidation of its very categories of comprehension. Ideally then music, a historically and culturally meaningful aesthetic category, could gain an emancipatory charge, affording it the potential to liberate the human sensorium from alienation under the anaesthetic capitalist regime. But, ever the cynic, Ian remains steeled against the more likely outcome of a recapitulation of the status quo.

Ian’s degree collection includes BAs in both music and philosophy from Texas Lutheran University, MM in instrumental conducting from Texas State University, and MA in religious studies from the University of Chicago. His free time is spent developing an acoustemology of barbecue.

Aubrie M. Powell (, PhD student

Aubrie Powell has a Master of Music degree with a concentration in musicology from the University of New Mexico. Her master’s thesis, “NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series: Vocalities of Outrage and Acts of Gaiety,” explored political agency in performance on the National Public Radio online series and was advised by historical musicologist Dr. Ana R. Alonso-Minutti and cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Dr. Kristina Jacobsen. A portion of that research was published in the Society for Ethnomusicology Student News issue on Music and Affect in Fall 2020.

Before studies in musicology, Aubrie studied double bass performance and completed a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). There she studied with Professors Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Paul Rudy, and James Mobberley. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in music composition from Baldwin Wallace University where she studied with the composer in residence, Dr. Clint Needham.

Currently, Aubrie’s area of interest is the social meanings of country music inside and outside of the US, especially through the utilization of visual media. Aubrie is also currently working on an ethnography of an old-time fiddle and country music jamming community south of Albuquerque, and she participates in the UNM Honky Tonk Ensemble, playing bass and collaborating on their podcast “Honky Tonk Happy Hour.” Aubrie is pursuing songwriting and continues to play double bass in the Albuquerque community, swinging with local groups and songwriters. (Photo by Cristine Posner)

Danielle Sekel (email not available), MM student

Danielle Sekel is a graduate student in Musicology who is also pursuing a Balkan Studies graduate minor through the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC). She holds a BA in both Literary Studies and Music (with a specialization in composition) from Roanoke College, VA (2015) and has also taught middle and high school chorus, creative writing, and literature courses. Her research focuses on Bosnian popular music and the musical contributions of the Bosnian bands Dubioza Kolektiv and Helem Nejse and the ways in which they reference cultural artifacts, criticize the current state of the Balkans, and address the multitude of individuals now living in diaspora. Her research also looks at LGBTQ vocal artists who are reimagining traditional Bosnian sevdah through new gendered lenses. Danielle currently holds a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship through REEEC to continue studying Bulgarian, and has also held fellowships for advanced study of Bosnian. In her spare time, she enjoys taking her dogs for walks around Champaign and curating an impressive indoor collection of houseplants.

Wes Sharp (, PhD student

Wes received his bachelor’s degree in trombone performance from Southeast Missouri State University in 2015, and it was during the course of this degree that he discovered musicology and became interested in studying it. From there he obtained my Master’s degree in Music History and Literature in 2017 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His broad research interests include popular music and media as well as music and economic system. His current dissertation work deals with music and sound design in American superhero media.

Jonathon Smith

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