David Schroeder Music & Culture Lecture Series

The Fountain School of Performing Arts proudly hosts the David Schroeder Music & Culture lectures. This exciting PUBLIC series features distinguished scholars presenting research on music and culture, drawing on a range of disciplinary approaches and exploring diverse repertories. Join our community’s conversation. 

Free and open to the public
Room 406 (MacAloney Room) - Dal Arts Centre, noon.

For a list of speakers from past years, click here.

Philip Ewell, Hunter College


“Racialized Musical (Hi)stories”

Sept. 14, 2023

 “History” usually implies an accurate account of past events, while “story” often refers to events that may or may not accurately reflect on the past, embellished as necessary by the “storyteller.” With remarkable consistency in the academic study of music in the U.S. and Canada, the “histories” taught at our music institutions have been written by white persons, usually men, passing from generation to generation with little divergence from the main narratives of “great works” of a so-called “western canon.” My talk challenges these histories and explains why, in fact, our common music curricula are still quite segregated along racial lines. I suggest that we need to foreground race in our discussions, so that all racial musics, and musical races, have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation.
Dr. Philip Ewell is a leading scholar in the work to decolonize music research and teaching. His public scholarship has been featured in news outlets like the BBC, Die Zeit, NPR and the New York Times. In this talk, he challenges the main narratives shaping the classical canon of “great music,” and shows how to ensure all racial musics, and musical races, have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion.

Philip Ewell is a Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York. His specialties include Russian music theory, Russian opera, rap and hiphop, modal/tonal theory, and race studies in music. His public scholarship has been featured in news outlets such as the BBC, Die Zeit, NPR, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and WQXR’s Aria Code. His monograph, On Music Theory, and Making Music More Welcoming for Everyone, appeared in April 2023 in the “Music and Social Justice” series of the University of Michigan Press, and he is coauthoring a new W. W. Norton music theory textbook, The Engaged Musician: Theory and Analysis for the Twenty-First Century, which will be a modernized, reframed, and inclusive work based on recent developments in music theory pedagogy. Finally, he is the series editor for the Oxford University Press book series “Theorizing African American Music.”

Maria Cizmic, University of South Florida


“Story of an Artist”: Performing Disability and the Music of Daniel Johnston 

October 19

Daniel Johnston (1961-2019) was a singer-songwriter and artist based in Austin, Texas, who foregrounded his mental illness as part of his public persona. He was influential in the 1990s indie-music scene, though his performances and recordings were often outside the norms of professional indie-rock: musicians such as Jeff Tweedy, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave have covered Johnston’s songs. Along with Jeff Feuerzeig’s 2006 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, these covers helped develop and sustain a fan base for Johnston.

In this public lecture, musicologist Maria Cizmic explores the entanglements of discourse, performance, listening, and psychiatric disability. Cizmic's analysis brings together several different types of media including Johnston’s live performances, documentary narration of his life and music, the use of Johnston’s music in advertising; and covers of his songs. She asks: How do musical norms of being in tune and in time influence the ways audiences listen to Johnston? How does the narrative of Johnston’s mental illness shape both how people listen to and cover his songs? And generally, how do stories about musicians with disabilities influence how listeners understand what they see and hear? 

Maria Cizmic is Associate Professor in the Humanities & Cultural Studies Department at the University of South Florida, and the author of Performing Pain: Music and Trauma in Eastern Europe (OUP 2012). Her essays appear in Twentieth-Century Music, American Music, Music and the Moving Image, and numerous edited collections. She writes and teaches about music and trauma, late socialist Eastern Europe, film music, and American popular and experimental music. Her interests in disability, performance, mediation, and embodiment inform the conversation Maria will lead in our Schroeder Lecture series. 

Jennifer Bain, Dalhousie University


“Computational Analysis as a Tool for Contextualizing the Music of Hildegard of Bingen,” 

November 23, 2023

For many years, Jennifer Bain has been analyzing and contextualizing the music of Hildegard of Bingen within the medieval chant repertory using manual methodologies. In this lecture, she will talk about the computational tools and techniques that she and her research team have been using to compare Hildegard’s compositional methods and melodic style to a dataset of late medieval chant, and present some of their preliminary findings.

Dr. Jennifer Bain is Professor of Music and Associate Vice President Research at Dalhousie University. Named to the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists, she has received numerous grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Recently editor of the Cambridge Companion to Hildegard of Bingen (2021), her publications focus on the development of digital chant research tools and the reception and analysis of medieval music including the music of Guillaume de Machaut and Hildegard of Bingen.