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Music Faculty Sabbatical Updates, Fall 2013

Jim Bates, Director of Orchestral Activities
Every scholarly endeavor must have a daunting title, so here’s mine… An Investigation into Nineteenth Century Musical Performance Practices Pertaining to Orchestral Performance of the Austrian/German Musical Repertoire as Documented in Recordings and Video of the Early 20th Century. I am quite excited about this project for Spring 2014. The idea for this project grew out a seminar I taught in spring 2012 on the music and life of Gustav Mahler as well as the book (which I highly recommend) The End of Early Music by Bruce Haynes. By now many performers and concert goers are well aware of the music performance practice movement that has had a remarkable impact on the performance of music of the Baroque and Classical eras as well as the earlier periods. Surprisingly little research has been done with performance practice in the Romantic period at this point and I hope to contribute to the scholarship in that area. The late Romantic music performance is actually documented as part of a living tradition at the turn of the 20th century. And in fact continues well into the 20th century as the performers of that era were taught by nineteenth century performers. I will be traveling to Vienna in January with Lyle and Meg Barkhymer’s Vienna travel course and doing research in the archives and museums there, then continuing my research through the spring by comparing performance characteristics found in the earliest recordings that are available online and in collections in this country. My hope is that by narrowing my focus to orchestra music and string technique in German music I can reach some meaningful conclusions that can be compared at a later date to French traditions of the same period. 

Dr. Jennifer Merkowitz, Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition, will be on sabbatical during Fall 2013. During this time, she will be composing a piece for the Otterbein University Concert Choir, to be premiered in Spring 2014. The piece will likely be a part of the Choir’s spring tour and Otterbein’s upcoming Humor in Music festival. To facilitate work on the piece, she will spend two weeks in early October as a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia. VCCA provides artists of all types with spaces to engage in creative projects and exchange ideas in an inspiring natural environment.

Dr. Gayle Walker, Director of Choral Activities, will be on sabbatical during the fall semester, studying composition with Grammy Award Winning composer Libby Larsen in Minneapolis, and composing works for performance with the Concert Choir this spring. Her primary composition project is a choral setting of three poems by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906), an acclaimed African-American poet from Dayton, OH. Dunbar was the first African-American poet to receive national praise and acceptance.