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UMBC Department of Music
Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day
UMBC has sponsored Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day annually since 1997. This event features research, scholarship, and creative work carried out by UMBC undergraduates. Student work is shared in many ways: oral presentations, poster sessions, artistic exhibits and performances, and film.

This campus celebration of achievement affirms UMBC's commitment to the twin goals of research and a distinctive undergraduate experience.

All current undergraduates who have conducted research, scholarship or creative work in the last year may apply to present their results at URCAD.

Mentors, fellow students, friends, family members, high school teachers and students, graduate school recruiters, and the general public attend.

The abstracts below describe research presented by music majors at UMBC at URCAD 2010.

Back to Bach: A Historically Informed Interpretation of a Gavotte

Sarah M. Paquette
Airi S. Yoshioka, Assistant Professor, Department of Music

The stylistic features of the Romantic and Contemporary periods have influenced how modern violinists interpret music of the Baroque period. While these interpretative changes over the past 250 years are a natural course of development, they can interfere with authentic performance practice since violins and bows were constructed differently and musical aesthetics and styles have dramatically evolved. The constructional modifications (smaller violin, shorter and curved bow, lack of chin rest, etc.) have altered what types of ornamentations and articulations are possible. In Bach’s Partita No. 3 Gavotte en Rondeau, many violinists and pedagogues have developed interpretations that stray from the period-informed style. Contemporary performers overuse ornamentations such as trills and vibrato unlike Baroque players who use them sparingly for highlighting repeated passages. On a weekly basis, I presented an aspect of Baroque performance practice in MUSC112 (Violin Repertory) and shared my research with violin performance majors. On my personal journey with Gavotte en Rondeau, I developed historically-informed interpretations and performed the work multiple times at UMBC and in the outer-communities.

This work was funded through an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Office of Undergraduate Education


Learning the Essence of German Lieder and Introducing it to the UMBC Community

Michal Levitas
David Smith, Assistant Professor, Department of Music

This research project focuses on the art of nineteenth-century German art song and poetry. Specifically, I studied Franz Schubert’s “Heidenroslein,” and Hugo Wolfe’s “Das Verlassene Magdlein.” One great challenge I confronted in these pieces was the connection of the music to the poetry, in particular the way the accentuation, form, and other aspects of the poem’s language is set to music by the composer. In order to explore this, I examined the sound and shape of the poetry as language through recitation and then as song. I experimented with performing these pieces in Graz, Austria, one of the places where they were first performed, during my studies there at the American Institute of Musical Studies. Specifically, I performed in two Liederabends and in other concerts in the Meerscheinschloss, a small Hapsburg palace and home to various concerts of the nineteenth century. To have the opportunity to research this connection of music and poetry in the area where they were written gave me a greater scope of knowledge and context about the works as a whole.

This work was funded, in part, by an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Office of Undergraduate Education

A Thematic Analysis of Stephen Schwartz' "Children of Eden

Shane M. Parks
Anna Rubin, Associate Professor, Department of Music
Susan McCully, Lecturer, Department of Theatre

While musical theatre is acknowledged as an American entertainment staple, the genre is still quite young. The most prominent composers of musical theatre are continually experimenting with different ways of composing, structuring, and presenting their art. One device used in musical theatre today is the leitmotif, a mechanism that attaches repeated events, moods, or characters to musical themes. Stephen Schwartz, known for his widely successful scores for “Pippin,” “Godspell,” and “Wicked,” uses this tool in the show “Children of Eden.” The work, despite having never been on Broadway, is consistently on Musical Theatre International’s “Top 20 licensed works.” My research explores the way in which Schwartz creates a cohesive dramatic and musical work through his use of leitmotifs. The artistry displayed in this piece helps the audience connect parallel plot lines and recall past action with relative ease. I will explain how the themes create layers of subtext that greatly enrich the show. “Children of Eden” is a work that can be appreciated both on a scholarly level and as a work of entertainment. Through the research of Schwartz’ play, I hope to expand recognition of musical theatre as a subject that deserves scholarly attention and analysis.

This work was funded, in part, by an Undergraduate Research Award from the UMBC Office of Undergraduate Education

Medieval and Renaissance Shawms: An Exploration of Embouchure

Meghan Sommers
Joseph Morin, Lecturer, Department of Music

Modern oboes trace their lineage back to shawms, double-reed instruments seen in Europe as far back as the twelfth century. Whereas present-day oboes are played with the double reed between the lips so that the lips can control reed placement, aperture, and a variety of other variables, for shawms the mechanism and degree of lip-control, called embouchure, is not clear. Despite prolific use during the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries, a lack of surviving instruments complete with reeds and pirouettes hampers our understanding of the European medieval and Renaissance shawm. As such, significant disagreement exists among scholars and performers as to the amount of lip control historically employed to play pirouette-bearing instruments. This study includes evaluation and critique of modern texts about shawm-playing in light of consultation with original historical documents, art work, and measurements of surviving original instruments. Consideration is also given to shawms from other parts of the world to see how their performance technique might provide clearer understanding of European shawms. Understanding the historical performance practices of music is essential to the very music itself, as well as the nuanced role that music and musicians played in their respective contemporary societies.


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