Published: April 22, 2024 By

Michael Uy headshotMichael Sy Uy has been recently appointed the director of the American Music Research Center (AMRC) at the CU Boulder College of Music, and the newest member of our musicology faculty. A quick glance at the impressive biography of Michael Sy Uy begs two immediate questions—each eliciting chuckles from him during a call from his current office at Harvard University where he’s a music lecturer.

“[In the United States,] I pronounce my last name ‘Wee,’” he replies to Question No. 1, explaining that his family is Chinese-Filipino. “My parents immigrated from Manila and I was born in Las Vegas. I grew up in southern California.”

Question No. 2 addresses the bottom of his bio, which notes that Uy “biked across the United States, from California to Massachusetts, in 42 days.” 

So, the obvious query: Will he peddle his way from Massachusetts to begin his new position in Boulder? More laughter. “Actually, I thought about it—but only for a minute.” Instead, he’ll pack his bags and drive west to assume a critical role at our college.

“The center provides an excellent opportunity for a researcher and professor,” he says. “In Boulder, I can immerse myself in the center’s archives, as well as incorporate the material in my teaching.”

Uy has a rich background in academia: He’s published a book on public and private arts funding and his other work appears in American Music, Journal of the Society for American Music, Journal of Musicology, and Music and Arts in Action. He’s also the recipient of several prestigious teaching awards and served as the Allston Burr Resident Dean of Dunster House and Assistant Dean of Harvard College from 2017 to 2023.

Uy is enthusiastic about the wide-ranging responsibilities and activities ahead of him. “I want to gain a deeper understanding of how the center operates and learn from its remarkable previous directors,” he says. “From them, the advisory board and others, I can think about how best to realize the center’s mission and how to achieve the goals of helping students and the community engage with our archival material. Perhaps our amazing performers within the College of Music students and faculty can showcase this music.

“I look forward to working with both undergraduate and graduate students, and I hope to continue to raise the profile of the AMRC.”

Uy also speaks in admiration of the college’s universal musician mission to develop well-rounded, multiskilled students. “I think the work of the center ties in with this mission perfectly,” he says. “Through what we do, what we research and what we write, we can all learn more about ourselves.”

“We should remember the AMRC’s location and history as part of the ‘American West,’” he adds. “Integral to our work will be documenting, preserving and performing the contributions of Native Americans, Chicanos, Asian Americans and African Americans. This is what America really looks and looked like.

“At the AMRC, we can support this research, preservation and history sharing.”

The first person in his family to attend college in the United States—earning a bachelor’s at the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s at Oxford University; and a doctorate at Harvard University—Uy identifies as a member of the BGLTQ community and a person of color who’s committed to a more socially just world. He is an avid coxswain, runner and peony farmer.


Our gratitude to Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology Austin Okigbo who served as interim director of the American Music Research Center this past academic year.