Meet the Musicology PhD students at CU Boulder:
Zane Cupec is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology. He is currently working on his dissertation “Transnational Performance of Cubanidad: Santería Repertoire in the Lives of Four Cuban Musicians.” His areas of specialty include Cuban folk and popular musical practices with interests in new diaspora theory, transnationalism, religious studies, and cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba. His digital project, “ African Diasporic Religious Practice: A Listening Journey of Yoruba & Fon Heritage Abroad,” is to be published by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In addition to teaching appointments in Continuing Education at CU Boulder and at Arapahoe Community College, he has presented research at the Southwest Chapter of the Society of Ethnomusicology, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the College Music Society conferences, and at the Digital Humanities and Digital World Symposium.
He recently served as student representative for the College of Music Ally Advocacy & Diversity Committee curriculum task force. As founder and previous President of the Graduate Musicology Society, he has led several artist residencies advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equity through the performing arts. Under his leadership, the organization has hosted Grammy-award winning Haitian American artist Leyla McCalla in collaboration with Jayme Stone, New York-based Afro Cuban group Ashedi with Melvis Santa and Román Díaz, and renowned Cuban vocalist Lázaro “El Maestro” Galarraga.
To complement his research, he is an active performer in both popular and African-Cuban religious contexts. He has toured nationally with Paa Kow and His Afro Fusion Orchestra, and internationally with the Thompson Center Jazz Program in Costa Rica. His performance on trombonist Dr. Jose Leon’s album Journey received the 2018 Global Music Award for Outstanding Achievement for works by Latin American composers. He is an active student of African-Cuban Santería song and drumming and has performed on consecrated bàtá drums for religious ceremony in Havana and Denver.
When not musicking and writing, Zane loves the outdoors and always looks forward to new adventures with his wife!
Jameson Foster is a first-year Ethnomusicology PhD student at CU Boulder. He earned his BA in Music from Keene State College in New Hampshire and his MM in Musicology from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore where he wrote his thesis I Folkton: Edvard Grieg‘s Development as a Norwegianist Composer and His Influence in Belle Époque Paris. In the years between his degrees, he worked as a butcher at the local food co-op and as a farm educator at Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH. He is currently teaching the recitation sections for the Nordic Studies department’s classes on the Vikings and Norse Mythology.
Jameson’s research interests as an ethnomusicologist lie in the relationship between music and politics throughout modern Norwegian history, as well as the dynamics of race and identity in Appalachian roots music. As a double bassist, he is experienced in jazz combo, Bluegrass, and String Band settings, and is currently learning the ropes of Irish music performance on the mandolin. As a guitarist, he is well-versed in the Piedmont/Country Blues fingerstyle tradition of the Appalachians. When not playing music, you can find him fishing, hiking, or birdwatching with his wife Alyssa.
Ubochi Igbokwe is a first-year doctoral student in Ethnomusicology who holds Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees in vocal music performance from the University of Uyo, Nigeria. Ubochi’s research interests are in the areas of performance of African and Western repertory, African indigenous music, dance, spirit-manifest theatre, rituals, gender and sexuality, mythology, folklore, ethnomathematics in relation to indigenous musical arts, and religious education.
Her article titled “The Significance of Ìrìráábú Musical Satire in the Ékpè Dance Festival Amongst the Obohia-Ndoki People of Nigeria” was published in the 2018 edition of the Yearbook for Traditional Music. She has also coauthored three articles which were published in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 editions of the Journal of Nigerian Music Education (JONMED), and Journal of Association of Nigerian Musicologists (JANIM). The articles are “Nigerian Music Education: Emerging Issues in Career Placement” focusing on effects of functional music education on career opportunities in Nigeria; “Ìtú Ōtítí: Music and Gender in the Second Funeral Rites in Ndoki” which examines the Ìtú ōtítí ritual cum performance which secures a deceased mother/woman a smooth passage into ancestry. It is also a ritual that earns the performer (deceased woman’s first daughter or oldest surviving daughter) respect in the community, and attracts blessings from ancestors, spirit of deceased mother, deceased mother’s relations, and friends; the third article titled “Music and Mathematics: Number Allegory in Ndoki Musical Arts” examines the inevitability and cosmological underpinning of numbers in Ndoki musical arts.
Karl Isaac Johnson, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, received the Bachelor of Arts-Fellow in Philosophy and Religion (summa cum laude) from Samford University, with a minor in organ, and the Master of Arts in Religion from Yale University Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music, with a concentration in Liturgical Studies while also studying organ and choral conducting. Before coming to CU, he enjoyed a successful career as a Catholic church musician, serving as music director, organist, choral conductor, tenor, and composer in churches and scholae in Connecticut, Alabama, and Tennessee, and has performed organ recitals in churches and cathedrals across the United States and Canada.
His primary research interest at C.U. will be on Gregorian Chant and Catholic liturgical music. His research lies at the intersection of both historical and ethnomusicology, as well as religious studies, liturgical studies, and religious art & architecture. He hopes to conduct historical research projects of liturgical music in colonial New Spain and New France, specifically the areas of modern-day New Mexico and the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake, Quebec, and to conduct ethnographic research in the same areas, as well as of radical traditionalist Catholic groups and of the wild fanbases of Dave Matthews Band and Phish. He has been published in Agora, Culture and Religion, and Glossolalia, and has presented numerous college lectures and at academic conferences.
Originally from Penang, Malaysia, and recently from Houston, TX, Jessica Quah is a first-year PhD student in the musicology department. She holds a BA in piano performance and English, and a MM in musicology from Rice University. Her research interests include music and colonialism, national identity, mysticism and music, linguistics, and popular music. When not studying or writing, Jessica still loves practicing the piano, spending time on the phone with her family, and reading scifi/fantasy anthologies.
Megan Quilliam is working toward a PhD in Ethnomusicology with an emphasis in South African music. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Megan completed her undergraduate work in Australia at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, receiving a Bachelor of Music (musicology) with honors. While there, Megan co-founded and co-edited the Undergraduate Journal of Musicology, the Sydney Conservatorium’s first student-run journal. Currently in her third her, her research interests at Boulder center on the blending of art music customs with the traditional music of South Africa, as well as the musical activities of South African composers living abroad. She has presented research at conferences in Oregon and Colorado and recently received the 2015 Joann Kealiinohomuku Prize for Outstanding Student Paper at the regional SEM conference. She spent the summer of 2015 as a FLAS Fellow learning to speak isiZulu at the University of Florida.
Megan enjoys teaching beginner’s lessons in piano, Celtic harp and voice. As a singer and instrumentalist she has performed with Regis University’s Collegium Musicum and the Sydney Conservatorium Choir, recordings of which were broadcast live in Australia. She is currently a member of the University of Colorado Boulder’s World Vocal Ensemble, a group that has been able to perform with two legends of South African music: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Johnny Clegg Band. When she is not reading, performing or writing about music, Megan looks forward to travel of any kind, watching Springbok rugby and playing with her dog, Coda!
Alexandra Siso is a PhD candidate in the Musicology department. Her research interests lie in the sacred music of the Elizabethan era, musical narrative, and the intersection between religion, music, and politics in the Early Modern era. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in her native country, Venezuela, from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and then completed a program certificate in Musicology and Protection of Historical Heritage at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. Since she entered the program, Alexandra has presented at regional conferences of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and the American Musicological Society (AMS). She was the regional Student Representative for AMS in the years 2017-2018.
In 2019 Alexandra has awarded the Ogilvy Travel Fellowship from the Center for British and Irish Studies to complete her dissertation research on Elizabethan sacred music, “Sacred Stage: The Music of the early Elizabethan Chapel Royal and the Politics of Ceremonies.”
Alexandra has taught several classes offered by the Musicology department, the Humanities program, and the Continuing Education program at CU Boulder. Currently, she is the Graduate Assistant for the American Music Research Center.
Brandon Stover is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology. He holds a BM in Music Education from Millikin University and an MA in Ethnomusicology from Goldsmiths, University of London. Before coming to Colorado, he was a middle school music (band/choir) and social science teacher for nine years in Illinois. He has presented at the Illinois Music Education Association Conference.
His research areas focus on Japanese music and cultural borrowing in music making as well as gender issues with Shakuhachi performance and practice. His research dives into the motivation to perform music of other cultures and how both the performer and culture barrer react, placing a focus on female practitioners and obstacles they must overcome. Other research interest areas include music’s ability to preserve language specifically looking at how music can help language preservation.
Brandon is an active performer in the University of Colorado Japanese Music Ensemble and is an active member of the Highlands Lutheran Church Handbell Choir. He plays the shakuhachi and the saxophone as well as being proficient in almost all band instruments at a middle school level (he only needed to be slightly better than his students for them to awe and wonder at his skill!)
In his free time, Brandon enjoys playing board games and traveling with his wife, Emily.
Brandon Swing is a PhD pre-candidate in ethnomusicology. He holds a BM in Piano Performance from Union University and a MM in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy from the University of Memphis. Brandon’s research interests concern video game music, video game phenomenology, and aesthetics of nostalgia and obsolescence.
Brandon remains active as a church pianist. When he’s not studying, he enjoys playing old Japanese computer games, making piano arrangements of video game music, and going on walks with his wife Sarah and their dog Zuri.
Lydia Wagenknecht is a PhD pre-candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests include Chilean musical activism, ecotourism, and vocality, and she has presented her work at national and regional conferences. She received the Joann W. Kealiinohomoku Award for Excellence at the Rocky Mountain Music Scholars’ Conference in 2020.
At CU Boulder, Wagenknecht is a 2021-2022 Engaged Arts and Humanities Scholar, and she serves as president of the Graduate Musicology Society. She is also a Research Assistant at the American Music Research Center. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Wagenknecht served as a Lead Graduate Instructor for the College of Music, leading and organizing professional development opportunities for graduate students in teaching roles.
An Honors Program alumna, Wagenknecht graduated magna cum laude from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2017 with a B.A. in Wide-Range Music Education (Choral/General Music). She has taught students from early childhood through adults in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Lusaka, Zambia.
In her free time, Wagenknecht serves as a church musician, trains for ultramarathons, and works on her mediocre rock climbing skills with her husband, Austin.
Charles Wofford is a Ph.D. student in historical musicology and critical theory. He received his B.A. in Music from Northern Arizona University in 2012, where he studied classical guitar under Tom Sheeley, a student of Manuel Lopez Ramos and Patrick Reed. Charles' current research addresses improvisation in the music of Led Zeppelin. Other research interests include the intersections of music and the social fabric, the history of radical thought, the Enlightenment, and the nostalgic narratives around "classic rock." Some of his favorite music includes Manuel M. Ponce's Concierto del Sur for guitar and orchestra, Joaquin Rodrigo's Invocación y Danza for solo guitar, and the Sufi devotional music (Qawwali) of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Charles recently presented on the topic of improvisation in Led Zeppelin at the Rocky Mountain Music Scholars Conference in April 2021, and will present on the topic of Zeppelin's late style at the American Musicological Society's national conference November 2021.
He maintains an active practice in both classical and improvisational-electric guitar. Charles also spent the first five months of 2013 studying Hebrew on a kibbutz in northern Israel before joining his mother on a culinary odyssey across Europe that would have made Guy Fieri blush.
Following the 2016 presidential election, Charles led local student opposition to an "Alt-Right" presence on CU Boulder campus. In this activist capacity he was interviewed on Colorado Public Radio, the Guardian, and others. Charles also curates the Graduate Musicology Society's YouTube channel, and works as the Assistant to the Director of the American Music Research Center.