As an associate faculty member of the Graduate Program in Music at York, I teach in the research methods and theoretical perspectives courses, supervise directed readings, and serve on thesis and dissertation committees.
Research interests include jazz, blues and popular music analysis and history and problems in the philosophy and aesthetics of music as they relate to recorded music.
I have been studying the music of Jimi Hendrix in the context of composition, performance, and production of popular music through(1) an examination of improvised variations and how they contribute towards the shaping of a piece, demonstrated through a tabulation and analysis of over 60 performances by Hendrix of his slow blues "Red House"; (2) thinking about the sound of the electric guitar through an analysis of the components that make up Hendrix's characteristic sound, in particular as exemplified in "Machine Gun"; (3) considering aspects of blues tonality through a study of Hendrix's use of the dominant seventh sharp ninth chord; (4) speculating on the nature of the musical work in the context of recorded music, facilitated through an examination of about 80 cover versions of "Purple Haze."
A second area of investigation is blues historiography. What we think of as the history of the blues is fraught with inconsistencies and logical fallacies, a result of general disagreement and confusion about the actual subject matter, its relation to other kinds of music, and a misunderstanding of the causal relations that contribute towards the development of a musical style. We can couch the musical evidence in peripherally related socio-economic evidence but the connections we need to establish in order to construct a coherent narrative can only go so far; there is simply too much evidence missing and too little agreement as to what the actual subject matter is. And this really is a problem endemic to the writing of a history of North American vernacular music in general, where marketing labels, media representations, and socio-economic barriers have obfuscated whatever historical narratives there might be.
Professor Bowman has pioneered popular music studies at York at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He regularly authors or advises on major documentary and compact disc reissue projects for record companies in Europe and North America and is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications.
Dr. Canton is a choral and orchestral conductor, vocal coach and early music specialist. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Ottawa Bach Choir and has also taught at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, McGill University and the University of Illinois. She has recorded for CBC Radio and Television and Radio-Canada, and been the guest conductor of numerous ensembles in Canada and the United States.
Dr. Chambers is a conductor, cellist and early music specialist. Prior to his appointment at York University, Professor Chambers was the Director of Orchestral Activities and Cello/Bass Instructor for nine years at Eastern Kentucky University. He has authored several articles for the American String Teachers Journal and is a contributor to the 2001 New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He is also very active as a clinician and adjudicator
Michael Coghlan is a composer, pianist,and digital instrumentalist who works in a wide variety of styles. His research interests include music and computers, jazz and popular music structures, tuning systems, Schenkerian analysis, and recording/production theory and practice. He has numerous internationally distributed publications (Thompson, Leslie, Federick Harris, Warner, Alfred) and has received a large number of commissions, recordings, performances, and broadcasts.
At York University, he served for eight years as Chair of the Department of Music and is currently engaged in his second term as Director of the Graduate Program in Music.
Professor de Val is a musicologist and pianist whose research interests include Scots Gaelic song, the first English folk revival, pianos and pianism, and Haydn reception in England. Her book, In Search of Song: The Life and Times of Lucy Broadwood, was published last summer by Ashgate, and her present research engages with Scots Gaelic song and collectors in the early 20th century. She has also published on Percy Grainger and Muzio Clementi, while more recent articles include work on the pianist Fanny Davies and her circle. She is also interested in Dance history, particularly social dance, and plays regularly for English country dances in Toronto with her group Playford's Pleasure. She is a member of the Dalcroze Society of Canada.
Professor Elmes is a jazz percussionist, composer and bandleader. A mainstay of the Canadian jazz scene since the early 1980's, his work is documented on over sixty CD recordings. He has toured internationally with his own quintet and co-led groups such as Time Warp and jazz trio D.E.W. East. As a side-musician, he has performed or recorded with a who’s who of the jazz world, including Charlie Haden, Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Krall, Tommy Flanagan, John Abercrombie, Joe Henderson, Ray Bryant, to name only a few.
Prof. Henderson is a jazz composer/arranger/acoustic bassist and bandleader. Over sixty of his compositions appear on recordings by a number of groups. He is co-leader of the group Time Warp and leader of the
Al Henderson Quintet. As a side-musician, he has performed with many acclaimed jazz artists including Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Sonny Fortune, Jane Bunnett, Diana Krall, Slim Gaillard and Jimmy Knepper.
Sherry Johnson is a step dancer, fiddler, choreographer, educator and researcher. She is interested in the interrelationships between music and dance in a wide variety of contexts, as well as gender in performance and issues of globalization and technology in relation to vernacular music and dance. She is currently working on a SSHRC-funded project that examines the links between step dancing in various regions in Canada with its antecedents in Britain and Ireland. Her writing has been published in the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music, American Anthropologist,Ethnologies, Ethnomusicology, and the British Journal of Music Education.
Professor Johnson recently produced Bellows and Bows: Historic Recordings of Traditional Fiddle and Accordion Music Across Canada, a double CD compilation of distinguished fiddlers and accordion players from a wide variety of ethnocultural communities across Canada. The accompanying 156-page book includes overviews of the social and historical contexts for the music in different regions, detailed maps, tune notes, musician biographies, and archival photographs.
Dr. Johnson is an active member of numerous scholarly societies that support her research in ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology, including the Society for Ethnomusicology, International Council for Traditional Music, and the Study Group for Ethnochoreology. She is a past-president of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music.
Professor Johnson joined the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University in 2007. Previously she taught courses in music, dance, music education and anthropology at York, University of Toronto, Ryerson University and Nipissing University.
Professor Martin has extensive credits as a conductor, organist and harpsichordist. She is particularly active as a choral conductor but also regularly conducts works with full orchestra. She is a member of the Recordare Early Music Ensemble.
Professor Quilico is a pianist, artist and author. She has performed with the Toronto Symphony, Taiwan Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, the National Arts Orchestra, etc. Her seventeen CDs include solo, chamber and orchestral works and she has worked with leading composers such as Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti and Luis de Pablo. Among numerous awards, she was the recipient of a Canada Council doctoral fellowship and French Goverment Grant for doctoral studies at the Sorbonne, Paris, France. She has premiered numerous new works by Canadian composers.
Professor Rahn’s teaching and research interests span a wide range of topics in music theory, musicology, ethnomusicology and music cognition. His publications include numerous articles and two books: A Family Heritage: The Story and Songs of LaRena Clark, co-authored with Edith Fowke (University of Calgary Press 1994) and A Theory for All Music: Problems and Solutions in the Analysis of Non-Western Forms (University of Toronto Press, 1983). A former editor of the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music, Dr. Rahn currently serves on the Editorial Board of Analytical Approaches to World Music and as Contributing Editor to The Open Space Magazine.
Professor Robbin is a mezzo‑soprano with an international performing and recording career in oratorio, opera and recital repertoire. An award winner of three international voice competitions, she has also won a Juno award, a Grand Prix du Disque, a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Record of the Year. She is also very active as an adjudicator and clinician.
Professor Sokol is a pianist and specialist in contemporary improvisation. He has performed as a soloist, in chamber groups, and has toured Europe, North America and Japan. He is a founding member of Toronto's Music Gallery and the CCMC (Canadian Contemporary Music Collective). He was awarded the 2002 OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations) Teaching Award, presented to professors who inspire and inform through their teaching, course development and research.
William Thomas is the Chair of the Department of Music and conductor of the York University Wind Symphony. A former Drum Corps International adjudicator, he has arranged music for more than 40 marching bands and drum & bugle corps in Canada and the US. He has served on the board of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and is much in demand as an adjudicator and clinician.
Prior to joining York University’s Department of Music, Professor Thomas taught for more than two decades with the York Region District School Board, principally as head of the music department at Markham District High School. His performing groups have won many accolades and awards including the 1999 Jazz Report Award for High School Program of the Year. He was awarded an Ontario Band Association award for conducting excellence in 2008.
A practicing guitarist, Professor Vander Woude is currently researching the improvisational practices of jazz guitar players in the immediate post-World War II era. Professor Vander Woude has taught courses on European Art Music and on Popular Music at York University, the University of Guelph, and at the
University of Waterloo.
Professor Viswanathan is a jazz woodwind performer and vocalist who has appeared on stage with acclaimed jazz artists such as Jim McNeely and Billy Hart, and in venues like the Lincoln Center and the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. His scholarly research interests include the music of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson and his composition is informed by Brasilian and Indian musical styles.
Jazz musician and composer Ron Westray is best known for his work as lead trombonist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis and his collaborations with Wycliffe Gordon. He is a standing member of the Mingus Big Band and has appeared on BET and Live from Lincoln Centre. He joined York University's Music Department in 2009 as the Oscar Peterson Chair In Jazz Performance, a position endowed by the Government of Ontario to commemorate legendary Canadian jazz artist Oscar Peterson.
Louise Wrazen is an ethnomusicologist with a background in musicology and education. Her research concerns music and dance in transnational contexts and global networks; music and gender; music, place and memory — with a focus on the Tatra mountain region of southern Poland. New research projects include music and (dis)ability; discourses of musical diversity in Toronto; humour and music of the Tatras in transitions to a new Europe. She is currently working on a monograph on ethnographic and narrative interventions in music life stories.
She has co–edited the volume Performing Gender, Place, and Emotion (University of Rochester Press, 2013). Her articles have appeared in the journals Ethnomusicology, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Intersections, The Anthropology of East Europe Review, Canadian Journal for Traditional Music (now MUSICultures), and Asian Music, and she has contributed to the edited volume Women Singers in Global Contexts and The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, among others.
Active with international and national scholarly music societies (including the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), the International Council for Traditional Music, the Canadian Society for Traditional Music), she has chaired the SEM 21st Century Fellowship committee, which recognizes exceptional dissertation fieldwork and is currently a member of the SEM Council. In addition to previous teaching at Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, and the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU), she also has taught in Toronto’s public school system and been involved in programming for children with special needs. Trained in classical piano, she has performed Balkan and Polish Tatra music with Toronto–based groups.