Skip to main content

October 2016 UC Berkeley Music Newsletter

Letter from the Chair

photo of cindy cox

Cindy Cox, Department of Music Chair

Come and join the Music Department community this fall! Our noon concert series has kicked off  with an eclectic mix of student works, and highlights a Takacs Quartet event as part of their “intimate Beethoven” residency with Cal Performances on October 14.

In our evening/weekend series, we feature our wonderful resident student ensembles including the UC, Chamber, and Gospel Choruses, the Wind Ensemble, Baroque Ensemble, Eco Ensemble, Berkeley Nu Jazz Collective, Javanese and Balinese Gamelan, and at the end of the season the UC Symphony and Chorus in Beethoven’s ninth.

Our musical activities are greatly assisted by donations to the department, and we welcome your contributions! But whether you can give or not, I warmly welcome you to our season and hope that you will join us frequently throughout the semester.

Fall 2016 Events 


63 Years of Noon Concerts: Jeanne Bamberger Performed at the Inaugural Noon Concert in 1953. Over 60 Years Later Bamberger and the Noon Concert Series are Going Strong at UC Berkeley

On February 26, 1953 at the request of her advisor Roger Sessions, Jeanne Bamberger (then Shaprio) returned to her alma mater UC Berkeley to perform at a special Music Department event. Sessions and other faculty members wanted to provide the campus and community with an opportunity to gather weekly and enjoy student performances free of charge. Happy to take a break from her teaching position at UCLA Bamberger ventured north to Berkeley and performed Schubert’s “Three Piano Pieces” (1828) to an excited crowd in 155 Dwinelle Hall. Little did Bamberger, Sessions, and the rest of the attendees that day realize that this mid-day performance would grow into the Noon Concert series; a firmly rooted institution within the Music Department and across campus.

“I realized I was the first performer at the inaugural noon concert, but as far as I knew I would be the last,” comments Bamberger with a smile.

Now wrapping up its 63rd season, the Noon Concert Series continues with 15 free concerts scheduled for fall semester 2016. Events of note include Sooyeon Lyuh Septemeber 14th performance of works composed for the Korean haegeum (including compositions by Music Chair Cindy Cox), Candace Johnson performing a program of African American composers called “The Color of Music” on Septemeber 28th,  and a Takacs Quartet event as part of their “intimate Beethoven” residency with Cal Performances October 14th.

Meanwhile over 60 years Bamberger cemented her lifelong commitment to scholarship and teaching  music. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1951 with her M.A. in Music, Bamberger held positions at USC and University of Chicago, before spending 30 years on the faculty at MIT. Following her retirement in 2002, Bamberger remained committed to the study of music and its cognitive impact. Along with her role as Professor Emerita at MIT she currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Music Department at UC Berkeley. For the seventh consecutive  year she’s teaching Music 109 – Music Cognition: The Mind Behind the Musical Ear.

Jeanne Bamberger profile 

Emily Zazulia, Medieval and Renaissance Music Scholar Joins Music Department

Emily Zazulia

Emily Zazulia

The UC Berkeley Department of Music is pleased to welcome Emily Zazulia as an Assistant Professor beginning fall 2016. Zazulia’s research focuses on the coalescence of musical style, complex notation, and intellectual history during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

“I could not be more excited to join such a vibrant, engaged, and welcoming community. Berkeley has so many wonderful resources—especially the brilliant students and my new colleagues” says Zazulia.  “As a medievalist I am also keen to explore the fantastic treasures lurking up in Case X” (a restricted area of the Music library).

Zazulia earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania where she was Dean’s Scholar and a Mellon graduate research fellow with the Penn Humanities Forum. Her dissertation “Verbal Canons and Notational Complexity in Fifteenth-Century Music,” was supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and an Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Fellowship. Prior to Joining UC Berkeley, she held teaching posts at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College.

Further, Zazulia and her family are excited about their move west. “We look forward to exploring the Bay Area,” remarks Zazulia “especially the natural beauty it is known for, and of course getting to know many of you!”

Emily Zazulia profile

5 questions: Music Graduate Student Kirsten Paige

Kirsten Paige is a UC Berkeley Department of Music graduate student who studies Music History and Literature. We asked her a few questions about her research and musical interests.

Kirsten S. Paige photo

Kirsten S. Paige

First things first: how did you get started in music?
I got started in music through performance: my parents encouraged me to start playing the violin when I was 5 or 6 years old.  Even though I played for a few years, I didn’t enjoy it and I switched to the double bass when I was 10 or 11.  I picked up double bass technique fairly quickly and, during the summers, played jazz in addition to orchestral repertoire.  When I was 12, I auditioned for the pre-college programs at Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes College because I wanted to progress further in my playing.  After being admitted (I ended up at Juilliard), I started listening to recordings of the pieces I was learning for studio class and orchestra (I didn’t really know any of the repertoire I was being assigned before I began studying there).  I learned a lot of repertoire at that time (and more during the summers, which I always spent playing in the bass workshop and orchestra at Tanglewood).  I started to really love playing this repertoire and listening to it whenever I could.  At that point, I became interested not just in performing, but in learning a little bit about who the composers were who wrote the repertoire I was being assigned and why they composed as they did.

Your recent work has focused on nineteenth-century German music. How did you end up studying this specific period and style?
I became interested in opera when I was a student at Juilliard.  There were no opportunities to play in opera orchestras at Juilliard (after Juilliard, I did play Carmen at Banff and La Traviata in a workshop at the New York City Opera), but I became interested in it through my second teacher at Juilliard, who was the principal bassist at the Metropolitan Opera at the time (my first teacher, Homer Mensch, passed away in 2006).  At first, I went to the Met on a regular basis because I wanted to hear my teacher play, but soon I became interested in attending the opera for its own sake and tried to hear as many different operas as I could.  I started reading a little bit about opera in high school and, when I went to the University of Chicago with the intention of majoring in music, I realized during my orientation week that Philip Gossett, an important scholar of Italian opera, was on faculty there (I found his book in the campus bookstore when I went to buy my textbooks).  I met him before classes had even begun and developed a relationship with him early; he ended up advising my senior thesis.

I became interested in German opera when I was a high school student attending the Met.  I tried to attend every opera each season if I could, and Wagner’s Das Rheingold was my favorite towards the end of high school.  Even though I wrote my senior thesis at Chicago on Verdi, I was interested in learning more about Wagner and, after finishing my thesis, ended up writing another long paper on Wagner with two other Chicago professors.  I was fascinated by Wagner after starting to learn about him in a more serious way—His artistic practices (from his prose to his music to his innovations in theater technologies) always seemed to me to hold such potential for discovery and possibility for far-reaching, interdisciplinary scholarship.

You’re also a serious practicing musician (bassist). How does this influence your scholarly work, or is it vice versa?
I’ve talked already about how my background in performance inspired my initial interest in music history, but I think that the only scholarly work I’ve done on the double bass was my undergraduate senior thesis, which was, in part, about Verdi’s professional relationship with virtuoso bassist Giovanni Bottesini.  At this point, I unfortunately don’t perform too much and I think my scholarship has really departed from my past performance activities.  That said, I’m permanently indebted to my time at Juilliard and, of course, to my parents for encouraging me to play and facilitating my years at Juilliard.

Previously you studied at Cambridge and University of Chicago. What lead you to UC Berkeley?
When I was at Chicago, I became interested in coming to Berkeley for graduate school.  One of my first classes at Chicago was taught by a Berkeley Music Department graduate (Roger Moseley) and I was so impressed by Roger that I assumed Berkeley must be the place to be for musicologists!  After looking into the department, I came to realize just how strong the department is in the fields that interest me most and felt that it would be the ideal place to pursue a Ph.D.  Berkeley was my first choice in graduate programs when I applied.  I feel privileged on a daily basis to be here and to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Berkeley’s outstanding faculty and graduate students.

Long term goals?  What’s next after Cal?
At the moment, I am busy writing the third chapter of my dissertation, which situates Wagner’s artistic theories and practices within nineteenth-century environmental, climatological, and anthropogenic thought.  I’m fortunate this year to be a fellow at Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities, which is providing a wonderful, vibrant group of scholars from across Berkeley with whom I can engage and interact.  The dissertation is my primary focus right now, but I do plan on applying for academic jobs and postdoctoral fellowships next year and hope to remain in academia after completing the Ph.D.

Kirsten Page profile


-written and edited by Alex Coughlin, UC Berkeley Department of Music