Connecting you with the University of Missouri’s innovative research and creative activity


Labor of Love

An interview with Peter Miyamoto, Professor of Music

Peter Miyamoto characterizes his career as a classical concert pianist as "moonlighting." Although modest, this MU professor of Music has played extensively throughout the United States and the world and is widely renowned for his solo work. Performing classical music becomes by necessity a re-creative art, Miyamoto explains. Making "a bunch of black dots on the page" come to life isn’t easy.

Bringing Music to Life

An interview with Leslie Perna, Associate Professor, School of Music

Between teaching viola individually and in groups, directing the Missouri String Project, and playing professionally with several internationally renowned chamber music groups, music professor Leslie Perna keeps very busy. Yet you have the distinct impression in listening to her talk that all of her work is thoroughly enjoyable.

Writing Music that Speaks to the Human Spirit

An interview with Thomas McKenney, Professor, Composition and Music Theory

“There’s nothing quite like the high of hearing one of your own pieces played,” MU Professor of Music W. Thomas McKenney admits, “but to me the most important thing is the active, creative process itself.” Having internalized his teacher’s advice that music must be a balance of emotion and intellect, and that if you have too much of either one “things get out of whack,” McKenney focuses on both levels. His goal is to assure that “structurally and formally, a piece is going to work.”

“Lovely to the Ears”

An interview with Eva Szekely , Professor, School of Music

Fifth-year senior Mitchell Drury stands upright with his violin resting on his shoulder. He zeroes in on a sheet of music and begins playing the notes, carefully gliding his bow across the violin’s strings. His teacher, MU violin and chamber music professor Eva Szekely, hums to her student’s rhythmic tranquility. “The note before is the one you want to emphasize. Sustain without rushing,” Szekely instructs her intrepid pupil. “That’s beautiful.” Drury plays a work by renowned nineteenth-century violinist/composer Niccolò Paganini, one of Szekely’s favorite composers.

All Things Jazz

An interview with Arthur White, Assistant Professor, School of Music

From blues and punk to rock and roll, Arthur White has at one point in his life played in nearly every kind of band, but now he believes he has finally found “the perfect gig.” As the director of MU’s Jazz Performance Studies program and Assistant Professor in the School of Music, White now handles all things jazz at MU.

The Fifth Chair

An interview with Esterhàzy Quartet, Faculty Ensembles in Residence, School of Music

A person attending a string quartet expects to see four chairs—two for the violins, one each for the viola and cello. According to the Esterhàzy Quartet, though, there is also a fifth chair. This chair, an invisible but felt presence, is called into being by the synergy of the sounds of four instruments and the efforts of four musicians whose skill, dedication, and connectedness make the music possible. The Esterhàzy Quartet, the University of Missouri’s String Quartet-In-Residence brings this “composite voice” alive in their performing and teaching on the Mizzou campus and across the globe.

“Music Can Take Us There”: Cultural Insights from an Ethnomusicologist

An interview with Stephanie Shonekan, Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology, Black Studies

Born in Equatorial Guinea, Dr. Stephanie Shonekan is an ethnomusicologist who grew up during the height of funk music and television shows like Soul Train and the Beverly Hillbillies. Living in Nigeria during times of dramatic change, Dr. Shonekan learned about the world through music. As a young girl she heard many types of music on the radio and developed a deep interest in music and the cultures that create it, including Afrobeat, American country and black soul among others. Now an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Black Studies, Dr. Shonekan has built a career in academia that combines her interest in culture with her love of music, studying identity and what can be learned through experiencing music and learning about the lives that create it. Today, her office is decorated with iconic black musicians including Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong, and Bob Marley – voices that echo across time, space and genre. While it can be difficult to come to an understanding of “the heart” of a culture, “music,” Dr. Shonekan says, “can take us there.”

A Passion for Improving Percussion Pedagogy

An interview with Julia Gaines, Director, School of Music

Julia Gaines wanted to play drums in her junior high school band. She sat in the classroom on the first day of band, listening to the director call roll; when he read a student’s name, the student would call back the instrument he or she wanted to play. By the time he called for Julia, not one girl had called back “percussion!” So, lackluster, she responded “clarinet.” Julia resigned herself — her dad had suggested clarinet, and it was a more “girly” instrument, she thought. But then roll call reached the T’s, and a girl named Karen Thompson proudly told the class she wanted to play drums. Hearing that another girl was interested, Julia shot up her hand: “Oh, oh, oh, I want to play percussion, too!”

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