Profiles of our Graduate Students

Alia Abdeen (MA program) graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree with a concentration as a specialist in women and gender studies, a health and disease major, and a French studies minor. She is interested in researching the labour appropriation of Egyptian music and dance as well as the repurposing of racial oppression in African-American bluegrass and folk music to create modern country music. She is also interested in researching African identity in music and how it is omitted from the classification of North African genres of music, as well as the Caribbean diaspora’s influence on the evolution of Toronto’s quotidian sound. Her body of work in her educational journey so far includes deconstructing the manifestation of female desire and its commodification and consumption in capital driven music markets, analyzing black femininity and sexuality within musical performance on stage and in music videos, and interpreting the erotic demonstrations of non-heteronormative women in male-dominated music genres. She performs as a singer, pianist, and guitarist while songwriting and producing with artists in her local community. Concurrently, along with her scholarly work and her transnational research interests, she focuses mainly on creating pop, RnB, and dance music with jazz, funk, and soul influence and aspires to incorporate as much of her academic endeavours as possible into her creative work. She pursues acting and writing opportunities as well to hone her skills in rhetoric and the spoken word.  

Andrew Janzen (PhD program) is originally from Western Canada and grew up in Malaysia. In 2006 he and his wife moved to Brazil, where he lived almost ten years, working as a teacher and involved in applied ethnomusicology projects. He has taught cultural anthropology, facilitated artistic projects, and recorded musicians from numerous Indigenous groups. In 2018 he completed an M.A. in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. He is co-author of the chapter “‘God with Me Speaking’: Envisioning the Study of Indigenous Christian Song in Brazil” in the forthcoming volume Christian Sacred Music in the Americas (2021). His current research focuses on Indigenous music-making in West-Central Brazil. Drawing on theology, religious studies, anthropology and critical Indigenous studies, he explores the unexpected articulations of Christian and Indigenous identities, especially as expressed through Indigenous song and Christian spirituality. His research interests include collaborative ethnography, ethnomusicology of Indigenous Christianity, and the changing politics of Indigeneity and representation in Brazil. When not studying, Andrew enjoys discussing ethnomusicology with his wife (who first introduced him to the discipline), as well as musicking with his family, and getting outdoors for a hike or canoe trip with their two children.

Angela Park (MA program)  is a vocalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and music, with a minor in sociology, from the University of Alberta. Her main research topic focuses on the music and everyday life of displaced North Korean refugees within different diasporas in East Asia and North America. She is also interested in exploring connections between music and sports, and does active fieldwork on the sport of dodgeball at the University of Alberta residence, Lister Centre. Her interests outside of school include reading literary fiction, playing competitive dodgeball, singing in choirs, and exploring the city.

Bernice Cheung (PhD program) was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Integrated Studies and a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of Calgary. Her research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and her interests include the Hong Kong and Chinese diasporas, popular music, fandom, everyday life, and sound studies. She has presented her research to the Hong Kong Studies Association, Society for Hong Kong Studies, Oxford Hong Kong Forum, and various graduate music student societies.  

Brad DeMatteo (PhD program) is researching practices of voice spanning silence, speech, chant, and song among Cambodians and Cambodian Americans in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts––home to the second-largest Cambodian (Khmer) society outside of Cambodia. In this work, he explores how constantly variating voices are a means of claiming Cambodian settlement, community, and selfhood now after 40-years since Cambodians first came to the United States as refugees. Brad is involved in the Lowell Cambodian community as a volunteer for the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA) and is dedicated to urban community-engaged research methods. Following along these lines, he is a 2023 School of Cities Graduate Fellow. The foundations of his outlook in ethnomusicology and beyond it are steeped in the philosophy of his mentor, drummer and scientist, the late Milford Graves. 

Christopher Hull (PhD program) is a percussionist and drummer from Kitchener, Ontario.  He earned his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Master of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a certificate from the Indonesia Arts Institute in Denpasar, Bali, where he studied for a year as a recipient of the Darmasiswa Cultural Scholarship.  He aims to explore notions of lineage, tradition, authenticity, and improvisation in Balinese gender wayang. As an orchestral percussionist, Christopher has frequently worked with orchestras across Southern Ontario.  Besides orchestral playing, he enjoys performing both as a chamber musician and soloist, appearing with groups such as Ensemble 64.8 and Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan in festivals such as Northern Exposure, Open Ears, International Gamelan Festival Munich, and Young Artists Niagara.  During his time in Bali, Christopher gave over 100 performances as a member of several groups (sanggar): Kebo Iwa, Sekar Swara Kanti, Semarandana Munggu, Narwastu, Tawaketa, and Mekar Bhuana.  With these and other groups, he was able to study a variety of styles of music including gong kebyarselondingsemara pagulingan, and angklung.  His main aptitude was for gender wayang, which he studied privately with maestros I Nyoman Nuka (Munggu, Badung), I Wayan Sarga (Sukawati, Gianyar), and I Komang Astita (Denpasar).  He became primarily known in Bali for his gender talent and was frequently invited to perform for religious ceremonies and corporate engagements alike, even appearing on the program “Bali Now” on Bali TV in February of 2019.

Dennis William Lee (PhD program) is researching a SSHRC-funded doctoral project on Indonesian Death Metal, examining the subculture’s uneven integration into mainstream Indonesian political, economic, and religious life. As a member of the Kensington Market Research Project, a long-term study of the Toronto neighbourhood, he focuses on issues of musical subcultures, communities, and affordability in the face of gentrification. Also a multi-instrumentalist and composer, Dennis has worked in metal, jazz, punk, reggae, hip-hop, and experimental music, recording several albums and touring internationally.

Hadi Milanloo (PhD) is writing a dissertation about the music and lives of female instrumentalists who perform Iranian classical music in Tehran to examine the intersections of music, gender, and resistance/resilience in Iran. He works towards an ethnomusicological approach that accounts for both aesthetic contributions and social activism of Iranian female musicians. Before joining the University of Toronto, Hadi completed his MA studies at Memorial University, where his Major Research Project focused on the musical life stories of eight Iranian émigré women in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Additionally, he has earned his first MA in Art Studies at the University of Tehran. Hadi is also a musician (Bachelor of Music, University of Tehran) and has studied Setar and the radif of Iranian Classical Music with Ostad Dariush Talai and Hamid Sokuti, among others. Hadi is Executive Director of the Canadian Golha Orchestra—an Iranian orchestral music initiative based in Toronto (@canadian_golha_orchestra).

Hamidreza Salehyar (PhD) is writing a dissertation exploring the intersections of religious sound, interiority, and power. Inspired by the contemporary anthropology of Islam, his SSHRC-funded doctoral research focuses on Shia mourning rituals in Tehran, Iran, investigating the ways multiple definitions of agency and selfhood are negotiated and performed in these sonic practices. In addition to his focus on religious sound,  Hamidreza is also interested in understanding Iranian musicians’ conceptions of modernity as reflected in their discourses on and performances of Iranian classical music. His MA thesis in Ethnomusicology from the University of Alberta (2015) examined how multiple articulations of Iranian nationalism, manifested in discourses on Iranian classical music, encouraged the development of revivalist ideas in pre-1979 musical society. His academic research also benefits from his expertise in Iranian classical music as a tar player; he holds a BMus in Iranian Instrument Performance from the University of Art in Tehran. Hamidreza currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology Special Interest Group for the Music of Iran and Central Asia (2021–2023). He has presented his research at major ethnomusicology conferences and has received several prizes. He is a recipient of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music Student Paper Prize (2019), the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Religion, Music, and Sound Section Student Paper Prize (2018), and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology Student Prize (2017). LinkedIn; Academia; Twitter

Grace MacCaskill (MA) holds a BA in music therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research interests include Hawaiian Hula, as well as religious choral traditions such as gospel and sacred harp music. She hopes to explore new ways of thinking about how health, healing, and music connect. Originally from Ottawa, in her spare time Grace enjoys exploring all Toronto has to offer, including all the incredible food. 

Jahred R. Warkentin (MA) is a first-year Master’s student in Ethnomusicology. His research interests include the effects of trauma, genocide, and modernization from the aftermath of the Killing Fields and Khmer Rouge on traditional Khmer/Cambodian music. Particularly he wishes to archive and rediscover unpopular oral traditions lost to the decimation of genocide. He holds a BMus in Composition from the University of Toronto and is an active composer and guitarist in the Toronto contemporary music scene.

Julia Monaco (PhD) is researching the music of the Colombian southwest – specifically in the department of Nariño – and how it is woven through distinct expressions of identity, resistance, language, and tradition. Her work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Julia received her Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier and Master’s of Music in flute performance from the University of Western Ontario. She has held teaching positions in different institutions in Colombia and Canada, including the Universidad de Nariño (Pasto), Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá), the red de escuelas de formación musical (Pasto), the Escuela De Música Sol Naciente (Totoró), and Sistema New Brunswick.

Keegan Manson-Curry  (PhD) is originally a Celtic fiddle player; he also holds a Certificate in Jazz Performance (Humber College), a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Comparative Cultural Studies (University of New Brunswick), and a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (University of Toronto). Keegan’s SSHRC-funded doctoral research focuses on music, sound, and place along the Wolastoq (St. John River) in his home province of New Brunswick. More specifically, Keegan’s research examines the role that environmental listening and soundmaking, both Indigenous and settler, play in constructing the senses of place that make up the River Valley. He takes an applied approach to these topics and works to ensure that his research outputs are both accessible and beneficial to those who contribute knowledge to the project. 

Kristen Graves’ (PhD) research focuses on the virtuosic listening skills enacted by a community that works in the garbage dump of Oaxaca, Mexico. Kristen’s Connaught-funded research explores the connections between this community’s sound knowledge, their everyday acts of publicly performed listening, and the impact of listening on individual and group identities. Kristen earned her Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from New York University in 2018, where she researched the effect of teaching songwriting skills in youth communities as a way to encourage self-empowerment and agency. She is also an internationally touring folk singer who has performed with legends Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, and Peter Yarrow; and she helped build and is still closely involved with the non-profit organization Simply Smiles, which serves Indigenous children and families.

N. Laryea Akwetteh (PhD) is a Ghanaian music scholar and performer. He holds degrees in both Music and African Studies from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana Legon, where he also serves as Tutor/Assistant Lecturer in African Music. Akwetteh’s research interests include music and ritual, African pianism, and instrumental music in African contexts. Also, Akwetteh is an experienced performer on musical instruments such as the Akan Seperewa (studied with the legendary Osei Korankye), the Lobi xylophone –gyil– (studied with Maestro Aaron Sukura Bebe), Mande Kora (with the Mande Griot Lasso Diabete), and the Korean Haegeum (studied with Jang Che Gyeon of the National Theatre of Korea). His current research includes Defying Death: The Hͻmͻwͻ festival of the Ga people of Accra, African Pianism in Ghana and Nigeria, and the Musics of the Ghana Dance Ensemble.

Nick Goode’s (PhD) research focuses on relations between space and sociality in public and private and the ways in which music can reconfigure and contest those relations. His master’s thesis (Oxford) explored these issues in the context of mobile clubbing and similarly headphone-based performances, and he aims to further this work by studying guangchangwu or public square dancing in urban spaces in China. He has previously studied music and sound in more divergent contexts, having investigated spiritual possession in musical performance, the sound of the War in Afghanistan on film, and the political ecologies imagined by Björk’s multimedia stage shows.

Nil Basdurak (PhD program ) is writing an interdisciplinary dissertation about sound studies, urban public space, the acoustemology of neoliberal Islam, and violence against women, children, ethnic minorities, and refugees in contemporary Turkey. Nil’s first article, “The Soundscape of Islamic Populism: Auditory Publics, Silences and the Myth of Democracy,” was published in The Sound Effects: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience in 2020. She regularly presents her research at the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) annual meetings, the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, the Canadian Society for Traditional Music, and the American Anthropological Association. In 2019, her paper about refugee children’s street work as buskers received an honourable mention for the Charles Seeger Prize, which recognizes the most distinguished student paper presented at the SEM’s annual meeting. In 2021, her paper about the acoustemology of violence against women was awarded the Wong Tolbert Student Paper Prize and an honourable mention for the SEM’s Religion, Music, and Sound Section Student Paper Prize. Nil is currently a research assistant for the Kensington Market Soundscape Study—a community-engaged research and knowledge mobilization project focusing on sound, music, and noise in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood. She has also held a graduate fellowship at the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. Besides her academic work and interests, Nil enjoys serving as the project manager of the Canadian Golha Orchestra—an Iranian orchestral music initiative based in Toronto (@canadian_golha_orchestra)

Sangah Lee (PhD program) holds a BA in Korean music from Ewha Womans University (South Korea) and a MA in ethnomusicology from University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her research interests include music and violence, protest, and social critique, particularly of East Asian societies. In her MA thesis, she explored the role of p’ansori as social critique and counter-public sphere in South Korea’s political scenes, by linking to a conscious use of tragic ethos and vulgarity ascribed to this genre. Her current research examines the power, efficacy, and reshaping of traditional vocal music in socio-political movements both in Korea and its diaspora. As a Korean music specialist, she has been actively engaged in performances, workshops and talks on p’ansori, gayaguem, and samulnori. She also enjoys playing piano and ukulele.

Sepideh Raissadat (PhD program) focuses her research on how the vocal pedagogy in Iran has evolved through major contemporary socio-political events, with a particular interest in the situation of female vocalists. Her approach is deeply related to her personal experience. As a Persian classical vocalist and musician, Sepideh began her recording career at the age of 18. She was the first female vocalist to have a solo public performance in Iran (March 2000), which is no small feat considering singing in public has been forbidden for women in her native Iran since the 1979 revolution. Sepideh has had numerous performances in Europe and North America and has garnered many invitations by prestigious institutions, including UNESCO, the Vatican and international media such as BBC (watch a BBC Persian documentary here) and RAI. She studied with many of the greats of the Persian classical music — such as Parisa, P. Meshkatian and M.R. Lotfi — and holds a B.Mus degree from the University of Bologna and an MA in Ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto.

Shahana Abutalib (MA program) studies music of Islamic courts from the medieval to early modern period. She holds a BSc in Applied Mathematics (2016 Toronto Metropolitan University) and has studied Chinese instrumental music under the guidance of ethnomusicologist and flautist Dr. Kim Chow-Morris. Her research interests involve topics that explore cultural boundaries and musical hybridization. Currently, she is working on a SSHRC-funded project, supervised by musicologist Dr. John Haines, that examines the presence and/or development of musical automata and keyboard instruments in Islamic courts (e.g., ‘Abbasid Baghdad, Umayyad Spain, and Mughal India). A link to her blog, which discusses some of the topics she is studying, can be found at

Sinem Eylem Arslan (PhD program) holds a B.A. in Sociology (Honours) with a specialization in Social Justice and Equity Studies from Brock University and an SSHRC-funded M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto. Her research interests include anti-racist and intersectional feminist approaches contemporary sonic spiritualities, gender and spirituality, meaning-making and community-making in spiritual music circles in North America. She specifically investigates frame drums’ spiritual uses, profitability, and contribution to knowledge (re)production in women’s circles. She is a co-chair of Project Spectrum, a graduate student-led coalition that aims to shift the large-scale culture of the U.S. American and Canadian music academia toward equity in all forms of discrimination and injustice.

Upatyaka Dutta (PhD program) holds a Master of Arts in Music in Development (SOAS University of London), a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Berklee College of Music), a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Liberal Studies (Ashoka University). Her doctoral research focuses on the role of folk songs in conveying biocultural knowledge and the ecology of folk musical instruments in Northeast India. Her broader interests include indigenous studies, politics of identity, collaborative archival practices, sound studies and climate change. She directed, shot and edited the documentary ‘Ka Shna Sur’ (Crafting Sounds of the Khasi Hills) (2022), exploring the traditional instrument-making practices of the Khasi community of Meghalaya (India), produced with the help of Ideosync-UNESCO Information Fellowship Programme.