Profiles of our Graduate Students

Abigail Ayala Romero (MA) from Quito, Ecuador, holds a BMus in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia. Abigail also studied Philosophy and Languages at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. She is interested in applied ethnomusicology involving the topics of folklore, Latin American politics, decolonization, and global economics; more specifically in the festival of Inti Raymi celebrated by members of the Kichwa community at Otavalo, Ecuador. Abigail is the co-founder and vice president of a non-profit organization in Ecuador called the Yanapana Project whose mission is to dismantle neo-colonial socio-economic patterns of wealth inequality by providing essential services to marginalized indigenous communities in Ecuador. 

Adam Heagle (MA) is a first-year Master’s student in Ethnomusicology. His interests involve the music of Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples (referred to as Habesha people). In particular, he is focused on the music of the Habesha diaspora, the relation between music and social class in the Horn of Africa, and the musical practices of the Orthodox Tewahedo churches. He holds a BMus in History, Theory and Culture from the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. He is employed as a musician in the Army Reserve and enjoys composing and playing funk music in his spare time.

Allison Sokil (PhD) is a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS SSHRC-funded doctoral candidate interested in intersections of popular music, sound studies, music technology, performativity, and critical theory. Her work investigates multifaceted understandings of and critical engagements with silence, space, and affect in local, national, and international recording industries. In her dissertation, she explores the varied ways in which women and gender non-conforming producers and recording, mixing, and mastering engineers navigate careers in the technological fields of music-making in Canada despite current institutional and socio-cultural challenges. As part of her MA degree at the University of Alberta (2015), her thesis examined conceptualizations of tradition and gender in contemporary traditional music revivals on the island of Rhodes, Greece.

Andrew Janzen (PhD) 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.

Bernice Cheung (PhD) was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Canada. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Integrated Studies and 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 the greater Chinese diaspora, sound studies, memory, and popular music. 

Brad DeMatteo’s (PhD) research focuses on music and the transmission of intergenerational memory in the Cambodian American diaspora. He holds a BA in music from Bennington College and an MA in ethnomusicology from Tufts University. Based on fieldwork in Lowell, Massachusetts––home to the second-largest Cambodian community outside of Cambodia––and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Brad’s master’s thesis “Flowing Water Makes Me Never Forget: Memories of Khmer Pop Music in the Cambodian American Diaspora” explores musical memory as a means of reconstructing history and identity in a post-genocide diasporic community. Additionally, Brad is a bassist and composer influenced by experimental music and the African American free jazz movement. The foundations of his approach to music-making and research are steeped in the philosophy of his mentor, jazz drummer and scientist, Milford Graves.

Christopher Hull (MA) 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)’s SSHRC-funded doctoral project builds on his MA research 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. He currently plays drums with Toronto punks School Damage and death/doom band Gutvoid.

Esther Wade  is a second-year SSHRC-funded Master’s student. She holds a BA in Women’s Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She is interested in  American hymnody and social singing.  Her MA research explores the psycho-social processes at play in music revivals and traditional music scenes, focusing on Sacred Harp singing communities in particular. At the moment she is interested in responding to a question posed by revival scholar Tamara Livingston, notably whether or not ideologies that frame a music revival are necessarily internalized through the social bonding that occurs through music participation. She is also fascinated by the ways in which choral communities are navigating the limitations of COVID-19.

Hadi Milanloo’s (PhD) doctoral work explores 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.

Hamidreza Salehyar is a Doctoral Candidate in Ethnomusicology interested in exploring 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

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’s (MA) research focuses on the music of the Colombian southwest, specifically in the department of Nariño, and how it is woven through different communities in their distinct expressions of identity, resistance, language, and tradition. Julia received her BMus from Wilfrid Laurier University and MMus in flute performance from the University of Western Ontario. Julia has held teaching positions at the Universidad de Nariño (Pasto), Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá), the red de escuelas de formación musical, and the Escuela De Música Sol Naciente (Totoró). As part of the taller internacional de flauta traversa del suroccidente colombiano (International Flute Workshop of the Colombian Southwest)– a collaborative project shared with colleague and husband, Gabriel G. Coral– she debuted Rapsodia Andina (2017), written for her by Alexander Paredes.

Keegan Curry is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology. Originally a Celtic fiddle player, he 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, place, and mapping along the 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.

Nadia Younan (PhD) is a Canadian-Assyrian-Italian. Her research on the intersections of collective memory, trauma, and resilience in Assyrian music and dance expressions is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Nadia holds a Master of Arts, Ethnomusicology (York University, 2013), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Specialized Honours in Music (York University, 2011). Her multi-sited, ethnographic fieldwork also examines the transnational network of Assyrians in diaspora and the significance of expressive culture under circumstances of exile and displacement.

Nate Renner‘s (PhD) research concerns the contemporary and traditional music and dance of Japan’s indigenous Ainu people. For years he studied relationships between music and everyday speech, which he believes are available to people in the formation and expression of identity. More recently — after one year of fieldwork with Ainu people in Hokkaido, Japan — Nate shifted his focus to include relationships between music and the physical environment. Some of the questions Nate ponders are: Can certain ontologies of music and ways of conceptualizing sound engender particular relationships with the environment? Can the music of contemporary indigenous peoples like the Ainu inform the institutions of colonial states on issues such as the environment, law, and politics?

N. Laryea Akwetteh is a Ghanaian music scholar and performer, and currently a first-year PhD student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. 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) approaches sound as both mediated by macro-politics of the nation-state and mediating the micro-politics of everyday. Her research investigates audible traces of microaggressions, identity conflicts, and power negotiations that take place daily in the socio-political geography of Istanbul, Turkey. Explicitly centered on Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, her research seeks to comprehend typically overlooked correlations between adjustments and readjustments of socio-economic, cultural, and political life and sonic-spatial transformations of urban space within the last two decades. Nil regularly presents her work at the meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and the Canadian Society for Traditional Music, among others. In 2019, with her paper titled “The Little Buskers of Istanbul: Ethico-political Soundscape of Children’s Street Labour,” she was awarded an honourable mention for the Charles Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Her article titled “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 2019.

Queveen Arcedo (MA) holds a B.Mus. in Piano Performance from the University of Manitoba and is currently a first-year MA student in the Department of Ethnomusicology. Queveen is a student of the House of Gongs, practicing kulintang music, and is a former production member of Magdaragat Philippines Inc. His area of research focuses on indigenous cultures of the Philippines, specifically, but not limited to, kulintang music of Maguindanao. Queveen is interested in how movement in ritual, dance and/or martial arts intersect with colonial resistance and identity.

Sangah Lee (PhD) 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) 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.

Sinem Eylem Arslan (PhD) 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 University of Toronto. Her research interests include anti-racist and intersectional feminist approaches to Middle Eastern indigenous music(s), gender and spirituality, meaning-making and community-making in music circles. In her doctoral research, she examines the ways in which North American women incorporate frame drums into their women’s circles as tools for spiritual healing. She specifically investigates frame drums’ spiritual uses, profitability, and contribution to knowledge (re)production in women’s circles and considers these three uses as interwoven threads in a single social process through which various forms of authority are created, contested, and maintained. Immersed in Anatolian folk music since early childhood, Sinem is well-versed in Anatolian lutes and tar drum. She serves as the student representative for the Canadian Society for Traditional Music. She is also a committee member for 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 all forms of discrimination and injustice.