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. 

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.

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.

Chris Greencorn (MA) holds a BA in History and Music from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. His research interests include: sound studies, historical and applied ethnomusicology, and decolonizing methodologies. Chris focuses geographically on present-day Eastern Canada, and its connections to much of the Atlantic world.

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 (MA) holds a BA in Women’s Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Her research interests lie in American hymnody, religious social singing and, in particular, shape-note singing.

The main theme of Hadi Milanloo’s (PhD) research is music and women’s rights movements in Iran. In particular, his work at U of T focuses on the music and lives of female instrumentalists who perform Iranian classical music in Tehran, despite the fact that their most basic professional rights as musicians are not fully recognized. Hadi aims to explore how music, gender, and resistance/resilience are intertwined in Iran. As a male researcher working with female participants, he also investigates the negotiative nature of ethnography and the ways through which it helps to balance the power dynamics inherent in any ethnographic enterprise. In his MA thesis (Memorial University 2016) Hadi studied the musical life stories of eight Iranian women who migrated to Canada. Outside of the university, he is a setār player, an alumni of the Music department of the University of Tehran (U of T?!), where he received his BMus in Iranian traditional music and his first Master’s degree in Art Studies.

Hamidreza Salehyar (PhD) explores various forms of musical expression in the urban areas of Central Iran. His doctoral research concerns the mourning rituals of Muharram in present-day Tehran, investigating relations between social memories and cultural identities, as negotiated through changing forms of these musical practices. While focusing on religious music, he is also interested in the ways the discourses of modernity and globalization have conditioned Iranian musicians’ conceptions 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 training in Iranian classical music under prominent Iranian master-musicians. He plays the tar, holding a BMus in Iranian Instrument Performance from the University of Art in Tehran.

Jack Harrison (PhD) holds a BA in Music from the University of Cambridge and an MMus in Advanced Musical Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London. His PhD research explores concepts of music and musicality in equestrian freestyle dressage and canine heelwork to music in the UK, and focusses on the significance of the human-animal boundary to both human-animal and human-human processes of social bonding in these sports. Jack also enjoys performing—he began learning the erhu while working towards his masters and has been tap dancing for over ten years.

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.

Keegan Manson-Curry (PhD) is interested in music, sound, and listening as ways of understanding everyday life along the Wolastoq/Fleuve Saint-Jean/St. John River in New Brunswick, Canada. In particular, his research looks at the ways that local acoustemologies (Indigenous, Anglophone, Francophone, etc.) intersect and conflict with each together to influence understandings of sensory experience. He is especially focused on approaching research from an applied perspective that works to include contributors in the creation, dissemination, and implementation of knowledge. Keegan holds an MA in Ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto, a BA (Honours) in Comparative Cultural Studies from the University of New Brunswick, and a Certificate in Jazz Performance from Humber College. 

Kristen Graves (PhD) is interested in issues of sound studies and everyday listening, as well as how virtuosic listening intersects with issues of Indigeneity, human rights, and communication about sound. Studying with a community that works in the garbage dump of Oaxaca, Mexico, Kristen’s Connaught-funded research will explore how this community has built and actively exchanges sound knowledge that has evolved through environmental changes, and has been passed down through generations of workers. Kristen earned her Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from New York University in 2018, where she researched the empowering impact of teaching songwriting to marginalized youth. 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. (Kristen’s website)

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?

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 honorable 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 (MA) holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a concentration in Social Justice and Equity Studies from Brock University. Her research interests include critical music sociology, decolonization and resistance through sound in oppressive soundscapes. She is primarily focusing on studying the preservation and continuation of minority cultural identities through traditional and contemporary musical practices in nation-states and diaspora. Immersed in Anatolian folk music since early childhood, Sinem is well-versed in Anatolian lutes and tar drum.