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BORN Affiliates

Cheryl Carr

Cheryl Slay Carr, J.D., is Associate Dean of the Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business and Professor of Music Business at Belmont University. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, received a Master of Public Administration from Clark-Atlanta University, and earned her Juris Doctor degree from The University of Maryland School of Law.  She speaks, researches, writes, and teaches in the areas of artistic impact and inspiration, career empowerment, and law, equity, and diversity in the arts & entertainment industry. She is author of Music Copyright Law and Music Business Careers, and other publications. 

Genevieve Arkle

Genevieve Arkle recently completed her PhD in Musicology at the University of Surrey. Her research offers historical, cultural, and intertextual investigations into 19th- and 20th-Century Western art music, specifically the works of Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. She currently works as a Visiting Lecturer at City, University of London and has previously worked as an Associate and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Surrey. She is Co-founder and Deputy Director of the Institute of Austrian and German Music Research, Co-founder and Leader of the Gustav Mahler Research Centre Postgraduate Forum (GMRC), and a Board Member and Team Lead for the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in Music Studies Network (EDIMS).

Lucy Caplan

Lucy Caplan holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies from Yale University. She is writing a book about how early-twentieth-century African Americans redefined the genre of opera as a wellspring of antiracist activism, collective sociality, and aesthetic innovation. Her academic writing appears in the Journal of the Society for American Music and the collection African Americans Arts: Activism, Aesthetics, and Futurity. The recipient of the 2016 Rubin Prize for Music Criticism, Lucy also writes frequently for public audiences. Her essays have been published in The New Yorker online and Symphony, among others, and her program notes have been commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and Lincoln Center. Currently, Lucy teaches in the History and Literature program at Harvard University.

Ayesha Casie Chetty

Ayesha Casie Chetty is an ACLS Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. She recently completed a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati. Her current interdisciplinary book project examines how racial minority opera singers in training in the United States navigate the institutional processes that are steeped in whiteness. Ayesha’s undergraduate and master’s degrees are in law and socio-legal studies respectively, and she has worked on several projects dealing with different social problems at the intersection of culture, race, and gender. Her academic interest in the world of music and opera stems from her background as a classically trained pianist and singer.

Antonio Cuyler

Dr. Antonio C. Cuyler is the author of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cultural Organizations: Insights from the Careers of Executive Opera Managers of Color in the U. S. He serves as Director of the MA Program & Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Florida State University and Visiting Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan. He is also Founder of Cuyler Consulting, LLC, an arts consultancy that helps cultural organizations to maximize their performance and community relevance through access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI).

Ryan Ebright

Ryan Ebright serves as an Assistant Professor of Musicology at Bowling Green State University. His scholarship and writings appear in the New York Times, New Yorker, NewMusicBox, Cambridge Opera Journal, American Music, and the book Rethinking Reich, and his research focuses on contemporary opera and minimalism. His current book project, Making American Opera after Einstein, centers on the efforts of artists and institutions from the 1980s to the present to redefine what American opera is and how we experience it. He remains active as a public scholar, with lectures and talks for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, and WGTE Public Media. His most recent academic presentations have examined the creation and development of Anthony Davis’s first opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

Nina Eidsheim

Nina Eidsheim is the author of Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice and The Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music; co-editing Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies;Co-editor of the Refiguring American Music book series for Duke University Press; recipient of the Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Cornell University Society of the Humanities Fellowship, the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship and the ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship. She received her bachelor of music from the voice program at the Agder Conservatory (Norway); MFA in vocal performance from the California Institute of the Arts; and Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of California, San Diego. Eidsheim is Professor of Musicology, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and founder and director of the UCLA Practice-based Experimental Epistemology (PEER) Lab, an experimental research Lab dedicated to decolonializing data, methodology, and analysis, in and through multisensory creative practices.

Elena Arredondo Farel

Elena Arredondo Farel is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at Washington University in St. Louis. She holds a BM in vocal performance and a BME in choral music education from Southeast Missouri State University. Her forthcoming dissertation focuses on African American performers of opera in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly focusing on cases in which individuals transgressed genres or roles in order to create performing spaces. She presented her work on Sissieretta Jones at the 2020 meeting of the American Musicological Society.

Elizabeth Keathley

Elizabeth L. Keathley is Professor Emerita of Music History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her research expertise has been the nexus of gender and ethnicity with musical modernism and modernity. Her dissertation was a study of Marie Pappeheim’s collaboration with Arnold Schoenberg for their opera Erwartung (1909), and she has published articles and book chapters on the significance of gender in Schoenberg’s Von heute auf Morgen (libretto by Gertrud Schoenberg,1929) and in Bernstein’s operas and musicals. She taught the Opera History course at UNCG for twenty years and always included readings, listening, and assignments engaging operas by Black composers and equity issues with respect to representation, casting, and opera production. In collaboration with Kristen Turner, Keathley organized “Black Identities on the Operatic Stage: A Symposium with Music” in 2022.

Mandla Langa

Mandla Langa comes from Durban. He went into exile in 1976 and has lived in Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Hungary, Zambia and the United Kingdom. In 1980 Mandla won Drum Magazine’s Africa-wide story contest and in 1991 was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain bursary for creative writing. Mandla was the Cultural Representative of the ANC in the UK and Western Europe. He has been a columnist for various newspapers and was the Convenor of the Task Group on Government Communications (COMTASK) in 1997, which restructured apartheid’s communication systems.

Allison M. Lewis

Allison Lewis is currently a Doctoral student in the American Studies Department at the University of Kansas. She holds a BM in vocal performance with a focus in operatic studies as a mezzo soprano and an MA in African and African American Studies from the same university. Allison’s research focuses on disparities for African Americans in music education and advocates for the use of more Afrocentric teaching techniques in the classroom. As an academic, researcher, vocalist, and artist she aims to continue the tradition of African American Studies: being directly in service of the Black community on the local level and the African diaspora at large. 

Theo Magongoma

Born in South Africa, Theo Magongoma is an operatic baritone who is a graduate of the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town and a former member of the Cape Town Opera Studio for Emerging Young Artists.  He has a substantial background in performance and maintains an extensive repertoire across many languages from opera, oratorio, operetta to art song. He has performed as a soloist with the leading orchestras of South Africa and at Art Festivals around the world. He has featured as a soloist in productions internationally in the USA, Italy, Germany, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Amsterdam, The Kyodo Theatre in Tokyo, Japan and at Châtalet de Paris Opera in France. 

Brenda Mhlambi

Innocentia J. Mhlambi is Associate Professor in the Department of African Languages at the University of the Witwatersrand. She teaches African-language literatures, black film studies, popular culture, oral literature and visual culture. She is the author of African-language Literatures: Perspectives on isiZulu Fiction and Popular Black Television Series, a timely critical intervention into the aesthetic hiatus in the field. She has published extensively on aesthetics, literature, black opera, popular culture and broadcast and print media in South Africa. She is a fellow of the University of Michigan Presidential Scholars Programme and is currently doing research in black opera in post-1994 South Africa.

Isi Miranda

Isidora (Isi) Miranda received her PhD in Musicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on the performance of zarzuelas and operas in the Philippines within the broader history of colonialism and empire in Southeast Asia. Isi is currently working on a book project on cultural nationalism and constructions of racial and gendered identities in the Tagalog sarsuwela stage as the Philippines transitioned from a Spanish to a US colony in the early twentieth century. She is also working in collaboration with Filipino composer Robin Estrada on a series of critical edition scores of sarsuwelas by the composer Juan de Sahagun Hernandez.

Neo Muyanga

Born in 1974 in Soweto, South Africa, Neo Muyanga discovered music through traditional choirs, before taking a classical course in music theory. He went to study madrigal in Trieste, Italy, and then developed both practical and theoretical activities. In the mid-1990s, he co-founded with Malawian musician Masauko Chipembere the acoustic jazz duo Blk Sonshine, which enjoyed both public and critical acclaim. He then invested in various collective projects such as Chimurenga magazine and the launch of the Pan African Space Station. A theorist, librettist, musician and composer, he has written several operas and numerous pieces for choirs and orchestras.

Bongani Ndodana-Breen

Bongani Ndodana-Breen has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work and opera. He is the composer of Winnie, The Opera based on the life of Winnie Mandela, Credo an oratorio based on South Africa’s Freedom Charter and Harmonia Ubuntu premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra on their historic tour of South Africa. According to The New York Times his “delicately made music – airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted – has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance.” He graduated with a PhD (Music Composition) from Rhodes University and was appointed to fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University (2019-20) and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University (2021-22). 

Nicholas Newton

A San Diego native, Nicholas Newton is garnering due attention as an up-and-coming bass-baritone in the opera world. Having grown up in a musical household, Mr. Newton had a background in gospel, jazz, and musical theater before studying classical music. Notable operatic roles include Billy King in the world premiere of Marian’s Song, Monterone in Rigoletto with Houston Grand Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Olin Blitch in Susannah and Achilla in Giulio Cesare at Rice University. An avid concert performer and recitalist, Mr. Newton is an alum of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and has gone on tour with renowned pianist, Kevin Murphy, performed in Giving Voice: Lawrence Brownlee & Friends, participated in the Tucson Desert Song Festival, and collaborated with the Cincinnati Song Initiative.

Sibusiso Njeza

Sibusiso Njeza straddles the musical worlds of African choral music, composition and opera. He has worked for more than 15 years as a professional conductor and has knowledge of a broad repertoire and many different styles of music. He is, however, a specialist in African choral music which, in South Africa, is closely linked to opera performance and composition. He grew up singing choral music in his mother-tongue, isiXhosa, as well as in other South African languages like Sesotho, Setswana, isiZulu, Afrikaans, and Tshivenda. As a composer, he has three written operas, choral works for a cappella choir as well as works for choir, soloists and orchestra.

Jelena Novak

Jelena Novak is a researcher at CESEM, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. Her fields of interests are recent opera and musical theatre, music and new media, capitalist realism, voice studies in the age of posthuman and feminine identities in music. Exploring those fields, she works as a researcher, lecturer, writer, dramaturge, music critic, editor and curator focused on bringing together critical theory and contemporary art. She has been a founding committee member of the Society for Minimalist Music and a founding member of the editorial collective TkH [Walking Theory]. Her most recent books are Postopera: Reinventing the Voice-Body (Routledge, 2015), Operofilia (Orion Art, 2018) and Einstein on the Beach: Opera beyond Drama (co-edited with John Richardson, Routledge, 2019).

Bode Omojola

Bode Omojola is Five College Professor of Music and Chair, Department of Music, Mount Holyoke College. As a Five College Professor, he teaches at all the institutions of the Five College Consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Smith colleges, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst). A composer and ethnomusicologist, Omojola received his Ph.D. from the University of Leicester, England. His research centers on Yorùbá and African diaspora musics, including modern African art music. His awards have included the Radcliffe fellowship in musicology at Harvard, and the Alexander von Humboldt fellowship at the University of Cologne, Germany. His opera, Odyssey of a Dream, was premiered in 2018 by the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra and Five College African opera students in the United States.

Patricia Josette Prokert

Patricia Josette Prokert is a recent University of Michigan PhD graduate in historical musicology. Her dissertation, “Interpreting Race and Difference in the Operas of Richard Strauss,” examined stereotypes of race and gender in Strauss’s SalomeDer RosenkavalierDie Frau ohne Schatten, and Friedenstag. She is interested in locating other instances of racial and/or gendered stereotypes in operas especially though the lens of cultural history. She has previously presented her work at annual and regional meetings of the American Musicological Society as well as at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of Victoria, Victoria, B. C. She has also served as a 2017-2018 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ambassador at the University of Michigan. She is most passionate about teaching and supporting students of color.

Nepomuk Riva

Nepomuk Riva is currently deputy professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Würzburg. Between 2016-2021 he taught at the University for Music, Theater and Media in Hannover and coordinated the German-Ghanaian-Nigerian DAAD-Graduate School „Performing Sustainability“ at the Center for World Music at the University of Hildesheim. His interest in African musics started with field research on church choirs in Cameroon. Meanwhile he investigates in the image of Africa in the German music scene, including black music students and black singers on opera stages. 

Carolyn Sebron

Carolyn Sebron holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and her Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School. She is a doctoral candidate in voice pedagogy at Shenandoah University. In1996 she debuted as Carmen in Palermo, Italy. She has since appeared in various as Carmen, Amneris, Princess Eboli and Dalila in L’Arena di Verona, and with opera companies of Rome, Venice, Berlin, Glasgow, Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid. She was vocal soloist with the Dance Theater of Harlem for productions at City Center, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Megan Steigerwald Ille

Megan Steigerwald Ille is an assistant professor of musicology, educator, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Her research on the contemporary US opera industry broadly considers questions of spectatorship, mediation, representation, digital intimacy, access, community engagement, and performer experiences. Steigerwald Ille’s monograph-in-progress, Opera for Everyone: Experimenting with American Opera in the Digital Age, is an ethnographic study of the Los Angeles-based experimental opera company, The Industry. 

Thembela Vokwana

I lecture Musicology at the University of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape, South Africa. I am a scholar/artist who has been actively engaged in the choral and art music sectors. Having been a voice major, I participated in choirs as a chorus member, soloist, conductor and coach. I performed in these various capacities locally and abroad. Out of these activities, I developed a keen interest in researching the history, and performance practice of amakwaya. My current research examines histories of amakwaya, focusing on the life and work of one of its pioneering composers, RT Caluza. 

Jeffrey Yelverton

Jeffrey Yelverton is a digital producer of classical music for Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media. He supports the digital portfolio of MPR/AMP by creating original content and providing production support for YourClassical Storytime, New Classical Tracks and various seasonal events. He was a content creator for the South Carolina Music Guide and a public relations officer for active duty and reserve bands in the U.S. Army. Currently working toward a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Minnesota, he holds a master’s degree in music history from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in music (French horn performance) from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. 

Joshua Tolulope David

Joshua Tolulope David is a PhD student in the musicology program at the University of Toronto. His research broadly examines performance practice, staging, and reception of canonical operas in Nigeria, and how they decentre European intellectual hegemony within a postcolonial framework. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music (2016) and a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (2019) at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Joshua is also interested in research in popular music in Nigeria especially the indigenization process of the hip hop culture by contemporary Nigerian artists. In addition to research, Joshua is also a tenor and conductor, and has served at the opera department of The Musical Society of Nigeria for several years.

Charles Uzor

Charles Uzor was born 1961 in Nigeria and came to Switzerland during the Biafra war. After studying in Switzerland, he followed the oboist Gordon Hunt for a postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 1990, after studying with H.W. Henze, he obtainws the Dip. RAM and a Master’s degree. In 2005 he completed his dissertation on “Melody and the Phenomenology of Internal Time-Awareness”.

Uzor’s compositional oeuvre focusses on pieces for ensemble and voice. Collaborations with Swiss ensembles (e.g. Ensemble La Notte, Carmina Quartett) generated numerous pieces, including Canto, Notre Vie, Ricercare and Akhenaten’s Hymnos to Aton. Uzor’s composition, Go. Septet for Ballet Imaginaire, won the International Composition Prize of the Onassis Foundation. Uzor’s opera, Black Tell, was staged at Expo 02.

Recent pieces, such as Mothertongue (on the loss of language), 8’46’’. George Floyd in Memoriam, and Merrusch (on refugees on maritime routes), strengthen Uzor’s political positions.  In 2023, Parmenides Prooimion, 8’46’’. George Floyd in Memoriam, and Katharsis Kalkül were premiered by London Sinfonietta and the LFCO at Time of Music (Finland), the Lucerne Forward Festival and at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Uzor is a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation (2024/25). He lives in Switzerland and Greece. His work has been published on 4 CDs by Neos and col legno.

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