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). read more…

She also serves as a Trustee and Board Member at NMC Recordings. In 2020, she was awarded the Wagner Society Young Lecturer’s Prize and also earned the title of ‘PhD Student of the Year’ at the University of Surrey’s Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for exceptional contributions to research. 

Alongside her work in the field of Austro-German studies, Genevieve has developed a reputation as an activist for speaking out on Black and Black-mixed representation in musicology and Music Higher Education. She has presented at numerous international conferences offering actions and initiatives for increasing racial diversity in the field. Particularly, she advocates for the continued decolonization of the curriculum and research, the development of safe spaces for people who identify as being from minority backgrounds in higher education, and for educating others on the importance of implementing lasting change in the academic environment. Genevieve is delighted to be joining the BORN team as an affiliate and is looking forward to the research, collaboration, and conversations to come.

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.

Mandla Langa

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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. read more...

From 1999 to 2005 he chaired the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA). In 2007, he received the National Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his literary and journalistic contribution to democracy. In 1999 to 2000, he wrote the book of the musical, Milestones, which featured music by Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo. His published works include Tenderness of Blood (1987), A Rainbow on a Paper Sky (1989), The Naked Song and Other Stories (1997), The Memory of Stones (2000), The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008), which won the 2009 Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the African Region and The Texture of Shadows (2014). He co-authored Dare Not Linger with Nelson Mandela’s archives (2017) and was a fellow with STIAS (Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies.) A recipient of honorary doctorates from the Universities of Fort Hare and Wits respectively, Mandla had a MA in Creative Writing from Wits. He sits on various boards such as Multichoice’s Phuthuma Nathi and Primedia and is a trustee of Media Monitoring Africa.

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. Her intent as a researcher and creator is to produce academic and theatrical work that is in conversation with current activist movements and uses operatic studies and stages as a place for radical transformation, Black liberation, and justice. Additionally, Allison is a two-time FLAS (Foreign Language Area Study) fellow in Wolof. read more...

Her previous work includes musical consultant and singer for the KU Theater production of In the Blood (2019), director of an outreach program for Black middle school singers a the KC Melting Pot Theater (2019), and co-founder of the activist group KU AESM (Alumni for the Empowerment of Student Musicians), a grass-root organization committed to fighting for decolonial and equitable education for KU’s most underserved musician populations at the University of Kansas. She has previously presented her work at the MMRC (Midwest Music Research Conference) and at The Commons lecture sessions. In her spare time, she enjoys indoor gardening and spending time with her cats, James and Lily. 

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. read more…

Theo has worked with the South African-born artist /opera director, William Kentridge, on his production of ‘The Magic Flute’.  He has also worked with South African composer Neo Muyanga on ‘Tsohle’ produced by Unyazi Festival at the University of Cape Town; ‘A Revolting Mass’  produced by Spielart Festival in Munich, Germany and ‘Naham – Songs of Light and Weight’  produced by the Sharjah Arts Foundation in Dubai. Theo has been the recipient of numerous prizes and scholarships, including from Queensland Opera (Australia) and The Bruce Foote Scholarship from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas (USA). He was invited to join Dallas Opera’s first Young Artists Studio and toured the north of Texas with the Wagner society. Theo holds a BMus Honours in Music Performance from the University of Cape Town, majoring in voice. He is currently completing his MMus in Music Performance at Stellenbosch University and writing a thesis focusing on the idea of the ‘black South African operatic voice’ in the global setting. His thesis is under the guidance of Dr. Hilde Roos at Africa Open Institute. He was featured in the 2020 publication of OPERA UK Magazine, included among ‘the new gold standard’ of opera singers on the rise in the world today.

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. read more...

She is further a recipient of a University Research Council Grant; Carnegie Research Grant; Mellon Grant; University of Michigan Residency Programme Grant; The Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa (ANFASA) Fellowship; and African Humanities Programme Postdoctoral Fellowship. She holds a South African National Research Foundation Rating (Rating C2), and has received two University of Michigan Mellon Foundation Grants and the University of Witwatersrand Mellon Funded Inclusive Professoriate Grant.

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.Isi’s research has been supported by various grants, including the American Musicological Society’s resident fellowship at the Newberry Library and the Mellon Research Fellowship on Original Sources by the Council for Library and Information Resources. Isi is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.

Michael Mohammed 

Michael Mohammed received his doctorate from the Music and Music Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. His dissertation used narrative inquiry to explore the use of vocal technique as a means of personal and cultural expression by elite black opera and musical theatre singers. His research continues to look at the representation of persons with marginalized identities in operatic and theatrical performance. He is the Director of the Musical Theatre Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is also on the voice faculty at the College of Marin and the San Francisco Community Music Center. He has been invited to give presentations at the Pacific Voice Conference, Stanford University, Bowling Green State University, Earlham College, and Opera Philadelphia. 

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He works throughout the US and Canada as a stage director, choreographer, and performer. Recently, he co-created What’s Known To Me Is Endless with baritone Kenneth Overton and pianist Rich Coburn for the inaugural season of Amplified Opera, a Toronto based company that places equity-seeking artists at the center of public discourse. Performing credits include Luna Pearl Woolf’s Act Without Words (Bard Music West) and the dance film Separate Sentences.

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). His awards include the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music. Ndodana-Breen has received commissions from Wigmore Hall (London), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Minnesota Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Vancouver Recital Society, Madam Walker Theatre (Indianapolis), Luminato Festival (Toronto), University of South Africa, Johannesburg Philharmonic and Haydn Festival Eisenstadt.

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.

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Mr. Newton is also passionate about new works and has worked with many living composers. Most notably; Terence Blanchard, Damien Sneed, Nkeiru Okoye, Joel Thompson, and Richard Thompson. In addition to working with composers in performance, he continues to work with them through the field of research as an affiliate with the Black Opera Research Network. He earned his Bachelor’s of Music degree in vocal performance from San Diego State University and his Master’s of Music in vocal performance from Rice University. This season, Mr. Newton completes his final year in the studio artist program at Houston Grand Opera. 

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. read more…

As a composer, he has three written operas, choral works for a cappella choir as well as works for choir, soloists and orchestra. Madiba, the African Opera was commissioned and premiered by Opera South Africa in 2014 and premiered on 23 May 2014 at the South African State Theatre and was revised at the same venue on 29 November 2015. The 30-minute opera, Blood of Mine was premiered by Cape Town Opera and UCT South African College of Music in November 2015. His third opera, Amagokra will be premiered in 2021 (postponed from May 2020 due to COVID-19), by the Cape Town Opera Company and UCT South African College of Music.

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 Salome, Der Rosenkavalier, Die 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. She has presented recitals and concerts in Prague, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, Cincinnati, Bermuda, Guadeloupe, Rome, Paris and Nairobi, Kenya and in London at Albert Hall. Sebron has presented at The Voice Foundation, Boston University and HealthCare Chaplaincy about subjects related to voice and voice health, African American music history and the importance of music in the healing process.

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. read more…

 Opera for Everyone, which is under contract with the University of Michigan Press, analyzes the impact of experimental spectatorship practices on contemporary operatic performance by examining thetextual, sonic, material, and social aspects of four key productions of The Industry from 2013-2020. Steigerwald Ille’s recent articles appear in the Journal of the Society for American Music, the Opera Quarterly, and the inaugural issue of Sound, Stage, Screen. She has a strong interest in public-facing scholarship and collaborates with Michigan Opera Theatre and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Before her time at the University of Cincinnati, Steigerwald Ille served as a postdoctoral fellow of digital cultures in the American Culture Studies program at Washington University in St. Louis. 

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. read more…

Regarding Black involvement in opera in South Africa my attention is on history, economies and politics of performance and reception. Further, for both amakwaya and opera in South Africa, I am keen on investigating and interrogating emergent issues enabled by the digital landscape particularly social media portals such as Facebook and YouTube. These wide-ranging areas of interests necessitate inter- and transdisciplinary theoretical approaches and methodological pluarality in researching amakwaya and opera in South Africa. To this end, I am keen to research, publish, mentor students and collaborate with scholars of similar and related interests to find new and insightful ways to engage with these genres.

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. He is an active member of the Society of American Music, the American Musicological Society and International Musicological Society, for which he has given presentations in Minneapolis, Montreal and Italy. His research interests include are Russian romanticism, American musical military traditions and opera. Specifically, Jeffrey explores the unsung BIPOC composers and performers that deserve more recognition in opera history.

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.