CCM Announces Kristy Swift as New Assistant Professor of Musicology

CCM Dean Stanley E. Romanstein has announced the addition of musicologist and organist Kristy Swift, PhD and DMA, to the college’s roster of distinguished faculty members. Swift’s appointment as Assistant Professor of Musicology – Educator begins on Aug. 15, 2020. A two-time alumna of CCM, Swift (DMA Organ, ’98; PhD Musicology, ’13) is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology – Educator.

A portrait of new CCM faculty member Kristy Swift.Swift’s research interests include digital humanities, film music, historiography, identity and music, music history pedagogy, music of Cincinnati and opera. Her monograph Thinking About Music History: Textbooks and the Canon is forthcoming from Clemson University Press. She is a member of the CCM Cincinnati Sounds: Exploring a Musical City Through Digital Exhibits project team, which received the UC Strategic Collaborative Award.

Swift has presented her research at annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, Music and the Moving Image and Music History Pedagogy Conferences. Her work has been published in the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, The Diapason and Music Research Forum. Swift has taught hybrid and traditional face-to-face courses in American opera, madness in opera, opera and disability, politics and opera, protest(ed) music, Copland, Handel, Verdi, Wagner, research and writing, and graduate and undergraduate music history surveys at CCM and at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

As soloist and accompanist, she has performed throughout the United States in venues ranging from local Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky sites to Carnegie Hall. She has also served as director of music and organist at churches in Ohio and Florida.

Swift earned a PhD in musicology and DMA in organ studying with Roberta Gary at CCM. She also received an MM in organ studying with William Bodine and BM in education from the University of Florida. She served on the organ committee at Newtown United Methodist Church in Cincinnati for the installation of the M. P. Rathke Opus 8 pipe organ.

“I am grateful to Musicology Search Committee Chair Jonathan Kregor and committee members Amy Beegle, Jenny Doctor, Scott Linford and Stephen Meyer for their collaborative effort on this successful search,” said Romanstein. “We look forward to welcoming Kristy Swift to her new position at CCM this fall.”

About CCM

Nationally ranked and internationally renowned, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867, and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MFA, MM, MA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world stage.

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

The school’s roster of eminent faculty regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success in the performing and media arts. Learn more at ccm.uc.edu

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CCM Alumni Create Music Score for New Feature Film ‘Novitiate’

There is a gap for potential leaders in curating classical music for the film industry, says CCM Composition alumnus Tyler Bradley Walker (DMA 2010), who recently served as music supervisor for feature film Novitiate. Walker is striving to fill that gap and enlisted the help of fellow CCM Composition alumnus Christopher Stark (MM 2007) to score the music-heavy feature film.

Novitiate, which debuted nationally on Nov. 10, is about a 17-year-old girl who trains to become a nun as the Roman Catholic Church undergoes radical changes in the early 1960s. Maggie Betts directs the film, which stars Melissa Leo, Dennis O’Hare, Dianna Agron and Margaret Qualley.

Walker says it was a huge honor to work with Betts on this almost entirely female-driven film project. Following the director’s vision for the film, Walker used art songs by composers Gabriel Fauré, Arvo Pärt and John Tavener. He studied the script and provided multiple musical options to pair with specific scenes — collecting around 150 options of art music.

“For me, using art music extensively as source material is exciting and underutilized in film,” Walker says. “Stanley Kubrick understood this to great effect but it has never entirely caught on. Thus, it was exciting to learn how Maggie was envisioning the film through a multitude of art songs and how we could incorporate them tonally.”

There are about 14 classical pieces used as source music in the movie, in addition to Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page. Walker hired Stark to write the score and maintain a cohesive musical tone throughout the film.

“The overall tone of the score, for me, is one of spiritual introspection — regardless of how one defines spiritual,” Stark says. “The movie is very carefully constructed and methodically paced so that the audience has time to self-reflect. The music really tries to help create this atmosphere.”

Stark studied the techniques of Pärt and Tavener and composed themes that used their ideas infused with his own personal style.

“The director had very specific emotions in mind for the particular scenes and characters,” Stark says. “For example, early in the film, when the young nun is falling in love with God, [Betts] asked me to create music with a sweet, child-like, yet romantic feeling — almost like how someone feels when they fall in love in high school.”

A 2017 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, Stark regularly composes contemporary classical music for concerts. He recently returned to CCM for a guest artist recital with New Morse Code, which performed one of Stark’s works. Novitiate marks his first foray into film.

“Film music has to enhance the dialogue and imagery on the screen, so it’s supplemental by nature — you aren’t solely responsible for the audience’s attention,” Stark says. “With concert music, you have to provide all of the drama and interest, so the music is more involved and, hopefully, attention-grabbing.”

Walker began working in the music industry shortly after he graduated and was able to “cut his teeth” in all aspects of recording engineering and production. He is a “musical sommelier” who credits his studies and experiences for giving him an objectively extensive palette of musical knowledge, which is a huge advantage in the film industry, he says.

Walker and Stark work as part of Maven Music Supervision, a creative resource focused on curating, selecting, licensing and clearing music for film, television, video games and other visual media. They first met as students at CCM.

“Tyler was one of the first people I met when I started at CCM, and we have remained really close friends ever since,” Stark says. “We both really love listening to music and watching films, and we are constantly texting about what we are watching and listening to — along with our other buddy from CCM, Matt Heim.”

Walker remembers enjoying classes taught by Robert Zierolf, who served as the head of CCM Composition, Music history and Theory and as dean of the UC Graduate School before his retirement in 2014. Since graduating, Stark has remained close with CCM Composition Professor Michael Fiday.

“I have always admired him as a composer and he was such a supportive and thoughtful teacher while I was a student at CCM,” Stark says.

“Both Tyler and I learned so much music and technique while we were students at CCM, and we’ve been able to use those skills to do really varied and interesting things since graduating.”

Hear their work in Novitiate, released by Sony Pictures ClassicsTM, now playing in theaters nation-wide. Learn more about the film at sonyclassics.com/novitiate.

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