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February 2020 Ethnomusicology Student of the Month - Esther DeLozier

Tuesday, February 25, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Sturgis
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Esther DeLozier
University of California, Davis

Concentration of Study: Ethnomusicology

Expected Graduation Date: June 2021

Biography: Beginning in Venezuela, my country of birth, my love of music and community engagement has served as the motivation behind all my academic and career decisions. Originally a performer, I recognized in myself a passion for capturing and expanding the impact of a performance through recordings. Thus, I completed a degree in Audio Recording at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Upon graduation, I became a recording editor and assistant producer with Telarc Records which provided practical exposure to a wide range of musicians, support staff and venues. In addition, for several years, I managed the audio department for Turner Network Television (TNT) Latin America, a television arm of Time Warner. While at TNT, I pursued a master’s degree in Liberal Studies at North Carolina State University. The interdisciplinary nature of this degree allowed me to explore three fields, namely ethnomusicology, communication, and film. As my studies progressed, I became increasingly motivated to apply these new skills to interpret the political situation that was progressively influencing the state of music in my country of birth. As a significant step towards this ambition, I directed and produced a documentary based on my interactions with a community of musicians that play gaita, a music genre specific to Venezuela.

As a consequence of the Venezuelan government’s efforts to clamp down on freedom of speech, my initial intention to expose the strong connection between the gaita music genre and political resistance became impossible during the production of the documentary in Venezuela. However, the experience heightened my awareness of the impact and significance of music at different levels, from individuals and communities to entire countries.

My numerous collaborations with musicians in Venezuela and in the United States have served as an inspiration for my dissertation topic of examining the live interactions between artists and their audience. In addition to my dissertation research, my commitment to community engagement has driven me to pursue projects that concentrate on public service scholarship and reinforcing the connection between the UC Davis music department and its surrounding community. In 2018, I collaborated, as a Mellon Public Scholar, with the California Arts Council (CAC) in discerning the arts and cultural organizations that are underrepresented in the distribution of CAC funds and the reasons for the inconsistency. For two consecutive years, undergraduate and graduate music students have collaborated with me during UC Davis’ Picnic Day. In this event, we engage visitors from the community by providing hands-on opportunity to learn about some of the musical instruments owned by the music department. On both occasions, the “Musical Expedition” has received the highest number of votes by the public as a favorite Picnic Day Exhibition within the Arts and Humanities. In the summer of 2019, music graduate students earned a summer income by leading summer music camps and workshops for over 70 children ages 8-17 who came from a variety of communities including Davis, Folsom and Napa. This is an initiative I created, coordinated and continue to foster through a collaboration with UC Davis Youth Programs.

A strong incentive for pursuing my Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Davis stems from my desire to restore and reinforce the diverse communities in which I grew up and currently reside. Leaving my country of birth has expanded my vision of what it means to be a citizen in and of the world while pursuing a doctorate in ethnomusicology has increased my enthusiasm and respect for the cultural and artistic diversity that is part of that world. As a citizen and a scholar, I strive to share my appreciation for the arts by promoting their richness and importance within and beyond the academy. Reaching out to the community heightens the awareness of the role of university music departments and how they can contribute to the community at large. As a consequence of forging and reinforcing these connections, the financial contributions by the public will continue to be fostered.

Awards & Publications: 

  • “Gaiteando” Independent documentary production with an ethnomusicological focus. Shown at the XXI Latin American Film Festival of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University (2007).  Currently available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/oy9xwW8Ppz8
  •  2019-2020 – Appointed as a “Global Education for All” fellow, UC Davis Global Affairs.
  • 2018-2019 – Awarded a Mellon Public Scholar fellowship, UC Davis Humanities Institute.
  • 2004 – Worked as assistant engineer during the recording of “Berlioz Requiem, Op. 5. Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus,” a Grammy Award winner album.
  • 1996 – Awarded the "Emma E. Claus" Scholarship by the Indiana University School of Music.
  • 1995, 1997 – Recognized as a "Founders Scholar" for "High Scholastic Achievement" at Indiana University.
  • 1995 – Initiated into the Indiana University Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.
  • 1994 – Awarded a scholarship as "Outstanding International Student" from Maryville College.
  • 1994 – Awarded a "Music Performance Scholarship" from the Division of Fine Arts in Maryville College.
  • 1993 – Awarded a scholarship from A.V.A.A. "Asociación Venezolana-Americana de Amistad.”
  • 1992 – Winner of the National Youth Science Festival "Festival Juvenil Nacional de la Ciencia" in Venezuela.

Complete list of Ethnomusicology Students of the Month
Ethnomusicology Student of the Month Nomination Form

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