Mini-Grant Report: Dr Marquese Carter visits Sewanee

The Sewanee voice studio and I were honored to welcome guest scholar and clinician Dr. Marquese Carter (they/them) for a lecture and vocal masterclass on February 9-10, 2022. Though their visit was originally planned as a Zoom residency, Dr. Carter made the trip in person from Murray State University, where they serve as an Assistant Professor of Music in voice and music history/literature. The Center for Teaching provided a generous mini-grant to cover Dr. Carter’s transportation costs to and from Murray, KY.

On Thursday, Dr. Carter gave an engaging and beautifully-researched lecture on the art songs of Florence Price (1887-1953), a pioneering Black American composer whose considerable musical accomplishments are now seeing considerable exposure and scholarship after decades of exclusion. Dr. Carter spoke to a gathering of students, faculty, and community members about Price’s relationships with prominent African-American thinkers and artists in the early twentieth century; her use of Afro-logical as well as Euro-logical aesthetics and techniques in her vocal compositions; the pedagogical benefits of assigning and programming her works; and the ethics of assigning her songs to singers who do not identify as Black. The presentation was informative and inspiring, and generated significant conversation in the studio about performing Price’s works in the future.

The next day, Dr. Carter worked with Sewanee singers Mickey James-Thrower, Alice Belshaw, and Nick Govindan in a masterclass devoted to vocal technique and interpretation. In addition to being an exacting scholar, Dr. Carter is also an excellent applied pedagogue (whom I first encountered in the 2019 NATS Intern program, a selective training program for early-career voice teachers). As part of their cohort, I admired Dr. Carter’s depth of knowledge and approachable delivery, and their work with our Sewanee vocalists did not disappoint. Dr. Carter–also a certified yoga instructor–incorporated movement, posture work, best practices in vocal technique, and acting into their clinic. It was instructional not only for the students, but also for us faculty looking on.

The singers, Erik, and I are grateful to the Center for Teaching, along with the Center for Southern Studies and the Music department, for its support of Dr. Carter’s enriching guest residency!

Kerry Ginger, Department of Music

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