Department of Music Lecture Series


All Lectures are free and open to the public.

Funded by the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund.



Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020
7:00 pm
Laurel Forum, Karpen Hall, UNCA Campus

Image result for Brian Felix

 Brian Felix

“Beethoven the Improviser”

As with most piano virtuosos that were active during the 18th and early-19th centuries, Ludwig van Beethoven was a masterful improviser. This ability, to which he dedicated countless hours of practice, was central to his success as a working musician—while he was making a name for himself in Vienna during the 1790s, it was his skill as an improviser, not as a composer, for which he first garnered acclaim. Unfortunately for modern listeners, there was no audio recording technology in Beethoven’s time, so we cannot hear what he actually sounded like while improvising. Scholars agree that there was a close link between Beethoven’s improvisations and compositions, with the latter often representing a crystallized version of the former. In particular, his five Piano Concertos provide clues as to Beethoven’s improvisational practice, as those pieces were intended to showcase the virtuosity and extemporizations of the soloist, who was, for the first four concertos, Beethoven himself. In this presentation, Dr. Felix will explore improvisation as a crucial component of Beethoven’s musical life and, using Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, will uncover certain aural traits of Beethoven the Improviser.

Brian Felix is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he teaches classes on jazz theory and improvisation, jazz history, keyboard skills, music business, the Beatles and the Grateful Dead. Felix holds a B.A. in Music from Rutgers College, a M.M. in Jazz Performance from DePaul University and a D.M.A. in Jazz Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. His research interests include jazz and improvised musics, the Grateful Dead and the Beatles. His work has been published in the journal Jazz Perspectives and he is the co-author of Interactive Listening: A New Approach to Music. Felix is also a professional keyboardist—he was co-leader of OM Trio, an acclaimed jazz-rock group that toured internationally between 1999-2004.  He continues to perform regularly in the Asheville, NC area with his organ jazz group Fly Casual, the electric Herbie Hancock tribute group Flood and other various projects.


Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020
7:00 pm

Laurel Forum, Karpen Hall, UNCA Campus


Andy Jurik

“…it is always three o’clock in the morning:” Dowland, Britten, melancholy, death. 

Themes of anxiety, depression, and mortality play significant factors in the music of English composers John Dowland (1563–1626) and Benjamin Britten (1913–1976). Influenced by events in their personal and professional lives, both composers realize these themes in their compositions through musical elements such as motivic content, form and structure, and text setting. Likewise, Britten often found inspiration by looking back towards the aesthetics and sentiments found in Renaissance music, in particular, Dowland’s vocal and instrumental works. Using a blended historical and theoretical approach, this lecture will examine select pieces by Dowland and Britten to better understand how these disconsolate themes factor into both their music and personal narratives. Musical performances include Dowland’s lute song “Come, heavy sleep” and Britten’s “Nocturnal, op. 70” for guitar.

Guitarist, arranger, and educator Andy Jurik actively explores the intersection of classical and popular music. As a solo guitarist, his repertoire includes arrangements ranging from Scottish lute works and Brazilian choro to Radiohead and the Beatles. Enthusiastic about the possibilities of third stream music (a hybrid of classical and jazz), Jurik prizes the compositions of genre-fusing guitarists like Ralph Towner, Roland Dyens, and Dušan Bogdanović. Demeler, his voice/guitar duo featuring vocalist Rachel Hansbury, reimagines Edith Piaf classics, Carter family standards, and timeless Celtic folk songs. Duo Cortado, his long-running duo with guitarist Devin Sherman, actively commissions new works to expand the scope of repertoire for guitar duo. 

Andy’s research in third stream music and contemporary improvisation results in activity on both the concert stage and the lecture hall. He presented a paper on improvisation in historical and contemporary contexts at the 2019 Dublin Guitar Symposium. Andy lectured on his doctoral research on the classical guitar’s role in classical/jazz fusion was presented at the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America convention in Fullerton, CA. Recent performances include the ASCAP-award winning Southern Exposure concert series, Brevard College, the Wired Music series, Carnegie Mellon University, Presbyterian College, Central Piedmont Community College, the ArtFields Festival, and the Southern Guitar Festival. 

Andy currently teaches at Western Carolina University (music appreciation, music theory, aural skills) and University of North Carolina Asheville (guitar, Astor Piazzolla ensemble). He earned degrees from the University of South Carolina (DMA, 2016), Austin Peay State University (M.M., 2012), and Ithaca College (B.M., 2008). Andy’s previous instructors include Christopher Berg, Stanley Yates, Pablo Cohen, and Steve Brown; masterclass and individual studies include Mark Stewart (Paul Simon, Bang on a Can All-Stars), Lorenzo Michelli and Matteo Mela (SoloDuo), Derek Gripper, and Ricardo Cobo.

Andy acts as co-director of the Asheville Classical Guitar Society, a collective that sponsors monthly open meetings, concerts, and masterclasses in the Western North Carolina area. His online critical writing for PopMatters and Spectrum Culture has been recognized by the Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch Records, New Amsterdam Records, and Innova Recordings.


Tuesday, Mar 24, 2020
7:00 pm
Laurel Forum, Karpen Hall, UNCA Campus

Keynote Lecture – Gabriel Solis

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Professor of Musicology
Affiliate in African American Studies
Chair of Musicology
Dean’s Fellow, College of Fine and Applied Arts

B.A. (musicology), University of Wisconsin; Ph. D. (musicology/ethnomusicology), Washington University in St. Louis

From Songsters to Songbirds: Notes on Singing as Labor in the American Twentieth Century 

This talk looks at two moments in American music history where singing was at the front of transformations in the nature of work. The first considers African American blues singers in the early 20th-century recording industry, as they not only carved out roles as traveling professionals but as they also navigated a recording industry that was bent on drawing musical performance into a Fordist mode of industrial production. The second considers singers on the “supper club” circuit around mid-century. While their work has regularly been dismissed as middlebrow, this circuit gave women, primarily performing as torch singers, the opportunity to earn a meaningful living, often as bandleaders. Ultimately both jobs disappeared or were radically transformed with changes in the larger economy. As we move deeper into a new century and further into a world of economic precarity for laborers of all sorts a consideration of these modes of musical work may help offer models for an uncertain future.

A scholar of African American music and of Indigenous musics of the Southwestern Pacific, Gabriel Solis has done ethnographic and historical research with jazz musicians in the United States and with musicians in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Drawing on work in African American studies, anthropology, and history, he addresses the ways people engage the past, performing history and memory through music. Additionally, his work explores musicians’ and audiences’ interactions with and personalization of mass-mediated musical commodities in transnational circulation. He has received the Wenner Gren Foundation’s Hunt Fellowship, the Arnold O. Beckman Fellowship for distinguished research, the Madden Fellowship for research in technology and the arts, an Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities fellowship, and most recently a Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory senior fellowship.  He received the honorable mention for the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Jaap Kunst Prize for “Artisanship, Innovation, and Indigenous Modernity in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea: Ataizo Mutahe’s Flutes,” in 2013. His articles have appeared in The Musical Quarterly, Ethnomusicology, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Popular Music and Society, Musicultures, and a number of edited collections. He is the author of a book on contemporary performances of Thelonious Monk’s music, titled Monk’s Music: Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making (University of California Press, 2007), and a book on John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk’s work together in the late-1950s (Oxford University Press, 2013), and co-editor with Bruno Nettl of a collection of essays on improvisation cross-culturally. He is currently working on a book on Tom Waits and the theatrics of masculinity, and on a study of the history of connections between artists and activists in Australia and Papua New Guinea and their counterparts in the African diaspora, titled The Black Pacific. In addition to jazz, Dr. Solis has studied capoeira with Contramestre Dennis Chiaramonte of Livre como Vento, Professor Doutor of ASCAB and Instructor Macaquinho of Capoeira Angola Palmares.