UIC School of Theater and Music announces the new head of the Department of Music, Brent C. Talbot, Ph.D.
Brent Talbot is equally comfortable in the classroom, on the conductor’s podium, at an academic conference, and as the head of a music program. This comfort comes from being a musician, teacher, program builder, and scholar leading change in the field of music education for the past two decades.
Talbot is a versatile musician with training in piano performance, choral and instrumental conducting, Balinese gamelan, and other musical traditions. Since receiving a Ph.D. in music education and a diploma in ethnomusicology from the Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester, Talbot has distinguished himself through ground-breaking scholarship and teaching.
A prolific author and frequent presenter, Talbot examines power, discourse, and issues of justice in varied settings for music learning around the globe. He is the editor of one of the bestselling books in music education, Marginalized Voices in Music Education, the curator of an indigenous-centering resource, Gending Rare: Children’s Songs and Games from Bali, and co-author of the acclaimed book Education, Music , and the Lives of Undergraduates: Collegiate A Cappella and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Over the past decade, Talbot has published over thirty articles and chapters in major journals and publishing companies and has delivered over 140 presentations on topics that promote equity and inclusion and diversify approaches in music learning and teaching. He serves on the steering committees of leading national and international organizations in music education and on multiple research and editorial boards throughout the globe.
Talbot is excited to bring his expertise in music education to UIC and to realize a vision for growth that builds on the strength of current music degree programs, the commitment of the campus to diversity and the arts, and the city of Chicago: “The UIC School of Theater and Music holds great potential for supporting a robust music education program that is fit for its urban context. Other music education programs exist in cities across the US, but they are not usually crafted in consort with students, families, and teachers from the city, and thus rarely reflect nor meet the needs of the contexts in which they live. However, we are uniquely positioned to build upon the strong partnerships that already exist between UIC and the Chicago Public Schools and schools in the surrounding municipalities. As a professor of music education, I want to design the kind of program that will benefit Chicago’s teaching-artists and be responsive to the lives of its citizens.
I am also excited to continue to build momentum on our fundraising efforts for the new Center for the Arts. In collaboration with our partners in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, I am confident that the vision of our state-of-the-art facility will be closer to reality. And that our physical infrastructure can soon reflect as well as inspire the exceptional work of our students and faculty.”
Christine Dunford, director of the UIC School of Theater and Music, is thrilled to welcome Talbot: “As a former K-12 music teacher in Brooklyn and Rochester, New York, and as someone who has also taught at the University of Illinois, University of North Texas, and most recently served for twelve years as coordinator of music education at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College, Talbot recognizes who we are at UIC, and, equally as important, who we are not. He understands our music students and the opportunities that being in Chicago affords us. His commitment to welcoming students from widely different musical and cultural backgrounds, and educating and preparing them for careers in music and related fields, will help us provide a number of currently unmet needs. The structures he is putting in place with our team of outstanding faculty and staff will help position us as a national leader and model in urban arts education.”
Talbot’s short-term goals are aligned to supporting current music degree programs and ensembles.
“Professor Robert DiFazio has developed an exciting music business degree program that is drawing students throughout the Midwest. I want to support his efforts by expanding the diversity of internships and partnerships throughout the city and nationwide while aligning the strengths of the music business degree program with our new music education program.”
Talbot is also excited about opportunities with the UIC jazz studies program.
“Chicago lives and breathes jazz. I want to leverage the music and culture of jazz in Chicago to support our jazz studies degree. Thinking creatively with director of jazz studies, Michael Stryker and our jazz faculty, we are making UIC a top destination for jazz studies—one that reflects the unique sound of Chicago and the exceptional artists who live here.”
While continuing to support the long-standing tradition of the UIC bands, orchestras, and choirs, Talbot aims to broaden the ensemble offerings at UIC to reflect the diverse identities throughout the city. He is currently working with Indonesian partners to establish a gamelan ensemble. And along with the director of choirs, Liza Calisesi Maidens, they have already begun conceptualizing ways to partner with justice- and equity-oriented ensembles within the city and ways to establish a gospel choir on campus.
“UIC’s music department doesn’t only serve music degree-seeking students, it also serves the social, emotional, and community needs of our campus. With nearly 34,000 students from a variety of majors, we want to make sure we can satisfy students’ desires to study music, attend concerts, and perform in our vast array of ensembles and musical offerings—whether it be playing in our mariachi and pop rock ensembles or enrolling in a course on ‘Music, Gender, and Culture,’ we want students at UIC to find and to express their identities through music.”
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