Meet the Researchers
This project was completed by five undergraduate students and our mentor, Dr. Louis Epstein. We all brought different skills and intentions to the project—read more about us below!
The Musical Geography Project is a collaborative, digital humanities, musicological research initiative initiated by Dr. Louis Epstein at St. Olaf College in 2015. Dr. Epstein and University of Denver undergraduate Maeve Nagel-Frazel collaboratively co-developed the 2022 Musical Geography project focused on the Washington Conservatory between January 2022 – May 2022. Intensive research on this project was undertaken during a ten-week period in summer 2022 by four St. Olaf undergraduate students, Jack Slavik, Ariana Raduege, Davis Moore, and Lizzie Gray, along with Maeve and Dr. Epstein. Maeve made an initial archival research trip to Washington, DC in June 2022, while Jack, Ariana, and Maeve conducted additional archival research in Washington, DC, in July 2022.
Among the six members of the 2022 Musical Geography team, three team members self-identify as female, three team members self-identify as male, and all team members self-identify as white. We recognize the potential limitations of our positionality and the ways those limitations might affect the insights offered through this project, as well as the people impacted by it. As a result, we have taken certain steps to mitigate this project’s potential to do unintentional harm and to strengthen the project’s commitment to an intersectional, reparative approach to music history.
We have made a concerted effort to contact living descendants of Washington Conservatory graduates and ask for their consent to do this work. Due to time limitations, we have only made contact with one living descendant, but we will continue trying to make contact with other descendants. While much of our work strives to circumvent archival silences, we also recognize that the archive is not the be-all-end-all of knowledge. Our oral history with Phylicia Bowman taught us that archival collections are never comprehensive; the living legacy of generational memory remains a crucial source for historians.
We acknowledge intersectional forces of race, gender, and class create a power imbalance between us and Washington Conservatory graduates unconsciously allowing us to “speak for” said graduates. As a result, we have attempted to center individual voices and not filter graduate narratives through the prism of our own privilege. In our work as historians, we seek to represent graduates as multifaceted individuals with agency over their own lives and not rely on racialized or gendered tropes.
As white-identifying scholars working on African-American history, we acknowledge our own privilege influences our analysis of acts of racial violence and discrimination enacted on Washington Conservatory Graduates. Throughout this project, we have worked to center the scholarship and voices of Black-identifying scholars and historical figures whose expertise and experience can best convey the significance and impact of the Washington Conservatory.
WordPress All Star and Genealogy Expert
Lizzie Gray (she/her) is a rising sophomore who is majoring in History and French. When she’s not swing dancing, she loves diving into the lives of people from the past. That’s exactly what she got to do in this project, learning about the impacts the graduates of the Washington Conservatory had in their communities, no matter how small. Lizzie loves this type of detective work, and sometimes gets lost down the rabbit holes of genealogical research. She’s enjoyed being able to develop her archival research skills over the course of this summer in preparation for her post-graduation plans to work in archives and libraries.
Writing/Editing Cheerleader and Meeting Scribe Virtuoso
Davis Moore (he/him) is a rising senior at St. Olaf College majoring in History and Music with an Environmental Studies concentration. With wide-ranging academic interests and an interdisciplinary assortment of majors, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to engage related topics through researching this summer, which has encompassed everything from delving into music scores, scouring through census records, and exploring graduates’ geographical movement. Davis looks forward to carrying the valuable lessons gleaned from his time in the Musical Geography Project into the 2022 academic year and beyond.
Secondary Sources Maven and Co-Data Comptroller
Ariana Raduege (she/her) is a rising senior at St. Olaf College majoring in biology, music, and environmental studies. She is excited by the work of humanities research and the personal connections to the work that can be formed. She is interested in exploring the less celebrated histories and getting a more genuine depiction of Black music in the early twentieth century by those who lived it.
Mapping Specialist, Co-Data Comptroller, Louis Liaison
Jack Slavik (he/him) is a rising senior at St. Olaf College majoring in Vocal Music Education. As a musician and future educator, Jack is passionate about amplifying historical narratives made invisible by structural barriers to equality. He is interested in musical practices in “ordinary” communities of non-professional musicians. This summer, Jack focused on visualizing the musical networks of Washington Conservatory graduates with special emphasis on where graduates taught and lived in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Par Excellence and Historical Newspapers Pundit
Maeve Nagel-Frazel (she/her) is a rising senior at the University of Denver where she will graduate with a B.A. in Music (violin) with a minor in History in November 2022. Maeve’s research interests center around nineteenth and twentieth century American musical culture, and she is passionate about using digital mapping tools to redefine music history. Maeve is the author of The Musical Geography Research and Style Guide, and has presented her work at numerous musicological conferences including at the Society for American Music where her research won the Mark Tucker Award for outstanding student paper in March 2022.
Dr. Louis Epstein
Louis Epstein is Associate Professor of Music at St. Olaf College. His research ranges from early twentieth-century French music to digital mapping to the science of teaching and learning. His book, The Creative Labor of Music Patronage in Interwar France (The Boydell Press, 2022), reveals how collaborations between a variety of patrons and composers informed the distinctive sounds of French classical music between the world wars. Louis currently serves as Co-Director of St. Olaf’s Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts and as Chair of the American Musicological Society’s Pedagogy Study Group. With his wife, Maggie, he co-chairs his family (two kids and a dog) and in his spare time he performs and records family music as one half of Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band.