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Music @ Amherst Today

Faculty Biographies

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Jeffers Engelhardt – B.M. in Piano, Oberlin Conservatory (1998) ; M.A and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago (2005). Jeffers is associate professor of ethnomusicology at Amherst College, where he teaches courses in ethnomusicology and the anthropology of music; community-based ethnography; music and religion; global popular musics; music, human rights, and cultural rights; musicianship; and the analysis of world musics. Jeffers’s research deals broadly with music, religion, European identity, and media. He is the author of Singing the Right Way: Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia (Oxford, 2014) and an edited volume Resounding Transcendence: Transitions in Music, Religion, and Ritual (Oxford, 2015).


 Jason_Robinson.pngJason Robinson, assistant professor of music, received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 2005.  Active as both scholar and composer-improviser (saxophones, flutes, electronics), his primary research interests include the intersection of improvisation and composition, African American and African diasporic musics, and interactive music technologies.  He has published articles and book chapters about the jazz avant-garde, the globalization of Jamaican music, and telematic music, and is working on a book manuscript titled (Re)Sounding the African Diaspora: Jazz, Improvisation, and Musical Transnationalisms, which investigates the role of improvisation in collaborations involving African American musicians and musicians of the African continent.  Along with many collaborative projects, Professor Robinson leads his acclaimed nine-piece Janus Ensemble, a modern jazz group dedicated to performing and recording his music and comprised of leading figures in the creative and experimental music scenes of New York.


 Eric-gazette-photo-largest.pngThe music of Eric Sawyer receives frequent performances on both coasts, including at New York’s Weill and Merkin concert halls and at Tanglewood, as well as in England, France, and Germany.  Many of his larger works connect to American historical subjects.  Sawyer’s first opera Our American Cousin was premiered in 2008 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and released on the BMOP/sound label.  A second opera, The Garden of Martyrs, received its premiere from the Springfield Symphony in September 2013.  Selections from a new opera, The Scarlet Professor, will be performed in 2015. Other recent works including Fantasy Concerto: Concord Conversations, composed for the piano trio Triple Helix and the Concord Orchestra. A chamber collection String Works and the cantata The Humble Heart are available on CD from Albany Records.  Mr. Sawyer has received the Joseph Bearns Prize, awards from the Tanglewood Music Center and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is on the music faculty at Amherst College.


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Mollie Stone currently serves as director of world music at Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC), as well as director of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Choir Presto Ensemble. She is also the assistant director of choral activities at University of Chicago, a teacher for Village Harmony, and co-director/founder of both the Brooklyn World Music Chorus, and the Chicago World Music Chorus.

Ms. Stone is writing a dissertation on how South Africans are using choral music in the struggle against HIV as part of her Doctorate in choral conducting at Northwestern University. Ms. Stone holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College, a Master of Music degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College and has studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

In 2001, Ms. Stone received a grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to produce a DVD (Vela Vela) that helps American choral directors learn and teach black South African choral music in the oral tradition. Since then, she worked with Patty Cuyler and CCC to produce a new series of teaching DVDs on Georgian, South African and Bulgarian music as part of a series called "Raising the Bar."

In 2006, Ms. Stone received another generous grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to return to South Africa to study how South Africans are using choral music in the struggle against HIV. Ms. Stone currently lectures and gives workshops on black South African choral music across the United States and Europe.

Ms. Stone has studied and taught with the organization Village Harmony in the Republic of Georgia, Corsica, South Africa, England and across the United States. In 2011, she spent ten weeks touring across Europe, performing and giving workshops with the ensemble Northern Harmony in Corsica, France, Switzerland, Germany, England and Wales.

Ms. Stone grew up singing in Chicago Children’s Choir, and proudly directs the Presto ensemble of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Choir.


David-side2.pngDavid E. Schneider is a Professor of Music at Amherst College where he has taught music history, theory, and chamber music since 1997. Author of Bartók, Hungary, and the Renewal of Tradition (University of California Press, 2006), he has published essays and reviews in Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music and Letters, Notes, Studia Musicologica, Bartók and his World, The Cambridge Companion to Bartók, and The Cambridge Companion to the Concerto. Support for his work has been provided by grants from the American Musicological Society, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the H. Axel Schupf 1957 fund for Intellectual Life at Amherst College. A former professional clarinetist, he has recorded CDs of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto on AFKA Records and a series of chamber works written for him on Albany Records.


Bio-pic.pngMallorie Chernin is Director of Choral Music and Senior Lecturer at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she directs three choirs: The Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus, and Men’s Glee Club, and coaches the Madrigal Singers, all known collectively as the Amherst College Choral Society. The activities of the Choral Society are many, including travel both in the United States and abroad, with recent tours to Iceland, Estonia, Argentina, Greece, and Ireland. On campus the choirs perform for traditional College functions such as Family Weekend, Homecoming Weekend, and Commencement, and each group performs individual full-length concert programs. Prior to becoming Director of Choral Activities at Amherst College in 1986, Ms. Chernin served on faculties at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Mallorie is active as a clinician, teacher of voice and conducting, and guest conductor, having recently conducted the Vermont All-State and Massachusetts South Eastern District Festival choruses, and the Female Vocal Ensemble of the New Hampshire Chamber Music Educators Association All State Chamber Music Festival. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mallorie Chernin completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College located in Princeton, New Jersey. Mallorie did doctoral work (ABD) at Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. She studied with Robert Fountain, Joseph Flummerfelt, Frauke Haasemann, Gerry Mack and Alexander Dashnaw, and performed with Pierre Boulez, Rafael Kubelik, James Levine, and Leonard Bernstein. As a singer and member of the Westminster Choir she performed at the Spoleto Festivals in Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto, Italy.