New Global Music Prof will Help Expand Cultural Horizons

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dr. Maisie SumGlobal engagement is one of the core values and priorities of Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo. Dr. Maisie Sum has been appointed to a new faculty position in Global Music to expand and explore the study and performance of "world music" in the Music program.

“As a young, talented ethnomusicologist, Sum possesses expertise gained from a recently completed Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, and significant international experience,” commented Grebel President, Susan Schultz Huxman. “She also brings an engaging, warm presence that will serve her well as she interacts with students inside and outside the classroom.”

Sum will greatly enrich the Music program and expand the opportunities to study and perform global/world music. She grew up in Canada but has also lived, studied, and done research in Japan, Morocco, and Bali. She is competent in several languages and has studied a variety of musical instruments, including the guembri (lute) of Morocco, the gamelan of Indonesia, and West African drums.

“The Music Department is thrilled with the appointment of Dr. Maisie Sum,” remarked Music Chair, Laura Gray. This position fulfills the College’s long-standing commitment to expand our course offerings in Global Music, not only through a wider variety of classroom courses but also through experiential learning in ensembles and international travel courses. “Since music is so deeply embedded in all aspects of human experience,” continues Gray, “we believe that studying Global Music lays a foundation for deeper awareness, understanding, respect, and engagement, which in turn help us transcend cultural barriers in our increasingly multicultural communities. Our students and community will benefit greatly from Dr. Sum, not only because of her expertise as a Global-Music specialist but also from the deep respect for people of all cultures that she models so graciously.”

With its multiplicity of perspectives, Global Music fits the very DNA of the liberal-arts focus of the Music Department, as well as the mission and values of Conrad Grebel as a whole, complementing other programs in the College and University. “With her rich interdisciplinary musical background – and even a Master’s degree in Engineering! – Sum brings a unique and fresh perspective to conversations with colleagues, students, and the wider Mennonite and Waterloo communities,” said Gray.

“Music is one way in which we can understand and come to appreciate the various cultures and peoples with whom we share the world,” explained Sum. “Learning what music is and what it means to people - the sounds being made, how they are made, and why - requires that we listen carefully and deeply, and open our ears, minds, and imagination. Cultivating an intimate relationship with unfamiliar music, doing fieldwork, and participating in music, (all fundamental to global music studies) requires us to make connections between new and previous experiences and to interact with people from different cultural and musical perspectives. In this way, understanding global music develops our sensitivity, awareness, and appreciation for the world’s cultures and people, which I believe assists Grebel’s peace building mission.”

"Maisie Sum exemplifies global music," said Jim Pankratz, Dean of Conrad Grebel. "She has studied music at university, transcribed it in homes in Morocco, lived among people who are making music in Africa and Bali, and learned to play instruments from a number of regions of the world. Currently she is part of a gamelan ensemble in Montreal. Just as music travels and finds new homes, so has she. We are pleased that she is bringing her global perspective, her love of music, and her appreciation and respect for musicians to our Music program and our community."

Looking forward to her July 1st, 2013 start date, Sum is most excited about being part of “a strong, intimate, spiritual, and diverse community where different cultures, worldviews, and disciplines meet and interact.” Students can expect Sum "to introduce them to unfamiliar sounds, to facilitate their discovery of global music by demanding them to actively participate as listeners and music-makers, and to encourage them to ask questions and make connections with their own beliefs, values, and practices."

“Maisie Sum will bring a richness and variety to Grebel," predicts President Huxman, “as we work together ‘to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue peace’ at home and around the world; on campus and in the community.”

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