Debra Lacoste

Music History, Understanding Music; Trumpet
Debra Lacoste

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24226

Debra Lacoste’s professional activities span a number of fields: medieval chant research, academic publishing, university teaching, freelance trumpet playing, choral directing, and private music instruction.

Debra is Project Manager and Principal Researcher of CANTUS: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant, an online digital archive of medieval manuscript inventories.  With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in spring of 2011, she brought the Cantus Database to the University of Waterloo where it continues to be associated with other UW digital humanities projects as part of MARGOT. Since 2019, the Cantus Database and its sister site, the Cantus Index catalogue of chant texts and melodies, have been integral parts of the SSHRC-funded “Digital Analysis of Chant Transmission” project at Dalhousie University (PI: Jennifer Bain) and continue to be developed through a large international network of partnered institutions, online chant repositories, and individual researchers. With her experience in medieval Latin chant, Debra is a Consultant for the project “Doctrine, devotion, and cultural expression in the cults of medieval Iberian saints” at the University of Bristol, and has been an active partner in several other chant research teams, including the “Neumes Interest Group” of the Music Encoding Initiative.

Debra served a term as Digital and Multimedia Editor for the Journal of the American Musicological Society (2017-19), and in 2016 she took over the day-to-day operations of the Institute of Mediaeval Music, a small Canadian academic publishing house specializing in research monographs about music of the Middle Ages and edited Collected Works publications of medieval composers.

In addition to teaching duties at several area universities including Conrad Grebel University College, Debra has been an active member in academic societies such as the "Cantus Planus" Study Group of the International Musicological Society, and the American Musicological Society. She has served on several Boards both in academia and in the community, currently as member-at-large for the Canadian Society of Medievalists and previously as Chair of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra.

Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, Debra attended Wilfrid Laurier University (BMus, Music History, 1992). Shortly afterwards, she completed the requirements for her Associate Diploma in Trumpet Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (A.R.C.T.). She continued her musicological studies at the University of Western Ontario (MA, Music History, 1995; PhD Systematic Musicology, 2000) where her research and dissertation focused on some of the earliest medieval ecclesiastical chant books from the abbey of Klosterneuburg, near Vienna. She has been the winner of numerous scholarships and awards, including a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, a Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and  a Standard Research Grant.

Her publications to date include 4 authored & edited books, 11 journal articles, 5 book chapters, 9 articles in conference proceedings, book reviews, project user manuals, as well as over 55 electronic submissions to the Cantus Database, both as primary indexer and as editor. She has presented at conferences and colloquia in Prague, Växjö (Sweden), Rochester, Dublin, Chicago, Zürich, Regensburg, London (Canada), Waterloo, Toronto, Montréal, Leuven (Belgium), Brussels, Niederaltaich (Germany), Oxford, Hamilton, Halifax, Vienna, Venice, Ottawa, and at the annual Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, as well as prepared recorded and online presentations and workshops.

Outside of academic life, Debra enjoys freelance trumpet playing, directing her community choir “Fireside Voices,” and spending time with her family. She is a member of the “Full House Brass” quintet and operates a private teaching studio.