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2022 Projects

The College of Creative Arts Faculty Student Mentored Research awards demonstrate the exceptional mentored research work being conducted in the arts at West Virginia University. Research in the arts can take many forms: exhibitions, performances, publications, scholarly research and more.

This display will also be part of WVU's Research Week . Awards are supported by the CCA Dean's Office, with additional support for the new Collaborative Award from the WVU Research Office.

Watch all 2022 Faculty/Student Mentored Research Project Introductions

Undergraduate Projects

Chronic- An Abstract Exploration Into Chronic Illness

by Elizabeth Boccabello, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Hannah K. Freeman

Painted Sculpture, October 2021


Chronic by Boccabello
Living with a chronic illness is what makes up the theme for my painting, Chronic. This work is a more sculptural painting, referencing the pain I feel when I have an episode relating to my chronic illness. The painting symbolizes the pain someone would feel if their organs were to be ripped from their abdomen, a feeling I experience on a regular basis. The knitted attachments represent two things. The first, and most literal representation, is that the knitted pieces look like organs. The second, refers to a calming action that doctors have me do to try to relax during an episode, in this case it is knitting. The artwork is darker in theme but is juxtaposed with vibrant and cheery colors. Not only is this due to personal preference towards bright colors, but it shows the overly happy mindset people with chronic illness must adopt so they do not become overwhelmed with their illness. Though this painting is abstract and almost non-objective at first, the goal of my work is to open a dialogue between viewers about chronic illness and to spread awareness so doctors can better treat people like me. My professor, Hannah Freeman, helped me organize my ideas for the artwork in ways like helping me re-assess brush stroke quality and the importance of some of the yarn colors. In the end, she helped me create a sophisticated abstract artwork without losing the original purpose of opening conversation about chronic illness.

Image: "Chronic" Oil paint/Yarn (Knit) Listen to Elizabeth's Introduction and Artist Statement
Supporting Content: Elizabeth's Faculty Statement (PDF)

Compact Disc Album: Contemporary Alto and Bass Flute music by Francophone Composers

by Ethan Nylander, School of Music

Faculty Mentors: Nina Assimakopoulos, Eftihia Arkoudis

Recording, September 2021-March 2022


My research comprises the promotion, preparation and recording of a CD album containing eight contemporary works for alto and bass flute written by francophone composers associated with the French flute school. This CD is the first of its kind, as one containing solely music for low flutes has never been published by any artist. These compositions span from 1937 to 2020 and require mastery of both traditional and contemporary techniques of the Boehm flute. Within these works I execute a variety of extended techniques; techniques that transcend the limits of traditional flute playing. These techniques include air sounds, pizzicato tonguing, jet whistles, multiphonics, and more, juxtaposed with traditional flute playing techniques such as fast articulation, vibrato, circular breathing, support and control. In addition, multiple pieces are scored for flute and pre-recorded sound, requiring these techniques to be played with strict attention to time, and with an understanding of the structure of the sound in order to blend and balance. From this project, I have acquired the knowledge required to successfully record and publish an album, as well as how to promote with social media. This research is being conducted with the intention of instituting acknowledgement, indoctrination, and representation of contemporary music on an international scale, and with the intention of providing an immensely sound contribution to the field. I have received personalized instruction on the works from flutist Nina Assimakopoulos, as well as mentorship on the production, organization, and promotion of the CD from flutist Dr. Eftihia Arkoudis.

Listen to Ethan's Introduction and Presentation
Supporting Content: Ethan's Faculty Statement (PDF)

Jinxy Jenkins & Lucky Lou: The Journey from Spark to Screen

Undergraduate Student 1st Place

by Zoey Lim, School of Music

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Matthew Heap, Dr. Kyle Simpson

Multimedia Scoring, April 2021 - November 2021


As a student composer who knew next to nothing about film scoring just last year, I never would have imagined that an idea of mine would end up being performed and recorded by a group of talented musicians. The idea was simple: to try to tell the story of two completely opposite characters with music in an animated short film. The title of the film was named after the main characters Jinxy Jenkins and Lucky Lou; Jinxy Jenkins was this gloomy, human-shaped bad luck magnet and Lucky Lou, a sunshine-and-rainbows kind of person who was as lucky as her name suggests. The very first draft included me using computer-generated instruments as playback, it didn’t sound too good. Later in the rewrite, I certainly felt like I was the real life embodiment of Jinxy Jenkins, except that I had a two-week deadline, technical hiccups, and writer’s block that he did not. That said, I also met my fair share of Lucky Lous who were always there to offer insights, motivate and cheer me onwards. Throughout the process, I got to score for live musicians, tinker with recording technology, conduct an ensemble, and perform/record the score with the WVU Film Score Ensemble—things that I would have never learned or experienced otherwise. Looking back, the scoring of Jinxy Jenkins wasn’t just about telling the story of two conflicting characters; it was also about the journey of a group of musicians, who overcame the hurdles and gave life to a simple idea.
Supporting Content: Zoey's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Listen to Zoey's Introduction and Presentation

New Music in West Virginia

by Christian Rhen, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kyle Simpson

Album of music featuring new artists' original music, Fall 2021 - Spring 2023


New Musicians of West Virginia is a project showcasing new music influencing the musical communities in West Virginia and the diversity of its sound. The goal of this project is to write original music with local songwriters and musicians to produce an album showcasing the live music happening in our communities. This album will be available on major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music and will demonstrate the modularity of West Virginia’s music and the broad possibilities new musicians offer beyond the stereotypes of folk, bluegrass, and country. Beyond promoting new music in West Virginia, this project seeks to feature the selected artists based on their stories, their experiences, and their music. With an emphasis on the individual and the effect they have on the greater community around them, we can celebrate the intricate differences among us through the medium of music. To get this project in motion, I will be responsible as the producer for scheduling, budgeting, recording, and the release of the album in the image of the artists to preserve their creative intentions. This entails research and practice with audio engineering, music arranging, music distribution, and various skill sets to best capture and present the artists’ intentions regardless of the diversity among this project’s song writers.

Supporting Content: Christian's Faculty Statement (PDF)

Preparation, Recording, and Performance of Modern Works for Flute of Spanish Origin

by Juan Carlos Narvaez, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Nina Assimakopoulos

Performance/Recording, August 2021- present


The focus of my research is the preparation, CD recording/publication and live performances of 12 previously unrecorded works for flute by contemporary composers that draw on the diversity of musical traditions within the country of Spain resulting in compositions that are hybrids of diverse Spanish musical styles and practices associated with western art music. This repertoire requires mastery of performance practices that go beyond the conventional playing techniques of the flute, known as extended techniques, these may include singing and playing simultaneously, multiphonics, air glissandi and more. The study and preparation of these works for flute will occur in collaboration with the commissioned composers of each work. My research will investigate the connections between these works and traditional music influences of various regions of Spain. This will involve study of historical writings at archives such as the Biblioteca de Catalunya which will culminate in the writing of the CD liner notes, and program notes that will be shared during live performances of these works. My investigation culminates in live performances in Spain and the United States and the production of a CD recording produced by Mon Hills Records. This CD will be the first recorded collection of these kinds of works, providing critical documentation of current activity in the field of 21st century art music.

Listen to Juan's Performance and Presentation
Supporting Content: Juan's Faculty Statement (PDF)

The Legacy of Bernard Woma: A Resource for Independent Study of Dagara Gyil

Undergraduate Student Honorable Mention

by Elizabeth Rockwell, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Vercelli

Oral/visual presentation, June 1, 2021-July 30, 2021


The gyil is a West African xylophone associated with the Dagara people in Ghana and Burkina Faso. Bernard Woma, a master gyil player, was crucial to the dissemination of the instrument outside of Dagara culture. Before his untimely passing in 2018, Woma worked with Dr. Michael Vercelli (WVU) to design a method book that allowed beginner gyil players to learn fundamental skills independently before traveling to Africa to learn from a master musician. Together, they posed a question: will translating an oral tradition to the written page allow people outside of the Dagara community to learn it? Using a triple-channel learning model, the book teaches through visual transcriptions and auditory examples of Dagara repertoire while encouraging retention through kinesthetic practices. My role in this research was to learn gyil through this resource as a beginning student to determine if this project can reach its intended goal despite Woma’s absence. We found that the triple-channel model was an effective way to translate Dagara repertoire and best represent Bernard Woma’s pedagogical practice.

Listen to Elizabeth's Presentation | Read Elizabeth's Presentation
Supporting Content: Elizabeth's Faculty Statement (PDF)

Graduate Projects

A Study and Analysis of the Extended Techniques used in Ian Clarke's Zoom Tube

Graduate Student Honorable Mention

by Sammy Holloman, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Nina Assimakopoulos

Performance, 1999


When asked to describe a flute sound, many would likely mention the high pitch or sweet tone quality. It is unlikely someone would first mention the flute’s ability to produce multiphonics, percussive sounds, or even homophonic textures, as these concepts, known as extended techniques, are not a part of the traditional flute history. An extended technique is an unconventional approach to playing an instrument in order to achieve an unusual timbre. Extended techniques are a relatively new concept in the flute world, for many composers did not begin truly exploring the variety of timbres a flute could produce until arguably the 1950’s. As this modern-day language continuously develops, learning extended techniques requires a great deal of exploration and analysis. Ian Clarke’s Zoom Tube for solo flute is composed entirely of extended techniques such as: air sounds, singing and playing, multiphonics, finger glissandi, pitch bending, percussive effects, microtonal scales, and the jet whistle. This work requires flutists to perform a variety of challenging techniques, often layered together, and utilizes a different notation system from what one would find in “traditional” repertoire. Learning Zoom Tube is equivalent to learning a new language. In making this developing language accessible to flutists of all playing levels, I have shared my studies through a series of online tutorial videos, and I will be presenting my research on the extended techniques used in Zoom Tube at the 2022 Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia Flute Fair.

Listen to Sammy's Introduction and Presentation
Supporting Content: Sammy's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Listen to Sammy's Tutorial | Listen to Sammy's Performance

Analysis of New Works for Euphonium Ensemble

by Michael Waddell, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Kahn

Scholarly articles and accompanying video analysis, Spring 2021


This research analyzes and explains the form, melodic, and harmonic structures of three newer pieces written for euphonium ensemble. Psalm by Zach Collins for euphonium quartet, War Machine by Anthony O’Toole for euphonium quartet, and Technodrone for euphonium sextet by Anthony O’Toole. These articles were written to accompany previous work in recording the pieces, and fieldwork done interviewing the composers of the works. In addition to the written articles, the video presentation of the War Machine analysis showcases key aspects of the analysis along with audio examples of the work.

Listen to Michael's Presentation
Supporting Content: Michael's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Listen to Michael's Introduction | Read Michael's Analysis

Artists Sydney Laurence, Belmore Browne, and Olaus Murie and the Conservation of American Land

Graduate Student 1st Place

by Madelyn Brodie, School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rhonda Reymond

Thesis (Research Paper), Fall 2020- Spring 2022


A portion of Madelyn's research
My research analyzes the impact of artists Sydney Laurence (1856- 1940), Belmore Browne (1880- 1954), and Olaus Murie (1889- 1963) and the contribution that their artwork had on the protection of United States public lands. I examine the conservation initiatives that were brought into effect during the early 1900s, the personal motivations of these artists to preserve the land, and the interactions between these artists and the United States government to demonstrate their involvement in land preservation. Artworks created by Laurence, Browne, and Murie are examined and evaluated for their aesthetic impact and their contribution to environmental, geographical, and biological knowledge of the habitats and wildlife that were largely unknown to the United States government. The analysis of governmental documents and legislation, the lobbying efforts of activist organizations, and government official’s reception of the artwork of Laurence, Browne, and Murie proves the impact of these artists. The paintings of Sydney Laurence and the paintings and field sketches of Belmore Browne and Olaus Murie aided in the preservation of millions of acres of land in the Northwest region of the United States.

Listen to Madelyn's Presentation
Supporting Content: Madelyn's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Read Madelyn's Analysis

Rhythms of Lebanon

by Joseph Boulos, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Vercelli

Virtual Exchange/Video, April 23rd, 2021


This creative mentored research project is a presentation of traditional music from Lebanon. I was given the opportunity, as a World Music Graduate Assistant, to structure the class around my principal instrument, the Lebanese darbaki. The overall goal with this class was to teach the proper technique, function, and approach to the instrument and music. The project we had completed on April 23rd, 2021 was a virtual exchange program, similar to what we were doing in the African Music and Dance Ensemble. I organized two masterclasses via zoom with Ziyad Marcus, an accomplished oud player. The masterclasses focused on the melodic aspects of Lebanese music. For our concert, the ensemble had recorded a full arrangement of a piece highlighting popular rhythms in Lebanon, and Ziyad layered an oud part to fit our arrangement. By adding the oud, the students were able to see the importance of the instrument on its own, as well as understanding its role in an ensemble. Incorporating this West Asian section into WVU’s already diverse world music program will enhance the positive impact of the global music program for students, faculty, and the community. My hope is to expose many students to the music of West Asia, an underrepresented music culture in U.S. higher education, and explore how the indigenous music culture has been hidden by foreign interest, colonialism, and war.

Listen to Joseph's Presentation
Supporting Content: Joseph's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Listen to Joseph's Introduction | Read Joseph's Research

Collaborative Projects

Dancing the Juba: A Syncretism of African, American, and Western Classical Traditions in the Music of Florence Price

by Sandra Morales, Sean Elliott, Gerardo Sanchez Pastrana, Clayton Heinecke, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Erin Ellis

Performance, January- March 2022


Recognized as the first African American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra, Florence Price is an icon of music history. Her work represents a major achievement in the success of black female composers of the early twentieth century, challenging established racial and gender stereotypes. As a composer who studied within the Western Classical music tradition and who is well known for her symphonies, concertos, vocal works, and chamber music, Price often incorporated conventional European musical elements with the cultures of Jazz and African American music. One prime example of this is the “Juba” movement in her symphonic and chamber works, specifically her String Quartet No. 2 in A minor (1935), which replaces the popular Minuet and Trio, or Scherzo, as the third movement of a work in the classical form. In this piece, Price combines jazz harmonies with Juba rhythms and organizes the material into a rounded binary form, a common compositional structure from the Classical period. The evolution of the Juba rhythm is considered to have been greatly influenced by the prohibition of the use of drums by slaves that were brought to the Americas during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and it has roots in traditional African music. By unifying the culturally significant “Juba” rhythm with contemporary Jazz influences and presenting them in the standard Classical form, Price is able to make a bold social statement about the cross-cultural role of the Juba dance and its ability to coexist with Western compositional values. As performers, Price’s musical language presents a unique challenge. While many expected classical idioms are present, the presence of the Juba dance showcases the diversity of our art form and offers a glimpse into an often misunderstood and misappropriated cultural world.

Listen to Dancing the Juba's Performance
Supporting Content: Dancing the Juba Faculty Statement (PDF) | Listen to Dancing the Juba's Introduction and Presentation

Environmental Music Therapy to Support Healthcare Professionals: A Response to Increased Burnout During Covid-19

Collaborative Award 1st Place

by Kathryn Roe and Emily Lehr, School of Music

Faculty Mentor: Hannah Ivey-Bush

Research project, Fall 2020-present


Burnout can be a serious effect deriving from an intense and stressful work environment. Decreasing burnout in healthcare professionals is important as it will not only improve the quality of patient care provided but the mental and physical states of those struggling with burnout. Music therapy is a multifaceted profession that can tend to the presenting signs of burnout and its needs. In our study, music therapy was provided to the health professionals of Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. While all staff was included, a special emphasis was placed on staff providing care for covid positive patients. Music therapy services were provided by the music therapy team to staff several times a week after which they were invited to take a brief survey. The live music interventions consisted of client preferred music, relaxation music played on guitar, and lyrical content related to improving mental health. Our research methodology consisted of data collection and was compiled to examine levels of anxiety, work-related stress, and workplace happiness. Projected goals consisted of decreasing signs of intense stress and burnout of the healthcare workers at the hospital and comparing results of different timelines of the virus and vaccination status in WV. Another goal was to continue to build medical music therapy and provide valuable information on staff wellness for other programs.
Keywords: burnout, music therapy, data collection

Kathryn and Emily's Presentation | Kathryn and Emily's Poster (PDF)
Supporting Content: Kathryn and Emily's Faculty Statement (PDF)

Preserved in Clay and Stone: Celebrating the History of Ancient Latin America

Collaborative Award Honorable Mention

by Riley Klug and Samuel Hensley School of Art & Design

Faculty Mentor: Megan Leight

Exhibition organized for the Pettus Archive, Winthrop University, South Carolina; Students and faculty mentors were panelists presenting on works in the collection in-person in South Carolina, Fall 2021


The Louise Pettus Archives was proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the opening of a new exhibit featuring the Salazar Latin American Artifacts Collection, whose works date from the pre-Columbian era to the modern period. The exhibition featured twenty objects that emphasized gender roles and animal imagery across a variety of media including pottery, figurines, whistles, and stone sculptures. Objects associated with food preparation were particularly notable with a metate in the form of a crocodile used for grinding foodstuffs such as corn or chiles. Pottery featured works likely contained in burials; early ceramic works exhibited distinctive incised traditions while later ceramics coalesce with burgeoning polychrome traditions. Figurines included plentiful painted details of clothing with 3-dimensional volumetric areas for emphasizing bulbous body parts including eyes, ears, noses and bellies. The thematic collection highlight not only monumental moments in the lives of ancient pre-Columbian individuals but also items to assist with the mundane tasks of daily life. Professor Megan Leight, Teaching Assistant Professor of Art History, West Virginia University (WVU) participated in a panel discussion about the collection, its history, and significance of the artifacts alongside Winthrop Associate Professor Brent Woodfill. Professor Leight's undergraduate research students at WVU, Riley (Red) Klug and Samuel Hensley, discussed specific works of art from the collection they extensively researched including the crocodilian metate and wind instruments called ocarinas. Attendees at the event were able to view the portion of the Salazar collection on display and were encouraged to ask questions of the presenters.

Preserved in Clay and Stone Research and Exhibit
Supporting Content: Riley and Samuel's Faculty Statement (PDF) | Riley and Samuel's Introduction