Alexander John Fisher
Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed David et Jonathas (1688) for a performance at the Jesuit Collège de Clermont in Paris. The work is described in contemporary sources as a tragédie en musique, though the latter term was usually reserved for works that had been composed for the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique. Some scholars have questioned the validity of the label tragédie en musique for this work on the grounds that it lacks certain features common to the genre: the amount of recitative, dance, and references to the supernatural are proportionately low compared to other works titled tragédie en musique. What is more, the work was originally intended to be performed interwoven with a separate spoken play, titled Saül. Saül and David et Jonathas are dramatically self-contained, but they were meant to be performed together, thus conflating the genres of tragédie en musique and intermède. In fact, the work’s biblical story also raises issues of genre, given that, up to 1688, all works labeled tragédie en musique featured a secular story. This thesis aims to show how this work mixes the traits of several genres both as a result of its Jesuit performance context and its composer’s priorities and past experiences writing music for the stage. Through an analysis of the political, aesthetic, musical, and dramatic features of the work, I reveal how the opera shows some indebtedness to the tragédies en musique that preceded it. Elements that point to this work’s status as a generic hybrid are also brought to the fore, following modern theories of genre that allow for works to participate in several genres without the stipulation to place it into any single category.
The seventeenth century was an age of absolutist ideology during which many European princes took upon themselves trappings of both religious and secular authority. Composers in the service of absolutist patrons were compelled to provide music that could move easily between sacred and secular venues and represent both facets of the prince’s power. Contemporary conceptions of musical classification exhibit this porous threshold between religious and profane genres and performance spaces. In this dissertation, I show how a flexible conception of musical genre—one in which traditionally sacred and secular idioms were blended in diverse ways—illustrated the dual nature of the authority of Salzburg’s absolutist Prince Archbishop. The diverse oeuvre of Salzburg’s composers calls into question the very definition of musical genre in the period. While a modern conception of fixed musical genres is manifest in theoretical treatises of the time, musical evidence suggests that well-defined genre classifications did not practically exist in the seventeenth century. Rather, composers took a malleable approach to genre, often blending different texts, musical forms, and styles to craft musical compositions latent with meanings that encompass several genres. In the first chapter, I consider genre as described in contemporary treatises and argue that modern literary genre theory provides a useful lens for the study of genre in the period. Chapter 2 turns to the sacred repertoire of Salzburg, which in its variety of centonized texts, timbres, and instrumentations deviates from the stylistic norms of liturgical genres. In Chapter 3 I explore the representational capabilities of the large-scale works performed during spectacles that were symbolic of the power and piety of Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop. Salzburg’s instrumental ensemble sonatas, explored in Chapter 4, reveal two particular uses for the term “sonata” and point to the genre as a site of both representation and innovation. The final chapter considers the solo sonata as a devotional aid in the context of cyclic spiritual exercises in Salzburg, where music transcended the limitations of genre to move between notionally sacred and secular performance spaces to represent the piety and power of the Prince Archbishop.
During the bombardment of Britain in World War II, the British government adopted a policy of mass internment of foreign nationals originating from ''enemy'' states (namely Germany, Austria and Italy). Using the experiences of interned composer Hans Gál and the genesis of his Huyton Suite trio and the camp revue What a Life! as a case study, this paper explores the musical culture that developed in the civilian internment camps of Huyton and Central Promenade. Though diverse, the internee population of these camps was disproportionately composed of leading German and Austrian intellectuals, such as sociologist Norbert Elias, musicologist Otto Erich Deutsch and composer Hans Gál. Classical music had typically been a prominent feature of this generation’s pre-war lives, and internment culture similarly reflected this importance. At least three original musical compositions were written, as well as premiered, during this internment period: Gál’s aforementioned Huyton Suite and What a Life!, and Franz Reizenstein’s finale movement to his Ballet Suite for Small Chamber Orchestra. Despite growing interest in this internment period there still remain many areas that are under-researched. This document discusses the hitherto unexamined experiences of Gál and some of the musicians who were interned along with Gál, including flutist Walter Bergmann, cellist Fritz Ball, composer Franz Reizenstein and flutist Nicolo Draber. The genesis of both the Huyton Suite and the revue What a Life! are also discussed. Through examination of historical documents and related diaries and memoirs, this thesis offers a vivid portrayal of musical life in these camps as it existed during the summer of 1940.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Carnival songs form a genre of music that flowered during the Renaissance era in Florence. Stimulated by elite patronage, these popular tunes served to enhance festivities and street celebrations during the Carnival season. Due to the popular contexts within which these songs were performed, they were accessible by all class levels, and thereby served to communicate changing social and political values through the vernacular Italian poetic texts. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this secular genre is that the melodies of the carnival songs were borrowed by poets in the employ of the religious institutions in Florence, both churches and confraternities, as a method of memorizing hymns. Throughout the sixteenth century, the application of this method, defined as contrafacture, grew to become a tool to communicate spiritual and political beliefs, where connections can be drawn between the moral teachings of both the carnival and lauda poems. It is the purpose of this thesis to detail the process by which contrafacture is applied to Carnival songs from the late fifteenth century to the end of the sixteenth century. Different approaches to musical borrowing are discussed to demonstrate how Carnival songs were recycled through the process of contrafacture to reflect a variety of popular mindsets and values held by the citizens of Renaissance Florence.
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