Oberlin News Center

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oberlin News Center

History and music performance double-major Leo Harrington will teach English and continue research on music and society in interwar Germanic culture. 
Photo By Jennifer Manna

History and music performance double-major Leo Harrington has been awarded a Fulbright combined grant to teach English, conduct research, and take university coursework in Vienna, Austria. The San Francisco native will depart for Austria in September.

For his grant, Harrington will spend approximately 13 hours per week working as an English teaching assistant at two schools for students ages 11 to 18 in Vienna. When he is not teaching, he will take one course per semester at the University of Vienna’s Institute for Musicology and research how musical representations of race and America in Vienna between World War I and II influenced the emerging divide between “art music” and “popular music.”

“From early in my time at Oberlin, I’ve been interested in the intersection of music with social questions,” he says. “Part of my Fulbright research topic grew out of a term paper for Professor of Musicology Steven Plank’s Introduction to Music Research and Writing class. The journal Nota Bene published this paper in 2015. It also grew out of critical approaches that my peers and professors at Oberlin have helped me shape more broadly; for example, centering the roles of race, gender, class, and other social structures or variables of identity in the music-historical questions I’m asking. I hope to explore how works like Ernst Krenek’s 1927 “jazz opera” Jonny spielt auf negotiate these variables, not only to further understanding of musical culture in interwar Vienna, but also to spark dialogue about the social implications of music today.”

In pursuit of these questions, Harrington will conduct primary source research at the Vienna City Library, the Ernst Krenek Institute, and other Austrian archival collections. He also looks forward to engaging with coursework and community at the University in Vienna, to help him frame his research and expose him to Austrian perspectives on musicology and higher education.

Harrington says he applied for this fellowship because he found the “opportunity to connect with and impact students as an educator while having support for an individual academic project” highly attractive. He says he was also eager to improve his German, to explore the rich and complex history and music of Vienna, and to hear “as many concerts as I have time and budget for.”

At Oberlin, Harrington performed on trumpet with many ensembles on and off campus, and worked as an artist liaison with the Artist Recital Series, an academic ambassador, a writing associate, and a Ninde scholar tutor. He also competed for two years with the cross country team and as a middle distance runner with the track team.

Harrington is considering postgraduate studies in musicology and education, and he would enjoy working for an arts education nonprofit following his fellowship.