Musicology & Ethnomusicology Division
B.M. in Saxophone Performance and Musicology, Northwestern University, M.A. and Ph. D. in Musicology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
William Robin recently completed a PhD in musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation, which can be read here, analyzed American new music in the twenty-first century through the lens of "indie classical," with a focus on New Amsterdam Records and the ensemble yMusic. His next project will examine institutional shifts in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s that led to the present day's pluralist and populist culture of contemporary classical music.
William is a specialist in new music in the United States since 1980; his research interests also include early American hymnody, Stravinsky, and the European postwar avant-garde. In spring 2015, the Journal of Musicology published his article “Traveling with Ancient Music: Intellectual and Transatlantic Currents in American Psalmody Reform,” which reassesses the Europeanization of American sacred music at the turn of the nineteenth century by examining the impact of transatlantic travel. He has contributed an essay to the collection Reassessing Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, 1913/2013 (Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2016) which reconsiders Stravinsky's development of a rhetoric of musical objectivity. William has presented papers at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and Society for American Music, and at recent conferences including the New Music Gathering, Frederick Loewe Symposium, and Yale Graduate Music Symposium.
Prior to his graduate studies, William held a DAAD Study Scholarship in Berlin, where he researched the unfinished opera projects of German avant-garde composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. He received a Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in saxophone performance and musicology.
As an active public musicologist, William is a regular contributor to The New York Times , where he most recently published an article on classical music and Black Lives Matter. He has also written for The New Yorker, NewMusicBox, and Bandcamp. In 2014, he received an ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for the NewMusicBox article “Shape Notes, Billings, and American Modernisms.” He curated Q2 Music's Symphomania in spring 2015, a twenty-four hour marathon radio broadcast of orchestral music composed in the twenty-first century. William regularly writes liner notes for the independent record label Irritable Hedgehog, including acclaimed releases of piano music by Paul Epstein, William Duckworth, and Jürg Frey. In 2014–15, William served as the North Carolina Symphony's inaugural scholar-in-residence, contributing program notes and preconcert lectures for the orchestra's performances, and helped curate the symphony's upcoming presentation at Washington Performing Arts and Kennedy Center's SHIFT Festival in spring 2017. He co-founded the Experimental Music Study Group, which presents discussions and performances in the Chapel Hill area. William maintains an active Twitter presence as @seatedovation.