Current Students

MA students

Ulises Garcia Figueroa is originally from the city Toluca in Mexico. He has a Bachelor of Communication Sciences from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, with a specialization in media production. He is interested Latin American popular music and how its expression is related to society and culture. Racism, new masculinities, and gender issues are also among his research concerns. In addition to music, he is interested in storytelling, scriptwriting, and audiovisual production.

Mahina Graham-Laidlaw received her Bachelor of Music in Viola from Memorial University in 2021. After living and performing in St. John’s for the past five years, Mahina hopes to explore her lifelong experience in Western classical music and its relationship to the community. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, she began playing viola at a young age, found a passion for music, and now specializes in orchestral performance. Her research interests include the implications of colonialism for music and its institutions.

Originally from Niagara, Ontario, Tia Julien received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph, specializing in music and English studies. With a passion for music and writing, she strives to understand how the relationships between words and sound function in everyday life. Her interests lie in identity, experience, and storytelling, particularly how music and literature function to connect people to themselves, others, and a shared social environment.

Veronica Oliver received her Bachelor of Music Therapy from Acadia University. She has a rich background in opera and Western art song and is passionate about the potential therapeutic effects of opera. Folk rituals pertaining to death are another of her research interests, and she seeks to understand how the voice is used to honour the dead and create a space for sacred holistic connections. Veronica hopes to research the portrayal of women’s grief in opera, as well as the social influences of opera in twentieth century culture and opera’s effects on how women grieve. Combining this research with her music therapy background, she ultimately seeks to explore how opera and Western art song can be integrated therapeutically for those nearing the end of life.

Humberto Piccoli is originally from Rio Grande, Brazil. He has a BMus in Popular Music from State University of Paraná and a MMus in Jazz Guitar Performance from the University of Manitoba. He is a jazz musician, host of Music Filter, an online interview show with music business professionals, and director of the Album Club, a weekly online music appreciation meeting. His research interests include organizational interactions within jazz scenes and issues of identity and politics in the Brazilian samba tradition.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Ryan Ritter-Jones (he/they/she) learned music performance in school choral and orchestral ensembles as well as various forms of rock and alternative music in local bands. He completed his BA in Ethnomusicology at Fairhaven College under the guidance of Professor Mark Miyake. Their scholastic interests are varied but generally focus on countercultural musics and the diverse communities they create. Her past research has explored how masculinity is constructed through references to anime in contemporary hip-hop and how violent dance practices in punk and metal scenes can be understood through play theory and mythology. Ryan looks forward to further investigations into the phenomenological potentials of moshing.

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Joanna Simoens received a Bachelor’s of Musicology from the Université de Montréal. Joanna fell in love with music while taking unorthodox violin lessons from her neighbour in Winnipeg. After spending a chapter of her life as a classical viola student, she eventually gravitated towards folk music. Inspired by her French and Belgian heritage, Joanna’s research interests lie in Francophone diasporas and the exploration of identity through music.

Sarah van den Berg has been a singer for most of her life. Whether through her recent forays into songwriting or her eclectic choral experience, she is continually in awe of the voice’s ability to connect her to herself, those around her, and her physical surroundings. Sounding, soundscapes, and deep listening have piqued her curiosity in recent years. Inspired by new materialism, she hopes to examine ...Float..., a recent multidisciplinary choral performance that featured immersive art installations on a farm in St. John’s, as a site where deep relationships with the nonhuman world were forged through shared musicking.

PhD students

Originally from Topeka, Kansas, Karen Mize Berglander (She/They) completed a dual BA in German and Music, with an emphasis in voice, at the College of Saint Benedict and pursued an MA in Musicology at the University of Denver. They are an active performer and served as supplemental chorus for the Colorado Symphony in addition to their involvement with academic choirs, opera workshops, and the University of Denver’s gamelan and kathak dance ensembles. Karen’s research examines experiences and expressions of femininity and queerness in the North American DIY punk scene and aims to tackle those issues from both an academic and activist approach. As an activist, Karen is particularly interested in the role that DIY performance venues play as safe spaces and the ways these venues can be utilized as a point for community outreach among at-risk populations.

Christian Dauble is from Dunedin, Florida. They began studying the Highland bagpipe at the age of twelve under Pipe Major Sandy Keith, as part of Dunedin’s Scottish Arts program. They went on to complete a BA in Music and a BS in Anthropology at Florida State University. During their time at FSU, they continued to study the bagpipe as well as the Chinese guzheng and Balinese gamelan gong kebyar. Christian has recently completed the master’s program in ethnomusicology at Memorial. They are interested in studying the performance practice of the classical Ceòl Mór music of the Highland pipe, along with issues of identity and nationalism within the broader piping community.

Eric Taylor Escudero is originally from São Paulo, Brazil. He has a BA in Communication and Multimedia from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and an MA in Music and the Environment from the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland. At UHI, his final project, entitled Mirrors, consisted of a collection of songs and other pieces inspired by a journey from Brazil to Scotland. His research interests include the music and traditions of southeastern coastal communities in Brazil, Fandango Caiçara, and issues of identity in folk music. Eric is involved in a solo folk/rock music project ( and serves as songwriter, guitarist, and arranger for Brazilian singer Ana Luísa Ramos (

Kiersten Fage holds a BMus and a BA (Honours) from the University of Western Australia and an MMus in Early Music (Baroque Cello) from McGill University. Kiersten grew up in the small coastal town of Albany, Western Australia, surrounded by folk music; she performed regularly with her cello in bands, sessions, and folk festivals. These experiences inspired her honours thesis, “Searching for the Scots Cello,” which investigated the relatively unexplored area of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scottish folk cello playing. This research became an integral part of her master’s research project, which involved performances of eighteenth-century Scottish dance music on period instruments. Kiersten’s current research explores the rise, fall, and contemporary revival of folk cello playing in North America. From African American cello players in dance bands of the Colonial period, to cello players in the string bands of the early twentieth century, to contemporary folk cellists, Kiersten’s research aims to recognise folk cello playing as an established tradition. Kiersten is also involved with a project at the Centre d’études acadiennes at the University of Moncton, creating digital transcriptions of Acadian folk songs and tunes.

Mark Lenini Parselelo is from Narok County in Kenya. He began his music studies at the age of fifteen, studying music theory and performing traditional Kenyan music and dances at the Kenyan Music Festivals. He later joined Kenyatta University in 2010 for his Bachelors where he was introduced to Ethnomusicology and Musicology. In 2014, he graduated with a Bachelors of Music from Kenyatta University and later joined the Kenyatta University Department of Music and Dance faculty to teach Music Technology and Performance courses in 2017. Mark was awarded the Erasmus Plus scholarship to study in the Choreomundus program from 2018 to 2020. This program enabled him to study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of SZEGED, University of Clermont Auvergne, and the University of Roehampton. In July 2020, he graduated with a Masters in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage. His current research interests are in Maasai music, Dinka people, Kenyan contemporary music, and music education.

Toshio Tatsu Oki started taking violin lessons under the Suzuki method at the age of four and has been playing piano since he was ten. He attended an Engineering program at the University of Western Ontario for three years. After discovering the world of social sciences, he undertook an Honours Bachelor’s degree in International Development at York University. It was not until he moved to Japan that he discovered Irish music and started playing his violin again with more passion. The desire to pursue his passion for Irish music led him to the Master’s program in Ethnomusicology at Memorial. His research interests lie in hybrid musical processes with a focus on the phenomenon of Irish music in Japan. Listen to Toshio talk about his research here

Diego Pani became involved with music in his teenage years, learning both the traditional multipart singing of Santu Lussurgiu, his hometown in Sardinia, Italy, and starting a punk rock band. This interest in both traditional and popular music drove his subsequent research, which focused on the dynamics of learning, performance and the diffusion of music by young generations of musicians, in reference to the use of media as a learning device (historical recordings), as well as the construction of social meaning via audio and video materials, in the oral/vernacular traditions of Sardinia and popular music of North America. In addition to his academic studies, he sings with the Sardinian heavy blues band King Howl and manages Talk About Records, a DIY record label that specializes in the production of records and events of blues, Americana and rock ‘n’ roll artists.

Inspired by Eddy Van Halen’s 1991 guitar solo on “Right Now,” Glenn Patterson picked up the electric guitar at the age of twelve. His musical interests shifted from rock, blues, and jazz to traditional fiddle and banjo music during his undergraduate engineering degree at Queen’s University (Canada). He then moved to Montreal to pursue a master’s in electrical engineering at Concordia and also hosted a weekly bluegrass and old-time jam session and organized square dances in Montreal and southern Quebec. His experience of meeting prominent field recordists in the old-time music revival encouraged him to pursue a PhD in ethnomusicology at Memorial. His research focuses on home recording; popular culture, memory, and media; proactive archiving; and community-engaged and collaborative research within the English-speaking minority of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. His PhD dissertation has involved creating a digital sound archives with a local anglophone health and social services advocacy organization, Vision Gaspé-Percé Now. Their blog is available at Along with fiddler/musicologist Laura Risk, Glenn co-produced the CD-booklet “Douglastown: Music and Song From the Gaspé Coast” between 2010 and 2014; this project was awarded Quebec’s 2014 Prix Mnémo for a project deemed remarkable in documenting oral heritage in Quebec.

Ophelia Ravencroft is a music historian and social activist from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has made her home in Newfoundland since 2008. Presently, she is engaged in an ethnography and oral history of the St John's metal community, with a particular eye to concepts of identity and of genre definition among local metalheads. Outside academia, she is a feminist activist who advocates especially for the rights of sex workers, and heads the committee behind St John’s SlutWalk.

Peter Verdin has been playing in DIY bands since he was in high school, including one alleged ska band that he will neither confirm nor deny existed. Although he is primarily a bass player (both upright and electric). Peter is well-versed on a variety of stringed and keyed instruments. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a BA in cultural studies and comparative literature, he spent several years working in a recording studio as a sound engineer and travelling the US as a bass player with the neo-Americana group, the Gypsy Lumberjacks. Peter completed an MA in ethnomusicology at University College Cork, Ireland, where his work focused on transnationalism and its effect on ideas of locality. His research interests also include the effects of globalization on contemporary music, mediation, memory, and musical consumption. Listen to some of the recordings Peter has played on/recorded:

Jing Xia is a guzheng player from China. Since moving to St. John’s in 2015, she has been exploring new possibilities of the guzheng through intercultural music-making. She has performed with numerous local musicians, composers, and organizations, including Mei Han, Ellen Waterman, Andrew Staniland, Daniel Oore, and Shanneyganock. Her research focuses on the diasporic experience of Chinese instrumentalists and their intercultural music-making in North America. Through practice-based research and autoethnography, she is now developing an improvisational practice as a guzheng player as part of her dissertation work. In 2018, she recorded a CD with vocalist Teresa Connors and electronic artist Jake Faraday. She also founded the Light Wind Ensemble, a St. John’s-based Chinese music group that aims to share Chinese musical culture and promote intercultural understanding and appreciation through their diverse repertoires, ranging from folk tunes and popular music to contemporary fusion compositions.

Jordan W. Zalis is a doctoral student in ethnomusicology who holds his bachelor of music in vocal performance and master of arts in music and culture from Carleton University. His research is focused on sound, music, and sport as they relate to ideas concerning individual and group identity, social organization, and politics. Places like the stadium, the ballpark, and the sofa are where he chooses to study music and media and where he feels at home as a researcher. When away from the field, Jordan is an active creator and performer of new musics ranging from song to experimental sonic composition. Listen to Jordan’s feature on CBC’s “PhDs On the Go” here.