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SMTD Announces Winners of 2023 DEI Awards

May 9, 2023 | Announcements, Awards & Accolades, DEI

By Caitlin Taylor, Program Manager, Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Each year, the SMTD Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion presents awards to students, faculty, and staff to recognize contributions toward the advancement of DEI principles in service, scholarship, musicianship, artistry, or advocacy.

The following members of the SMTD community were named recipients of a 2023 DEI Award.

Breaking Ground Award

The Breaking Ground Award recognizes the effort behind new projects, initiatives, and performances that demonstrate a high level of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The recipients of the Breaking Ground Award are Timmy Thompson (BFA ’23, musical theatre) and Courtney Snyder, associate director of bands and associate professor of conducting.

Timmy Thompson

As a writer, producer, director, editor, actor, and camera person, Timmy Thompson has advocated for diverse voices with compassion, creating many on- and off-screen opportunities for LGBTQIA+ individuals and students of color. As a performer, his leadership has been instrumental to the production and direction of the Department of Musical Theatre’s Color Cabaret. He spearheaded the student service organization Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop (MPOW) for three years, providing arts access and education opportunities to hundreds of Detroit Public School elementary students.

Thompson was also involved in the production of the web series Undeclared, largely based on the experiences of friends who struggled with their sexual, religious, and racial identities. He is currently working on Strangers – A Short Film Anthology, a project that spotlights African American, LGBTQIA+, Asian American, and female-identifying individuals.

Courtney Snyder

Courtney Snyder conducts the Concert Band, teaches conducting, and directs the Michigan Youth Symphonic Band. She has a practice of intentional programming of underrepresented composers, including these works at every U-M Concert Band performance. Snyder’s Let Woman Choose Her Sphere concert was a celebration of the centenary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment but also dealt with broader elements of marginalization, suffrage rights, sexism, and underrepresentation, all while sharing the words of influential American women, including Black, Latina, Asian, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Snyder has worked tirelessly to build community with and give voice to women band directors. Her work with women band directors helped forge an entirely new set of DEI presentations at the Midwest Clinic. She wrote the chapter “Trailblazers: Five Pioneering Female Band Directors Recount Their Journeys Over the Last Fifty Years” in the book The Horizon Leans Forward: Stories of Courage, Strength, and Triumph of Underrepresented Communities in the Wind Band Field. She has given over 20 presentations and interviews across the country on DEI issues in the band community. Lastly, she serves as a co-coordinator of the wind band database for the Institute for Composer Diversity, a site that provides directors the means to find works by underrepresented composers.

Snyder created the first ever Forum for Future Female Band Directors in Michigan, and this forum is becoming an annual event, hosted at different universities around the state and inclusive of female and female-identifying directors and students.

Belonging Award

The Belonging Award celebrates efforts to create and cultivate inclusive, equitable, and safe spaces, whether in the classroom, work environment, club environment, or other gathering spaces within SMTD.

Mattie Levy (MA composition, MM oboe, ’24) received the 2023 Belonging Award.

Mattie Levy

In her work on the EXCEL Log, the official blog for the EXCEL Lab, Mattie Levy seeks to be thoughtful and inclusive in how others are represented, demonstrating respect for identities and perspectives and advocating for the voices that she amplifies.

Levy’s recital, No Dead White Guys, was an audiovisual experience meant to uplift marginalized composers in the classical music sphere and further her mission as a composer/performer to elevate BIPOC people (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), and especially women, through music.

In addition to her work at EXCEL, Levy has facilitated workshops in bystander intervention, co-founded the Black Leaders in Arts Collective (BLAC), and works for SMTD’s Office for DEI. Through these roles, Levy conducts educational and social programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion and foster a community that is inclusive and supportive of all students.

Scholarship Award

The Scholarship Award recognizes those who advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their academic responsibilities and performance portfolio. Those nominated should display an ongoing commitment to DEI within their field, including but not limited to an academic thesis, publications, coursework or course creation, performances, projects, or lectures.

Recipients of the 2023 Scholarship Award are Marc Hannaford, assistant professor of music, and Fangfei Miao, assistant professor of dance.

Marc Hannaford

Marc Hannaford is a music theorist who focuses on performance, identity, and improvisation. His publications appear in Theory & Practice, The Oxford Handbook of Public Music Theory, Music Theory Online, Women & Music, and Sound American. He is also cofounder of the Engaged Music Theory Working Group, which works toward greater justice and equity in the field of music theory. Hannaford’s publications aim to expand who and what counts as a music theorist. He works to formulate his research as a multi-layered, multi-voiced discourse that places his work in dialogue with the focus of his research, offering insights without claiming ultimate authority.

Hannaford organized a performance of Black experimentalist Anthony Braxton’s Composition No. 49 for Ann Arbor’s Edgefest 2022, which was an American premiere. This performance furthered efforts at performing and recording more of Braxton’s previously undocumented compositions.

Fangfei Miao

Fangfei Miao, international artist and scholar, is an assistant professor of dance at SMTD, where she teaches both seminar and physical practice courses. Miao’s in-progress book manuscript is not only the first English monograph about dance in reform-era China but also the first book-length research on dance and US-China relations in the Anglophone academia.

Miao has published her scholarly research in both the English-speaking and the Chinese-speaking academia and has staged her experimental choreography in New York, Los Angeles, and Beijing, among other locations.

Her peer-reviewed article, “Mis-step as Global Encounter: The American Dance Festival in Reform Era China,” is featured in Dance Research Journal, the premier research journal in dance studies in Anglophone academia. The article is the publication’s first research article on dance in China. Miao’s research breaks the previous white-centric representational format in which white scholars explain Chinese dance to the general American public, and the Chinese people function as the white scholars’ research subjects. Her theorizations subvert white-centric scholarly writing of Chinese dance in the West and are restructuring the field of dance studies in the US. Since its publication in May 2022, the article has been widely featured in dance history classes in major American university dance programs.

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