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Waldorf Professor Earns Second Fulbright Scholar Grant

Jessica McBride

Kristin Jonina Taylor, assistant professor of piano at Waldorf College, recently began a research project for which she was honored with a second prestigious Fulbright Scholar Grant. The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide, operating in more than 155 countries.

Taylor is researching Iceland’s most prolific music composter Thorkell Sigurbj√∂rnsson, who has composed more than 350 works. “I will be conducting extensive interviews with the composer, his family, and musicians who have performed or even premiered his works,” she explained. “The result will hopefully be a number of books in an anthology series that will be critical editions of his works, along with perhaps a biography of the composer.”

Fulbright Scholar Grants are awarded annually to approximately 800 U.S. faculty and professionals for research projects aboard. Grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields and are provided a monthly stipend to support living and research expenses.

“This is the second Fulbright grant I've received, so I feel doubly humbled by this honor,” said Taylor, who has taught at Waldorf for six years. “It is, quite honestly, something that I thought was a shot in the dark to receive for a second time, but I knew this project was important to complete now since the composer is at a slightly advanced age (he is 72).”

Taylor has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College. The Icelandic-American pianist has been a soloist with several orchestras including the Independence Symphony, the Jefferson City Symphony, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. Taylor was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Iceland in 2004-2005 to conduct research for her doctoral thesis on J√≥n Nordal’s piano concerto.

As part of her recent Fulbright, Taylor will be giving offering guest lectures at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. “The lectures range from teaching piano master classes (a piano lesson in front of an audience) to discussing the American composers Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. I´ll also be giving a presentation on American piano music for children,” she explained.

Taylor fully recognizes the importance of the Fulbright honor and embraces this opportunity as a teacher. “A pProfessors can very easily can get stuck in their offices and not grow in their own field, and therefore, stagnate. Doing research and obtaining a Fulbright grant is a way of attracting students to your institution because of the prestige, and also it gives the students a unique opportunity to learn about topics more intensely,” Taylor added.

“But all this aside, I think the biggest affect that a project like this has on my teaching at Waldorf is the personal impact it has on me as a musician. I feel, with a project like this, that I can make a long-lasting and valuable contribution to my field.”

Located in Forest City, Iowa, Waldorf is a four-year, liberal arts college that delivers engaging experiences through innovative classroom instruction. The college offers residential and online bachelor’s degree programs including business, communication, music, psychology, theater, education, fire science administration, criminal justice administration and more.