Martha Feldman spent 2008-09 as Acting Chair of the Department. Despite the worst financial crisis in the Department’s history, it was a bountiful year in other ways: marvelous encounters with students, the pleasures of a great faculty, performers, and resident ensembles who continue to produce and perform prodigiously and win many accolades far and wide, and the blessings of a truly amazing staff. The third-floor team of tech wizard Mark Winston, superb and cheerful James Hillis, colloquium / supplies manager and all-around gracious helper Melanie Cloghessy, and veteran wonder of finances and mental health, mother to us all Kathy Holmes. Owing to the their combined efforts with those of fine performance and PR staff on the fourth-floor, the Department also created a new website, a new graphic identity, and a sustainability program. Other highlights of the year included much activity gearing up for the new Logan Arts Center, slated to open in 2011-12.
Martha broke up chairing activities by teaching the BA seminar, co-teaching a seminar within the new Center for Disciplinary Innovation, and participating in two quarters of Roger Moseley’s Historically Inspired Improvisation Workshop. The Improvisation Workshop proved challenging, terrifying, exhilarating, and incredibly illuminating, owing to Roger’s skill and dedication, combined with the talents and fearlessness (much greater than her own) of a goodly number of students (music and non) and other faculty. Martha managed to complete a small amount of her own writing and saw through publication of her first major article on the castrato, “Strange Births and Surprising Kin: The Castrato’s Tale,” now out in Italy’s Eighteenth-Century: Gender and Culture in the Age of the Grand Tour (edited by Paula Findlen et al.). She was also thrilled and touched to receive the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching from President Zimmer at the 498th Commencement.
Currently, Martha is on leave on a Guggenheim Fellowship preparing her Bloch Lectures on the castrato for publication with the University of California Press. In between writing, she and her partner Patricia Barber tend their Michigan farm, swim during the evenings in Lake Michigan, and play with their pet Airedales Bigsby and Myrtle.