Senior Lands Top International Study Fellowship
Release Date: 07-30-2008
Killam Fellowship award-winner Nathan Harrison (R) credits fellow folk music enthusiast Jon Leonard (L), senior lecturer in Community Development and Applied Economics, with kindling his interest in traditional music. (Photo: Courtesy of Nathan Harrison)
Student Nathan Harrison has spent the last three years studying and exploring the origins of traditional folk music, such as bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music. An accomplished musician, he started a music club that supports itself through performance, hosts an old-time radio show on WRUV, UVM's student-run radio station, and is producing an NPR-like program on the history of traditional music in Vermont.
The UVM senior will have the opportunity to take his musical endeavors one step further after being named a 2008-2009 Killam Fellow by the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America. The Killam Fellowship Program, designed to provide exceptional undergraduate students in Canada and the U.S. with the opportunity to spend a semester or full academic year as an exchange student, will allow Harrison to study ethnomusicology, the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts, at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia.
Harrison is the latest in a growing number of UVM students who have won prestigious and highly competitive awards, including Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater, Madison and Udall Scholarships. The Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America is also responsible for administering the prestigious Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program.
A French major who started playing the cello at age six before moving on to the trumpet at age 12, the banjo at 15 and now the fiddle, Harrison didn't think he'd get the opportunity to study ethnomusicology until he learned about the Killam Fellowships Program from Paul Martin, director of the of UVM's Canadian Studies program. "If I could design a perfect program (in ethnomusicology) it would be the one at Cape Breton," says Harrison, a native of Monticello, Fla.
In addition to his exceptional academic performance, Harrison had a number of extracurricular activities that the Killam committee considered, including the founding of the UVM Old-Time Music Club.
"It's basically a bunch of people who get together and play Appalachian mountain music, folk, traditional Irish, sometimes with bagpipes and other older forms of music," he says. "We've put on a festival and played a few shows. We really only have two rules: we only play acoustically, and all the money we raise is from performing. No bake sales."
Harrison also hosts a radio show on WRUV called "The Musical Hay Wagon" featuring bluegrass, Appalachian and other forms of folk music. He plans to produce a series of programs on traditional music in Vermont for his show. Harrison credits Jonathan Leonard, a senior lecturer in Community Development and Applied Economics and accomplished bluegrass guitarist, pianist and Appalachian mountain dulcimer player, with introducing him to sessions with local musicians that have deepened his skill as a musician and interest in traditional music.