In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we’re featuring our Visual and Performing Arts award winner, Dr. Lisa Urkevich ’86, visual and performing arts (music).
Dr. Lisa Urkevich is an ethnomusicologist and academic who has been based primarily in Kuwait since 2003. She is a 2015-16 Visiting Scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and her book, Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar–which is based on years of research conducted in that part of the world–was published earlier this year. Dr. Urkevich chose UMBC for its renowned ethnomusicology program, and says she was inspired by all of her music professors, who “exposed [her] to a world of new ideas and cultures.” After graduating from UMBC, she received a second bachelor’s degree in music education from Towson University, followed by a master of music from Florida State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Her first professorship at Boston University led to a Fulbright grant to Kuwait, and when a new university opened up there she was asked to stay on. In addition to her field research, she has collected Peninsula instruments for a U.S. museum, brought traditional folk musicians along on her public speaking engagements, and developed a course called Music in Arabian Culture, which is not taught in any other Western-style university across the globe and is considered by UNESCO to be “safeguarding […] intangible cultural heritage.” She is proud to be a “bridge between [Western] cultures and those of the Arabian Peninsula.”