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AUK Professor Dr. Lisa Urkevich appointed Harvard Visiting Scholar and Awarded University of Maryland Alumna of the Year

The Chair of the Department of Music and Drama at the American University of Kuwait, Dr. Lisa Urkevich, has been appointed as Visiting Scholar at Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies for the academic year 2015-2016, where she will study the earliest known recordings from the Arabian Peninsula; the Hijazi sound files of 1906-09. Urkevich has already spent three months stationed at Harvard investigating the sound files which were originally recorded on wax cylinders and discovered in Makkah, Jeddah, and surrounding areas. They have not yet been thoroughly examined by the scholarly community.

Around twenty hours of recordings, or almost three hundred individual recordings, survive. Although many include Call to Prayer (Athan), street-life sounds, and Quranic recitations, they are mostly dominated by music; wedding songs performed by women, children's songs, work songs, and songs performed by professional male musicians. She will return to Harvard two more times during this academic year to complete her research and in Spring 2016, she will present her research findings at Harvard University.

In October 2015, Dr. Urkevich's accomplishments were recognized as she received the Alumna of the Year Award in Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Alumni Association recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to the University, their fields, and their communities. This year, the honor was extended to Dr. Urkevich, who received a BA degree from the University of Maryland in 1986. She was selected from thousands of other alumni for this distinguished honor. At the Award Ceremony, the presenter was the Chair of the Music Department Dr. Linda Dusman. She showed photographs and video footage of Dr. Urkevich engaging in fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula while speaking extensively of Urkevich's professional achievements. In December 2015, Urkevich will visit the Maryland campus to tour the music facilities with administrators and discuss possible future collaborations with the department and its students.

Dr. Lisa Urkevich doing fieldwork in the Saudi Hijaz with the famous artist Tuha

Dr. Urkevich recording performers in the Saudi mountain town of Taif

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 28th October 2015

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2015

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