Where the concert hall and nightclub collide.
As a musicologist, Ms. Favinger's research focuses on music of the 20th and 21st century, often where classical music and popular music spheres collide. With an emphasis on jazz, nationalism, and women in music, she aims to fill in the gaps where other research has left off and aims to show the importance of popular music within the field of musicology traditionally reserved for composers of "Western Classical" music.
"American Diversity and the Genesis of Mass Settings Following the Second Vatican Council:
A Case Study of Mary Lou’s Mass and La misa panamericana"
This thesis will examine how ethnic diversity in American Catholicism contributed to the development of vernacular Mass settings in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The case studies, Mary Lou’s Mass and La misa panamericana, represent two large ethnic groups within the American Catholic populace. Through examination of musical aesthetics from two cultural traditions, African-American and Mexican-American, and their integration into the Catholic Mass, the thesis will explore how the United States’ diverse Catholic population benefited from the changes of the Second Vatican Council.
Other Notable Research Topics
Other Research Includes:
For more information on these topics, feel free to contact Sarah.
For personal performance, as well as for groups such as the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Favinger is dedicated to writing program notes that engage audience members from knowledgable musicians to first time concert-goers.
Notes for symphonic works include Ein Heldenleben, Bachianas Brasilieras, and Estancia. Other notes are selections for solo double bass and chamber works.
Sample: An American in Paris – George Gershwin (1928)
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1898, George Gershwin and his brother Ira Gershwin became leading figures in the development of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, truly American institutions. As a pianist and songwriter, George Gershwin embraced the harmonies of jazz, the blues, and American popular song, creating memorable tunes that entranced audiences on the stage and stole their hearts when they performed them at home out of published editions. In 1915, Gershwin began studying harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, and composition with Edward Kilyeni, venturing into classical music, though he continued his Broadway career. Finally, in 1924 Gershwin announced his arrival in the classical sphere with the premier of Rhapsody in Blue, a work that incorporated jazz and American popular music into a classically, fully orchestrated idiom.
In 1926, Gershwin traveled to London where his original idea for a tone poem about Paris was born. However, the work was put on hold until he returned to Europe in 1928 for an extended stay. Upon the recommendation of composer Maurice Ravel, Gershwin had arrived in Paris to study with the great composition instructor Nadia Boulanger, who informed him she had nothing to teach him. The trip was far from a disappointment, however, as he met with French composers such as Prokofiev, Milhaud, Poulenc, and Ravel, who encouraged him to embrace his American qualities as a composer. Most importantly, it was during this time in Paris that Gershwin composed the tone poem, which he described as a “rhapsodic ballet”, An American in Paris. In November of 1928 he returned to New York City and orchestrated the work, where it was premièred at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928, conducted by Walter Damrosch, one of Gershwin’s greatest supporters.
Gershwin was devoted to getting the appropriate sounds and experience of an American man wandering the streets of Paris, going as far as to purchase 4 taxi horns in an auto shop to bring back to New York for the premier. The music is full of Gershwin’s jazz rhythms, blues harmonies, and catchy melodies but on a grander and more elaborate scale than ever previously heard in his works. While the work is not programmatic, the cinematic quality of the music provides a sound story for the listener. The work features five major sections, with loosely related material in the outer segments of the work that feature “walking” music reminiscent of Debussy and Milhaud; perhaps, the American wandering the streets of the Champs-Élysées or Montmartre. Through his wanderings, the American encounters everything from cosmopolitan traffic to Caribbean dance music. Deems Taylor, who wrote a large-scale narrative for the premier, claimed the inner sections’ use of the blues displayed the American’s homesickness. However, after a longing for home, the “walking”, Parisian theme returns and the American is again captivated by the City of Lights. Finally, the blues theme is superimposed over the “walking” theme in a grandiose conclusion showing the American at peace enjoying his adventures through Paris.
- Sarah Favinger