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Kate van Orden

Dwight P. Robinson Jr. Professor, Department of Music, Harvard University

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (1996–1997)

Headshot of Kate van Orden

Professor van Orden specializes in cultural history. She has produced major studies of vernacular culture and the Renaissance chanson, edited a volume of essays on Music and the Cultures of Print (New York, 2000), and has just finished a book on the interrelationships between material culture, Renaissance humanism, and the chanson in print and manuscript. Her new research project, Musica Transalpina: French Music, Musicians, and Culture in Cinquecento Italy, has been funded by a generous grant from the ACLS; she was on leave in 2011.

Her first book, Music, Discipline, and Arms in Early Modern France (Chicago, 2005), develops a political argument about music and military culture. Through detailed studies of dance, kingship, and warfare, it shows how music became a disciplinary agent of the absolutist state both on the battlefield and off. It won the Lewis Lockwood Award from the American Musicological Society.

After receiving a Ph.D. in Music History and Theory at The University of Chicago in 1996, Prof. van Orden held fellowships at the Warburg Institute in London and the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities. Since coming to Berkeley in 1997, her work has been supported by an AAUW American Post-Doctoral Fellowship, the Hellman Faculty Fund, the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and two President’s Fellowships. She held a Studium Fellowship from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique from 2003-2005, during which time she was affiliated with the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France.

National awards include the Noah Greenberg Award, the Lewis Lockwood Award, and the Paul Pisk Prize, all from the American Musicological Society, as well as the Nancy Lyman Roelker Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society for her article titled “Female Complaintes” (Renaissance Quarterly, 2001). Her publications have received subvention awards from the American Musicological Society and the Newberry Library.

Prof. van Orden has published articles in Early Music History, Renaissance Quarterly, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Musical Quarterly, Revue de Musicologie, the Journal of Musicological Research, and the Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, as well as chapters in books of essays and conference proceedings. She has been interviewed on the BBC’s “Spirit of the Age” and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” given colloquia at Cambridge, Colorado, Oxford, Pennsylvania, Toulouse, and Utrecht universities, King’s College London, and UCLA, lectured at the Newberry Library and the Clark Library, and given many pre-concert talks.

She serves on the editorial boards of Acta Musicologica, Oxford Bibliographies Online, and the series The New Cultural History of Music (Oxford University Press). She was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society from 2008 to 2010.

Prof. van Orden also specializes in historical performance on the bassoon. She began her career in Europe, performing and recording with ensembles such as Les Arts Florissants (dir. William Christie), Collegium Vocale Ghent (dir. Philippe Herreweghe), and La Petite Bande (dir. Sigiswald Kuijken). Since returning to America, she has appeared regularly with Tafelmusik (dir. Jeanne Lamon), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (dir. Nicholas McGegan), and American Bach Soloists (dir. Jeffrey Thomas). She has over forty CDs to her credit and has performed at the London Proms, Utrecht Festival, Salzburg Festival, and in concerts across the North America and Europe. Her recordings are available on Sony, Virgin Classics, Glossa, Teldec, and Harmonia Mundi. Recent releases include a recording of Michel Corrette’s Les délices de la solitude on ATMA Baroque (2006) with Les Voix Humaines, Montreal.

By extending her historical research to the domain of reconstruction, Prof. van Orden brings a performer’s sensibility to the interpretation of archival materials—with some extraordinary results. Her research for Music, Discipline, and Arms enabled her to reconstruct the famous equestrian ballet performed for the engagement of Louis XIII in 1612. Under her direction, the work received its modern premiere at the Berkeley Festival of Early Music in 2000 to the acclaim of the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. It was revived in 2002.