Emory Report

Feb. 15, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 20

Archetto takes knowledge of Renaissance Italy abroad with new course

You could say that Maria Archetto, assistant professor of music at Oxford College, has been studying Italian since the age of 5. "That was when I began listening to recordings of operas from my parents' wonderful classical collection and heard Italian for the first time. I started singing and playing the piano." Later, her formal studies in music, Italian and German led to two long-term grants for study in Italy and to her development as a musicologist.

Archetto has spent years learning about the life and works of Francesco Portinaro, a Paduan composer of the Renaissance. Portinaro was the subject of her PhD dissertation in musicology from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

Her special knowledge and writing on the 16th-century composer has proved fruitful. Just two months ago, she was asked by the editors of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians to write the article on Portinaro for its upcoming new edition. The multi-volume New Grove, edited by Stanley Sadie and published in London, is one of the most comprehensive and scholarly dictionaries of music in the world and is a standard source of information for accomplished scholars and students alike.

Archetto's other upcoming publications include "Emilio de' Cavalieri," an article in The Readers Guide to Music, and "Interdisciplinary Aspects of the Introduction to Music Course," an essay in the book Teaching Music History, edited by Mary Natvig of Bowling Green State University.

At Oxford College since 1992, Archetto has taught introductions to music and opera and initiated new courses on ethnomusicology, history of the piano and women composers. The multifaceted professor also teaches an introduction to art history and directs Oxford's Chorale and the Oxford Instrumental Ensemble (a performance course she revived in 1993). Both performance groups present annual full-length concerts.

Archetto's latest project has been establishing a new study abroad course. "I've been conducting research for the development of a new experiential-learning and interdisciplinary course, 'The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy,'" she said. "The Fund for Internationalization and the Faculty Development Committee of Oxford College awarded grants to me and my colleague, Dr. Delia Nisbet, associate professor of Italian and German at Oxford, for onsite research in 1997. Once we had completed research in June 1998, we wrote a new course proposal. The course was approved by the Oxford faculty in September 1998.

"I'll be co-teaching the course in Italy with Dr. Nisbet this summer during the first summer session in May and June. Our class will live in Florence for six weeks and do onsite study in art history, literature, music history and philosophy to investigate the sources and the development of the ideas in Renaissance Florence which have so influenced the modern world."

The class base will be the Istituto Linguistico Dante Alighieri, an academic institution linked to the University of Florence and accredited by the Italian government's Ministry of Education. Students will attend Florentine cultural events including festivals, concerts and art exhibits.

Said Archetto, "We'll take a truly experiential approach, and for each discipline represented in our course, students will study original writings and art works in their cultural context. The class will visit the sites of important works of art and architecture on excursions to Fiesole, Siena, San Gimignano and Rome. In Rome, we'll tour private palaces that at one time belonged to the Italian royal family. The students will have the opportunity to learn by immersion in contemporary Italian culture and interaction with its historical legacy."

"The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy" is open to all members of the University community, and opportunities to enroll in its first session remain. For more information call Archetto at 770-784-8367 or send e-mail to <marchetto@ learnlink.emory.edu>.

--Cathy Byrd

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