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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

ETSU names Dr. Maria A. Niederberger chair of the Department of Music

Dr. Maria A. Niederberger
Dr. Maria A. Niederberger

December 07, 2014

JOHNSON CITY, TN Dr. Maria A. Niederberger has been named chair of the department of music in East Tennessee State University's College of Arts and Sciences.

Niederberger, professor of music and theory and composition, served as interim chair during the 2013-14 academic year following the retirement of Dr. Frank Grzych. She joined the ETSU faculty in 1999 and was honored as a Notable Woman of ETSU in 2007 by the Women's Studies Program. Prior to her arrival at ETSU, she taught music at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and at the University of California-Davis, where she was a lecturer.

A native of Switzerland, Niederberger earned her Ph.D. from Brandeis. She is a theorist and composer, and her musical compositions have been commissioned by distinguished international artists and performed in major recital halls as well as at conferences and festivals throughout the United States and Europe.

Niederberger has won the international Miriam Gideon Prize in Musical Composition from the International Alliance for Women in Music with her song cycle, "Full Pockets." She has received fellowships and grants from numerous arts organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts of Switzerland, the American Music Center, the Schindler Foundation, UCD, ETSU and others. She has also been an artist-in-residence at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Temecula, Calif.; at Villa Montalvo, Saratoga, Calif.; and in Boswil, Switzerland.

A former board member of the IAWM, Niederberger has repeatedly directed the annual IAWM concert at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. She has also served regionally as board chair of the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy and is currently on the board of Kingsport's Symphony of the Mountains.

Niederberger describes the ETSU department of music as "growing and thriving." The department offers bachelor of music degrees in six performance and music education areas. An additional degree program in jazz performance is set to begin next year.

The department offers students a choice of five vocal and a variety of large and small instrumental ensembles in which to participate.

The recent hiring of Dr. Joe Moore as director of athletic bands is another source of pride for the department, Niederberger said. "The return of an ETSU marching band will give the department added regional visibility."

Two active performance seasons each year bring many music enthusiasts to the ETSU department of music for concerts and recitals performed by guest artists, faculty, students and student ensembles.

Niederberger looks forward to the new Performing Arts Center that ETSU is planning as a focal point of the ongoing ETSU Arts Initiative.

"Since this center will combine all the ETSU arts into a common space," she said, "we anticipate that it will be conducive to collaborative work among the various arts areas. Mathes Hall presently is no longer adequate for the music program, and the additional and improved teaching and performance spaces the new center will provide are much-needed to accommodate the growing number of students and music programs."

Among Niederberger's long-range goals for the department are strengthening the strings division and establishing new degree programs, including a bachelor of arts degree program in musical theater in cooperation with the Division of Theatre and Dance in the Department of Communication and Performance, as well as a master of music degree program in piano pedagogy, collaborative piano and piano performance.

"We're in a promising place with this department and its talented faculty," she said. "I feel very privileged to be able to steer the department of music into the future and am also truly humbled by the faculty's trust in me. I envision that we'll make our department the preferred destination of study for the musical youth of this area and beyond."