Photo credit: Tif Holmes
Angela Mariani is Professor of Musicology at the Texas Tech University School of Music and the director of Texas Tech Collegium Musicum. A native of the state of Massachusetts, Dr. Mariani began her professional music career in the world of rock and folk music; but a long-abiding interest in early music eventually led her to the Early Music Institute (now the Historical Performance Institute) at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she received the MM and DM in Early Music and a Certificate in Medieval Studies. She is also the host and creator of the nationally-syndicated early music radio program Harmonia, distributed by Public Radio International (as of 7/1/18). Angela has presented and published on the topics of early music performance practice, public radio, rock and roll, and Contemplative Education, and she is the author of Improvisation and Inventio in the Performance of Medieval Music (Oxford University Press, 2017), which received Texas Tech University’s 2019 First Place President’s Faculty Book Award. In 2017 she was the recipient of Early Music America’s Thomas Binkley Award, given for “outstanding achievement in both performance and scholarship by the director of a university or college Collegium Musicum,” and of Texas Tech’s prestigious Barnie E. Rushing Jr. Faculty Research Award.
Angela’s voyage back through time to medieval music had a number of winding turns. As a young rock musician completing a BA in Music Theory at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she also became interested in early music, performing in the UMass Collegium Musicum. She then taught and performed rock and folk music for a decade in the Boston area, creating a popular acoustic fingerstyle guitar course for Boston’s Guitar Workshop. Her interest in Anglo-Celtic folk music and its intersection with the world of rock and roll–think Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span–also led to the co-founding of the folk-rock band Reynardine with Chris Smith in Boston in the 1980s.
Ultimately, her life-changing decision to change her musical focus to historical performance practice led her to study medieval music with the groundbreaking early music scholar and performer Thomas Binkley, and then to study with Benjamin Bagby and Barbara Thornton of Sequentia.
In 1991, she co-founded Altramar Medieval Music Ensemble (photo: David Stattelman, Angela Mariani, Jann Cosart, Chris Smith) who recorded seven CDs for the Dorian label and toured in North America and abroad. It was at Indiana University in 1991 that Angela also created the nationally-syndicated early music radio program Harmonia; in 2016 she celebrated her 25th year as host of Harmonia, which is still heard weekly on over 100 stations nationally and globally via the Internet.
In 2001, Angela established the Collegium Musicum at Texas Tech University. The group’s performances range from medieval repertoire (including a semi-staged production of Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum), to early baroque repertoire, to interdisciplinary collaborations such as on-stage historical music for the TTU Main Stage Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” In addition to directing the Collegium Musicum, Dr. Mariani teaches seminars on medieval music, early performance practice, graduate and undergraduate music history courses, a course called “Music and the Contemplative Mind,” and a first-year course for music majors called “Creating the Critical Listener.” Back in 2002 she also designed and inaugurated Tech’s very popular, large-enrollment History of Rock and Roll course, and in 2009 created the School of Music’s Graduate Certificate Program in Historical Performance Practice and Research. Another secondary research area is Contemplative Pedagogy in Higher Education, an approach to pedagogy that seeks to integrate techniques of contemplation, meditation and mindfulness into the process of teaching and learning at the university level. Since 2007, Dr. Mariani has been a member of the peer-elected TTU Teaching Academy, and in 2018 received a President’s Excellence in Teaching Award from Texas Tech University.
In addition to all of her historical performance-related activities, Angela has maintained her strong interest in rock and traditional folk music, performing and recording with Johnny Faa (Irish trad music) and, most recently, playing hurdy-gurdy with the “balfolk” group Rattleskull. She divides her time between Texas during the school year and the Massachusetts Berkshires in the summer. When she’s not doing all of the above, she attempts to garden, practice meditation, do yoga, walk, read, and spend time with Chris Smith, her partner in both music and life in general since, well, a really long time ago.