Dr. Rajna Swaminathan joins the UCI Music faculty

The Department of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rajna Swaminathan as Assistant Professor of Music.

Professor Swaminathan holds a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University’s Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry program and is an improviser, composer, and scholar. Her dissertation – Time, Virtuosity, and Ethics Otherwise: Queer Resonances for Diasporic Play –  represents a productive dialog between scholarship and creative practice.

Professor Swaminathan’s primary instrument is the mrudangam, one of the central instruments in Karnatik music and South Indian dance. As the founder and leader of the ensemble RAJAS, she asserts herself as an artist at the forefront of new intercultural horizons driven by the improvisational sensibilities of South Asian and African diasporic musical practices, creative music, and jazz. As a composer, Professor Swaminathan’s recognition is rising fast nationally and internationally, being programmed and commissioned by notable venues and presenters, such as Chamber Music America, National Sawdust, the LA Phil, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. In addition to deepening the department through her experience integrating cross-cultural inquiry into rhythm and embodiment with queer theory and Black studies, she will join as the fifth core faculty member of the department’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology (ICIT) Ph.D. program.

The Department is delighted to welcome Professor Swaminathan to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and the University of California, Irvine.

About ICIT…

The Department of Music at the University of California, Irvine invites applications to the PhD program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT). The program is taught by a core faculty whose work embraces diverse forms of music making, challenging conventional distinctions between classical composition, computer music, improvisation, and jazz. Students will receive close personal attention from faculty, and are encouraged to work on interdisciplinary projects. We seek students with a strong foundation who wish to develop new creative work integrating a wide range of contemporary music and ideas.

In addition to the five core ICIT faculty, the Music Department includes many other performers, musicologists, theorists, and historians, making for a rich environment in which to develop critical skills that are essential for the 21st-century musician. The Claire Trevor School of the Arts is home to excellent graduate programs in Dance, Drama, and Studio Art. UC Irvine is a quickly growing campus within one of the nation’s leading research university systems. Located near the coast in Orange County, Irvine is an hour south of Los Angeles, a major art world center with vibrant contemporary music scenes.

The Department of Music admits a small number of full-time ICIT PhD students each fall. The department covers the cost of tuition and fees for all ICIT students, and also provides them with a part-time, salaried Teaching Assistantship that includes health insurance. This funding commitment is for a maximum of four years (12 quarters), which is the normative time to degree for the ICIT PhD degree. Typically, students take three years (9 quarters) to complete their required courses, pass the Qualifying Examination and advance to Candidacy, after which they spend their final year (3 quarters) completing the dissertation.

All applicants should possess an undergraduate degree in music or an equivalent level of training, and should demonstrate potential for creative and innovative work. Applicants who already hold a masters degree or have completed prior graduate study may request upon admission that specific course requirements be waived based on equivalent graduate coursework completed at other institutions, up to a maximum of 12 units.

Applications are due December 1st of each year, and application instructions are on the Department of Music website. Prospective applicants are also invited to join an open Zoom livestream held each fall, in which the core ICIT faculty members answer questions posted by attendees joining by video, audio or text chat. For 2021, that session is on Nov. 5 and the details, including zoom link, are on the Apply page. A recording of the session will be linked from that page afterwards, for those unable to attend.