Title/Position: Lecturer, Department of Vocal PerformanceProfile:
Why did you choose music as your career?
I don’t think I did. I was a practicing attorney. Music chased me, fought with me, pinned me down, and forced me to face my desire to live, breathe, and study it, no matter what. I had originally majored in music and English, both of which I love, but then veered off to make a career in law, perhaps in the way someone might leap into a first marriage. That music, my first love, is now my profession, is something I will never take for granted.
What is your teaching philosophy? What do you expect from students at the Frost School of Music?
To study music requires engagement of creative, as well as analytical, processes. This applies whether the purpose of studying a particular work is to prepare to perform it, or to investigate it in class at the Frost School. I find conducting to be a fascinating career precisely because of the variegated approach it requires: a conductor has a good excuse to study any and all aspects of a composition, including its historical context, the composer’s philosophy of music, the composer’s lifestyle, the architecture of the work, the contour of each instrumental or vocal part and its relationship to the others, and the significance of textual or programmatic elements. Each avenue of study opens the door to another rabbit hole, where one can get lost, not only in learning about the music, but in contributing a new approach to the scholarship.
My job is to encourage students at the Frost School to apply their own creative processes to the study of music—not just to memorize rules about musical forms, styles, and trends. I am most interested in posing questions that search out the composer’s impetus for writing in a particular way: “Why did Haydn compose the last movement of this string quartet in rondo form?” The initial response is generally, “Because rondo is the standard form for closing movements.” Yes, true. But why? When Haydn was born, there was no standard sequence of forms for string quartets; Haydn was one of the driving forces in popularizing and standardizing the genre. So, why rondo? Now, we are able to probe the musical world of the time: Haydn’s audience, after sitting through several complex movements, each presenting new thematic material, would be tired. The peppy rondo form, with its regular, recognizable, reassuring return to the opening material, would help keep the audience engaged, excited, (and awake!) through the closing movement. When students take ownership of the music—and their interpretation of it—I have succeeded.
Coreen Duffy is a lecturer in the Department of Vocal Performance at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where she teaches choral literature, choral arranging, and music history, and supervises graduate student conductors in the Chamber Singers. She is Founding Music Director of the Second Avenue Jewish Chorale, South Florida’s concert choir dedicated to the performance of Jewish choral music. Duffy serves as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives for the Florida American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). At the National ACDA Conference in Dallas in 2013, Duffy presented a Music & Worship Interest and Performance session on Jewish choral repertoire. A composer-conductor, Duffy’s choral works are published by Walton Music and ECS Publishing. Her compositions have been featured as recommended choral literature at ACDA conferences throughout the United States and have been reviewed in Creator Magazine, Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians and The American Organist. Duffy’s scholarly writings have been published by the American Choral Review and Choral Journal. Duffy is completing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. She earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. She received the Juris Doctor, Bachelor of Musical Arts, and Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.