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Lisa Urkevich, Ph.D.


DR. LISA URKEVICH is a Specialist in the Heritage and Music of the Arabian Peninsula and has served as a senior advisor on several regional initiatives including developing Higher Education in the Arts, Music Museums, Business and Industry, Ensemble building, and Intangible Heritage Preservation. She is on the leadership team and holds the position of General Editor of the College Music Symposium: Journal of the College Music Society, the largest world-wide consortium of college, conservatory, university, and independent musicians and scholars: she oversees all ten Components, each with its own editor and Editorial Board. She also serves as full Professor of Musicology/Ethnomusicology at the American University of Kuwait, where she is the former Founding Division Head (Dean) of the Arts and Humanities and Founding Chair of the Department of Music and Drama. In 2015-16 she was appointed a Harvard University Fellow in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and she is the 2015 "Alumna of the Year" at the University of Maryland. For seven years, Urkevich was director of a leading Peninsula cultural center, the Arabian Heritage Project, which partnered with embassies, institutions, and corporations to celebrate regional research, customs, and performances, including the annual Al-Kout Festival of Kuwait, which Urkevich founded. She is a sought-after public speaker, two-time US Senior Fulbright Scholar, the author of Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, and the author/producer of the CD and Booklet Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf (Multicultural Media).

Urkevich has resided and undertaken fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula for over two decades. She first lived in Saudi Arabia from 1994-98 in various locales including Taif, Khamis Mushayt, and Riyadh. Later, in 2003 she moved to Kuwait, initially as a Senior Fulbright Scholar. Throughout her time in the region, she has investigated widespread areas of the Gulf States, from Kuwait to Oman, and engaged in fieldwork extensively throughout the Saudi Kingdom traveling to Najran, Baha, Wadi al-Dawasir, Jizan, Hail, Qaseem, and Jeddah. She continues to engage in research, writing, and curriculum development as she travels throughout Saudi Arabia, assessing Music Education, Heritage Preservation, Industry, and Tourism needs in line with the KSA 2030 Vision.

Previously, Urkevich served as a professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Boston University (BU) where she held a joint position in the College of Fine Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. At BU she introduced the first World Music classes in the School of Music. Throughout her career, she has taught both graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of institutions including Bucknell University and the University of Maryland. She holds four degrees: Ph.D. University of Maryland, M.M. Florida State University, B.S. Towson University, B.A. University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Along with Ethnomusicology, Urkevich has extensive experience in Historical Musicology. In western music, she has published in the demanding field of Renaissance Music. In this milieu she proved in two separate studies that precious surviving Renaissance music books were not the possessions of royal men as formerly believed, but were the books of women (Anne Boleyn; and Anne of France). Her findings have an impact on a myriad of factors, including the dating and source stemmas of major compositions, the histories of the lives of leading figures, and the role of females in cultural history.


Urkevich has training as an early music text editor and prepared a volume for the International CPE Bach Edition, for whom she worked for two years. She also has considerable editing experience with Renaissance music, and while she was the director of the Boston University Collegium Musicum for four years, her ensemble performed her transcriptions of the Anne Boleyn Music Book, MS 1070 of the Royal College of Music. She applies her music editing skills to both western and non-western music.