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Dr. Lisa presenting her research at a conference

Lisa Urkevich, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa in Asir, Saudi Arabia, with folk performers

DR. LISA URKEVICH is a leading Specialist in the Heritage and Music of the Arabian Peninsula and has served as a senior advisor on regional initiatives including those related to Music-Performing Arts, Higher Education, and Intangible Heritage Preservation. In Jeddah,  she is currently the Director of the Tariq Abdulhakim Center, a Research-Archive unit with a museum and music outreach and education component that is dedicated to the music and traditions of Saudi Arabia. She also 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: Urkevich oversees seven Components, each with its own editor and Editorial Board.


Until 2023, Dr. Urkevich was a full Professor of Musicology-Ethnomusicology at the American University of Kuwait, where she developed and taught unique courses on Saudi and Gulf State music and traditions. At AUK she was the Founding Division Head (Dean) of the Arts and Humanities, helping to establish the college, its facilities, programs, and hire large teams of faculty. She was the Founding Chair of the Department of Music and Drama, and during her tenure, she helped build the most comprehensive music program at a liberal arts college in the region.


She is a Harvard University Fellow, a two-time US Senior Fulbright Scholar, and the 'Alumna of the Year' at the University of Maryland, USA. For seven years, Dr. 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. She is a sought-after public speaker, the author of many publications including Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, which is used in universities around the globe. She is also the author/producer of the CD/Booklet Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf (Multicultural Media).

Dr. Urkevich has resided and undertaken fieldwork in the Arabian Peninsula for three 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 US 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, including Najran, Baha, Wadi al-Dawasir, Jizan, Hail, Qaseem, and Jeddah, among other locales. She continues to engage in research, writing, and curriculum development, assessing Music Education, Higher Academe, Heritage Preservation, Industry and Tourism needs of Saudi Arabia in league with Vision 2030.

Previously, Dr. 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 and was also the Director of the Early Music Ensemble. 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, Dr. 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 historical perspectives, 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.


Dr. Urkevich has experience in textual criticism and served as a music editor and prepared a volume for the International CPE Bach Edition, for whom she worked for two years. She also has 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 (heard here). She applies her music editing skills to both western and non-western music.

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