Blair around the world: Cynthia Cyrus researches an Austrian monastic community


Blair Professor of Musicology Cynthia Cyrus is currently in Austria on a nine-week research trip, as she continues her studies of the Thalbach convent in Bregenz. Cyrus will be visiting the Austrian National Library in Vienna and topical archives housed in Innsbruck. She began her research on the topic during a 2019 trip to the same area.

Much of Cyrus’s work focuses on the music performed during civic services of remembrance known as “walking over the grave” processions. “We know that Thalbach nuns participated and sang during such ceremonies, paid by donors,” said Cyrus. “I’ll be measuring soundscape details in nine Vorarlberg cemeteries where remembrance ceremonies were held. My work will include researching manuscripts and incunabula at eight different libraries across Austria. Many of the original prayer books I’ll be examining are not yet digitized and are largely unexamined.”

The project is made possible by a Vanderbilt Global Engagement Research Seed Grant. Established this year by the Office of the Vice Provost for Arts, Libraries, & Global Engagement, the program provides financial support to new and innovative faculty research endeavors that involve global engagement. The grants are meant to seed projects with larger funding capacities.

A professor of musicology at Blair School of Music since 1994, Cynthia Cyrus’s commitment to scholarly excellence and dedication to her students have earned her widespread recognition, including the KC Potter Outstanding Service to Students Award in 2019, a “making history” award from the Women’s Center in 2012, and a Blair School Faculty Excellence Award in 2009. She holds a BA from Pomona College, and MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina.