woman seated at piano

Dr. Louise Thomas

Congratulations go out to Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Louise Thomas who has just been named among 15 other recipients of the 2021 Faculty Opportunity Funds. The Faculty Opportunity Fund program was created in 2018 as a way to support Chapman University faculty in the development of new and innovative research, scholarship and creative activity. A total of $195,622 was awarded this year to eight Colleges/Schools as part of the program.

The winning proposals were chosen out of 40 submissions, and were reviewed by four disciplinary faculty review panels consisting of faculty from Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Attallah College of Education Studies; College of Performing Arts; School of Pharmacy; and Schmid College of Science and Technology.

Thomas, a concert pianist and director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts program at Chapman, will use the award for a new collaborative musical project that consists of a new song-cycle composition, with a concert performance in Ireland, Britain and at Chapman University, and will be recorded at Chapman during spring 2022. She also hopes to collaborate with an independent Irish film-maker to ultimately produce a multimedia piece for digital release.

Titled “Irish Art-Song Cycle on Themes of Travel and Questing,” the project intends to follow the tradition of the great song-cycles of the past, but will explore the texts of Irish poet, Sigerson Clifford, who wrote about the nomadic indigenous lucht siúil community in Ireland — the so-called “travelling community” which, Thomas says, likely diverged from the settled Irish population in the 1600s during the time of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Thomas adds that this group has some cultural ties to the European Romani and in 2017 achieved distinct ethnic status in Ireland. The project will also look at some contemporary reflections on the subject of journeying — either from the perspective of someone looking back, or from a young immigrant in Ireland — with the expectation of collaborating with a contemporary poet or dramatist.

Thomas’ co-collaborators are renowned Irish tenor Gavan Ring, D. Mus., and Belfast-born composer Stephen McNeff of the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Read more about all the 2021 awardees here.