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Music Studies PhD Students


Ben Safran's compositions have been performed throughout the United States, including by Network for New Music, Dolce Suono Ensemble, Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, Calliope, Temple Composers' Orchestra, Temple University New Music Ensemble, and by titled members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ben has been commissioned by world-championship ice skater Brooke Frieling, Philadelphia's Kaleid Theater, and Boston's Commonwealth School, and is a winner of the 2017 Dolce Suono Ensemble Steven Stucky Young Composers Award and the 2018 Richard Duris Award for excellence in classical music.

Ben’s research, which they have presented at national and regional conferences across the country, includes interdisciplinary approaches to studying music and social justice, protest music, identity studies, hermeneutics, pedagogy, media studies, and ecomusicology. Ben’s dissertation is on contemporary classical composers' uses of social justice and political themes in their concert music, for which they were awarded a selective dissertation completion grant from Temple University.

A native of Massachusetts, Ben is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music studies from Temple University, having previously earned a B.A. in music from Haverford College. Ben has taught courses in music theory and composition, and assisted in courses in music history and orchestration.

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Evan Kassof

Evan Kassof (b. 1988) is a composer, conductor, and former physicist pursuing his PhD in Music Composition as a University Fellow at Temple University. Evan’s music has been performed around the world, from Tenerife, the Canary Islands to Yerevan, Armenia. While a student in the Guildhall School’s prestigious Master of Arts in Opera-Making course, his operasColony(a children’s opera written in 2015) andGreenland(a chamber opera written 2015) – both with libretti by Aleksandar Hut Kono – were premiered in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Milton Court Theatre at the Barbican Centre.Greenlandwas also performed in Budapest as part of the Liszt Academy’s annual opera festival in January of 2016. Before his studies at Guildhall, Evan studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music (2014 MMus – distinction)as a student of Tansy Davieson a full scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. His final project,Memoirs of Transformation­–an Opera in Two Identical Acts(2014)was premiered at the Duke’s Hall in London under his own baton.

Holding degrees in both physics and music, Evan’s compositions often use scientific concepts as source materials. This element of his work was presented in a TEDxTalk (London, 2013) and has led to collaborations with space scientists (Heat Death, 2013) and condensed-matter physicists (Turbulence, 2016). However, at the heart of his compositional practice is the desire to invite his performers to become creative collaborators with his work in order to produce novel and beautiful results. In addition to his compositional activities, he served as the assistant conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra (2015-16, located in Florida) and performs on both cello and viola da gamba.

For more information, visit Evan’s website at:

Robert Pegg is a PhD student in composition. He has studied with Drs. Cynthia Folio, Matthew Greenbaum, and Maurice Wright. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in theory and composition at Westminster Choir College and his Master of Music degree at Temple University. Since April 2009 he has been a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He writes in an eclectic style with influences from Renaissance modality to serialism and is interested in composing for stage, film, and video games.


Sean Davis Sean M. Davis is currently a PhD Candidate in Music Studies at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, where he has also served as an Adjunct Instructor in Music Theory. At Temple, Sean has taught core undergraduate courses in the theory sequence, Graduate Written Theory Review, Graduate Aural Theory Review, Music Theory for Non-Majors, and American Popular Music. Sean has also taught all levels of written and aural theory at Montgomery County Community College, and has had several private students. While his dissertation research focuses on semiotic and hermeneutic analysis of popular music, Sean has also done work on social and political constructions in nineteenth-century melody and sonata forms.
Andrew Litts

Born in 1986, Andrew Litts is a University Fellow at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. His music has been performed by Network for New Music, the Momenta Quartet, and the Glaux Trio, in addition to being featured in two Philadelphia film festivals. He studied with Samuel Adler of the Juilliard School at the Freie Universität Berlin International Summer and Winter University (FUBiS) in Berlin, Germany and has also studied with Paul Barsom, Cynthia Folio, Richard Brodhead and Maurice Wright. 

He earned honors in Solfège, Keyboard Harmony, Score Reading, and Counterpoint during two summers of study at the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA) in Paris, France. Also a trumpet player, he has studied with Langston J. Fitzgerald, III. He has a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Music Composition from Temple University. He has taught music technology at the Pennsylvania State University and Music Theory at Temple University. For more information, visit:


Emily DeWoolfson

Emily DeWoolfson is a composer and current PhD student in music theory at Temple University. She holds an MA degree in music theory from Pennsylvania State University, as well as BM and MM degrees in music composition from Christopher Newport University and University of Delaware, respectively.

Emily has taught core undergraduate courses in the theory sequence at Temple, Penn State, and University of Delaware, as well as a theory and technology course for non-majors at UD. She has previously served as President of the PSU chapter of Society for Music Theory, and President of the CNU Chapter of Society for Composers, Inc. Emily’s dissertation research focuses on depictions of water in the music ofFin de siècleFrance and related contexts.

Emily’s compositional style is influenced by surrealism, philosophy, and the avant garde, and often incorporates multimedia elements. Reverie—a stop-motion short film written, produced, and scored by Emily in 2018—has received laurels at the MystiCon Independent Film Festival, the Plum Tuckered Film Festival, and the Queen City Film Festival, among others. In 2015, her work Siren Song (for SATB Choir) won 1st place at the Delaware ACDA Collegiate Composers Competition. Emily was also the first student composer ever to premiere a fully staged chamber opera at University of Delaware.

Tim Gonzalez

Timothy Lewis Gonzalez is a PhD student in music theory. Gonzalez earned a B.M. in vocal performance from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and a M.M. in vocal performance and music theory from Temple University. His research interests include analysis of vocal music, particularly song cycles, chamber music, and music theory pedagogy. Gonzalez completed his M.M. thesis on memory as an analytical tool for American composer Ned Rorem’s song cycle War Scenes.

As a performer, Gonzalez has worked as a soloist and a chorister in operas, recitals, and choirs across the region. In addition to his studies at Temple, Gonzalez is a church musician at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia as well as a private music instructor in the Philadelphia area. He is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, and is the co-founder of THEMUS, Temple University’s society for music theory and musicology.

Lydia Huang

Lydia Huang is a PhD student in music theory whose research interests include Chinese popular music, music in social movements, and music theory pedagogy. Her dissertation examines the various representations and imaginations of “China” in zhongguofeng, or China Wind, pop songs, and the meanings evoked by Chinese instruments and their musical tropes. She also conducts fieldwork in Chinatown, Philadelphia, exploring the transnational habitus of Chinese seniors through their music and singing classes. She earned her MA in music theory at McGill University and her BMus in music theory at Western University.

Yumi Kim Yumi Kim is a PhD. student in music theory at Temple University and also acts as a composer. She received an award for “the most perspective scholars” by the Musicological Society of Korea through her first research paper, “Chromaticism as a Structural Determinant as Seen in Schoenberg’s Early Songs,” which was published in Journal of Musicological Society of Korea in 2011. Her recent paper, “A Practical Approach to the Renaissance Counterpoint Based on Zarlino’s Pedagogical Principle,” is forthcoming to be published in GSTF Journal of Music 2/1. Yumi Kim’s research focuses on the hermeneutic analysis, musical narrative, Schenkerian theory, and a pedagogical application of Schenkerian analysis.

Matthew Kiple is currently a PhD student in Music Theory. Matt’s research interests include Neo-Riemannian theory, analysis and performance, semiotic/hermeneutic analysis, and chromatic harmony in nineteenth century piano music. He completed his BM degree in Piano at Westminster Choir College, and his MM degree in Piano Performance at Temple University, where he studied with Charles Abramovic. Matt has performed in recitals as part of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, New York Piano Festival and Competition, and World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. He was also a finalist in the Princeton Festival Piano Competition.

Matt has served as a teaching assistant and an adjunct instructor in the Keyboard Department at Temple, and currently enjoys teaching piano at Lumberton School of Music in New Jersey.

Risa Okina

Risa Okina is a PhD student at the Boyer Collage of Music and Dance, Temple University. Her research interests are Sonata Theory, Schenkerian Analysis, Hermeneutic Analysis on the music of Johannes Brahms, and Performance and Analysis. She completed her master’s degree in music theory at Boyer in 2015. She is also an active pianist, holding her Bachelor’s degree from the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Japan, and a master’s degree in piano performance at Indiana University South Bend, where she studied with the Martin Endowed Professor in Piano, Alexander Toradze. She regularly performed in the Toradze Piano Studio Concerts as a studio member. Risa received the William A. Singer Memorial Award for academic excellence at Temple University in 2014. She has also presented a paper at the Mannes College’s Graduate Student Theory Conference in 2014.

Risa has been serving as a theory teaching assistant at Boyer since 2013. She enjoys teaching undergraduate aural theory classes, and also working with Boyer musicians as a collaborative pianist.


Chad Fothergill

Chad Fothergill is a doctoral musicology student and researches the Lutheran Kantor tradition in both its Reformation-era and present-day contexts. He received degrees in organ performance from Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota) and the University of Iowa, and is a frequent contributor—both as writer and composer—to worship planning resources of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

In addition, he remains active as an organist and harpsichordist in solo, collaborative, and liturgical settings. He regularly substitutes for congregations in the Philadelphia and New York City areas, and has performed or presented papers and workshops at gatherings of, among others, the American Guild of Organists, ALCM, ELCA, Haydn Society of North America, North American Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, Society for Christian Scholarship in Music, and several graduate conferences.

Gary Sampsell

Gary Sampsell is a University Fellow at Temple. An advisee of Steven Zohn, he is concerned with the musical culture of baroque-era Saxony and Austro-German reception of early music in the nineteenth century. Other interests include aesthetics, critical theory, and popular music, specifically the rise of death metal in the US (1986-1996). A longtime musical influence, the latter kindled his desire for formal study.

After serving in the Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst, Sampsell matriculated at Towson University to pursue his academic interests, earning a Bachelor of Science in music and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. He also holds a Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where he received the Irving Lowens Endowed Memorial Prize in Musicology.

Publications “Popular Music in the Time of J. S. Bach: The Leipzig Mandora Manuscript.” Bach: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute 48/1 (2017): 1-35.