mathias Congratulations to Ph.D. student Alyssa Mathias who won the 2015 Historical Ethnomusicology Section Student Paper Prize for her paper “Learning the Oud in Armenian Los Angeles: Transnational Musicianship between Turkey and the United States in the Mid-Twentieth Century,” presented at the 2014 meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

This prize recognizes the most distinguished student paper presented at the annual SEM meeting that meets one or more of the following expectations:
(1) The paper employs the use of historical methodologies and theoretical perspectives.
(2) The paper is focused on a particular historical musical tradition.
(3) The paper is historiographic in approach and includes research based on primary sources.

The paper explores the movement of people, instruments, sound recordings, and information between Turkey and United States Armenian communities in the 1950s and 1960s. As a case study, it examines the education and early career of Los Angeles Armenian musician John Bilezikjian, who found inspiration in the music of Turkish-Armenian oud master Udi Hrant Kenkulian. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and primary and secondary written sources, the paper points to overlooked patterns of communication between Los Angeles and Istanbul, and to two artists’ unique desires regarding musical creativity, instrument craftsmanship, and business procedure. The paper speaks to the diversity of diasporic experience, suggesting not just homeland/hostland flows, but complicated, fragile moments of communication and imagination across multiple nodes of the Armenian transnation.