Published: September 13, 2011

ahrens garcia

A native of Northeastern Connecticut, Tori Ahrens has come to UCLA's ethnomusicology program after having graduated magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College with a B.A. in music. Her research interests include Mongolian and Tuvan overtone singing as well as Indian sacred music. At UCLA, she hopes to expand upon these and other interests as well as to continue practicing classical voice.

León García is a musician and ethnomusicologist. He worked as an IT and marketing consultant in Mexico and New York City for over ten years before earning his Master's degree in ethnomusicology. His research includes jazz, cultural diplomacy, bolero and trío romántico as well as music from the Mexican diaspora in the United States. He has directed ensembles of salsa, jazz, and Mexican music and conducted world music workshops as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington, University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University, University of Idaho, and Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico. He comes to UCLA from Smithsonian Folkways, where he was the editor of Folkways Magazine. At Folkways he also developed online teaching tools such as the Smithsonian jazz education website, and co-produced Romancing the Past, an album of trio music by Los Tres Reyes. He is currently a Research Associate at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

levine mathias
Photo credit: Davin Youngs

Kevin Levine is a native of Los Angeles, California, where he has been a member of the traditional Irish music community for ten years. He received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from California State University Northridge. At CSUN, Kevin wrote an undergraduate thesis on the status of instruments traditionally played within the Irish music community as communicated through jokes and other forms of lore. Kevin’s areas of interest also include musical diaspora, globalization, notions of authenticity and cultural ownership among musicians, and the application of linguistics to the study of music.

Alyssa Mathias received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Chicago, where she wrote her senior thesis on Armenian musical practices and diasporic identity formation in Fresno, California. After working in arts administration and singing with professional choirs in Chicago, Alyssa returns to her native California with a broad interest in expressive culture throughout the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. She intends to continue her focus on Armenian music, exploring relationships between stylistic choice, lived experience, history, identity, and social and political processes.

nielsen rodriguez
Photo credit: Ed Berger

Kristina Nielsen received her B.M. in piano performance with a Spanish minor from Western Washington University in the spring of 2009. During her undergraduate years, she also studied at the Universidad De Las Américas in Puebla, Mexico. Since graduating she has lived in Denmark. During her time in Europe she traveled to Jordan, Bulgaria, Iceland, Italy and more, as well as attended classes at the University of Copenhagen on Mesoamerican language and culture. Her current research interests include pre-Columbian Mesoamerican and South American music.

Alex W. Rodriguez is a jazz trombonist and writer interested in the history of Chile and Argentina's "Hot Clubs" and the jazz scenes that have grown up around them. Raised in Portland, Oregon, Alex began playing trombone at age 12; since then, he has performed with jazz and popular music groups across the United States and South America. In May 2011, Alex earned his M.A. in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark, where he wrote his thesis on early jazz pioneer Jack Teagarden and studied with master trombonist Conrad Herwig. is a jazz trombonist and writer interested in the history of Chile and Argentina's "Hot Clubs" and the jazz scenes that have grown up around them. Raised in Portland, Oregon, Alex began playing trombone at age 12; since then, he has performed with jazz and popular music groups across the United States and South America. In May 2011, Alex earned his M.A. in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark, where he wrote his thesis on early jazz pioneer Jack Teagarden and studied with master trombonist Conrad Herwig.is a jazz trombonist and writer interested in the history of Chile and Argentina's "Hot Clubs" and the jazz scenes that have grown up around them. Raised in Portland, Oregon, Alex began playing trombone at age 12; since then, he has performed with jazz and popular music groups across the United States and South America. In May 2011, Alex earned his M.A. in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark, where he wrote his thesis on early jazz pioneer Jack Teagarden and studied with master trombonist Conrad Herwig. is a jazz trombonist and writer interested in the history of Chile and Argentina's "Hot Clubs" and the jazz scenes that have grown up around them. Raised in Portland, Oregon, Alex began playing trombone at age 12; since then, he has performed with jazz and popular music groups across the United States and South America. In May 2011, Alex earned his M.A. in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark, where he wrote his thesis on early jazz pioneer Jack Teagarden and studied with master trombonist Conrad Herwig.

schmidt
Photo credit: Xela Smith

sprengel
Photo credit: Katelyn Gallagher

Eric Schmidt earned a BA in music (Jazz Studies) from American University in 2009. His honors thesis explored the evolving sociopolitical and economic roles of guitar music among the Tuareg of Saharan Africa. Following his graduation, Eric worked as a jazz research intern at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History and as an archival intern at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He is eager to further study the musical cultures of North and West Africa at UCLA, and to continue performing on saxophone, oud, and the highland bagpipes. earned a BA in music (Jazz Studies) from American University in 2009. His honors thesis explored the evolving sociopolitical and economic roles of guitar music among the Tuareg of Saharan Africa. Following his graduation, Eric worked as a jazz research intern at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History and as an archival intern at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He is eager to further study the musical cultures of North and West Africa at UCLA, and to continue performing on saxophone, oud, and the highland bagpipes.

Darci Sprengel received a B.M.A. in viola performance and BA in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Michigan in 2010. She spent the past year working with musicians in Egypt and studying Arabic at the University of Alexandria. Her current interests include fusion and new music from the Middle East, music and national identity, and women and gender studies.received a B.M.A. in viola performance and BA in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Michigan in 2010. She spent the past year working with musicians in Egypt and studying Arabic at the University of Alexandria. Her current interests include fusion and new music from the Middle East, music and national identity, and women and gender studies.