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Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship

Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship

Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship

This award is given by EMA to “an outstanding and highly-motivated (and possibly unconventional) young performer of medieval music who seeks to widen his/her experience through more advanced study and/or auditions in Europe.”  The recipient is chosen by a jury of musicians who knew or worked with the great medieval music specialist and teacher, Barbara Thornton (1950-1998), who came to Europe from New York in 1970, filled with plans to study early music, and went on to co-found the medieval music ensemble Sequentia with Benjamin Bagby in 1977.

Current Recipient

2017 Recipient


2014 1aThe selection of Allison Monroe was unanimous and enthusiastic. The jurors were impressed by Allison's clearly-stated project, her presentation, her singing and playing with passion, mastery and depth of feeling, and her dedication to her art.

In 2017, Allison will complete a Doctor of Musical Arts in Historical Performance Practice at Case-Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), after which she has plans to study and travel in Europe, specifically to gain experience in the performance of medieval music.

Previous to this, she had studied viola and violin, awarded a master's in music from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Cardiff, UK), following a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Violin Performance) at the University of Maryland (College Park, MD).

She has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Newberry Consort, and performed a wide variety of medieval repertoires during her years at CWRU. She attended the Sequentia medieval music summer course in Vancouver, where she joined the ensemble for performances of music from medieval France and Aquitaine. In 2016, she founded the ensemble Trobár, with Karin Weston, soprano; their ensemble is “dedicated to searching out medieval music and recreating it for modern audiences” (performances in the Boston Early Music Festival’s 2017 Fringe series).

For her upcoming travel and study in Europe, Allison writes that she would like to attend  “the Settimana Musicale del Trecento, held in Arezzo, Italy, dedicating a week to intense study of the music of the Trecento as found in the Squarcialupi Codex. I would also spend a few weeks in Basel studying vielle with Baptiste Romain, the new professor of stringed instruments at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. These opportunities would expand my knowledge and experience in performing medieval music and would enable me to create connections with European medievalists.”

She continues: “Medieval music flourishes in Europe, with many ensembles and programs of study. While I would love to perform there periodically, ultimately I hope to help bring medieval music to the forefront of early music performance here in the USA. As an educator at heart, I look forward to passing on a love for and understanding of medieval music to young musicians. I am also passionate about bringing these lesser-known repertoires to new audiences, showing them the common thread of humanity that spans the centuries, cultures, genres, and styles. Studying in Europe would play a huge part in preparing me for this work, and this scholarship would make it possible for me to begin such study.”


"I am honored and grateful to receive this scholarship, awarded in memory of such an amazing performer and woman. Thanks to EMA and the judges for making it possible for me to continue my pursuit of medieval music in Europe. I look forward to learning as much as possible while I am there and helping to further the field here in the US."

Past Recipients & Application Process



Mara Winter


Isabella Shaw


Laura Osterlund


Emily Eagen


Mary E. Larew


Wolodymyr Smishkewych


Moira Smiley


Eligible Applicants

Applications are open to a young performer with a passion for medieval music and who seeks to widen their experience through more advanced study and/or auditions in Europe.

Applicants should be citizens of the Americas who are under the age of 35 at the time of application.


Applications are reviewed by an anonymous panel of judges and award announcements will be made by mid-May.


One winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship award.

Required Materials
  1. Contact information
  2. Letter describing the proposed use of the scholarship
  3. Resume and description of your background in medieval music
  4. An audio and/or video file of a recent solo performance of medieval music in which you are featured performer (5 Min Max). ​The judges would like to hear the performances of the candidate as a soloist, which would mean (for vocalists) a solo song and not one part in a 3v or 4v piece sung with others, or (for instrumentalists) an instrumental solo piece, or an accompaniment role which is really featured and involves considerable creative input. The judges main consideration is to clearly hear the work of the candidate, to be able to judge her/his sound, musicality, understanding of language and creative ideas.
  5. Letter of recommendation from a principal teacher, ensemble director, or collegium musicum director
  6. Passport image providing proof of citizenship and date of birth
Application & Deadline

The application is now closed. Thank you for applying. Please check back for updates in January 2019.


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