Honoring Barbara Thornton (1950-1998)

This scholarship is given by Early Music America 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.

Past Recipients

2017: Allison Monroe
2015: Mara Winter
2013: Isabella Shaw
2011: Laura Osterlund
2008: Emily Eagen
2006: Mary E. Larew
2004: Wolodymyr Smishkewych
2001: Moira Smiley

The intention of the Scholarship is to provide funding for study abroad, during the Summer or Fall of 2021. However, given the uncertainty introduced by the current COVID-19 pandemic, study and travel abroad may not be possible at that time. In this case, the funds awarded to the recipient of the Scholarship will be held until it is possible for the applicant to use them in the manner originally described in their proposal.

2019 Recipient: Karin Weston

Karin Weston will attend a summer course with Micrologus in Spello, Italy, and will also pursue study of the Occitan language in southern France.

“It was clear to the jury,” said Benjamin Bagby, “that Karin’s plan to pursue more specific and advanced study in Italy and France in 2019 would be exactly the sort of project that this award was designed to facilitate. Just as Barbara Thornton had spent several youthful summers pursuing similar goals for study in France and Italy, more than 50 years ago, we feel strongly that this is the perfect moment for Karin to expand her studies into the European scene, and we are pleased that this award will help her to realize these goals.

“This scholarship facilitates opportunities for me to learn from musicians whose approaches to medieval song I find inspiring,” said Karin, “and allows me to study the Occitan language and pronunciation amongst native speakers in ways that will inform my singing of troubadour song. I look forward to growing as a medieval musician and scholar, and to applying what I learn over this summer in my future work with my colleagues in Trobár.”

Karin founded Trobár with Allison Monroe and Elena Mullins three years ago. They have performed in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., and New York, and have held residencies at Avaloch Farm and the University of Louisville.

Karin has a MA in Historical Performance Practice from Case Western Reserve University and a BA in Molecular Biology and Music (Vocal Performance) from Scripps College.

Read Karin’s reflection following her Thornton Scholarship-funded study in summer 2019.

To support the mission of EMA’s Named Biennial Scholarship, please visit our Endowed Scholarship Funds and Affiliates donation page.

The 2021 application period is now closed.

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