Symposium Speakers

Ali Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and the Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University. A specialist of Islam in South Asia, Professor Asani’s research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional traditions in the region. In addition, he studies popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.  His books include The Bujh Niranjan: An Ismaili Mystical Poem; The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Literatures: A Descriptive Catalog and Finding Aid; Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Muslim Devotional Poetry (co-author); Al-Ummah: A Handbook for an Identity Development Program for North American Muslim Youth; Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literatures of South Asia; and Let’s Study Urdu: An Introduction to the Urdu Script and Let’s Study Urdu: An Introductory Course. In addition, he has published numerous articles in journals and encyclopedias. Professor Asani has been active post-Sept 11 in improving the understanding of Islam and its role in Muslim societies by conducting workshops for high school and college educators as well as making presentations at various public forums. He is particularly interested in the arts, broadly defined, as the primary means by which Muslims have experienced their faith and their potential as pedagogic bridges to foster a better understandings of the Islamic tradition. He also served on the American Academy of Religion’s Task Force on the teaching of religion in schools and has been a consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Project. In 2002, Professor Asani was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations at Harvard and the nation.  More recently, Professor Asani received the Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education.


Richard Barrett is a Greek Orthodox church musician, choral singer and scholar. He is the Artistic Director of the Saint John of Damascus Society, which supports the performance and dissemination of Orthodox liturgical and para-liturgical music. He is currently Psaltis (Cantor) at Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, and has served as cantor and choir director at All Saints Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana, at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. He serves as clinician and guest cantor at Orthodox churches throughout the country. He sings regularly with Cappella Romana, and has also sung with the Patriarch Tikhon Choir. He most recently was Fellow in Residence at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and has presented scholarly papers at events such as the International Conference on Patristic Studies at the University of Oxford, the North American Patristics Society, and the Patristic Symposium of the Georges Florovsky Society at Princeton University. Publications include essays on Orthodox musical topics in AGAIN Magazine and scholarly articles in journals such as the Greek Orthodox Theological Review, The Journal of Early Christian Studies, and Studia Patristica. A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Indiana University, he is completing his dissertation, titled “Civic Devotions to the Mother of God in Late Antique Constantinople” under the direction of Deborah Deliyannis. He holds a certificate in Byzantine Music from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology; in addition, he holds a B. Mus. in vocal performance and an M. A. in Ancient History, both from Indiana University. He has studied voice with Dennis Kruse, Erich Parce, and Dale Moore, and has pursued further specialized study of Byzantine chant with Ioannis Arvanitis and John Michael Boyer.


Jennifer Donelson is an associate professor and the director of sacred music at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in New York, where she also teaches sacred music courses in the St. Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians. She has co-edited Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire, recently published by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA). Her publications also include articles in the New Catholic EncyclopediaSacred MusicAntiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, the proceedings of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, and Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark). She is the Vice President & Treasurer of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, serves on the board of the CMAA, and is the managing editor of the CMAA’s journal Sacred Music. As academic liaison of the CMAA, she has organized and presented papers at several academic conferences on Charles Tournemire and the work of Msgr. Richard Schuler; she was a co-organizer of the Sacra Liturgia USA 2015 conference in New York. She received her DMA in piano performance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she studied piano with Paul Barnes, Mark Clinton, and Ann Chang in addition to her organ studies with Quentin Faulkner. Having studied Gregorian chant at the Catholic University of America and the Abbey of St. Peter in Solesmes, for six years Donelson served as a co-organizer of the Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian Chant Conference, and has given chant workshops in dioceses and parishes across the U.S. Before coming to Dunwoodie, Dr. Donelson served on the faculty at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, where she taught music theory, music history, piano, and directed the university chorale. As a church musician, Donelson has directed semi-professional, amateur, and children’s choirs. She currently directs the Schola Cantorum of St. Joseph’s Seminary and teaches Gregorian chant to children using the Ward Method at Neumann Classical School (Tuckahoe, NY) and Colm Cille Club (Pelham, NY).


Joseph Dyer, a native of Philadelphia, received his Ph.D. in music history from Boston University in 1971. He taught in the Music Department of the University of Massachusetts Boston until his retirement in 2001. He has published articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries on topics relating to chant and liturgy in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (especially Rome), psalmody, monasticism, performance practice, medieval music theory, and music in the intellectual life of the Middle Ages. He has also pursued a parallel career as an organist in churches of various denominations. His most recent publications (2016) include: “Reconciliation, Blessing, and Commemoration in the Holy Thursday Liturgy of Medieval Rome” (Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft), “A New Source for the Performance of Cantus Planus and Cantus Fractus in Eighteenth-Century Venice” (Journal of Musicology), and “Music, Passion, and Virtue in Two Quodlibetal Questions of the Philosopher Pierre d’Auvergne” (Philomusica On-line [University of Pavia]). He is a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music.


Joshua Jacobson is a world-renowned conductor, teacher, composer and author. He has guest lectured and taught workshops for schools, synagogues, festivals and conventions throughout North America as well as in Europe, Israel and Australia. He is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Northeastern University, Visiting Professor and Senior Consultant in the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College, and founder and director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston. He has guest conducted a number of ensembles, including the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Bulgarian National Symphony and Chorus. He has written two books, dozens of articles, and over 100 published compositions, editions and arrangements. In 1994 Hebrew College awarded him the Benjamin Shevach Award for Distinguished Achievement in Jewish Educational Leadership, in 2004 the Cantors Assembly presented him with its prestigious “Kavod Award,” and in 2016 Choral Arts New England will present him the Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the conductor and host of the PBS film, Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland. His book, Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Art of Cantillation, published by the Jewish Publication Society in 2002, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.


 Grammenos Karanos has served as protopsaltis (chief cantor) of churches in the greater Boston area since 1998 and is currently Protopsaltis of the Holy Cross Chapel and director of Holy Cross St. Romanos the Melodist Byzantine Choir. He has lectured and performed as a soloist or member of various ensembles, including the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir, the Psaltikon Ensemble, and the Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, in universities, concert halls, churches, and other venues throughout the United States and Europe.

His primary research interests include the morphology and evolution of Byzantine and post-Byzantine chant, the history and exegesis of neumatic notational systems, the dissemination of the psaltic tradition outside the Greek-speaking world, and the relationship between religious and secular musical traditions in the Balkans. At Hellenic College Holy Cross, Dr. Karanos teaches Byzantine chant, history of music, and liturgical service rubrics.



Brian J. Mayer is Dean of the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. He has also served as cantor of Temple Emanu-El since 1989, where he reorganized the Temple Choir, founded the Choral Club, Kol Kesem Teen Choir, and the Junior Choir, helped foster the Kol Klezmer Band, and established a reputation for innovative, artistic, and participatory, congregant-based concerts. He conducted the adult choirs at the North American Jewish Choral Festival and Kol Kesem at the annual Hazamir Teen Choral Festival in New York’s Lincoln Center. A recognized scholar of hazzanut (cantorial music), he taught for 14 years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as assistant professor of hazzanut and was featured in the nationally televised ABC-TV documentary “To God’s Ear,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award. A lecturer at synagogues and conferences throughout the United States, he holds a Doctor of Sacred Music degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was awarded the Seminary’s Arthur Einstein Prize for composition.


Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol has been praised by critics all over the world for his unique, pluralist, multicultural and energetic musical voice, as both composer and performer. Sanlikol studied composition at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory where he completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Composition. He is founder and president of DÜNYA, a musicians’ collective dedicated to contemporary presentations of Turkish traditions, alone and in interaction with other world traditions, through musical performance, publication, and educational activities. An active ethnomusicologist, a Harvard research fellow and multi-instrumentalist, Sanlikol, who hails from Cyprus and Turkey, is currently a faculty member at Emerson College and College of the Holy Cross.

His composition Vecd was commissioned by A Far Cry string orchestra and premiered on their 2014 Grammy-nominated release “Dreams and Prayers.” His music has also been performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Ozawa Hall and at Carnegie Hall. His ‘coffeehouse opera,’ Othello in the Seraglio: The Tragedy of Sümbül The Black Eunuch (winner of the Eastman School of Music’s Paul R. Judy Center for Applied Research Grant Award), bridges the musical cultures of opera house and coffee house, Baroque Italy and Ottoman Turkey, drawing audiences into a meditation on race, slavery, sexuality and the entwined histories of Europe and the Ottoman Empire.


Jeffrey A. Summit, Ph.D. holds the appointment of Research Professor in the Department of Music and in the Judaic Studies program at Tufts University, where he also serves as rabbi and Neubauer Executive Director of Tufts Hillel. He is the author of Singing God’s Words: The Performance of Biblical Chant in Contemporary Judaism (Oxford University Press), the first in depth study of the meaning and experience of chanting Torah among contemporary American Jews. He is also the author of The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: Music and Identity in Contemporary Jewish Worship (Oxford University Press). His CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) was nominated for a GRAMMY award. His CD with video Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith Harmony in Uganda (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) was awarded Best World Music CD by the Independent Music Awards.

Together with the leadership of the Abayudaya community in Uganda, he founded and runs the “Abayudaya College Scholarship Project” which has raised and administered funds to send more than 40 students to colleges and universities in Uganda from 2001-present. In conjunction with his work as Executive Director of Tufts Hillel, he runs the Cummings/Hillel Program for Holocaust and Genocide Education and was one of the founders of IMAGe (Tufts Initiative on Mass Atrocity and Genocide). His research focuses on music and identity, music and spiritual experience, music and advocacy, and the impact of technology on the transmission of tradition.