César Alvarez and Allie Martin join Music Department

The Music Department is thrilled to welcome two new faculty members, César Alvarez and Alison (Allie) Martin.

Professor Alvarez is a visionary creator of five full-length musicals. With a background as a jazz saxophonist, band leader, and sound artist, Professor Alvarez experiments today with large theatrical productions that speak candidly to sociopolitical realities and sing wishfully of possible futures. Joining us now as Assistant Professor, they will be teaching the following AY 2020/21 courses: Songwriting (MUS 31), Emerging Musical Theater (MUS 27.01), and Computer Music Composition (MUS 104).

Professor Martin (she/her) is an ethnomusicologist extraordinaire whose research has broken new ground in areas of race, sound, and digital humanities. She received her PhD from Indiana University this past spring with a dissertation on sonic gentrification in Washington, DC. Before joining us as Assistant Professor, she will hold a two-year prestigious Mellon Fellowship; she will teach one course in AY 2021/22, and many exciting courses in the years that follow.

Congratulations, César and Allie, and welcome to our community!

Please view their bios below.


César Alvarez



César Alvarez

I am a composer, lyricist, playwright, and performance maker. The core practice of my work is writing large experimental musicals as non-normative possibility spaces for embodiment, inter-dimensionality, socio-political transformation, kinship, and coexistence. With a background as a jazz saxophonist, band leader, and sound artist, my work inhabits a space between the worlds of theater, music, performance art and social practice. Over the last 12 years I've taught and developed work with students at Harvard, Princeton, Sarah Lawrence, The University of The Arts, NYU, and Bloomfield College. I was a 2018-20 Princeton Arts Fellow and a recipient of The Jonathan Larson Award. I attended Interlochen Arts Academy, received a bachelor of music in Saxophone, Electronic and Interdisciplinary Performance from Oberlin Conservatory in 2003, and an MFA in music and sound art from Bard College in 2009.

I have written five full-length musicals: FUTURITY (2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical) The Elementary Spacetime Show (Sloan/EST Commission), The Universe is a Small Hat (a multiplayer participatory musical), NOISE (a commission of The Public Theater), and The Potluck (a commission of Barbara Whitman and Beth Williams).

I also composed the music for Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon (Soho Rep, TFANA. Drama Desk Nomination), The Foundry Theater's The Good Person of Szechwan (LaMaMa, The Public Theater. Drama Desk Nomination) and released four albums with The Lisps. In 2015 I co-founded Polyphone, a festival of new and emerging musicals at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and served as Artistic Director for five seasons.

I have developed work in residencies and workshops with Soho Rep, Ars Nova, New York Theater Workshop, The Public Theater, The Civilians, A.R.T., MassMoCA, HERE, Ensemble Studio Theater, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School/NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of the Arts, Princeton University, Adelphi University, PRELUDE, Joe's Pub, Ucross/Sundance, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and The Vineyard Arts Project.





Allie Martin



Allie Martin

I am an ethnomusicologist, digital humanist, and Black Studies scholar. I received my B.A.s from American University in Music (Violin) and Audio Production, and my M.A. and PhD in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University with a minor in African-American and African Diaspora Studies. 

I originally pursued ethnomusicology because I wanted to study go-go music, DC's local subgenre of funk. This work involved studying the displacement of go-go venues and musicians as well as the genre's histories of activism and resilience. Most of my work now revolves around listening to gentrification in Washington DC, be it through soundscape analysis, musical performance, or ethnographic fieldwork. I am focused on understanding gentrification as a sonic, racialized process, and how black people in DC are hearing and experiencing gentrification sonically. I am working on a book project based on my dissertation (Sonic Intersections: Listening to the Musical and Sonic Dimensions of Gentrification in Washington, DC) that explores these themes through black feminist theorizations and digital humanities methods. In doing this work, I am most interested in decriminalizing black sonic life and imagining more equitable soundscapes.

I am also interested in thinking about museums as sonic, racialized sites, and began this work as an intern and Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Anacostia Community Museum.  In addition to the Smithsonian Institution, my work has been supported by the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities at Indiana University, the Ford Foundation, the Society for American Music, and the American Musicological Society. My work has been published in Black Lives Matter and Music: Protest, Intervention, and Reflection as well as on the Sounding Out Blog. I have pieces forthcoming in Digital Humanities Quarterly, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Debates in Digital Humanities 2022.

I am originally from the Washington, DC, area and in my spare time enjoy playing video games, knitting, and dreaming of getting a dog.