Tim Eriksen, Aaron Lakota, Tim Sessions Join Music Department

The Department of Music is delighted to welcome three new musicians and scholars as lecturers for the 2023-2024 academic year: Grammy-nominated musician and ethnomusicologist Tim Eriksen, oboist Aaron Lakota, and low brass specialist Tim Sessions. For Fall 2023 through Spring 2024, Lakota will teach Individual Instruction Program (IIP) courses in oboe, Sessions will teach IIP courses in low brass, and Eriksen will teach courses in world music (MUS 4), folk music (MUS 3.03), and songwriting (MUS 36). We congratulate Tim, Aaron, and Tim, and wish them a warm welcome to our musical community. 

Tim Eriksen is a musician, ethnomusicologist and songwriter in genres including hardcore punk and shapenote harmony, and is best known as a pioneer of postpunk American folksong. He received a PhD in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in 2015 and has published related work on early New England music in connection to 19th century abolitionism, apocalyptic religion, technology and the birth of science fiction. Since 2000 he has taught courses in songwriting, American and world music, and film at Dartmouth, Amherst, Smith and Hampshire Colleges and the University of Minnesota. He is currently serving as musician in residence at Historic Deerfield.

Known for extensive contributions to films including the Oscar-winning Cold Mountain and 2023 cult horror phenomenon "The Outwaters," his current projects include writing songs for Alison Krauss, performing with Bonnie "Prince" Billy and creating new works with pianist Omar Sosa for a follow-up to their twice GRAMMY-nominated 2009 collaboration "Across the Divide." Eriksen has long been at the forefront of an international Sacred Harp or "shape-note" singing revival, teaching workshops across North America, Europe and Singapore. With his late wife, Bosnian ethnomusicologist Mirjana Laušević, Eriksen conducted research in the US and eastern Europe, wrote a book on Balkan music in the United States and worked closely with Target CEO Bob Ulrich to launch the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

Eriksen's undergraduate work centered on the South Indian veena, but he cut his teeth as a performer as a founding member of acclaimed bands Cordelia's Dad (post-punk and folk), Žabe i Babe (Bosnian folk and rock) and Northampton Harmony (shape-note and early American choral music). In 2008 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as a solo vocalist in composer Evan Chambers' symphonic song cycle The Old Burying Ground. Eriksen's media appearances have included Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage and the Academy Awards. His shapenote compositions are sung regularly at gatherings around the world, and his song "I Wish the Wars Were All Over" was chosen by Joan Baez to be her final recorded musical statement.

Eriksen's magic lantern musical theater piece Pumpkintown, with percussionist/sound designer Peter Irvine and painter Susan Brearey, has been staged at venues including Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Théâtre Thénardier (Paris), Konstepidemin (Gothenburg) and throughout the UK and US. He is currently working on projects with nine-piece experimental group Batteries Die and playwright Milan Dragicevic among other collaborations.

Aaron Lakota, a Western Massachusetts native, works to promote music and the arts through performance, education, and community involvement. He believes that all people deserve access to high-level arts participation and performance and that exposure to the subtle beauty of music will help our society to thrive. Aaron encourages artists to build a local economy in their areas of passion and encourages the community to show appreciation for the arts by supporting artists, both individually and through arts organizations.

Aaron performs throughout New England as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. He performs with Pioneer Valley Symphony, Valley Winds, Pan Opera, Tundi, Juno Chamber Orchestra, and subs with Springfield Symphony. He has appeared in local concerts presented by the Brick Church series, Mohawk Trail concerts, Tuesdays in Bezanson, Tuesday Morning Music Club, Orchestra In The Orchard as well as many other chamber and solo recitals throughout New England. 

Aaron received a bachelor's and master's in oboe performance from the University of Massachusetts. His primary mentors are Fredric T. Cohen and Tamara Field. He also studied with Kirsten Lipkens, Basil Reeve, and Michael Daves.   He currently teaches oboe at Dartmouth College and from his home studio in Northampton MA. Aaron acts as a professional reed maker when he is not performing or teaching. A.Lakota Reeds supplies reeds to hundreds of oboists throughout North America. 

Tim Sessions is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and teacher. A veteran of over 30 years in the NYC freelance scene, he has since relocated to Burlington, Vt., where he can be heard at local jazz clubs performing his own music as well as jazz classics on trombone. He also plays bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, electric bass, and guitar. In 1995, Tim released an album entitled And Another Thing consisting of mostly original tunes featuring Randy Brecker, Chris Potter and Ken Werner. He has composed for big band, string quartet, and various brass ensembles. Tim has worked extensively with the Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band and the Dave Liebman Big Band.

Tim received a Master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he received the coveted John Clark award two years running. He played on Broadway for over twenty years, including: The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Chicago, Titanic, On the Town, and Kinky Boots, to name just a few. He has also performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Tim taught at Lehigh University for 15 years, teaching both jazz and classical, where his students included trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, electric bass and guitar players. He also led large and small jazz ensembles and brass groups.