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Ensemble Alumnus Earns Prestigious Fulbright Award

September 30, 2020

The School of Music is proud to share that alumnus Jacob Dixon (BA, Spanish and Portuguese studies), is one of fifteen students at the University of Minnesota to receive the prestigious Fulbright Award this year. He plans to spend the next year in Mozambique studying the development of Marrabenta music since the end of the civil war. Dixon spent much of his time at the University of Minnesota playing the trumpet in various School of Music ensembles as a non-major participant. We caught up with Dixon to explore how his background participating in School of Music ensembles shaped his research for his Fulbright Award. 

An Early Love of Music

“I began playing the trumpet in the fifth grade. As I began to practice and improve throughout my school years, I developed a love for hearing trumpet in all kinds of music and it encouraged me to improve even further.”

Performing at the U 

“The music program at my high school was essential to my high school experience, and I wanted to keep playing the trumpet despite having other academic interests. As a non-music major, I felt like performing in University ensembles allowed me to enjoy making music without feeling any type of competitive pressure. I felt that the balance [of ensembles and other coursework] was very easy to achieve. The ensemble met either once or twice a week, and I felt that practicing felt more like personal enrichment than it did ‘homework.’”

Studying Marrabenta Music

“I traveled to Maputo, Mozambique with a Foreign Language & Area Studies fellowship, and in my two-month stay I learned a lot about Mozambique's path to independence and what followed. Marrabenta, a musical genre created in the 1930's and 1940's, was instrumental in the revolution and continues to be popular today. My research aims to see how, or if, Marrabenta has changed since the end of the civil war. More specifically, I want to see how Marrabenta, an inherently revolutionary genre of music, has been impacted by Mozambique's effort to stray from the Marxist roots of its revolution in an effort to join international economic institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. I am interested to see if this transition has caused Marrabenta to be influenced by Western culture, whether that be in musical styles or ideas about gender, sexuality, etc.”

Future Music Plans

“Marrabenta interests me greatly and I hope to be able to learn even more about it well after my Fulbright. I hope to [continue performing]! Obviously, COVID-19 has complicated the ability to perform in any capacity, but I hope that I will be able to once the virus is under control.”

We extend our sincerest congratulations to Jacob for his incredible work for this prestigious award. There are many non-major music students in the School of Music like Dixon who enjoyed performing in their high school ensembles and want to continue studying music as an accompaniment to their main studies at University of Minnesota.

The School of Music has several ensembles for non-majors that don’t require auditions to participate. To find out more information on these ensembles, please visit z.umn.edu/ensembles. Additionally, the School of Music is hosting an "Meet M Music" Q&A with faculty, TAs, and current students on October 22. Registration can be found at z.umn.edu/meetmusicbands