APPLETON, WIS. — Ever since she first began reading about Japan as a middle-school student, the island nation with its unique blend of time-honored traditions with the ultra modern and has held a special fascination for Chiara Terzuolo.
The Lawrence University senior will soon spend a year in her favorite country courtesy of the U.S. Fulbright Program. Terzuolo has been awarded a $30,000 Fulbright Scholar research fellowship for a 12-month study project beginning in September.
Terzuolo, who entered Lawrence as a vocal major in 2005 but will graduate in June with a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies, intends to explore how classical Western music and traditional Japanese music interact in a modern context during her year-long project.
“I want to see what similarities and contrasts may exist not only in teaching methods, but also in performance and social interactions between music students and professors,” said Terzuolo, who calls Rome, Italy, home. “I want to see what similarities and contrasts may exist not only in teaching methods, but also in performance and social interactions between music students and professors. I hope to discover how the two genres influence each other and what boundaries they may have set.”
As part of her exploration of the relationship between classical and traditional music, Terzuolo plans to take lessons on the koto, a 13-string zither-like instrument and one of Japan’s most traditional instruments for female musicians. Terzuolo was first exposed to the koto last spring, when she spent five months on a study-abroad program at Kanda University. As part of that program, she interned as a Shinto shrine maiden and got to practice the koto with the shrine’s sacred ensemble.
“That was an unbelievably rare experience, especially for someone who is not Japanese,” said Terzuolo. “Every hour I spent at the shrine was an education in Japanese social structure, language and music. I just knew I had to go back and that’s what led me to apply for the Fulbright.”
Terzuolo will use a Japanese conservatory as her research base. While the exact location is still to be determined, she most likely will live in either Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya.
“Traditional musical training used to be the prerogative of a closed system of ‘iemoto,’ but Japanese conservatories are now offering courses in ‘hogaku’ (traditional music) alongside the usual Western-based options,” said Terzuolo, who counts Japanese among five languages that she speaks. “By basing myself at one of these music schools, I’ll have the opportunity to intensely study how the classical and traditional ‘worlds’ interact.”
The daughter of two former U.S. foreign service officers, Terzuolo has lived in a handful of cities around the world, including Paris and Prague, but it is Japan’s siren call that most intrigues her.
“This will be a great opportunity to study something I’m passionate about in the country where I most want to be,” said Terzuolo. “I eventually would like to work in the Japanese music scene and this could be the beginning of a career tied to Japan.”
Terzuolo is the second Lawrence student this spring to be named a Fulbright Scholar and the college’s 11th since 2001.
Created by Congress in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s premier scholarship program. Since its founding, it has supported opportunities for nearly 300,000 American students, scholars and other professionals in more than 150 countries. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, CEOs, university presidents, professors and teachers. Thirty-seven Fulbright alumni have earned Nobel Prizes.