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Ariana Philips

Ariana Philips

PhD student


From the intimate self-disclosure of the indie aesthetic to the public spectacle of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the tortured witness of Holocaust survivors, questions of guilt and its expiation are inescapable in the modern world. Ariana’s doctoral research, supervised by Professor Nicholas Cook, seeks to understand how individuals, groups, and societies use music as a means of communicating these questions—and potentially finding some answers.  This project combines a variety of genres and critical approaches whilst remaining unified by its focus on the performance of guilt and forgiveness across cultures.

Ariana’s other research interests include the piano music of Chopin, the intersection of philosophy and music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the relationship between music, memory, and trauma.  Whilst completing her PhD she is being supported by a scholarship from the Cambridge Trusts.

Prior to coming to Cambridge, Ariana studied at Baylor University (Texas, USA) receiving a BM (Hons) in Piano Pedagogy and Performance and a double MM in Piano Performance, Music History and Literature.  She studied piano with Professor Jane Abbott-Kirk and musicology with Professors Jean Boyd, Robin Wallace, and Laurel Zeiss. Since her graduation in 2012 she has been a contributing editor for several books, including Take Note: An Introduction to Music through Active Listening (Oxford University Press, 2014), the 9th edition of A History of Western Music, and the 5th edition of A Concise History of Western Music (both for W.W. Norton & Co., 2014).

Outside of the Faculty of Music Ariana is an active member of Darwin College where she serves on the committees of the Darwin College Music Society and the Darwin College Student Association. A passionate sportswoman, from 2014 she will be the Women’s Captain for Darwin College Boat Club. In whatever time remains to her, she enjoys playing piano, drinking strong coffee, baking extravagant desserts, and occasionally reading for fun.


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