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Rachel Becker

Rachel Becker

PhD student


Rachel Becker is a PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Martin Ennis. Her doctoral research is on nineteenth-century Italian opera fantasias written for and by woodwind virtuosi. Her project explores social and cultural influences on these opera fantasias, including their reception history and the (positive and negative) emotional responses they have evoked contemporaneously and today, as well as the ways in which the composer-performers manipulated the operas they used. She is interested in issues of genre, virtuosity, gender, popularity, and the development of woodwind instruments.

Rachel received her MPhil from the University of Oxford, and her BA in Music (Highest Distinction) from the University of Virginia, where she was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. She has also received an MM in Oboe Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, studying under Mark Ostoich.

Her other research interests include trouser roles in bel canto opera, the intersections of music and literature, classical music in dialogue with pop or folk music, and gender issues in music more widely.

Rachel plays cor anglais for Cambridge University Music Society Symphony Orchestra, for whom she is also stage manager. She is active as an oboist in university and community orchestras and has performed with CUCO, the Cambridge University Opera Society, Jesus College Music Society, and the inaugural St. John's Music Festival. She was also invited to play with the Philharmonia Orchestra as part of the 2015 King's College 500 celebrations.

Key Publications

"Pasculli and His Oboe: Feminine Characterization in Opera Fantasias", published in The Double Reed, vol. 36 no. 3 (Autumn 2013)

"Verdi's Otello," Lecture at University of the Third Age Opera Study Day, November 15, 2011

"The Opera Fantasia of the Oboe, Or Trash Music", Royal Musical Association Research Students' Conference, January 2015

"The Curious Case of the Clarinet: Gendering the Androgynous Woodwind", Royal Musical Association Research Students' Conference, January 2016