Working Together across the Atlantic

Screenshot of zoom call of musicians working together.

Clockwise from top left: Joseph Fort, King’s College London; Michael Kris, UNC-Chapel Hill; Kristina Arakelyan, London-based composer and pianist; Evan Feldman, music professor, UNC-Chapel Hill.

“It’s so important to find a way to be together and make music together right now,” said Michael Kris, a professional musician and teaching professor of music at Carolina.

Doing so during a pandemic, though, is much easier said than done.

In hopes of getting the chance to create something new and inspiring for both himself and his students, Kris applied for a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) award. Kris and other faculty designed a COIL module in partnership with a faculty member at a university in another country. This led Kris to teach a music ensemble and performance class with friend and colleague Joseph Fort, a lecturer in music at King’s College London, one of Carolina’s strategic global partners.

Supported by the Chancellor’s Global Education Fund — the unrestricted pan-University fund that supports Carolina’s top global priorities — COIL classes are part of the Connecting Carolina Classrooms with the World initiative, launched by the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs in May. This initiative will support Carolina students in using technology to learn alongside their peers in numerous countries and make valuable scholarly and personal connections.

Kris’s collaborative class is doing just that. Through his class, students from both universities are able to study key musical compositions concerning nationalism, globalism and accessibility to arts, and virtually work together to compose pieces based on their resulting conversations.

“I want them to experience being together, talking, right now in this pandemic,” said Kris. “The internationalization of music is a tool of diplomacy, a tool of bringing out the best in a culture, a tool to bring about accessibility and education to younger people.”

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