UNC music professor Tim Carter can now add two major awards from the American Musicological Society to his list of achievements.
Carter won the society’s H. Colin Slim Award for his essay “Monteverdi, Early Opera and a Question of Genre: The Case of Andromeda (1620),” as well as the organization’s Claude V. Palisca Award for his critical edition, or restoration, of Kurt Weill’s 1936 musical “Johnny Johnson.”
Australian-born and England-raised, Carter started out as an expert in early Baroque Italian music, but his arrival to UNC in 2001 allowed him to explore his interest in 20th century American works.
Currently, he teaches courses in music history, opera and musical theater, but the first class he taught here — a first-year seminar called “Building a Nation: The Stage Musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1942-1949” — kick-started the research that won him the Palisca award.
“I did a deal with the students,” Carter said. “I said, ‘I’ll teach you about musical theater if you teach me about being American.’”
Carter credits UNC with his success in researching 20th century American works.
“Moving to Carolina gave me a chance to get into musical areas that I wasn’t working on in Europe and expand my horizons,” he said. “I was interested in working on ‘Johnny Johnson’ because of the connection between Paul Green, the North Carolina playwright, and Kurt Weill, the Jewish, German-fleeing immigrant.”
And Carter’s restoration of “Johnny Johnson,” a musical by Green and Weill that follows an American man into World War I, will soon get its turn on stage.
The music department and the department of dramatic art will collaborate to put on a production of “Johnny Johnson” in the fall of 2014 — the first time it’s been seen in its entirety since its original production in 1936.
Carter is an expert in two very different areas of music, which is rare according to music department chairman Mark Katz.
Katz was present when Carter received his awards and witnessed the buzz around Carter’s achievement firsthand.
“It was surely the talk of the conference that Tim Carter had won both of these awards because no one could remember anybody doing anything like that before,” he said. “These were scholars from around the world who were really impressed with what he had accomplished.”
And it’s not just scholars he impresses. Sophomore Meera Chakravarthy said Carter’s open mind and willingness to explore all aspects of a work is part of what makes him unique as a professor.
“He’s constantly encouraging us to think deeper,” she said.
Carter explained that work in American musical theater does not normally get much recognition among scholars.
“One of the nice things about the award for the Kurt Weill ‘Johnny Johnson’ edition is that it’s the first time that an edition of American musical theater has gained that kind of award in the American Musicological Society,” he said. “So, it’s not just good for me, but it’s also very good for the genre and for the kind of work that needs to be done on popular musical theater in the mid-20th century.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.