Nicole Vilkner is a musicologist and singer who specializes in the study of French music culture and opera. Her current research and teaching interests include urban geography, soundscapes, salon culture, opera, architecture of performance spaces, and the material cultures of music.
Dr. Vilkner is currently conducting research on salon opera, a genre of operetta that flourished in France from 1850 to 1870, examining how residential opera was curated and commodified in urban markets. Dr. Vilkner has published and forthcoming articles in Journal of Musicology, Cambridge Opera Journal, and Journal of the Royal Musical Association. She presented research papers at national and international conferences including the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, Historical Brass Society, Feminist Theory and Music, among others. Dr. Vilkner has been the recipient of various research grants and awards, including the Graziano Fellowship from the Society for American Music, Paper Prize from the Nineteenth Century Studies Association, and a Paper Prize from the Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society.
Dr. Vilkner teaches courses in music history, including topics courses on Soundscape, Sexuality, and Gender, and Entrepreneurship in Music. Her classes have involved hands-on collaboration to generate projects. In 2021, students curated the multi-media exhibit Duquesne SoundWalk, a campus installment that challenges audiences to think about the university through sound. In 2020, students performed ensemble scenes from Gustave Nadaud's Docteur Vieuxtemps (1854, trans. Vilkner), the American premiere of a salon opera. The scenes were performed digitally and staged in student homes, just as salon operas were designed to be performed in private households.
As a vocalist, Dr. Vilkner is a proponent of new music and advancing the work of female composers. Her solo work, involving extended vocal techniques, was featured on the album Benevolence recorded with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. She appeared in Xenakis' Oresteia at Columbia University's Miller Theater, and she was a soloist under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy in the program Music and Dictatorship presented at the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. Dr. Vilkner has worked closely with composers such as Lera Auerbach, Tom Cipullo, and Vivian Fung to premiere new works. She collaborated frequently with the American Composers Alliance for their annual festival at Symphony Space, including projects including Mark Thome's SHE: An opera of adventure, Emil Awad's song cycle "Paisaje" set to the poetry of Octavio Paz, and numerous chamber works by Joyce Hope Suskind. Dr. Vilkner performed and discussed the history of chanson in the documentary Prelude to Debussy directed by Ophra Yerushalmi.
Dr. Vilkner earned her Ph.D. in Music History from Rutgers, completed a master's degree in vocal performance at Manhattan School of Music, and received her bachelor's degree in English from Princeton University. Her advanced studies were supported by the Rutgers Graduate Fellowship in Music and the Women's International Leadership Fellowship of International House New York.
- Ph.D., Rutgers University
- M.M., Manhattan School of Music
- B.A., Princeton University
Areas of Expertise
- Historical Musicology
- French Opera
- Material Cultures of Music
- Space and Built Environment
- Identity and Gender Studies