Dr. Marian L. Harrison is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. In August of 2007, she became the first African American to receive the Doctorate of Music degree in Music Composition from Indiana University’s (IU) Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. While attending IU, she studied composition with David Baker, Sven-David Sandström, David Dzubay, Don Freund, and P.Q. Phan. In addition to her composition major, Harrison received minors in Music Theory, under the direction of Eric Isaccson, and Ethnomusicology, under the direction of Portia K. Maultsby. Her other institutions of study include the University of Georgia (Athens), where she received the Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education (1997), Georgia State University (Atlanta), where she received the Master of Music degree in Music Composition (2001) and studied with Nikitas Demos and Susan Tepping. In addition, Harrison studied music composition at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden with Lars Eckström, and received the Certificate of Visiting Student during the 2004-2005 academic year.
From 2001 to 2002, Harrison was Lecturer of Music Composition and Theory at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She will return to Spelman in the Fall of 2010 to teach the same subjects. From 2008 to 2010, she was Adjunct Professor of Music Theory and Composition at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham. In March of 2009, Harrison became an appointed board member of the Mallarmé Chamber Players in Durham. This organization’s mission is to “enrich the lives of the community through outstanding chamber music performance.” Currently, the Mallarmé Chamber Players fund Project MAP (music, art, poetry), Harrison’s arts education curriculum. Project MAP is designed to use music, art, and poetry to facilitate understanding of social scientific issues, such as citizenship, while also developing and implementing valuable critical and creative thinking skills.
In November 2009, she was chosen as a 2009 – 2010 Ella Emerging Artists Grant recipient. This Durham Arts Council awarded Harrison the grant to produce her project, “The Relentless Pursuit of…,” a multimedia work that is based on her photography, written for “wordless” choir, chamber wind symphony, and electronic narration. It premiered on Saturday, April 24, 2010. From 2007 – 2008, she was Artist-in-Residence at Flanner House Elementary Charter School in Indianapolis, Indiana. During her tenure she became the founding Artistic Director of the Flanner House Youth Chorale. This traveling group, composed of 22 auditioned 2nd – 6th grade students, performed all original compositions and arrangements created by Harrison.
Her dissertation orchestral composition, entitled Out of Kilter: sounding scenes from Black America, premiered on January 27, 2010 under the direction of Maestro Kevin Noe, and on March 21, 2010, her concert band piece, Live Life Loud, premiered under the direction of Conductor/Composer Quincy Hilliard. IU’s Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the Spelman College Glee Club, and Thamyris New Music Ensemble, an Atlanta-based group, have also performed her works. From 2005 to 2007, she produced the Extensions of the Tradition Concert series. This annual event, held on the campus of IU, features the music of African American classical composers.
Harrison has worked as an educator in many capacities including award winning Choral Director & General Music Teacher at Ridgeview Middle School in Georgia’s Fulton County School System, Instructor of College Preparatory Music Theory for the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Instructor of Music Theory and Composition for the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. In 2002 she became an Associate Instructor (AI) in Indiana University’s Theory Department. From 2003 to 2007, Harrison was Vocal Coach AI for the IU Soul Revue, a credit-baring ensemble that studies the performance practices of R&B/Soul/Funk from post- WWII to the present.