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Alexander Meszler, a doctoral student in the Arizona State University School of Music, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to France from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Meszler is conducting research in France for 2018-19 academic year, studying music at Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Versailles as part of a project to examine the secular life of organs in contemporary France, “Secularism and the Organ: Learning to Forge New Paths in the Twenty-First Century.”
Meszler is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and is currently studying with Kimberly Marshall, the Patricia and Leonard Goldman Professor of Organ in ASU’s School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Meszler studied in Strasbourg, France, for a semester abroad and said he fell in love with the French organ. His research is focused on how secularism in French society is affecting the perception of the organ as a predominantly Christian instrument, and that envisioning a viable organ art for the increasingly secularized 21st century is crucial for ensuring the instrument’s continued use and the preservation of historic organs.
“My project, about secularizing society, is tailored to a cultural exchange between two countries struggling with this problem — the United States and France — albeit in very different ways,” said Meszler.
“ASU’s Organ Hall is a prime example of the organ in a secular context,” said Meszler. “By exploring ways that the organ has changed to thrive in secular contexts in France, I hope to apply some of these successes to Organ Hall and also the United States at large.”
In addition to his studies, Meszler will be working in the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles, conducting research in Toulouse and studying French classical music in Poitiers. Though his research is both repertoire-based and ethnographic, he will also engage in some archival research.
Meszler is one of more than 1,900 U.S. citizens who will conduct research or teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2018-19 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.