Emily Martin

Emily Martin, Music

March 30, 2021

by Brooke Thames

Students in Martin's newest voice lesson studio course are challenged to consider issues surrounding equity and inclusion in professional music. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

It's not so much the onstage performing that draws me, but it’s the process of singing and the stories I get to tell through performance that I’m in love with.

As a classically trained opera singer, music professor Emily Martin knows a thing or two about amplifying voices. From her collaborations with other singers and composers to her vocal performance classes at Bucknell, Martin consistently seeks new opportunities to bring underrepresented artists into the spotlight.

"There's a very small number of arts organizations that champion female composers, and many female composers have a different view of life and the world than their male counterparts," she says. "It's important to carve out space for diverse stories because uplifting every voice ensures that perspectives aren't being left out of the industry."

That's why students in Martin's newest voice lesson studio course not only dive deep into the compositional work of women but also Black, Latin and Indigenous artists. By conducting and presenting research on diverse composers, students are challenged to widen their artistic perspectives and consider issues surrounding equity and inclusion in professional music. They then transform that awareness into action by choosing a piece by one of the composers to practice in applied voice lessons and eventually perform during their end-of-semester jury.

It's a curriculum that illustrates Martin's steadfast commitment to providing aspiring musicians with knowledge beyond the technical training they receive in their lessons. From launching an opera education program for underserved Central Pennsylvania communities to curating recitals showcasing Syrian women's poetry, entwining social justice and vocal art is central to Martin's approach.

She extends that effort beyond education, too, in her work with Women on the Verge, a performance trio dedicated to elevating women's stories and experiences. Formed in 2016 by Martin and two close colleagues, the group performs and commissions female-focused classical music and produces a podcast exploring female Canadian composers' repertoires. A new three-pronged project helmed by Martin and a fellow trio member also seeks to aid arts entrepreneurship through consulting, community building and social justice advocacy.

"What's incredibly important to me in all of this is increasing equity for women and overall diversity in the performing arts," says Martin, whose featured performance on a classical music album was listed as one of The Chicago Tribune's "Best Classical Recordings of 2020."

"Because so many of my students know the kind of work I do outside Bucknell, it's awesome to interweave some of that in the coursework so that they can experience it," she adds. "They're not just hearing about equity and inclusion, but they're practicing it and applying it to their art."