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In Memoriam: Professor of Music Katherine Hagedorn

Professor of Music Katherine Hagedorn
Professor Katherine Hagedorn in the classroom

A memorial service for Professor Katherine Hagedorn is scheduled for Saturday, December 14, at 10:30 a.m., at Bridges Hall of Music. A reception will follow in Frank Blue Room. We hope all whose lives were touched by Professor Hagedorn.

Katherine Hagedorn, professor of music and director of Pomona’s Ethnomusicology Program, died at home on Nov. 12, 2013, after a prolonged illness.

A member of the Pomona College music faculty since 1993, Hagedorn was a noted ethnomusicologist, specializing in Afro-Cuban and Balinese musical traditions and the link between ritual and folkloric music and religious experience. She was the author of Divine Utterances: The Performance of Afro-Cuban Santeria (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001), for which she won the 2002 Alan Merriam Prize for best ethnography, as well as many scholarly papers and reviews. She was a recipient of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship in 2005.

At Pomona, she taught courses in the performance traditions of Latin America and the African diaspora, Roma performance and gender in music, and she oversaw Pomona's Balinese Gamelan, Afro-Cuban Drumming and other non-Western ensembles. Known as an inspirational and gifted teacher, Hagedorn was honored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation as the 2000 California Professor of the Year. In 2002, she was selected by a vote of Pomona College students to receive a Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for excellence in teaching.

In 2012, she completed a three-year appointment as associate dean of the college, with responsibilities that included the recruitment and mentoring of new faculty, assessment of student learning and serving as diversity officer for the College and as one of its grievance officers. She also served from 2003 to 2005 as co-coordinator of the Gender & Women’s Studies Program, and for a time as a faculty resident advisor, living on campus with her family in Harwood Hall.

In a message to the Pomona College community, President David Oxtoby wrote, "Over the past few years, I was fortunate to get to know Katherine in a variety of professional capacities, first as a professor of music who was deeply engaged in all aspects of campus life, and more recently, in her wide-ranging and important work as associate dean of the college.... I knew her as an innovative teacher, a dedicated scholar, a caring administrator and, quite simply, a remarkable and inspirational human being with a passion for music and for working with young people. For all of us here at Pomona College, this is an incalculable loss."

Hagedorn received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Tufts University, with a triple major in Russian, Spanish and English and a minor in music (piano performance). She earned an M.A. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1985, specializing in Soviet Studies and worked as a White House fellow. She also worked in the State Department on the Afghanistan desk before going on to Brown University, where she earned both her master’s degree and her doctorate in ethnomusicology.

She spent her entire academic career at Pomona College, supplemented by brief sojourns as a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions and as a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the national Society for Ethnomusicology and president of the Southern California chapter of that organization.

She is survived by her husband, Terry Ryan, a professor at Claremont Graduate University; her son, Gabriel Hagedorn; two stepdaughters, Quincy B. Ryan and Greer B. Ryan; her parents, Fred and Grace Hagedorn; and her sister Martha Hagedorn-Krass and husband Chris Krass, and niece Jenifer Krass.

There will be a public viewing on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Todd Memorial Chapel (325 N. Indian Hill Blvd.) in Claremont. A memorial service will be held on December 14, at 10:30, at Bridges Hall of Music (150 E. Fourth Street, Claremont), to celebrate the life of Katherine Hagedorn. All are welcome to attend. A private ceremony is planned for the burial in Claremont.

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