Greg Reish takes helm of Center for Popular Music

Following a nationwide search, Dr. Greg Reish is the new director of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music. He assumed the role on July 1.

Greg Reish

Greg Reish

A musicologist with a wide range of interests and teaching experience, Reish comes to MTSU after 11 years at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He’s also held faculty positions in Georgia, Hawaii and New York.

“I am immensely proud and excited to have been selected to lead the Center for Popular Music into its next stages of development,” Reish says. “Having conducted some of my own research here several years ago, I began to develop a deep appreciation for the unequaled wealth in the CPM’s collection. Now, I want more people outside of the scholarly world to know what a treasure we have here at MTSU.”

Reish brings to the College of Mass Communication experience as a scholar, teacher, administrator and performing musician. An Atlanta native, he began playing folk, bluegrass and rock music at an early age, earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz guitar performance from the University of Miami, and became interested in experimental and electronic music. He was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Georgia. In 1996-97, Reish traveled to Italy on a Fulbright grant to conduct research for his doctoral dissertation on Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi.

Having studied, written about and taught European classical music for several years, Reish returned to his musical roots in 2004 and focused on traditional American music, particularly old-time country, bluegrass, blue and related styles. He’s an accomplished performer of this music, a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist specializing in string instruments such as guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, ukulele and dulcimer. “My passion for the intersection of scholarship, performance and teaching — along with my never-ending curiosity about all kinds of music — made this position really attractive to me,” Reish says.

Ken Paulson, Mass Comm dean, says, “Greg Reish is uniquely suited to lead the Center for Popular Music, drawing on his impressive background as an educator, administrator, scholar and musician. We’re confident that he will build on the center’s extraordinary academic foundation while expanding its reach and impact. We’re very glad to have him join us.”

Reish is well known for his engaging and informative solo performances, combining virtuosic musicianship covering a breadth of styles with historical commentary and storytelling. He has performed in venues across the United States, and in 2007, he did a solo tour of Japan that took him to six cities. He intends to bring his experience as a performer to the center, increasing its public programming with concerts, workshops and multidisciplinary conferences devoted to popular music in the fullest definition.

Reish becomes just the third CPM director in its 29-year history, succeeding Dr. Dale Cockrell and founding director Paul Wells. “I have been given a great opportunity and a great responsibility, as well,” Reish notes. “My predecessors built a world-class research collection whose scope and importance are staggering. I am honored to have been entrusted with its care, and look forward to building on what they have done to make the CPM one of the most vibrant centers of musical research and activity in the world.”

The Center for Popular Music was established in 1985 and is one of 16 Centers of Excellence in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. It became a unit of the college in 2009. Housing more than 1 million items, including sheet music, song books, sound recordings, photographs and manuscripts, the center is the oldest and largest research archive devoted exclusively to the full study of popular music in the world.

 

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