Rebekah Ahrendt is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Culture Studies. Prior to joining Utrecht’s faculty, she was Assistant Professor in the Yale University Department of Music (2013-17) and a Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University (2011-13), where she also taught courses in the Department of Music. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (PhD, 2011) and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (Artist’s Diploma in viola da gamba and historical performing practices, 2002), she is also active as a performer and recording artist.
Ahrendt’s scholarship has been internationally recognized, most recently by a Lustrum Festival Residency at the Utrecht University Center for the Humanities (2016), a Visiting Scholarship at St John’s College, Oxford (2015), and the Scaliger Fellowship at Leiden University (2014). Prizes include the Paul A. Pisk Prize of the American Musicological Society (2009), the Irene Alm Memorial Prize of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music (2009), and the Nicholas C. Christofilos Memorial Prize in Music from the University of California, Berkeley (2007).
A specialist in music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Ahrendt’s work centers on the importance of mobility—whether through migration, exchange, or long-distance actor networks—in the construction of identity. Fundamentally multidisciplinary, her approach integrates perspectives gained from history, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, and performance studies with extensive archival research. Her current monograph project illuminates the musical networks maintained by the refugees, exiles, and migrants who traversed the landscape of the Dutch Republic.
Ahrendt’s interest in on-the-ground historical perspectives led her to an exciting discovery in 2012: a trunkful of undelivered letters conserved in The Hague. Since then, her project Signed, Sealed, and Undelivered (SSU) has garnered worldwide media attention. Work on the Brienne letters has been supported by generous grants from Metamorfoze, NWO (Added Value Through Humanities + Internationalization in the Humanities), MIT Libraries, the University of Oxford, and the Universities of Leiden and Groningen.
Ahrendt’s interests extend to other periods, genres, and concerns as well. Much of her recent work has focused on the interactions between music and international relations. She is the co-editor of Music and Diplomacy from the Early Modern Era to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), derived from two conferences she organized in 2013: “Music and Diplomacy” at Tufts and Harvard, with a grant from the Mellon Foundation and the Symposium of the Utrecht Early Music Festival in the Netherlands, for which she received a major grant from the KNAW. Her expertise has resulted in invitations to the Center on Public Diplomacy of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (University of Southern California), Sciences Po (Paris), and to the Advisory Board of the Music & Diplomacy Network (based in Oldenburg).