Texas Tech University

Vernacular Music Center Receives Official Status Recognition from the TTU Office of Research & Innovation

Rachel Kiwior

April 26, 2023

School of Music Vernacular Celtic Christmas celebration

There will be an official recognition of the Vernacular Music Center as a University-recognized entity beginning Fall 2023.

After 23 years of programming, ensemble sponsorship, productions, conferences, guest artists, special classroom offerings, cross-campus and campus-community collaborations, and a host of creative interactions, the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA) and the School of Music, are very pleased and proud to announce that the Vernacular Music Center (VMC) has been granted official “Center” status by the Office of Research & Innovation.

“VMC staff are deeply grateful to School of Music interim director, Andrew Stetson, and TCVPA dean, Martin Camacho, for their energy, expertise, encouragement, and impetus in moving this proposal—a year-long process—through to a successful completion,” said Christopher J. Smith, VMC founding director and professor of musicology in the School of Music.  “We also thank all the fellow creators, teachers, artists, students, and advocates who have crossed our path and enriched our work.”

Chris Smith TTU School of Music
Christopher J. Smith

This formal recognition is the strongest possible endorsement, on the part of Texas Tech University as a whole, of VMC's contributions to research, teaching, and creative scholarship. Official Center status, the first granted to any arts research initiative within the TCVPA, will provide additional budget resources, fundraising capacity, research visibility, and opportunity for impact.

“I'm delighted that the Vernacular Music Center is now the first officially recognized university center with an arts focus,” stated Andrew Stetson, interim director of the School of Music and associate professor of trumpet. “Texas Tech is known for its commitment, not just to traditional research, but also creative works and creative activity. For many years the VMC has contributed to that tradition, and this recognition will provide opportunities to continue this work for years to come.”

SOM Vernacular Faculty member
Angela Mariani

Dean Martin Camacho added that “this recognition comes at a particularly good time for the School of Music and the College of Visual & Performing Arts, as TTU celebrates its centennial and the college its 20 years of existence. In essence, the work that the faculty and students have been doing in the vernacular area date back from before the creation of the college, making this a well-deserved designation.”

Past productions of the VMC include Dancing at the Crossroads, Nosferatu, PLUNDER!, YONDER, the annual Caprock Solstice Celebration, Dancing with Mr. Darcy, and Lubbock Guitarslingers. TTU Arts Practice Research and The Electric Guitar in American Culture are two conferences hosted by the VMC in recent years.  

“In the coming year, we have exciting new projects, grants, and national and international collaborations,” Smith added. “As always, we will seek to continue as conscientious stewards, thoughtful and impactful pedagogues and art-makers, and to strive always to live up to the excellence that Texas Tech and the OR&I are making possible.”

School of Music Vernacular faculty member
Roger W Landes

Smith will continue as director of the VMC, working alongside colleagues, Roger W. Landes and Angela Mariani.