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Department of Music

Sophie Benn
Sophie Benn

Dr. Sophie Benn is an Assistant Professor of Music History and Literature at Western Kentucky University. Her research areas include theatrical and social dance in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, modernist temporalities, and historical performance practice. Recent and forthcoming publications center on dance theory and notation, social dance in early French film, and cello literature.


Dr. Benn has presented at the annual meetings of the Dance Studies Association, the American Musicological Society, the German Studies Association, the Society for American Music, and the International Association of Music Librarians. She currently serves as the chair of the Dance Studies Association’s Dance and Music Working Group, on the executive board of the American Musicological Society-South Central branch, and on the editorial board for the journal Sonic Scope: New Approaches to Audiovisual Culture.


Dr. Benn is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, travel grants from the American Musicological Society and the Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fund, a Graduate Affiliateship at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, and a Case Western Reserve University Fellowship at the Library of Congress.


Dr. Benn also maintains an active career as a cellist and baroque cellist. She thrives when working with composers and in finding new sounds. As an interpreter of new music, she served as one of the principal cellists of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra; has premiered work in the United States, Europe, and Canada; and has collaborated with Joel Sachs, Miranda Cuckson, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Yarn/Wire, and the Kronos Quartet.


Prior to coming to WKU, she was a member of the music scene in Cleveland, Ohio, where she had a particular passion for building community through artistic projects. Between 2017 and 2021, she served as a director of Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project (CUSP), an organization dedicated to new and experimental music that she co-founded with the saxophonist Noa Even. Due to this work, Dr. Benn was named one of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s 2019 New Agents, a group of 52 “experimenters, catalysts, and change-makers, who are pushing Cleveland forward right now.”


Dr. Benn holds degrees in cello performance, pedagogy, and music history from Rice University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She received her PhD in musicology from Case Western Reserve University in 2021.

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WKU Department of Music is a fully accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1948.


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 Last Modified 10/3/18