Sara Haefeli

Associate Professor, Music Theory, History Composition
School: School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Phone: 607-274-1629
Office: James J Whalen Ctr for Music 2321, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Music History

Associate professor Sara Haefeli teaches music history, music of the American avant garde, and philosophy of creativity courses. Her research focuses on the American experimental tradition and John Cage. She is the author of John Cage: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2017) and her essay "HPSCHD, Gesamtkunstwerk, and Utopia" was published in the journal American Music (December 2008). She has presented her research at national and international conferences and festivals, including the festival Nuit d'Hiver in Marseille, France, and the conference Performing Experimentalism in Leeds, England.

Haefeli has an active interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is co-author of Writing in Music: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2020) with Lynne Rogers and Karen Bottge. Her articles “Using Blogs for Better Student Writing Outcomes” and "From Answers to Questions: Fostering Student Creativity and Engagement in Research and Writing” were published in the Journal of Music History Pedagogy in 2013 and 2016, respectively.  Haefeli co-authored the book chapter “Evaluating Editions of Printed Music” with Ithaca College music librarian Kristina Shanton and this work will appear in Information Literacy in Music: an Instructor’s Companion (A-R Editions, forthcoming 2018). Haefeli is a member of two editorial boards: the Journal of Music History Pedagogy and Open Access Musicology. 

In 2014-15, Haefeli authored four articles for The Avid Listener blog, hosted by W. W. Norton.  Those blog posts address four different hidden assumptions  embedded in the traditional canonic study of Western art music: “The Problem with Geniuses,” “If History Is Written by the Victors,” “Does Music Evolve?” and “How Musicology Became That Town in Footloose.”

Before joining the faculty in Ithaca in 2011, Haefeli taught for ten years at the University of Northern Colorado.  She was co-director with Paul Elwood of the Open Space Festival for New Music in Greeley, Colorado, from 2009-2011, where Haefeli helped organize diverse programs of avant-garde, contemporary, improvisational, folk, and film music that appealed to a wide demographic population. Guest artists included Christian Wolff, Stephen Drury, the Callithumpian Consort, and Jean-Claude Risset.

Haefeli is also an accomplished cellist. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician, specializing in contemporary music performance.  While in Colorado she was a member of the baroque trio The Grand Canonical Ensemble and the psychedelic bluegrass trio The Prairie Pranksters. She appears on the Telarc recording, Definition of a Circle, by the trance blues banjo singer/songwriter Otis Taylor and the Westdeutscher Rundfunk recording of Among Men by the poet/composer Anne Tardos.

Haefeli earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where she was recognized as an outstanding educator. She studied cello performance at the University of Northern Colorado, and before she started her doctoral studies she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research Hans Rott, Gustav Mahler, and their contemporaries in fin-de-siecle Vienna.