Professor, Musicology and Ethnomusicology; James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music (School of Theology)
Andrew Shenton is a scholar, prize-winning author, performer, educator, consultant, cultural historian, and administrator based in Boston, Massachusetts. Born in England, his first professional music training was at The Royal College of Music in London, where he studied under a scholarship from The Royal College of Organists. While at the RCM he read for a BMus degree at London University and was an organ scholar at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Dr. Shenton moved to the US to study for a Master’s degree at Yale University and then for a PhD at Harvard University. His diverse interests are reflected in his Master’s thesis which concerns the renaissance of sacred art in Britain since 1945, and his doctoral dissertation which is a musico-linguistic study of the twentieth-century French mystic composer Olivier Messiaen.
Dr. Shenton has a Master’s degree in organ performance from Yale and holds the Fellowship diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He has toured in Europe and the US as a conductor, recitalist, and clinician, and his three solo organ recordings have received international acclaim. In addition to diplomas in both piano and organ Dr. Shenton holds the Choir Training diploma of the Royal College of Organists. A noted choral conductor, Dr. Shenton has numerous recording and producing credits notably with the Navona label. He maintains an active performance career because he believes it is important that any scholarly engagement with the arts is not divorced from its creation and performance. He has pioneered contemporary music in a variety of styles and has given more than eighty world or US premieres by composers such as Geoffrey Burgon, Joe Utterback, John Tavener, Judith Weir, and Arvo Pärt. He has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards including a Harvard Merit Fellowship, Harvard’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, and a Fellowship from the Center for the Humanities at Boston University.
Moving freely between disciplines, Dr. Shenton’s academic research is best subsumed under the heading ‘cultural criticism.’ This is demonstrated by his recent and ongoing work in popular music, which includes an essay that analyses the acoustic ecology of rave music as a way of negotiating an ecstatic experience (Fordham University Press, 2015), and lectures and writing on how hip-hop has become a complex soundscape that can signal religious identity. A subsidiary to this work is his interest in how sound studies deal with issues of cognition, and the physical and mental elements of transformation and transcendence. His ground-breaking work on Olivier Messiaen includes a monograph Olivier Messiaen’s System of Signs (Ashgate, 2008), which won the 2009 Miller Book Award; and a collection of essays which he edited titled Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate, 2010). More recently, his work on the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt includes several lectures and recitals, and publications such as The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (CUP, 2012), which he edited, and a monograph titled Arvo Pärt’s Resonant Texts: Choral and Organ Music 1956-2015 (CUP, 2018). Dr. Shenton has been a frequent lecturer at Lincoln Center in New York City as part of his work with the arts in the public square. His recent publications include a monograph on Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie (CUP, 2023), and a monograph that discusses issues of public engagement with art titled Sacred Art in a Secular World: The Rise and Fall of Sacred Art in Britain after 1945 (Lexington Books, 2023).
Dr. Shenton is interested in the process and practice of education in the twenty-first century and its intersections with business and the economy. He engages with broad issues of pedagogy, especially those to do with technological advance, including blended and online education. He is engaged in pioneering work in ePublishing, and with strategies for student recruitment and retention, and is especially concerned with the role of the arts in the contemporary curriculum and the opportunities this provides for students interested in careers in the arts and related fields. Dr. Shenton also works as a researcher and consultant in several fields, including arts administration and business.
Dr. Shenton is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London. He works artistically and administratively as conductor of the professional chamber choir Vox Futura. As a faculty member at Boston University Dr. Shenton has a broad portfolio of responsibilities. He holds appointments in the School of Theology, School of Music (College of Fine Arts), and College of Arts and Sciences. He is a tenured Professor of Music, the James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music, Director of the Boston University Messiaen Project [BUMP], and Director of the Theology and Arts Initiative [TAI].
Learn more at andrewshenton.com.