The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board recently awarded Illinois State University’s Justin Vickers a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to conduct research at University of Surrey, Guildford, in the United Kingdom.

man standing in front of piano

Justin Vickers standing in The Music Room beside Britten’s Steinway D at The Red House after delivering one of five lecture-recitals for Britten in America at the 2018 Aldeburgh Festival.

An associate professor and artist teacher of voice in the School of Music at Illinois State, Vickers will conduct research at the BBC Written Archives, Archives of the Royal Opera House, and the Britten-Pears Foundation, and complete the manuscript for his extensive monograph The Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts: A History of the Britten and Pears Era, 1948-1986 (The Boydell Press). He will also host a conference on Postwar Festival Culture in the British Isles at the University of Surrey and will lead seminars and masterclasses on the creative and commissioning processes related to modern song cycles and opera with students of the University of Surrey and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London. Vickers will also perform in recital appearances throughout England while in residence and will collaborate on programming with the Britten-Pears Foundation and Benjamin Britten’s home at The Red House, Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

“I am honored to join this illustrious cohort of past and current Fulbright Scholars,” Vickers said. “It has always been one of my dreams to win a Fulbright to the UK, and I am thrilled that this opportunity will allow me to finish my book on Britten’s and Pears’s Aldeburgh Festival and to experience an extended period of residency in England.”

man singing

Justin Vickers performing the world premiere of Tony Solitro’s War Wedding, a song cycle on Alun Lewis poetry that Vickers commissioned, for Philadelphia’s Voice of this Generation at the Philly Fringe Festival in 2011.

“Dr. Vickers exemplifies our core values of learning and scholarship,” said University President Larry Dietz. “Being named a Fulbright Scholar highlights not only the excellence of his work, but of the collaborative spirit he embraces that unites academics across continents.”

Vickers is currently editing and contributing to Benjamin Britten in Context for Cambridge University Press and is co-editor and contributor to Benjamin Britten Studies: Essays on An Inexplicit Art (The Boydell Press, 2017). His scholarly work has appeared in Literary Britten: Words and Music in Benjamin Britten’s Vocal Works (The Boydell Press, 2018), The Sea and the British Musical Imagination (The Boydell Press, 2016), and his discovery of a lost Britten song was chronicled in The Musical Times (Winter 2015). His most recent Scottish-themed commercial recording, Caledonian Scenes: Songs of Judith Weir, Benjamin Britten & Hamish MacCunn, was released in winter 2020 by the American/British classical label Albany Records.

Vickers just returned from Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he performed Benjamin Britten’s song cycle The Poet’s Echo (Alexander Pushkin poetry) in Peter Pears’s English-language translation at the Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Museum, and presented a paper at the “British-Russian Crossroads: Exchanges of Words and Music” conference hosted by the British Council and the British Embassy in Moscow. In March 2020, Vickers has a two-week creative retreat at The Red House, where he will be writing The Jeremy Thorpe Affair, the first of a pair of opera librettos for American composer Tony Solitro.

Vickers, who earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature (A.Mus.D.), while completing the coursework for the Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has presented at international conferences in England, France, and Russia, was director of the international Benjamin Britten at 100: An American Centenary Symposium in 2013 at Illinois State, and will host the Ninth Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association on the ISU campus (July 23-26, 2020).

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is administered at Illinois State University by Fulbright Program Advisors Lea Cline and Joseph Zompetti, and Fulbright Scholar Liaison Erin Mikulec.

Vickers is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2020-2021 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Logo of fulbright with the word in all caps and a globeThe Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.