Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Sarah Lucas


By Kendrew Panyanouvong, The Daily Iowan

Sarah Lucas’ life has long revolved around music, but it was by chance that she ended up where she is now — on her way to studying music in Hungary as a Fulbright scholar.

With the University of Iowa’s upward trend in producing Fulbright Scholarship recipients, Lucas is one of 14 in this year’s pool of awardees.

The Fulbright is an extremely competitive program in which students are awarded scholarships to work abroad for a year.

Karen Wachsmuth, the associate director of international fellowships in UI International Programs, said the number of students applying and earning Fulbrights has been on the increase for the last few years. Thirty-six applied during the past year at the UI, with 23 being semifinalists and 14 becoming awardees.

After applying last year for the scholarship and becoming a semifinalist, Lucas finally clinched what she’s been working on for the last two years.

“I was speechless and just absolutely thrilled,” she said. “To go through the experience and almost getting it and this year actually making it all the way through was pretty overwhelming.”

Lucas, with a B.A. degree in music education from Central Methodist University and an M.A. in music history from the University of Missouri, is working for a Ph.D. in musicology at the UI.

Now, the Clinton, Missouri, native will further her research this fall in Hungary, where she’ll study the relationship and connection between 20th century Hungarian composer Béla Bartók and Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner.

She will also investigate Bartók’s début performances of the First Piano Concerto and other works in the U.S. in order to understand the patterns of cultural exchange between Hungary and the U.S. in the 1920s.

“Having the chance already before going to Hungary and having the chance to do research in American archives on that end of it, to be able to get to information in the Bartók archive in Budapest and other institutions there, I think that will be the other missing piece of the puzzle,” she said.

UI Professor of music Christine Getz, who Lucas said was “extremely supportive” during her journey to becoming a Fulbright recipient, praised Lucas’ work at the UI and said it makes her very deserving of the award.

“Sarah not only has excelled academically in her work toward the Ph.D. in musicology but also has contributed to the [UI School of Music] as a performer in the oboe studio, a teaching assistant for a variety of major and non-major classes, and a School of Music representative to the Graduate Student Senate,” Getz said.

Lucas said her interest in music stemmed from her family and childhood. Her mother and father are both music teachers, and she started piano lessons at a young age. She also played the oboe throughout middle and high school and was involved in choir.

Wachsmuth, who also has a Ph.D. in musicology, said Lucas is fitting for the Fulbright, and she believes she will do great in her dissertation research in Hungary.

“She’s a very kind, interested, and positive person. She engages very well with people,” Wachsmuth said. “I think she’s going to be such an asset to the community.”