posted April 2, 2012

Katie Callam of Holland Chosen for National Research Event

Hope College junior Katie Callam, a music major from Holland, is one of only 74 undergraduates nationwide chosen based on original research they have conducted to participate in the annual “Posters on the Hill” reception organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) on Tuesday, April 24.

The event will be held on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn Office Building from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with other activities for the students earlier in the day.  Each student will present his or her research, displayed on posters, to the members of Congress, congressional staff members, federal government officials and others in attendance.

Callam studied the way that composer Clara Schumann revised her 1847 work “Piano Trio in G minor, op. 17,” providing insights into Schumann’s creative process.  Callam’s faculty mentor for the project, Dr. Julia Randel, described the research as groundbreaking, noting that the compositional work of women of Schumann’s era has largely been underrepresented in scholarship.

“It’s important original research that has not been done at all,” said Randel, an associate professor of music.  “It’s making a real contribution to the field.”

Majoring in violin performance and classical studies, Callam was aware of the piece because she had previously performed it—and wished to know more about it.

“When I was looking into it, I found there hadn’t been a lot of research done on the trio already,” she said.  “So I thought to look into it and see what I’d find.”

Callam was able to obtain a digital copy of an original manuscript penned by Clara Schumann from a museum in Zwickau, Germany, dedicated to the composer’s well-known husband, Robert Schumann.  She compared more than 900 measures of the manuscript to the published version, and transcribed nearly 200 measures crossed out by Schumann.

“It’s been fascinating to see her handwriting and have the manuscript to work with,” Callam said.

Through the work, Callam developed an even greater appreciation for Clara Schumann’s skill as a composer—in contrast to Schumann’s own struggles with self-doubt.  “The manuscript’s revisions point to a thorough and well-organized compositional craft, despite Schumann’s fears of inadequacy,” she said.

Callam conducted her research during the summer of 2011.  The opportunity to pursue the project arose through her participation in the college’s “Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities.”  The three-year program—which students join as sophomores--involves select students in the arts and humanities in coursework and research in areas of scholarly interest with faculty mentors from a variety of academic disciplines, with a particular emphasis on teaching the students how to use new and emerging digital technologies in pursuing and sharing their work.

In addition to presenting at the CUR “Posters on the Hill” event on April 24, she was also among 18 Hope students who presented research by invitation during the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), held at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, on Thursday-Saturday, March 29-31.  Callam will also be among the approximately 200 Hope students who will be presenting their research during the college’s annual “Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance,” which will be held on Friday, April 13, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the DeVos Fieldhouse.

On the basis of her research, she is also one of three Hope students—one each in the arts, humanities and social sciences—selected by the Michigan Colleges Foundation for an Earhart Foundation Emerging Scholars Award.

Callam is a 2009 graduate of Holland High School, and the daughter of Gordon and Susan Callam of Holland.  Her activities at Hope also include performing in the college’s Orchestra and Symphonette, as well as in chamber ensembles.

Founded in 1978, CUR is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing more than 900 colleges and universities. CUR and its affiliated colleges, universities, and individuals share a focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving undergraduate students. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research.