It is not unusual for music faculty to win composition competitions, to have premiere performances abroad, or to serve residencies with performing arts organizations.
Conversely, it is unusual when that faculty is a business professor. That’s what happened to James Kellaris, the Womack/Gemini Corporation Professor of Signage and Visual Marketing at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. The Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA) selected him as its 2013 Composer in Residence.
His residency means Kellaris’ musical compositions will be performed by an orchestra of more than 100 musicians from North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia and will culminate with premiere performances at the CMSA’s annual conference in Regina, Canada, in September 2013.
Kellaris, who likes to write contemporary art music in his spare time, says “it is not odd or ironic to have a composer on a marketing faculty. We are the business school’s ‘creativity department,’ home to thought leaders in innovation and creativity. In marketing we design campaigns and strategies. We are all artists at heart.”
Kellaris is no newcomer to winning musical composition competitions. Last summer, he won the 2012 San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra (SFMO) New Music Competition, besting a competitive pool of professional composers, full-time musicians and music faculty from around the world.
As the winner, Kellaris received $1,200 and his music was performed by the SFMO at four public performances, including the May 27, 2012 Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Celebration, where the piece was recorded and distributed to various media. The musical piece he wrote for the SFMO will have its European premiere this summer at an international festival in Bolzano, Italy.
Before joining the marketing faculty in 1989, Kellaris studied musical composition as an undergraduate and had a first career as a professional musician. Returning to graduate school in business, he made a second career researching the influences of music on consumers, known widely for his work on the “earworm” phenomenon, a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind.
The word earworm, introduced into the American vocabulary by Kellaris’ research, made its way into the 2012 edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.