Hanna Lisa Stefansson: Amazing Student

November 9, 2014
UGA Amazing Students Web feature


Hanna Lisa Stefansson, who is working on her doctorate in music composition, is a student member of UGA’s Arts Council and hopes to improve collaboration among all of the arts entities on campus.

Expected graduation: Fall 2016

Degree objective: D.M.A. in music composition, minor in musicology

University highlights, achievements and awards:
I had the privilege of being a graduate research assistant for Ideas for Creative Exploration, known as ICE, from August 2012 to May 2014. ICE facilitates interdisciplinary creative projects and acts as a network hub to encourage collaborations between faculty, students and community members from all disciplines. This assistantship really opened my eyes to the true meaning of collaboration, and I carry this way of thinking into my current research.

As a result of this assistantship, I was nominated to be a student representative on the UGA Arts Council. The meetings in the Peabody Board Room involve the vice provost, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and directors of the music, visual arts, dance, theater and creative writing schools and departments. It is truly an honor to be able to sit at the table with these leaders of the arts programs. Our goal is to bring awareness to the arts at UGA, beginning with the Spotlight on the Arts festival this month. By bringing all of the arts schools together, I hope that communication can be improved and more collaborative efforts between the arts will result.

One of my efforts in collaboration is with the revival of the SCREAM group – Student Composers for the Research of Electronic and Electro-Acoustic Music – in the music school. We are putting on an electro-acoustic concert Nov. 12 in Dancz Hall in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and it is my intention that we have a concert each semester.

Hometown: Macon

High School: Stratford Academy

Current Employment: Graduate teaching assistant (“Music Theory for Non-Majors”) in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music

Family Ties to UGA:
My uncle, Thorsteinn Karlsson, got his master’s degree in food engineering in Iceland, followed by a Ph.D. in paracytology at UGA in 1978. I love to talk about Athens and UGA with my aunt and uncle when I see them in Iceland and update them on what’s new in town and what has stayed the same since they lived here.

I chose to attend UGA because… I knew I could learn from the music composition faculty, and the artistic town of Athens only helped me make my decision.

My favorite things to do on campus are… getting coffee at the Georgia Museum of Art and having surprise run-ins with people in line. I’ve had some great serendipitous meetings with people that turned into conversations about new ideas, or just letting loose and catching up.

When I have free time, I like… to cook and bake, get out into nature, spend time with friends, listen to music, dance and relax.

The craziest thing I’ve done is… probably not something you want to know about me!

My favorite place to study is… at my kitchen table with the candles lit or in the Lamar Dodd School of Art study lounge.

My favorite professor is… Leonard V. Ball, aka Chic Ball. I loved taking his “Electronic Music” class on analog techniques. As my electronic music composition professor, he has opened my ears and helped me to achieve my musical vision in my electronic music.

Mark Callahan, the artistic director of Ideas for Creative Exploration, has been a great mentor in helping me clarify my thoughts on my research, as well as helping me to connect with the people who can help me with my projects. My new way of thinking about collaboration is very much owed to him.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with… David Bowie!

If I knew I could not fail, I would… bring back a culture that is more connected to the arts and nature. It is said that you can judge a culture on its art, and by how it treats animals and the environment. The status of our current culture does not bode well when music and the arts are disappearing from our schools, and reputable symphony orchestras continue to crumble under mismanagement and greed. Nature also suffers at our hands, but we aren’t really changing our behavior for the better. We need to wake up and find another way.

After graduation, I plan to… continue my hunt for collaborative work with artists and non-artists alike. My big goal is to compose music for film, dance, theater and other multimedia works. I also would love to teach music theory and composition at a college or university.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be… when I found out I was accepted to UGA, and then getting the call from Mark Callahan, the director of Ideas for Creative Exploration, that I had received the ICE assistantship. It was a really great day—I remember being excited for the future and thinking about all of the possibilities.