In memoriam: Barbara Smith, founder of the ethnomusicology program
Long respected as a champion in the study of music and dance of Hawaii, Asia and the Pacific, University of Hawaii to Mānoa Emeritus Professor Barbara barnard smith, who founded the university’s ethnomusicology program, died on the evening of July 3. Colleagues and alumni gathered to virtually celebrate the veteran professor’s 101st birthday on June 10.
Relatives released this statement:
“She was a beloved colleague, teacher, mentor and friend. While we are saddened by his passing, we honor and celebrate a life well lived. One of his requests (instructions!) Was “… and be sure to recognize my long and wonderful life.” “
Barbara Smith turns 100: the legacy of a long life in music
—June 8, 2020
“Barbara Smith was an amazing person who touched so many lives as a mentor, advocate for minority cultures and generous philanthropist,” said EUH Mānoa Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology and Asian Studies Ricardo D. Trimillos, one of Smith’s first graduate students. “To me, she was all of these, but above all she was a dear friend. His passing is not a moment of sadness, but a moment to honor and celebrate a life well lived. “
Barbara B. Smith’s Legacy
Originally from California, Smith began his career at EUH Mānoa in 1949 taught piano and music theory, after obtaining his master’s degree in musical literature from the Eastman School of Music. She then became interested in the diverse ethnic backgrounds of her students, but realized that what they were learning was limited to Euro-American culture.
Smith, affectionately known as “Miss Smith” by her students, learned to play music from various ethnicities and presented lessons in hula and Hawaiian singing, Korean dance, Chinese butterfly harp, and Japanese. gagaku (court music). A partnership with the East-West Center after the 1960s brought visiting scholars and performances of world music, dance and theater to Hawaii, which resulted in the formation of masters and doctoral programs in ethnomusicology at EUH Manoa.
EUH Mānoa’s ethnomusicology program is internationally recognized, and graduates have become advocates for culture and the arts in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. Among Smith’s early students were Herbert Ohta (Ohta-san) and Eddie kamae, two artists recognized in the Hawaiian music industry.
After retiring from full-time teaching in 1982, Smith remained engaged with the university through fieldwork, research advocacy, and mentoring of international graduate students. She even continued to virtually mentor doctoral students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith’s accolades include being named a “living treasure” by the EUH Colleges of Arts and Sciences of Manoa; recognition as a “pioneer” by Honolulu City Council; the 2018 Hawaii Alliance des arts Alfred Preis Honor; and the Governor’s Award for Preserving Hawaiian Language, Art and Culture.
To honor Smith’s wishes, there will be no memorial service. His ashes will be scattered over his favorite surf spot, as longboarding was a cherished pastime during his early years at EUH Manoa. Condolence messages can be sent to her ʻohana through Professor [email protected]’s email account. Donations in his memory can be made to EUH Foundation, the East-West Center Arts Program or the Ventura County Museum.