Thomas Kernan
Thomas Kernan
Associate Professor of Music History
Chicago College of Performing Arts
» Music Conservatory

About Me

Thomas J. Kernan, Associate Professor of Music History and Honors Bachelor of Musical Arts Program Head, has served on the CCPA faculty since Fall 2014. Prof. Kernan is a scholar of American music. In recent projects his research has addressed the musical memorialization of Abraham Lincoln, from his death in 1865 to the present, as well as the history of concert audiences’ musical and extra-musical experiences.

Prof. Kernan’s Lincoln research earned the 2016 Hay-Nicolay Prize from the Abraham Lincoln Association and Abraham Lincoln Institute. His work on the American concert hall experience earned the 2019–2020 Newberry Library Rudolph Ganz Long-term Fellowship in American Music. His award-winning teaching has been recognized by the University of Cincinnati (CCM), where he completed his MM and PhD, and by Roosevelt University, where he earned the Provost’s 2019 Award for Innovative Curricular Design.

From Fall 2020 to Fall 2022, Prof. Kernan is serving as Chair of the Roosevelt University Senate and holds a range of committee and council appointments related to this position.

Prof. Kernan is married to culinary historian Sarah Peters Kernan with whom he has three active children. Outside of academic life, he enjoys reading widely, traveling, and eating and drinking tasty foodstuffs and libations.

Recent Publications

Public Musicology Projects

  • Abraham Lincoln's Legacy in Music,” Newberry Library Digital Collection for the Classroom, July 2018.
  • “Lincoln in Music and Letters,” radio show distributed through the WFMT Radio Network, aired February 2017–February 2018.
  • “Columbus Concert in Honor of Abraham Lincoln,” radio show aired on Music in Mid-Ohio (WOSU), July 2017.

Recent Classes and Seminars

  • Bernstein at the Boundaries (graduate seminar)
  • Concepts of Musical Ideals: The Great American Opera and Great American Symphony (graduate seminar)
  • Constructing Musical Monuments in Post-war America (graduate seminar)
  • Destination Chicago: Émigré, Immigrant, and Migrant Musicians and the Creation of Cultural Identity (graduate transformational learning seminar)
  • Hamilton and Musicals Recalling History (undergraduate honors seminar)
  • Listening in Place (online, intensive, experiential learning course)
  • Music Style and Literature (introductory graduate course)
  • “A Song for Anything”: The Songs of Charles Ives (graduate seminar)
  • Sounds of Summer: Chicago's Festivals, Their Planners, Participants, and Soundtracks (summer intensive course)
  • Vernacular Music of the United States (undergraduate survey)
  • Western Music History, since 1800 (undergraduate survey)
Topic of Expertise
  • American Music

    Vernacular (popular) and cultivated (concert/art) music in the United States, from the nineteenth century to the present.

  • Musical Memorialization

    The ways that music has been (and can be) used to form audible monuments and rituals to people and events.

  • Music and the U.S. Presidency

    Especially, music composed for and about Abraham Lincoln.

  • PhD Musicology with cognate studies in American History — University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
  • MM Music History — University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
  • BM Music Performance — University of Missouri-Kansas City
Degree Program Affiliations