Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Dr. Regan Russell - The Arts Songs of Gena Branscombe


Work on doctoral dissertations is arduous with specific guidelines for research and writing form.  For over 3 years Regan Russell researched Gena Branscombe’s life through publications from over 100 years ago and interviews.  She sought out scores of 150 arts songs many of which were out-of-print, some not available because Miss Branscombe lost or destroyed them and the original manuscripts of some were in libraries where copies had to be made.  Persistence….that describes Regan and her dedication to Gena Branscombe’s songs!


On November 17, 2022 at Boston University, Regan presented her doctoral dissertation “Love in a Life: The Art Songs of Gena Branscombe.”  Her presentation included a lecture on Branscombe’s life, song development and a performance of five songs beautifully sung by baritone Gray Leiper with Regan accompanying him.  Regan’s work was scholarly, passionate about the subject matter and her musicianship exceptional.


Her dissertation includes a complete list of Branscombe’s songs, listings of songs for specific voice ranges, suggestions for groupings of songs with program notes explaining how the group works.  With explanations of the poets and their poetry, how the songs fit together and more, her understanding of Branscombe’s songs will be an informative aid for teachers and singers alike. Gena Branscombe’s songs – all 150 – of them are now alive in the 21st century!  Thank you, Dr. Regan. 


There was a live stream of Regan’s presentation.  At the Q&A after she finished, the surprise came when Dr. Morgan Scott Phenix, Gena Branscombe’s grandson, congratulated Regan on all of her work and added his family’s thanks. 


Congratulations, Dr. Regan Russell – “you were chosen.”  It was an honor and privilege to be part of your doctoral degree journey. 

Below is a link to Regan’s dissertation.  Enjoy reading it. 

Read her dissertation on OpenBU here.




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