Eric Rice

Department Head, Professor of Music History, Director of Collegium Musicum

Department of Music

Ph.D., Columbia University
Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Columbia University
M.Phil., Columbia University

M.A., Columbia University


Musicologist and conductor Eric Rice is the Head of the Department of Music at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where he teaches music history, the notation and performance of early music, and medieval studies. He engages in multimodal projects involving performance, musicological research, and emerging technology to understand and teach the musical cultures and performance practices of medieval and Early Modern Europe. He directs Ensemble Origo, praised by Music Web International as “versatile and accomplished”; by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as “aesthetically…top-notch” with “immaculate execution”; and by the New York Times as “a fine, flexible ensemble.” The ensemble performs Rice’s reconstructions of music’s original contexts. It has been called a “Liturgical Time Machine” that “succeed[s] in resurrecting the past in a uniquely ear-opening way” (Journal of the Academy of Sacred Drama). The ensemble’s debut recording on the Naxos label, Le nozze in Baviera, is a set of four musical vignettes by Orlande de Lassus from a 1568 wedding celebration, which initially captured Rice’s interest because of Lassus’s musical representations of Black Africans; the recording has been called “a journey from religiosity to bawdiness [that] is both involving and fascinating” (Classical Explorer) and a “phenomenal” musicological endeavor that “captivate[s] the listener’s attention” (Early Music America). Two other recording projects are currently in post-production: a Lutheran mass as it might have been heard ca. 1530 and the coronation mass of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in Bologna in 1530, which is an integral part of Charles V|R, a virtual reality project with UConn’s Greenhouse Studios.

Rice also directs the UConn Collegium Musicum, an early music ensemble of student instrumentalists and singers that engages with European music and cultures of the past. Recent projects include a performance of J.S. Bach’s Actus Tragicus (Cantata 106) in commemoration of those we have lost due to COVID-19; a reconstruction of a Viennese mass of 1730 by Johann Joseph Fux (cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic); a collaboration with Ensemble Origo in a modern premiere of Sebastian Knüpfer’s polychoral cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden, which had been edited by baroque violinist Daniel Lee (of The Sebastians) as part of his UConn doctoral dissertation on the piccolo violin; and a North American premiere of Reinhard Keiser’s Brockes-Passion. Other recent programs include “Vox feminae,” a survey of women composers before 1750 (to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Barbara Strozzi’s birth); “Early Music and the African Diaspora” (in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the African-American Cultural Center at UConn); a “Magical Motet History Tour” with motets and ricercars from Perotin to Poulenc that the ensemble was able to perform on tour in some of the European cities that produced them; and a “Shakespeare’s Songbook” concert (to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death), with music from the plays as well as Thomas Tallis’s famous 40-part Spem in alium. In 2011, Rice led the UConn Collegium on a tour to Quito and Ibarra, Ecuador, where they presented a reconstructed mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi incorporating early modern villancicos transcribed and edited by then-UConn undergraduate and artistic assistant Angelica Durrell. For his work with Ensemble Origo and the UConn Collegium, Rice was awarded the 2019 Thomas Binkley Award, which is given by Early Music America for excellence in performance and scholarship by the director of a university early music ensemble. He also received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement (now known as “Community Engaged Scholarship”) in 2011 for his work with the UConn Collegium, with the Connecticut Early Music Festival, which he served as Artistic Director from 2007 to 2015, and with the Boston-based ensemble Exsultemus, in which he was music director and tenor from 2003 to 2009.

Rice’s research is focused on representations of non-Western cultures in Western art music and also on medieval and Renaissance music of the Western liturgy and its relationship to architecture, politics, and secular music. He is the author of Music and Ritual at Charlemagne’s Marienkirche in Aachen (Merseburger Verlag, 2009) and co-editor of Young Choristers, 650-1700 (Boydell & Brewer, 2008), the first scholarly volume dedicated to the history of professional child singers. His articles have appeared in Current Musicology, the Journal of Musicological Research, the Revue de Musicologie, and Viator. He has received fellowships from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to pursue archival research at churches in Germany and France.

Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Rice discovered his interest in early music as an undergraduate at Bowdoin College. After a four-year career as a schooner captain and marine educator at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, he returned to his music studies at Columbia University, where he earned the M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Historical Musicology as well as a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance studies. While pursuing these degrees, he also studied conducting and voice, and he sang professionally in New York City churches that feature medieval and Renaissance repertoire in their liturgies. He taught at Brandeis University from 2001 to 2003 before joining the faculty at the University of Connecticut. He lives with his wife, Anne, in Hampton, Connecticut, where their two sons, Gregory and Nathaniel, visit them occasionally.

Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-3728
Office Locationvon der Mehden Recital Hall