Category Archives: Yale Institute of Sacred Music

Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) is an interdisciplinary graduate center at Yale University that engages broadly with sacred music, worship, and the arts in diverse religious traditions and in civic life. The ISM podcast series focuses on different disciplines and perspectives that touch upon these subjects.

Toward Freedom: The Power of Art Inside Prison Walls

Grounded in themes of tribulation, redemption, and hope, ISM Fellow and theater professor Dr. Ron Jenkins joins Ariana Hones (M.Div. ’23) in conversation on the transformational power of Dante’s Divine Comedies inside prisons. In this episode, Dr. Jenkins discusses his course, Gospel, Rap, and Social Justice, and his use of Dante’s poetry to create theater pieces with currently and formerly incarcerated people. He states, “bringing Dante and art into prison is a way of humanizing a dehumanizing situation.” Dante serves as both a mirror reflecting the injustices in our prison systems as well as a catalyst for freedom.

Ryan Darr and the Ethics of Apocalypse

In his interview with ISM M.A.R. student Madeleine Hutchins ’23, ISM Fellow and religious ethicist Ryan Darr pulls no punches in talking global climate crisis: “…we’re entering a mass extinction event, which would be, from what scientists have found about life on Earth, the sixth in Earth’s history — and the first caused by one species in particular.” Darr is a Postdoctoral Associate in Religion, Ecology, and Expressive Culture, and from 2019 to 2022 was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Philosophy and Religion at the Princeton University Center for Human Values. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University.

Sound, Resistance, and Liberation: Catholic Sonic History of Central American and Indigenous Communities in the Americas – Dr. Bernard Gordillo

Dr. Bernard Gordillo in conversation with Ben Bond discusses his current work at the ISM with the Nicaraguan Catholic Folk Mass and its connection to social justice movements, and liberation theology. Included as well is a conversation about Dr. Gordillo’s future work on mission bells in the state of California and their history of sonic oppression of indigenous communities.

New Africa Passion & Beyond

ISM fellow and composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen explores his latest composition fusing gospel text, pan-African sound, and the passion tradition. He also chats about his earlier operatic work that engages the sounds and figures of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.

The Art of Chewing: Mopa Mopa Objects in the Colonial Andes

ISM Fellow and art historian Catalina Ospina investigates the oral production of resin-glossed mopa mopa objects by indigenous colonial Andean artists in her project, Identifying and Subverting Epistemic Asymmetries in the Colonial Andes.

Dr. Carla Neuss on the Transformative Power of Theater

ISM Fellow Dr. Carla Neuss explores education and the transformative power of theater, medieval and modern, asking “When theater accomplishes something, or does something within us or within the audiences, how does it actually DO that?”

African American Womanist Preaching: Word in Conversation with Sound

ISM Fellow Dr. Melanie R. Hill explores how African American literature mutually influenced and informed Black womanist preaching. “Literature, music and theology . . . all of these elements have really been the heartbeat of who I am — not only of my research, but of who I am as a scholar and an artist.”

ISM Fellows in Conversation: Ep. 4: Music Research and Ecological Activism in Haiti

The ethnomusicologist Rebecca Dirksen discusses Haiti—a nation particularly vulnerable to climate change and subject to dire injustice in the aftermath of natural disasters—and the concept of Mizik Angaje, socially or politically engaged music within the context of Voudon traditions with Ben Bond, a Master of Divinity student at Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.

ISM Fellows in Conversation: Ep. 3: Channeling Christianity in Kenya

The African musicologist Jean Ngoya Kidula talks about the multi-layered musical and religious landscape of Kenya, a crossroad of musical influences from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the Congos, and South Africa with Ben Bond, a Master of Divinity student at Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.