headshot of Fernanda Navarro

Brazilian-born composer joins ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre

By

Lynne MacDonald

The ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre welcomes Fernanda Aoki Navarro as an assistant professor of music composition. Navarro is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music, developing concert music, intermedia works, performance art and installations.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Fernanda Navarro to our faculty,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Dr. Navarro’s experience as a multimedia artist as well as a composer of electronic and acoustic music, combined with her interest interdisciplinarity, complements our music composition program. Her work builds bridges across disciplines and communicates about societal issues and what it means to be human.”

Her current research is devoted to intermedia environments, involving acoustic and electroacoustic music, projection mapping, tracking devices, issues related to embodiment, anatomy, ergonomics, privacy and mass surveillance.

“As a woman of color growing up in Brazil, being educated in public schools, from a family of humble beginnings and being the first person in my family to earn a graduate degree allows me to relate more deeply to the challenges that many students at ASU might face,” said Navarro.

Navarro’s musical education, she said, has been a continuous process of discovery and freedom, providing her the opportunity to defy conventional ideas about what a person like her was expected to be.

“My personal background provides me a certain vitality, a sense of determination and renovation — a nonpassive hope,” said Navarro.

In addition to her personal background, Navarro hopes her formal musical training, her specialization as a composer, her association with renowned universities and her artistic and professional accomplishments will have an immense impact on what she brings to the students.

As a teacher, she said being in a dialogical relationship with students who are eager to learn, to think critically and to set their skills and sensibility in motion gives her a concrete sense of purpose. 

As a musician, Navarro is interested in sound, in the idiosyncratic relationship between the corporeality of the performers and the physicality of their instruments, in the exploration between music and language, the use and misuse of technology and in the transformational power that experimental music can exert on issues related to feminism and social otherness.

Her music has been performed nationally and internationally by soloists and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea, Yarn/Wire, Fonema Consort, Gnarwhallaby and Platypus, among others. She also promotes experimental music and works as a producer and curator of concerts and music festivals, such as Springfest and FIME.

“I’m very excited about future collaborations between music, dance and theater, especially now that those areas are part of the same school,” said Navarro. “I am working on an intermedia opera that I started developing at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, and I plan to have a performance of that work at ASU next year.”

Navarro studied composition at Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil and completed her master’s degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her PhD at the University of California, San Diego. She was a 2019-20 fellow at Harvard University as part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.