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Francesca Cassio

Professor of Music


PHD, 2004, Univ Rome; MA, 1996, Univ Rome


Francesca Cassio is Professor of Music and since 2011 holds the Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology, the first academic position of its kind in the United States.

She earned her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Rome La Sapienza (Italy), in affiliation withBenares Hindu University (India), 2004. Her dissertation isan original research on music and gender in the Indian vocal tradition, based on four years of fieldwork in India.

She has an M.A. Ethnomusicology summa cum laude, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ (Italy), 1996. The degree dissertation “Il Canto Dhrupad” is a contribution on the history and vocal techniques of Dhrupad singing, a genre of medieval music from North India.     

Since 1994, Dr. Cassio has conducted extensive research in India, where she lived and was trained in Indian classical music by the legendary Dhrupad master Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar, and by the ‘Queen of Thumri’ Vidushi Girija Devi.

Dr. Cassio also received extensive training in the vocal tradition by Bhai Baldeep Singh, the 13th generation exponent of Gurbani kirtan, and studied the repertoire of Rabindranath Tagore under the guidance of Smt. Pramita Mallik and Dr. Reba Som.

Dr. Cassio is the recipient of several grants, including the Doctoral Grant (La Sapienza 2000-2004), the ICCR Orientation Grant (2008-2009), and the Hofstra Faculty Research Development Grant (2012-2016).

Prior to joining the Hofstra faculty, she served as Visiting Professor in Ethnomusicology at Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan (India); lecturer of Ethnomusicologyat the University of Trento; lecturer of Anthropology of Music at the Conservatory of Adria; andlecturer of Ethnomusicology and Indian music at the Vicenza Conservatory (Italy).

Dr. Cassio has lectured and performed in India, Bangladesh, UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the United States, presenting at prestigious institutions such as Yale, Harvard, IRCPL-Columbia University, Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar), University of Delhi, Benares Hindu University, English National Opera (London), Early Music Festival (Lyon) and Auditorium of Rome.

She is the author of a monograph on dhrupad (Percorsi della voceStoria e tecniche esecutive del canto dhrupad Ut Orpheus, Bologna 2000). Dr. Cassio, in more than twenty years of research, has worked and written extensively on Indian music (Gurbani Sangit, Dhrupad, Rabindra Sangit, Thumri, semi-classical, folk and devotional repertoires), the yoga of sound, music therapy, music and gender, intercultural education, ethnomusicology and music pedagogy.

In 2015 she was awarded the Stessin Prize for an outstanding scholarly publication, the article “Female Voices in Gurbani Sangit and the Role of the Media in Promoting Female Kirtanie.



Teaching Interests

Sikh Liturgical Chants, Gurbani Kirtan, Indian Music, Music and Gender Studies, Music around the World, Ethnomusicology.

Research Interests

Ethnomusicology, Musicology, Religion, Anthropology, Ethnology, Gender Studies.

Recent Courses Taught

Course Title Level
MUS 017 (AA, CC) INTRO TO SIKH MUSIC Undergraduate
MUS 020 (CP) ENSEMBLE Undergraduate
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