Martha Sullivan is currently a PhD Candidate in the Music Division of the Mason Gross School of the Arts. Their research focuses on the semiotics of women’s voices in opera and other musical genres; their interest in this topic comes from their experiences over many years as a professional singer in New York. In the field of music—musical performance or the academic study of music—the voices of marginalized people are othered, and as such they may draw attention, but are often denied the power to effect lasting change. This holds true whether the voice in question belongs to a scholar, a performer, or a character in an opera. For this reason, Sullivan strives not only to work for representation in the repertoire they teach, but also to amplify the voices of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ people in both the classroom and the professional spaces they inhabit. Creating inclusive spaces, Sullivan has served as president of the Rutgers Graduate Composers Forum and the online group Women Writing on Music.
As a singer, Sullivan focuses on new music; as a composer, on music for the human voice. They have sung, taught, and written music for performers around the U.S. and in several other countries. Their most recent teaching jobs have been at Rutgers, Bard, and Columbia; they have also taught at Hunter College, Westminster Choir College, and NYU.
Outside of music, Sullivan has worked as a copyeditor at Cell and other academic journals; they also enjoy contradancing as time allows.