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Thomas Forest Kelly

Tom Kelly is the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University. Professor Kelly received his B.A. from Chapel Hill; spent two years on a Fulbright in France studying musicology, chant, and organ. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard (1973) with a dissertation on office tropes. He has taught at Wellesley, Smith, Amherst, and at Oberlin, where he directed the Historical Performance Program and served as acting Dean of the Conservatory. He was named a Harvard College Professor in 2000 and the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music in 2001. Although this was his first MOOC, he conducted business as usual.

Project Team


jascha smilack

Project Lead for First Nights. Jascha has a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard. He taught Chinese literature from all periods at Tufts University from 2011 to 2013, during which time he was also a program coordinator at Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. During his graduate years at Harvard, he spent six years as a Presidential Instructional Technology Fellow and five as Assistant Director of East Asian Studies. Joining HarvardX in 2013, Jascha is also Project lead for JusticeX, ContractsX, Visualizing Japan (Finalist for the 2015 Japan Prize for media production in the creative frontier), and American Poetry. In his free time, he taught courses in East Asian Comparative Literature at Boston University in 2015. Of all of the First Nights modules, Jascha found Messiah easiest to Handel.
Photo of Bill by Marlon Kuzmick

William O'Hara

Content Developer and Teaching Fellow for First Nights.  Originally from Oxford, Ohio, William O'Hara is a Ph.D.Candidate in the Department of Music at Harvard University. His research interests include the history of music theory, the study of musical form, and the analysis of film and video game music. In 2015, he received the music department's Oscar S. Shader award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.  Bill's work on the First Nights modules has been instrumental!

Monica Hershberger

Content Developer and Teaching Fellow for First Nights.  Also originally from Oxford, Ohio, Monica Hershberger is a PhD candidate in the Department of Music at Harvard University. Monica's dissertation deals with heroines in mid-century American operas. More broadly, her research interests include the overlap of music and politics in the United States, opera, reception history, music criticism, and large-scale sets of piano variations. Monica recently won the National Opera Association's Scholarly Paper Competition. A vocal supporter of First Nights!

Joseph Fort

Content Developer for First Nights before becoming the College Organist and Director of the Chapel Choir, and Lecturer in Music at King’s College London. During his time in Massachusetts, Joseph was Resident Conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Director of Music at Grace Church, Newton, and Artistic Director of the Sine Nomine Choral Ensemble. At Cambridge he was Organ Scholar of Emmanuel College, and prior to that was Organ Scholar of All Saints Margaret Street. As a scholar, Joseph’s work focuses on dance-music relationships in Haydn’s minuets. At Harvard, his teaching was recognised with the university’s Certificate of Distinction, the Certificate of Excellence, and the Oscar S. Schafer Prize. He also served Harvard College as Senior Resident Tutor of Eliot House. After Joe left for England, we knew we would never have the same staff again!

Hogan Seidel

Hogan Seidel is the Video Editor for First Nights. He holds a BFA in Experimental Media from Emerson College. He is a filmmaker living and working in Boston, MA. In his free time, he enjoys collecting and restoring old camera equipment. When asked how his editing approach to the First Nights modules was different from other courses, Hogan replied that it was certainly more measured.

Shilpa Idnani

Shilpa Idnani is a Course Development Assistant for First Nights. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Wellesley College, where she specialized in creating interactive computer ecosystem and hydrogeological models. Recently, she has designed, created, and collected materials for wide variety of HarvardX courses including Innovating in Healthcare, Data Analytics for Human Genomics, and ContractsX. She will be monitoring the discussion boards for technical issues with the platform and course. A key figure in turning major problems into minor notes.

Brad Edmondson

Brad is the Copyright Assistant for First Nights. He graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in 2014 and has been working at HarvardX to assess and manage copyright risk for the past year. Originally from Austin, Texas, he received his B.A. in political science from Tufts University and then worked there for three years in IT support and information security before attending law school. At Vanderbilt, Brad focused on intellectual property, cybersecurity policy, and process-oriented risk management, and he took survey courses in intellectual property, international IP, and cyberlaw, as well as focused courses in patents, trademarks, entertainment-industry transactions, IP licensing, collective management of copyright, and e-discovery. He also served as Senior Technology Editor to the Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law and as treasurer for the Vanderbilt chapters of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and the American Constitution Society. Brad is passionate about IP law, process design, collaborative process improvement, political debate, and open-source software, and he also loves soccer, running, and pulling shots of espresso by hand. He didn't think he would like these modules but by the end, we had him singing a different tune.

Illustrations used throughout the course were drawn by Benjamin Maurer Visual Art LLC.

Additional thanks to the Harvard Media Production Center, Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, Harvard Media Technology Services, Harvard Music Library, Harvard University Piano Technical Services, and the Harvard Recycling Center.   Additional support by the HarvardX administrative and technical teams.