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Andy Kirshner Honored as He Retires from the Stamps School

Professional headshot of Andy Kirshner.

Prolific filmmaker, composer, performer, and media artist Andy Kirshner is retiring from the University of Michigan effective December 31, 2023. On December 7, the U‑M Board of Regents honored Kirshner for his service during the meeting and bestowed upon him the title of Professor Emeritus of Music and Professor Emeritus of Art & Design. 

Kirshner received a DMA in 1999 and an M.M. in Music Composition in 1995, both from the University of Michigan. He received a B.M. in 1984 Saxophone Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, and a B.A. in Philosophy, also in 1984, from Tufts University (magna cum laude). After two years as an adjunct lecturer, Kirshner joined the U‑M full-time in 2001 as an Assistant Professor of Music in the Department of Performing Arts Technology in the School of Music, Theater & Dance (SMTD) and as an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Stamps. In 2008, he was promoted to Associate Professor of Music, with tenure in SMTD, and Associate Professor of Art & Design at Stamps.

I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to work at the University of Michigan, where my creative research has been so generously supported, and I have had the opportunity to collaborate with such wonderful colleagues and students,” said Kirshner. In many academic institutions, one is only encouraged to specialize, and to define oneself as an expert in a field.’ Here, I’ve had the freedom to explore, to take risks, to reach out across disciplinary boundaries, and go wherever my interests led me. I’m very honored that the Regents have granted me emeritus status, and I look forward to continuing to contribute as a member of the University community.”

Throughout his time at the University of Michigan, Kirshner produced a substantial body of work that achieved recognition and awards. His background in jazz, classical composition, theater, dance, video, and performance art enabled him to create complex compositions that explore areas of intersection among the traditional performing arts and contemporary media. His compositions and performances have been recognized and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, Artserve Michigan, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the U‑M Office of Research. He was also named as a fellow twice at the Institute for the Humanities. 

Poster: 10 Questions for Henry Ford shows a figure wearing a hat in front of the Ford Motor Co. plant.
Kirshner’s film, 10 Questions for Henry Ford,” takes a brutally honest look at the complex legacy of an American icon.

Kirshner’s wide variety of creative work includes An Evening with Tony Amore, a music-theatre piece for jazz voice and orchestra based on the myth of Frank Sinatra; Who It Is, a one-man video musical about race and identity; and The Museum of Life and Death is a 25th-century sci-fi adaptation of the medieval play Everyman. His two feature films, Liberty’s Secret and 10 Questions for Henry Ford, have been screened at festivals nationally, internationally, and in many university and community settings. His music-theater work has been presented at the Museum of African American History in Detroit, Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, BACA Downtown, the DIA Arts Foundation, St. Mark’s Church in New York City, and other performance venues and university settings nationwide.

In 2022, Kirshner received the Rogers Edge Award, named for former Stamps Dean Bryan Rogers, whose curricular vision encompassed a new model for educating thinkers and makers and whose own creative work navigated across and above disciplinary divides. The award recognizes a Stamps School faculty member whose creative practice moves beyond disciplinary boundaries and brings together different kinds of people and ideas. 

Andy Kirshner is an integral part of the Stamps School where he taught and inspired hundreds of students,” said Dean Carlos Francisco Jackson. His impressive creative works are a fusion of media and method, and his success as a scholar, composer, filmmaker, and artist has made a lasting impact on our school. We are forever grateful for his many contributions as a faculty member and colleague.”