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Ricardo Trimillos with his ukulele
Ricardo Trimillos

The International Council for Traditional Music and Dance has awarded a lifetime membership to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Ricardo Trimillos for his years of advocacy, service and academic contributions.

Trimillos is a professor emeritus in ethnomusicology and Asian studies at UH Mānoa. His career has been dedicated to helping build the ethnomusicology program in tandem with his former professor and mentor, Barbara Bernard Smith, the founder of the program. He has worked with the UH Foundation to establish the Trimillos Visiting Distinguished Professorship in Ethnomusicology, which will support a visiting international scholar-in-residence at every two years “to enrich the study of world music at UH and to encourage the study of Asian and Pacific music and expressive culture.”

History of research, mentorship

Trimillos’ contributions and milestones are not limited only to the discipline/field of ethnomusicology. He has excelled as an educator, mentor, scholar, researcher, arts advocate, performing artist and collaborator across disciplines, cultures and continents.

As an educator and mentor from 1982 to 2021, Trimillos chaired 31 ethnomusicology masters’ theses and eight doctoral dissertations. As a scholar and researcher ,Trimillos’ interests were diverse: western classical music (including opera), Japanese classical music, Filipino musical traditions, Hawaiian music, and education and pedagogy. He published articles in diverse scholarly journals such as Music Educators Journal, Society for Ethnomusicology, ICTM Yearbook, American Folklore, Association for Asian Studies, International Journal of Music Education, Asian Music, Folklife (Smithsonian Institute), and the Music Educators National Conference. In the past five years, Trimillos has continued to serve as the Editor for Asian Music: the Journal of the Society for Asian Music. Trimillos’ research covers a broad range of issues that intersect with ethnomusicology and cross-cultural performance. Over the last few decades, he has expanded his research to address issues of gender and socio-sexual identity in the performing arts of Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Islands and Asia.

As an arts advocate, Trimillos organized and ran the Festival for Ethnic Music and Dance for the UH Mānoa Music Department. Through that program, Trimillos mentored ethnomusicology graduate students in applied ethnomusicology. Trimillos also supported the East-West Center’s Performing Arts Program and worked with Dick Via to collaborate on programming. He was on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival planning committee when Hawaiʻi was the featured state in the 1989 Folklife Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C. He worked to support the development of folklife programs in Hawaiʻi and assisted with the Folk Arts Apprenticeship grants at the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Trimillos has taught upper-level courses that students needed to meet degree requirements for graduation. As a continuation of his life’s focus and his promise to his mentor, he actively advocates with the university for the internationally renowned ethnomusicology program.

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