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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

New Diehn Composers Room Supervisor Eager to Share Musical Passions

Maddie Dietrich boasts multiple music degrees, plays a small orchestra of instruments, writes jazz and classical pieces and listens to, well, you name it.

"I love western swing, bluegrass, eastern European folk music, Scandinavian music," said Dietrich, who was recently hired to supervise the vast collections held in Old Dominion's F. Ludwig Diehn Composers Room. "If it's interesting, if it has a good groove to it, I like it."

Something else Dietrich likes is sharing her passion for all things symphonious. It's why she said the position she's held at Old Dominion since February hits all the right notes.

"It appeals to all of my different musical interests," Dietrich said. "I love working with and serving people. And I love being where I'm able to talk about music and musicology with professors and students alike. It's always interesting and stimulating."

With master's degrees in performance (double bass) as well as music history and literature, Dietrich spent two decades in her native Texas as a high-school orchestra director, adjunct professor and freelance musician.

But then she heard a familiar refrain - the call of another master's degree; this one in library information science.

The additional expertise is a perfect accompaniment to support Dietrich's new supervisory role in organizing and circulating the Diehn Composers Room resources.

"I make it easier for people to access the content, and easier for them to interpret what the catalog tells them," Dietrich said. "I can tell people things about the music they might not have known, and also answer technical questions about music."

The room's shelves and storage areas are stacked with a rich trove of books, scores, manuscripts, records, tapes, CDs and other materials available to Old Dominion students, faculty and staff - much of it online.

There are listening areas and equipment with which to play recordings and videos. A Steinway grand piano in the adjoining Reading Room allows visiting and local scholars to play manuscripts in a quiet space. And a Seminar Room affords faculty and visiting artists and scholars a place to meet with small groups of students.

"Many people aren't aware of what we have to offer," Dietrich said. "That's why I want to do more outreach and networking."

She said she also hopes to digitize archived vinyl recordings, on an as-needed basis, to increase accessibility to the Diehn Composers Room's vault of records from all genres.

"It isn't always convenient for people to find a parking space, walk over here, check out a record, listen to it, check it back in and walk back to their car," Dietrich said. "It would be nice if they could just listen to it on their phone."

Dietrich said other goals involve increasing the functionality of the Diehn Composers Room website, reinvigorating its mission as a research facility for composers, and promoting the New Music Performance Collection of works composed since 2000.

Beyond all of that ambition, Dietrich plans to maintain her double-bass chops by playing jazz gigs with local artists while pursuing her own scholarly research.

Dietrich, in fact, delivered a paper on western swing music - based on research she conducted for her thesis - in Pittsburgh last month at the annual conference of the Association of Recorded Sounded Collections.

It is that sort of versatility that Stuart Frazer, head of access services for Old Dominion Libraries, said he appreciates most about having Dietrich as a staff supervisor.

"The wide variety of content knowledge and practice in music history and performance Maddie brings, as well as her experience in music libraries, is a significant asset for ODU," he said.

Visit the Diehn Composers Room website to explore all of its available resources and services.

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