- Distinguished Associate Professor of Violin & String Education Coordinator, String Studies & Entrepreneurial Studies
An award-winning artist, educator, and community leader, Mary Perkinson, D.M.A., began her violin studies at the age of 5 in the Philadelphia public schools. She has been a visiting artist/lecturer in Europe, Asia, South America, and in 35 U.S. states. Recent artistic collaborations include recitals of the six J.S. Bach sonatas for baroque violin and harpsichord, an appearance at Oregon’s Fringe Festival, a national tour of Timeless Music, Timeless Disease; Classical Composers and Consumption, a collaborative recital with microbiologist Yolande Chan, Ph.D, and the collaborative recital, Powerful Perspectives: Celebrating Music by Underrepresented Composers, featuring student and faculty performances and premieres by Black composer Dr. Gregory T.S. Walker.
Perkinson enjoys performing with the Omaha Symphony and has performed with regional orchestras throughout the Northeast and upper Midwest. An avid chamber musician, she performs frequently with the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Maverick String Quartet, which also serves as the Healing Arts Quartet-in-Residence at Nebraska Medicine’s Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. She has been a guest chamber artist with the Crissey Concert Series (PA), Musica Maxima (WI), Token Creek Chamber Music Festival (WI), Madison Bach Musicians (WI), Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (WI), Concerts on the Platte (NE), Vespers Concerts (NE), Petite Musique (NE), and Omaha Chamber Music Society (Omaha, NE).
Her students teach and perform throughout Omaha and Lincoln and are in high demand as chamber and orchestral musicians. Recent student successes include performances with the UNO Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra as winners of the UNO Concerto Competition. As creative artists and researchers they have been recipients of Creative Activity awards at UNO and have presented at the American String Teachers Association National Conference, and UNO’s Creative Activity Fair.
Perkinson is a sought-after adjudicator, clinician, and pedagogue and has made scholarly contributions to Research-Based Strategies, Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Students by R. K. Payne and B. H. Tucker, and Studying Diversity in Teacher Education, edited by A.F. Ball, & C.A. Tyson. She has also published in the American String Teachers Journal, and the Nebraska Music Educators Journal. In 2019 she co-founded Teaching Strings to the Non-String Player, a workshop aimed at increasing skill and knowledge of string playing for non-string players who teach strings. In 2015, she co-founded Partners in Performance, a nationally recognized program that brings together area school orchestras, Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, and UNO students to support and promote a culture of mentorship and leadership.
Passionate about working with students of all ages, she recently completed Suzuki-certification through Book 4. Currently, Dr. Perkinson serves as the Past-President of the Nebraska chapter of American String Teachers Association. She has presented on string pedagogy at the College Music Society, American String Teachers Association, National Association of Medical Orchestras, Wisconsin Music Teachers Association, and Nebraska Music Teachers Association conferences.
As an artist citizen she is committed to contributing to the greater good beyond the concert stage. In 2009, Perkinson founded Sound Health: Bringing Music to Medicine, a program that contributes to the environment of care for patients, visitors, and staff through live music, while giving music students performing and service-learning opportunities. She also enjoys serving as a faculty mentor in the Nebraska Medical Orchestra, an orchestra open to all healthcare workers. Most recently, she founded Nebraska HeartBeats, an interactive music engagement program that aims to improve the quality of life of people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias through interactive, creative musical experiences. An article written with collaborators about their work has recently been accepted for publication in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics.
Perkinson has received grants and awards for her engagement and creative activities through the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska American String Teachers Association, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. She has been invited to present on her engagement work internationally at the International Arts & Wellbeing Conference, and at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, and nationally at the National Organization for the Arts in Healthcare, Coalition of Metropolitan and Urban Universities, and the Engaged Scholarship Consortium.
Perkinson has held positions in K-12 schools, universities, and arts administration and is currently Distinguished Associate Professor of Violin & String Education at UNO and holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Neurological Sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she collaborates on research related to enhancing the environment of care through music, and dementia care. She holds degrees from Boston University, The Boston Conservatory, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary teachers include Felicia Moye (WI), Vartan Manoogian (WI), Magdalena Richter (MA), Bayla Keyes (MA), Lynn Chang (MA), and Lee Snyder (PA).