Jeff Dyer, a candidate for May graduation from Hamilton College, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2004-2005. Dyer, a music major, was selected from nearly 1,000 students who applied for the fellowships.
In a national competition each year, the Watson Foundation selects and provides funds for graduating seniors from America's leading liberal arts institutions to embark on a year of self-directed, independent study while traveling outside the United States after their graduation. This year 50 seniors were selected from 50 of America's top liberal arts colleges.
Dyer's proposal is titled "The Soul of the Khmer: Music of the Khmer People." He explains, "The Khmer people (indigenous people of Cambodia) have endured a genocide that killed millions of people and devastated their culture and yet their music remains as one of the main structures of their lives and society." Dyer notes that 90 percent of Cambodian musicians were killed during the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979; he says "if their music is not passed on to a younger generation soon it will become extinct."
With his fellowship, Dyer will learn the music of Khmer, investigate the continuing effects of the Khmer Rouge on musicians and explore and participate in the revitalization of traditional, specifically folk Khmer music. Dyer will learn to play Khmer folk instruments then travel to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam where he will immerse himself in the culture and music.
Dyer is vice president and a member of the Hamilton College Choir; he is a teaching assistant in the College's music department aural skills class and organist at the Stone Presbyterian Church in Clinton. He was also a member of the Hamilton College and Community Oratorio Society. Dyer is a member of the Hamilton College Emergency Medical Services and is certified as an EMT.
Dyer received Hamilton's Madeline Wild Bristol Prize Scholarship in Music in 2003, which provided a full scholarship for his senior year. It is awarded for excellence in music and for activity in a sport. He also was named a Casstevens Research Scholar, which provided funding for a trip to Yale University to study the Charles Ives papers for his senior project in music.
Dyer, the son of Jon and Carol Dyer of Milton, Mass., is a graduate of Milton High School.