Laura Risk

Laura Risk
Assistant Professor
Telephone number
Building HW 409A
Music and Culture


Laura Risk is an Assistant Professor of Music and Culture and holds a graduate cross-appointment at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. Her research examines genre formation and the mechanics of innovation in traditional music from Québec and related fiddling-based traditions, with a strong focus on community engagement. She has published in Ethnomusicology, MUSICultures, and Critical Studies in Improvisation, and is co-editor of a recent triple special issue on “Improvisation, Musical Communities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic” for Critical Studies in Improvisation. She received the 2014 Prix Mnémo for her co-production of the CD “Douglastown: Music and Song from the Gaspé Coast.” Her writings have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and Strings Magazine.


Ph.D. in Musicology, McGill University (2017)


Chercheuse collaboratrice, Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la littérature et la culture québécoises (CRILCQ)
Member, Institute for Music in Canada

Teaching Interests

Community music; Foundations of musicianship; Inclusive musical histories; Music and genre; Community-engaged music archiving

Research Interests

North Atlantic fiddling cultures; Québécois traditional music; music & genre; diffusion and variation in aural musical communities

Awards and Grants

School of Cities Urban Challenge Grant, University of Toronto, for the project “Sustainable pARTnerships: Collaboration and Reciprocity in Creative Cities,” with Nasim Nikfas and Ely Lyonblum (2022-2023)

GRAMMY Museum Preservation Implementation Grant, “Preservation Implementation for National Collection Recordings of French-Canadian Music, 1965-1975” (2021-2023)

SSHRC Insight Development Grant, co-investigator, “La vie musicale au Québec: pour un décloisonnement de l’histoire, 1919-1952.” PI: Sandria P. Bouliane, Université Laval (2020-2022)

Connaught New Researcher Award, “Sustaining Community Music-Making in Quebec through Historical Inquiry and Mobilization of Audiovisual Archives” (2020-2022)

Explore and Create Grant, Canada Council for the Arts, for the project “Canuck Fiddle Collective: In the Beginning [Portage]” PI: Anne Lederman (2020-2022)


Risk, Laura. “Imperfections and Intimacies: Trebling Effects and the Improvisational Aesthetics of Pandemic-Era Livestreaming.” Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation vol. 14, no. 1, 2021. 
Journal article

Fischlin, Daniel, Laura Risk, and Jesse Stewart, editors. “Improvisation, Musical Communities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation vol. 14, nos. 1-3, 2021.
Triple special issue in two volumes. ;

Risk, Laura. “Ginger Smock: First Lady of the Jazz Violin.” Strings Magazine, November/December 2020, pp. 28–34.
Cover story

Risk, Laura. “Come Together, Right Now, Over a Livestream: The Power of Music During a Pandemic.” The Globe and Mail. March 25, 2020.

Risk, Laura. “The Chop: The Diffusion of an Instrumental Technique Across North Atlantic Fiddling Traditions.” Ethnomusicology vol. 57, no. 3, 2013, pp. 428–454.
Journal article

Risk, Laura. “Le bon vieux temps: The Veillée in Twentieth-Century Quebec.” Contemporary Musical Expressions in Canada, edited by Anna Hoefnagels, Judith Klassen, and Sherry Johnson, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019, pp. 43-86.
Book chapter

Patterson, Glenn, and Laura Risk. “Digitization, Recirculation and Reciprocity: Proactive Archiving for Community and Memory on the Gaspé Coast and Beyond.” MUSICultures vol. 41, no. 2, 2015, pp. 102–132.
Journal article

Risk, Laura, and Glenn Patterson, co-producers. Douglastown: Musique et chanson de la GaspésieDouglas Community Centre DOUG001, 2014.
Compact disc and booklet (60 pp.)



Laura Risk performs with Portage at the “Gala Fiddle Night across the Atlantic.” 
North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance
Limerick, Ireland (online due to COVID)
June 25, 2021.
Collaborators: Anne Lederman and Erynn Marshall (fiddles), Christina Smith (fiddle, cello), Jean Hewson (guitar)

Laura Risk performs with Portage for “Summer Music in the Garden at Home.” 
Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (online due to COVID)
August 2, 2020
Collaborators: Anne Lederman and Erynn Marshall (fiddles), Christina Smith (fiddle, cello), Jean Hewson (guitar)

Laura Risk performs pianist Rachel Aucoin at the Festival Les Rendez-vous ès TRAD
Théâtre Petit Champlain, Québec City, QC
October 11-13, 2019
[VIDEO: “Risk-Aucoin-video-Charlie_Drody's”]

Laura Risk performs with Voices of Music for the show “Musical Crossroads.”
Berkeley, California
January 25–27, 2019
Collaborators: Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler (directors), Alana Youssefian (baroque violin), Peter Maund (frame drum), Hanneke van Proosdij (harpsichord), William Skeen (baroque cello) David Tayler (archlute)