Music Meets Politics: In conversation with CHASS Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff

Kiril Tomoff

March 14, 2019

By Lilian Tran
CHASS Student Writer, Marketing & Communications

Music and politics was essential to Kiril Tomoff’s life long before he became Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities within CHASS. Growing up, he was an amateur horn player who loved both performing and listening to orchestral music. In college, Tomoff was fascinated by the Russian language and wanted to be involved in foreign policy.

During his time as an undergraduate, Tomoff studied abroad and went to numerous concerts in Leningrad, which was renamed St. Petersburg in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. He encountered people from all walks of life and was amazed how accessible concerts, operas and symphonic music was to the entire population. He thought about the importance of music in Soviet culture and chose to focus on it as his dissertation, graduating in 2001 from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet History.

A professor of history, Tomoff has been the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities within CHASS since July 2018. He oversees the Arts and Humanities Departments within CHASS and is excited by this new challenge.

“It’s been terrific so far,” he said. “I’ve really found it interesting. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the university from a different perspective than I’ve had before.”

During summer, he travelled to China with UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox as part of a large delegation that had the goal of negotiating and signing institutional partnership agreements in the Anhui province, located in the eastern part of the country. With over 70 million people, Anhui is known for its agriculture and emerging technology. Wilcox and Tomoff were China for more than a week and met with the potential partners and students to introduce them to UCR and CHASS.

“During our visit to one of Anhui province’s high schools, a student stopped me and asked a series of really perceptive questions about the way we define disciples in CHASS,” Tomoff said. “She indicated to me that she was interested in studying notions of intersectional justice. I was incredibly impressed that these questions came from a high school student. She is exactly the kind of student we would be thrilled to have join our UCR community. I think it is well worth in trying to navigate the complicated waters of international exchange to make the opportunities available to students like her.”

Tomoff is currently working on the transnational component of his long-time research project focusing on the Soviet cultural empire. He is also conducting research on Soviet musical theatre in the 1940s and will be teaching World History: Twentieth Century next spring at UC Riverside. 

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