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Cynthia Folio is Professor of Music Theory and Composition and Chair of the Department of Music Studies at Temple University, where she was honored with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1996 and the Creative Achievement Award in 2012. She teaches theory and composition courses at all levels: from Theory I to a Doctoral Seminar in Analysis and Performance, and advises master's theses and doctoral dissertations. Before her Temple days, she taught theory and flute at Texas Christian University (1980–1990) and played piccolo and flute in the Fort Worth Symphony, Opera, and Ballet Orchestras.

Born on Dec. 24, 1954 in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Cynthia was an army brat and did not stay in one place for very long. Her many travels include three years in Germany, three years in Panama, and many spots in between. Her most rigorous musical training as a child was in Panama (1964–7), where she studied flute with Eduardo Charpentier (first flutist in the Panama Symphony at the time) and solfege at the Panama Conservatory.

Cynthia earned an M.A. (1979) and Ph.D. (1985) in music theory and a Performer's Certificate in flute (1977) from the Eastman School of Music. She studied theory and composition with Joseph Schwantner, Robert Morris, and Larry Nelson and flute with Bonita Boyd and Emily Swartley Newbold. Her undergraduate school, West Chester University, granted her a Distinguished Alumni Award (1989). Other awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, composer residency at the Yaddo Artist Colony and at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, 20 consecutive ASCAP Standard Awards, winner in the 1994 and 1999 New Music Delaware Competitions, two winning entries in the National Flute Association Newly Published Music Competition (in 1994 and 2012), and grants from Meet the Composer and the American Music Center. She has received commissions from the Mendelssohn Club, Relâche, Network for New Music, Hildegard Chamber Players, Chamber Orchestra First Editions, Ensemble Triolet, Astral Artistic Servieces, Anna Crusis Women's Choir, PA Music Teachers Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, SAI, and others.

As a theorist, Cynthia has published music theory articles, reviews, and chapters in books, on topics that focus primarily on the analysis of jazz, the analysis of contemporary music, and the relationship between analysis and performance. She served for three years on the editorial board of Music Theory Spectrum and still serves on the board of ex tempore. She was vice-president of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (MTSMA) for two years and the Treasurer of the Society for Music Theory for four years. She chaired the program committee for MTSMA for the 2011 conference. She was one of the leaders in the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory Summer Institute in 2008 on the topic, “Jazz Meets Pop” and attended the Decennial Anniversary Celebration of the Mannes Institute in 2011 on the topic, “A Decade of Thinking Together.”

As a flutist, she performs regularly as a soloist and in several groups in the Philadelphia area, including Latin Fiesta, David's Harp, and numerous chamber ensembles at Temple and in Philadelphia and New York City. In 1999, she was invited to Tübingen, Germany to perform in CAMP '99 (Creative Arts and Music Pool), an international festival for free improvisation. In 2015, she performed her own double flute concerto, Winds for Change (with Michele Kelly) with the Temple Youth Chamber Orchestra, directed by Aaron Picht.