Keynote Speakers

pjs4_colorJoseph Straus, Distinguished Professor of Music, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Author of Extraordinary Measures: Disability in Music, Joseph Straus is a music theorist specializing in music of the twentieth century, with research interests that include set theory, voice-leading in post-tonal music, the music of Stravinsky, and the music of Ruth Crawford Seeger.  His book, Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, is a standard college textbook on this topic. His book Remaking the Past received the Wallace Berry award from the Society for Music Theory (SMT). Professor Straus was the President of the SMT from 1997-99.


Extraordinary Measures: Disability in Music is a pioneering book that brings the insights of Disability Studies to bear on the study of music, according to Oxford University Press. Professor Straus delivers music history and theory for both scholarly and general readers, writing generously and authoritatively about the lived experience of composers and their “accommodation, heroic overcoming, or assimilation to the presence of a limitation” in this outstanding work from 2011. You can read R. D. Cohen’s book review, or read Extraordinary Measures through your library subscription to Oxford Scholarship Online. CUNY Graduate Center library subscribers will find it here.


David Rothenberg, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Music at New Jersey Institute of Technology

ECM recording artist David Rothenberg has performed and recorded on clarinet with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Glen Velez, Elliot Sharp, Markus Reuter, and the Karnataka College of Percussion.  Most of work has an environmental theme and involves the sounds of nature, live and in the studio.  He has sixteen CDs out under his own name, including “On the Cliffs of the Heart,” named one of the top ten releases of 1995 by Jazziz magazine and “One Dark Night I Left My Silent House,”  a duet album with pianist Marilyn Crispell, called “une petite miracle” by Le Monde and named by The Village Voice one of the ten best CDs of 2010.  Rothenberg is the author of Why Birds Sing, book and CD, published in seven languages and the subject of a BBC television documentary.  He is also the author of numerous other books on music, art, and nature, including Thousand Mile Song, about making music with whales, and Survival of the Beautiful, about aesthetics in evolution.  His book and CD Bug Music, featuring the sounds of the entomological world, has been featured on PBS News Hour and in the New Yorker.  His latest recordings are Cicada Dream Band, Cool Spring and Berlin Bülbül.  Rothenberg is distinguished professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Website:


Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song includes a comprehensive study of the history of bird song; conversations with neuroscientists, composers, philosophers, and ecologists; and companion recordings of Professor Rothenberg’s clarinet duet with a thrush in Pittsburgh. This thought-provoking and generous study meant for scholars and general readers alike will undoubtedly change the way you listen to birds singing. From Publishers Weekly: “Rothenberg delves heartily into the lovely and strange structures of bird songs and finds enough syllables, rhythms and syncopations to fill a jazz encyclopedia.” Read a book review by Andrew Motion from The Guardian. Access a copy through your local library. CUNY Graduate Center students will find the book here.