I began playing cello at the age of nine in my hometown of DeKalb, Illinois. I started an undergraduate degree in physics, but soon switched to my true love, music. My BA in Music is from Stanford University, where I studied cello with Stephen Harrison and music theory and composition with David Rakowski, Ross Bauer, and Leonard Ratner. I then got an MA in cello performance at Queens College (CUNY), where I studied cello with Barbara Mallow and music theory with Carl Schachter. I also have a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Conservatory and a PhD in music theory from Yale University, where I wrote a dissertation on Alexander Scriabin under Allen Forte. Finally, I studied music theory, as a visiting student, with Yuri Kholopov at the Moscow Conservatory.
My specialties include Russian music and music theory, 20th- and 21st-century music, pitch-class set theory, modal theory, and hiphop and popular music. I have writings published in Music Theory Online, Music and Politics, Journal of Schenkerian Studies, and Popular Music, among other journals. I was the founding editor of Gamut, the journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, and I served as the chair of the Committee on Diversity of the Society for Music Theory from 2007 to 2010. In addition to U.S. appearances, I’ve given papers at national and international conferences in Belgium, Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom. My recent research focuses on Russian interpretations of modernist composers such as Stravinsky and Webern. Specifically, I work extensively on the modal theories of Sergei Protopopov and Boleslav Yavorsky, whose ideas are widespread in Russia and can be applied to many different types of late-romantic and post-tonal tertian music. Much of this research has entailed archival work in Russia, most significantly at the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow. I’ve also generally worked with the voluminous writings of brother and sister Yuri Kholopov and Valentina Kholopova, and I’ve presented their concepts at conferences and in English translation. My most recent writings in the field of popular-music studies—which entailed fieldwork in Moscow in 2013—examine contemporary Russian rap and hip-hop.
As a cellist, I am both a classical and a contemporary musician, playing either my acoustic or my five-string electric cello. I’ve played concerts in North America, Europe, and Asia, under the baton of such luminaries as Gustav Meier and Pierre Boulez, in master classes for Janos Starker and Glenn Dicterow, and in backup bands for artists such as Johnny Mathis and Stan Getz. From 2011 to 2013 I was the cellist with the Brooklyn-based indie rock band Eve Lesov, which played in legendary NY venues such as The Knitting Factory and The Bitter End. My primary cello teachers were Stephen Harrison, Frederick Zlotkin, Barbara Mallow, and Anatoly Nikitine. I began an appointment as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College CUNY in the fall of 2009, and in the spring of 2010 I began a joint appointment with the CUNY Graduate Center. In December 2015 I was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at Hunter College, effective August 2016.