I am a musicologist specializing in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, with a focus on Eastern Europe and postcolonial studies. My research interests are guided by a broad question of what inspires contemporary composers, in particular, the influence of spiritual or philosophical beliefs on their music and its reception.


Stony Brook University
2021    PhD in Music History and Theory
Dissertation: “A Forbidden Fruit? Religion, Spirituality and Music
in the USSR before its Fall (1964-1991)”
2013       MA in Music History and Theory
MA thesis: “Vertical Time in Sofia Gubaidulina’s Hommage a TS Eliot”


Peer-reviewed articles
Kyiv’s New Music Scene Today: Composing and Listening in the Time of War.” Musicology Now. July 6, 2022
A Requiem for the USSR: From Atheism to Secularity.” Yale Journal of Music & Religion Vol. 6, No. 2 (2021)
“’Open’ Work One Step further: from John Cage to John Zorn.” Perspectives of New Music. Vol. 55, No.2 (Summer 2017)

Other writing
Ukrainian Field Notes XXIII.” An interview by Gianmarco Delre. a closer listen. April 24, 2023.
Долаючи земне тяжіння: Дзен-буддизм у музиці Валентина Сильвестрова.” (“Just the Feet Are a Little Bit off the Ground: Zen Buddhism in the Music of Valentyn Sylvestrov,” in Ukrainian). Bird in Flight. October 19, 2022.
Contemporary Ukrainian Music: an Informal Introduction,” Extended Techniques. February 23, 2022
Destruction or Hope? Past or Present? Postmodern Unity in Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso no. 1.” Jordan Center Blog, April 2021.
Medea: Exploring the Total Field of Senses.Extended Techniques. June 2016.
Mary Kouyoumdjian’s Silent Cranes: Remembering the Armenian Genocide in Music” Extended Techniques.  May 2015.

Blog Posts


    A Forbidden Fruit? Sacred Music in the Soviet Union before its Fall (monograph in progress, advance contract)

    My book addresses the 1960s spiritual upsurge in the USSR that flared up despite of state atheist policies, and investigates the impact of cultural environment and changing state censorship on religious themes and spirituality in concert music during the Brezhnev era and perestroika.

    I discuss the reasons for the interest in spiritual and religious topics among composers in four European countries of the former USSR, and the official and audience responses to the spiritual content of their musical works. The five main chapters are each dedicated to one of the major cultural centers – Moscow,  Kyiv, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn and Yerevan– and, after discussing historical context and general issues with censorship in a specific city, analyses selected works by composers who worked there during the period of my study.

    Extended Techniques, a podcast and blog about contemporary music (founder and host, ongoing, since 2012). Recent episode: Valentyn Silvestrov’s Endless Melodies and “the End of History.” (December 2022)

    Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival in New York City www.ucmfnyc.com
    (advisory board member, annual, since 2019).

    Music and Nature: Between Scientific Reason and Divine Power, Stony Brook Graduate Music Symposium (chair and head organizer, February 2014)

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    Roundtable “Decentering Soviet Music: (Dis)harmonies on the Soviet “Periphery”” the 55th Annual Convention of the ASEEES, Philadelphia, November 30 – December 3, 2023.

    “Ukraine’s New Music Diplomacy: Resisting Neo-imperialism in the 21st century,” Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukraine, 28-30 September 2023, Ottawa, Canada.

    Ukrainian Composers in the Time of War,” New York Public Library, June 13, 2023.

    “New Music in Ukraine: Composing and Listening in the Time of War,” Queens Public Library, March 2, 2023. 

    “Ukraine’s New Music Diplomacy: Resisting Neo-imperialism in the 21st century,” presented at the 2022 AMS-SEM-SMT Joint Annual Meeting, 10-13 November 2022,  New Orleans, Louisiana.

    “After the Post-Soviet: Mapping Transformations in Baltic and Ukrainian Music,” roundtable organizer and presenter, 2022 AMS-SEM-SMT Joint Annual Meeting, 10-13 November 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    “Sacred Music in Yerevan at the End of the Soviet Union,” presented as a part of ARISC Lecture Series (online), July 13, 2022.

    “Revolution, War and Memory in Ukrainian Music since 2014,” presented at the 3rd Taras Shevchenko Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington, April 2-3, 2022.

    “Soviet Pilgrims to the Orient: Zen Buddhism and Unofficial Music in the USSR,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society (AMS), 11-12 and 20-21 November 2021.

    “Spiritual Renaissance Among Nonconformist Composers in the Late Soviet Union,” presented at Reinventing Religion: The rise of religious sensibility in the late Soviet Union (1960s-1980s) workshop, Basel University, June 10-12, 2021.

    “Sounding Incomprehensible: Music Representation of the Experience of Leningrad Siege in Alexander Knaifel’s Agnus Dei,” presented at Music, Sound, and Trauma: Interdisciplinary Perspectives online conference, February 12-14, 2021.

    “Regaining the Sound of the Sacred: Spiritual Music in Ukraine Before and After Independence,” presented at Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, February 28-March 1, 2020.

    “Religious Revival in Soviet Music During Brezhnev Era,” presented at the 51st Annual ASEEES Convention, San Francisco, November 22-26, 2019.

    “A Requiem for the USSR: State Atheism and Secular Enchantment,”
    at “Sound and Secularity” Symposium, Stony Brook University, NY, April 12, 2019.

    “Off Radio – On Screen: The Impact of the Prague Spring on Music in the USSR,” in a panel series “Prague Spring on Screen” at the 50th Annual ASEEES Convention, December 6 – 9, 2018.

    “Algorithmic Method and Delicate Patterns in Leonid Hrabovsky’s Concerto Misterioso,” presented at the SMT Global New Music Interest Group meeting, at the 2018 Annual AMS/SMT conference, San Antonio, Texas, 1-4 November 2018.

    “Sofia Gubaidulina’s Early Spiritual Works in the Context of 1960s-70s Religious Revival in the USSR,” forthcoming at the 2018 Annual AMS/SMT conference, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, 1-4 November 2018.

    “Mythologizing Religious Music in Soviet Ukraine during Brezhnev Era,” presented at the 39th Annual Meeting of the North East Slavic, East European and Eurasian Conference, April 4, 2018.

    “From Revolution to Quietness: Valentin Silvestrov’s music after 1968,” presented at Russian and East European Music Study Group Annual Conference 2017: Music and Revolution, Goldsmiths, University of London, December 15, 2017.

    “Theory and Practice of Vertical Time in Music,” presented at the 20th Congress of International Musicological Society in Tokyo, March 21, 2017.

    “Zen Buddhism and the Music of Valentin Silvestrov, Ukrainian Avant-Garde Composer in the USSR,” presented at The Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society fall 2016 Meeting, Mannes College of Music, October 2016.

    “Podcasting in Teaching Music History,” presented at the conference “Teaching Music History” organized by the Pedagogy Study Group of the American Musicological Society, Metropolitan State University of Denver, June 2016.

    “Phil Minton’s Feral Choir: Radical Music of the 21st Century,” presented at the conference “Music and Radicalism, Radicalism in Music,” The Graduate Center, City University of New York, April 2016.

    “Life as Music or Music as Life: “Open Works” in New York – from John Cage to John Zorn,” presented at the conference “Composition in the 21st Century,” Trinity College Dublin, March 2014.


    American Musicological Society (AMS)
    Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
    Society for Music Theory (SMT)

    Oksana Nesterenko

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