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Spotlight: NJIT Interspecies Music Expert Wins 2010 Board of Overseers Research Prize and Medal

The exotic world of interspecies music will be revealed on Oct. 6, 2010 when the New Jersey Institute of Technology Excellence in Research Prize and Medal is bestowed upon David Rothenberg, a member of NJIT’s faculty, best-selling author and acclaimed jazz clarinetist, by the NJIT Board of Overseers.

“Harmonic Connections in Nature, Science and Music,” held at 5 p.m. at the Jim Wise Theater in Kupfrian Hall, will include a presentation by Rothenberg, professor of philosophy and music, on how and why music enables him to communicate with birds and whales—the subject of his two best-selling books. A jazz performance with the multi-talented author on his clarinet accompanied by pianist Marilyn Crispell follows. The duo performed a similar offering this past June at Lincoln Center. A reception will take place after the ceremony.

The program will also include a talk by Ofer Tchernichovski, one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who has figured out how birds learn to sing, and Scott McVay, founding president of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the man who discovered the complex structure of humpback whale songs. Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, senior vice president for research and development at NJIT, will serve as program moderator. A reception concludes the evening’s performance and academic insights beginning at 7 p.m.

The public is invited to this free event. Street parking will be available. For information about reservations, contact Colleen Vandervort, 973-596-8505.

The NJIT Excellence in Research Prize and Medal is awarded for contributions that have enhanced the reputation of NJIT. The prize and medal winner delivers at the event a lecture based on his record of accomplishment, and the lecture will be available online at NJIT’s iTunesU. The prize and medal winner must have been a member of the NJIT faculty for at least five years.    


About David Rothenberg
Rothenberg’s most recent book and CD, Thousand Mile Song: Whale Music in a Sea of Sound, chronicles his journey to make music live with whales from Hawaii to Russia. Thousand Mile Song (Basic Books) was named one of the ten best science and technology books for 2008 by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association. Why Birds Sing (Basic Books, 2005) was the first trade book to examine bird song from the combined perspectives of science, music, and poetry and was the culmination of his interdisciplinary work since he began teaching at NJIT in 1992. Why Birds Sing has been published in the U.S., England, Australia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Korea, China, and Taiwan as both a book and compact disc.

Rothenberg’s first CD on ECM Records, with pianist Marilyn Crispell, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House came out in May 2010. Le Monde called it “une petite miracle.” The Guardian heard “the clarinet subtleties of Jimmy Giuffre and the tonal adventurousness of Joe Maneri.” All About Jazz heard “sublime depth and intuition.” BBC Music Magazine said “If these pieces were pre-composed they’d be categorized as chamber music of a high order. But, of course, it’s only jazz.”

Rothenberg received his PhD from Boston University and his BA from Harvard University.

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein, public relations director, NJIT (973-596-3436)