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Professor Laurie Stras 

Emeritus Professor

Professor Laurie Stras's photo

Professor Laurie Stras is a Professor of Music at the University of Southampton.

I am a musicologist and performer with special interests in early music, popular music, and music and disability studies. For the 2017/18 academic year I am Senior Tutor, which means I am responsible for coordinating personal academic tutoring in Music, and for providing support to both tutors and students at undergraduate and masters level.  For 2017/18 I am also president and lead negotiator of the Southampton branch of the University and College Union (UCU).

I currently supervise or co-supervise eight PhD students working on popular music and early music topics, with an emphasis on analysis and performance. I am happy to supervise doctoral work in early modern topics; popular music (particularly early jazz or 60s/70s popular music); music and gender; and music and disability. I welcome informal approaches from potential master's and PhD students who would like to discuss topics in these areas.

I studied harpsichord, piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, and later went on to study for my doctorate at the University of London. Before returning to postgraduate studies, I had a freelance career as both a singer and keyboard player, including four years in the Royal National Theatre Company as a Musical Director. I am co-director of two early music ensembles, Musica Secreta and my amateur female-voice choir, Celestial Sirens. Together we research and perform 16th-century music as it would have been performed by female musicians in courts and convents. We have performed all over Europe, in venues as diverse as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, a tent at Latitude Festival and an ex-convent in the Italian mountains.

Research interests

I am a musicologist and performer with special interests in early music, popular music, and music and disability studies. My two main chronological focuses are 16th-century Italian music and 20th-century popular music; in both I concentrate on the work of female musicians. I gained my ARCM and GRSM at the Royal College of Music before beginning a performance career. I later completed my doctorate at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, with a thesis on the madrigals of Marc’Antonio Ingegneri.

For over twenty years, my principal research focus has been the female musicians at the court and convents of 16th-century Ferrara, and I have complemented this research with performance activities with my two ensembles, Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens. Together we investigate and perform 16th- and 17th-century repertoire associated with female musicians. Our work was featured in a week-long series for BBC Radio 3, Composer of the Week, during the celebrations for International Women’s Day 2017. Our recordings have been awarded a Diapason Découverte, an Editor’s Choice from Gramophone, the 2008 Best Arts and Media Project from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, and the 2016 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society. My work with Celestial Sirens was recognized by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, winning the Individually-led Category of the Engage Awards 2014.

My monograph on the female musicians at the court and convents of 16th-century Ferrara, Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara will be published in 2018.  I have edited two volumes of essays, She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music, and Eroticism in Early Modern Music (with Bonnie Blackburn), which was awarded the 2016 Best Collaborative Project from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. My articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Renaissance Studies, Early Music History, Acta Musicologica, Journal of Musicological Research, Early Music, and Popular Music. In 2008, I received an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for my article on the Boswell Sisters, which appeared in the Journal of the Society for American Music.

Affiliate research groups

Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Music Performance Research

Research project(s)

Dangerous Graces: Female Musicians at the courts of Ferrara and Parma, 1565-1589 - Dormant

The AHRB-funded project ‘Dangerous Graces’ integrated musicological and performance practice research in collaboration with the early music ensemble Musica Secreta.

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Edited Books

(with Bonnie Blackburn ed.), Eroticism in Early Modern Music. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming March 2015.

She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010.


Book Chapters

‘“Non è sì denso velo”: Hidden and Forbidden Practice in Wert’s Ottavo libro de madrigali a cinque voci, 1586.’ In Eroticism in Early Modern Music, ed. Laurie Stras and Bonnie Blackburn. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming 2015.

‘Introduction: Encoding the Musical Erotic.’ In Eroticism in Early Modern Music, ed. Laurie Stras and Bonnie Blackburn. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming 2015.

‘Subhuman or Superhuman? (Musical) Assistive Technology, Performance Enhancement, and the Aesthetic/Moral Debate.’ In Oxford Handbook of Music & Disability Studies, ed. Blake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner and Joseph Straus. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2015.

‘Voice of the Beehive: Vocal Technique at the Turn of the 1960s.’ In She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music, ed. Laurie Stras. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. 33–55.

‘Introduction: She’s So Fine, or Why Girl Singers (Still) Matter.’ In She’s So Fine: Reflections on Whiteness, Femininity, Adolescence and Class in 1960s Music, ed. Laurie Stras. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. 1–29.

‘Imitation, Meditation and Penance: Don Lodovico Agostini’s Le lagrime del peccatore (1586).’ In “Uno gentile et subtile ingenio”: Studies in Renaissance Music in Honour of Bonnie Blackburn, ed. Gioia Filocamo and M. Jennifer Bloxam. Turnhout: Brepols, 2009. 121–28.

‘“Who Told You That Lie?”: Picturing Connie Boswell.’ In Re-framing Representations of Women: Figuring, Fashioning, Portraiting and Telling in the ‘Picturing Women’ Project, ed. Susan Shifrin. Burlington: Ashgate Press, 2008. 251–67.

‘The Organ of the Soul: Voice, Damage and Affect.’ In Sounding Off: Theorizing on Disability in Music, ed. Neil Lerner and Joseph Straus. New York: Routledge, 2006. 173–84.

‘Musical Portraits of Female Musicians at the Northern Italian Courts in the 1570s.’ In Art and Music in the Early Modern Period: Essays in Memory of Franca Trinchieri Camiz, ed. Katherine A. McIver. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003. 145–72.

Le nonne della ninfa: Feminine Voices and Modal Rhetoric in the Generations Before Monteverdi.’ In Gender, Sexuality and Early Music, ed. Todd Borgerding. New York and London: Routledge, 2002. 123–65.



‘The Ricreatione per monache of Suor Annalena Aldobrandini.’ Renaissance Studies 26 (2012): 34–59.

‘Sing a Song of Difference: Connie Boswell and a Discourse of Disability in Jazz.’ Popular Music, Special Edition on Music and Disability, 28/3 (2009): 297–322.

‘White Face, Black Voice: Race, Gender and Region in the Music of the Boswell Sisters.’ Journal of the Society for American Music 1 (2007): 207–55.

Al gioco si conosce il galantuomo: Artifice, Humour and Play in the enigmi musicali of Don Lodovico Agostini.’ Early Music History 24 (2005): 213–86.

‘Muted Voices of Girl Power.’ Times Higher Educational Supplement, April 19, 2002.

‘“Onde havrà ‘l mond’esempio et vera historia”: Musical Echoes of Henri III’s Progress through Italy.’ Acta musicologica 72 (2000): 7–41.

‘Recording Tarquinia: Imitation, Parody and Reportage in Marc’Antonio Ingegneri’s “Hor che ‘l ciel e la terra e ‘l vento tace”.’ Early Music 27 (1999): 358–77.

‘Monteverdi as discepolo: Harmony, Rhetoric and Psalm-Tone Hierarchies in the Works of Ingegneri and Monteverdi.’ Journal of Musicological Research 15 (1995): 149–75.

‘The Madrigals of Marc’Antonio Ingegneri.’ Musiek & Wetenschap 2:2 (1992): 1–28.



Sacred Hearts, Secret Music. Musica Secreta, Divine Arts dda25077 (2009).

Alessandro Grandi: Motteti a cinque voci (1614). Musica Secreta, Divine Arts dda25062 (2007).

Dangerous Graces: Music of Cipriano de Rore and his pupils. Musica Secreta, Linn CKD169 (2002).


Conference Proceedings

‘Considering the Performance of Alessandro Grandi’s Motetti a cinque voci (1614).’ In Atti del I Seminario Celesti Sirene (San Severo, 7/9 marzo 2008), ed. Dinko Fabris and Annamaria Bonsante. Florence: Olschki, 2010. 73–93.

Sapienti pauca: The Canones et Echo…sex vocibus eiusdem dialogi (1572) of Don Lodovico Agostini.’ In Canons and Canonic Techniques, 14th – 16th Centuries, Proceedings of the International Conference, Leuven, 4-6 October 2005, ed. Bonnie Blackburn, Ignace Bossuyt and Katelijne Schiltz. Leuven: Peeters, 2007. 357–80.

‘Marc’Antonio Ingegneri: New Biographical Information.’ In Marc’Antonio Ingegneri e la musica a Cremona nel secondo Cinquecento, ed. Antonio Delfino and Maria Teresa Rosa Barrezzani. Lucca: LIM, 1994. 5–14.


Reviews in Academic Publications

Alfonso Fontanelli: Complete Madrigals (A-R Editions, 1999), ed. Anthony Newcomb; Madrigali segreti per le dame di Ferrara (SPES, 2000), ed. Elio Durante and Anna Martellotti. Music & Letters 83 (2002): 665–67.

Alessandro Orologio, Opera omnia, 8 vols. eds. Franco Colussi, Alessandra Andreotti, Andrea Bombi, Francesco Luisi, Siro Cisilino and Giochino Perisan, (Pizzicato, 1992-2001). Early Music 30 (2002).

‘Monteverdi and Ingegneri’ [review of Intorno a Monteverdi (LIM, 1999), ed. Maria Caraci Vela and Rodobaldo Teobaldi; Marc’Antonio Ingegneri: Opera omnia (LIM, 1994- ), ed. Maria Teresa Rosa-Barezzani and Mila de Santis (II/ii); Marc’Antonio Ingegneri e la musica a Cremona nel secondo cinquecento (LIM, 1995), ed. Antonio Delfino and Maria Teresa Rosa-Barezzani]. Early Music 29 (2001): 647–48.

‘Canzonettas and madrigals’ [review of various madrigal publications]. Early Music 23 (1995): 709–11.

Marc’Antonio Ingegneri: Opera omnia (LIM, 1994- ), ed. Marco Mangani (II/iii) and Daniele Sabaino (I/v). Music & Letters 76 (1995).

Domenico Maria Ferrabosco (1513–1574): Opera omnia (CMM 102, 1992), ed. Richard Charteris. Music & Letters 75 (1994): 316–17.


Reviews of Single Academic Books

Giuseppe Gerbino, Music and the Myth of Arcadia in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, 2009). Journal of the American Musicological Society 65 (2012): 863–867.

Annie Randall, Dusty: Queen of the PostMods (Routledge, 2009). Women and Music 16 (2012): 139–43.

Elio Durante and Anna Martellotti, “Giovinetta peregrine”: La vera storia di Laura Peperara e Torquato Tasso (Olschki, 2010). Sixteenth-Century Journal 42/3 (2011): 897–898.

Suzanne Cusick, Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court: Music and the Circulation of Power (University of Chicago Press, 2009). Renaissance Quarterly 63/2 (2010): 622–623.

John Whenham and Richard Wistreich (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Monteverdi (CUP, 2007). Early Music 38/1 (2010): 130–133.

Richard Wistreich, Warrior, Courtier, Singer (Ashgate, 2007). Early Music 36/4 (2008): 629–632.

Colleen Reardon, Holy Concord within Sacred Walls: Nuns and Music in Siena, 1575–1700 (Oxford University Press, 2001). Music & Letters 85 (2004): 269–70.

(with Abigail Wood) Music and Gender (University of Illinois Press, 2000) eds. Pirkko Moisala and Beverley Diamond. Gender. Music. Education. Society, 2 (2003).

Iain Fenlon, Music and Civic Culture in Late Renaissance Italy (Oxford University Press, 2002). Renaissance Quarterly 57 (2004): 704–705.


Encyclopedia Entries

‘Marc’Antonio Ingegneri’. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, Macmillan, 2001.


Select Broadcasts/Performances

O Magnum mysterium, Celestial Sirens. St Michael’s, Southampton, 7 December 2013.

Breaking the Rules, Finbar Lynch, The Marian Consort and Celestial Sirens. Brighton Early Music Festival, 2013.

Passion and the Princess, Musica Secreta and Brighton Consort of Voices. Brighton Early Music Festival, 2013.

Ave maris stella. St Michael’s, Southampton, 9 July 2013, for AHRC-funded Knowledge Exchange and Arts and Humanities Research Conference.

Secret Carnivals, Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens. Brighton Early Music Festival, 2012.

Sacred Hearts, Secret Music, Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens with Sarah Dunant, Niamh Cusack, Deborah Findlay/Claire Cox dir. by Nick Renton. London Literature Festival, 2009; Brighton Festival Fringe, 2010; East Cork Early Music Festival, 2010; Leamington Music / Warwick Words, 2010; Chester Literature Festival, 2010; Latitude Festival, Southwold, July 2011; Manchester Literature Festival, October 2011; Brighton Early Music Festival, October 2011; Bath Festival, March 2012.

Four Weddings and a Funeral, Musica Secreta with Mark Dobell, Don Greig and the BREMF Consort. Brighton Early Music Festival, 2010.

[Music for] Sacred Hearts. BBC R4, Woman’s Hour Book of the Week, Jun–Jul 2009.

Fallen: A Fantasy in Music, Drama and Film, Musica Secreta with Fiona Mackie, Anthony Richards and Perrin Sledge. Brighton Early Music Festival, 2006; South Bank Early Music Weekend, 2007.

BBC Radio 3: CD Review: Palestrina. April 9, 2007.

BBC Radio 3: The Choir. September 23, 2007.




Book Chapters


Creative Media and Artefacts


Professor Laurie Stras
Music Department
Building 2
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 2/2029

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