Spotlight on cicadas in New Paltz

Freshly emerged cicada. (photo by Jennifer DeWitt)

The cicadas are coming! If you haven’t seen or heard them by now, you soon will. June 3 through 6 is Summer Nature Week at Mohonk Mountain House, and the resort is celebrating the return of the bug-eyed beasties after their 17-year nap with a day-and-a-half of cicada-related talks, walks, films and musical events.

On Tuesday, June 4 at 3 p.m., in a workshop called “The Science of Cicadas,” ECM recording artist David Rothenberg will lead a discussion on the science, music and lore of 17-year cicadas, featuring cicada scientists John Cooley and Rick Karban. At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Mohonk will present a screening of a showing of Richard Robinson’s new film Magicicada, based on stories from Bug Music, a book written by David Rothenberg. It will be followed by a question-and-answer session with director Robinson, scientist John Cooley and film participants Tim Blunk and Umru Rothenberg.

Wednesday, June 5, will be Cicada Day, given over to contemplation of these fascinatingly weird, infrequent insect visitors. Set off at 2 p.m. on a guided “Afternoon Cicada Walk” with David Rothenberg through the beautiful scenery of Mohonk, which was the site of some of the pioneering cicada research 17 years ago. At 4 p.m. David Rothenberg returns for a “Cicada Talk,” in which he will explore a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound: the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species.

Finally, at 9 p.m. Mohonk will host a “Cicada Concert,” in which Rothenberg will play together with live 17-year cicadas. It will feature overtone singer Timothy Hill of the Harmonic Choir and the Deep Listening Institute’s respected composer/performer Pauline Oliveros. There will also be a cicada invocation by Ione.

David Rothenberg has 12 CDs out under his own name, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House, a duet album with pianist Marilyn Crispell that was named one of the Ten Best CDs of 2010 by the Village Voice. Rothenberg is the author of the book and CD Why Birds Sing, 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. This spring he releases a book and CD called Bug Music, featuring the sounds of the entomological world.

For information about rates for day visits to Mohonk Mountain House and which activities are open to day visitors, call (845) 255-1000 or visit



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