Juan Rivera


Juan Rivera (he/him/his/él) is a first-generation Mexican American and a Ph.D. student in music history/theory at the University of Chicago. Originally from Watsonville, CA, he graduated magna cum laude from the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA, receiving his BA in music education and classical guitar performance with a minor in music industry and his MM in guitar performance. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Juan worked as an arts educator and administrator for several music non-profit organizations in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California. During this time, he also completed his EdM in arts education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, focusing on emancipatory pedagogies, DEI in the arts, educational entrepreneurship, and financial management for nonprofit organizations. As a performer, Juan is a big advocate for new music, having premiered works by Los Angeles composers and abroad. Though a big metalhead at heart, he has also played in mariachi, bluegrass, and early music ensembles, winning several notable accolades, including the Randy Rhoads Guitar Memorial Scholarship at UCLA and serving as a TEDx speaker.  

Broadly speaking, his research interests include American and Latin American avant-garde and experimental music of the twentieth and twenty-first century, Latinx/Chicanx musical practices, protest music, California music history, counter-culture music, microtonal music theory, tuning systems, early music, plucked instruments, music and law, digital music cultures, and music and AI. He is also interested in race, gender, and sexuality and critical race studies. In addition to his scholarly interests, Juan is interested in computer science, technology, creating music education apps, and all things guitar-related.