Supeena Adler

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Music of Thailand Ensemble


Supeena Insee Adler is a native Thai and Lao speaker and a Thai musician. She is a performer and ethnomusicologist living in San Diego, California. She performs and teaches classical Thai music on traditional stringed instruments. Her other areas of interest are mediums, healing rituals and music in Northeast Thailand and Southern Laos, and Okinawa minyo.

Ph.D. Music (Ethnomusicology), U.C. Riverside; M.A. Southeast Asian Studies: Text, Ritual, and Performance (SEATRiP), U.C. Riverside; B.F.A. Thai Classical Music, Mahasarakham University, Thailand.

Adler’s 2014 dissertation, “Music for the Few: Nationalism and Thai Royal Authority,” under the direction of Professor Deborah Wong, concerns a Thai royal musical tradition, royal power, literature in Thai traditional music performance, transmission, and sustainability. Her 2010 master’s thesis, “A Theater of the Spirits: Ritual Performance and Community in Northeast Thailand,” was also under the direction of Dr. Wong.

Dr. Adler is active as a scholar in the fields of ethnomusicology and Southeast Asian Studies, as well as a teacher and performer of Thai traditional music, as well as a professional interpreter for Thai and Lao languages. She was recently hired to repair and restore the Thai musical instrument collection at UCLA by the Department of Ethnomusicology in 2014–15. She directed the event “Music of Thailand at UCLA” celebrating the restoration of the collection with support from the Department of Ethnomusicology and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. She has obtained support from the Thai Royal Embassy to expand the Thai instrument collection at UCLA.

While at the University of California Riverside, Supeena Adler established and directed two ensembles, a Thai classical ensemble and Okinawa minyo (folk song) group which involved students, faculty, and community. In San Diego, she has worked closely with the Thai community to establish curricula for Thai language and culture instruction at the local Thai Buddhist temple. For over a decade, she has volunteered to teach Thai traditional music at the temple where she also performs regularly. She has also established a professional ensemble of Thai musicians in Southern California which has performed at venues including the Mingei International Museum in San Diego