Posted inEssay

Timbral Bombast

On Saturday, the Birmingham Royal Ballet will take the stage, not to the languid string melodies of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky or Adolphe Adam, but to the distorted power chords of pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath. The new production, “Black Sabbath – The Ballet,” honors the hometown musicians whose eponymous debut album helped spark a global […]

Posted inReport

Inside the Crisis at the Cleveland Institute of Music

On September 13, the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra met at Kulas Hall for its first rehearsal of the academic year. But the orchestra didn’t play. Instead, a group of student musicians, dressed in blue, sat silently without their instruments. Many seats were empty. The dozen or so string players who brought their instruments warmed […]

Posted inReview

Smeared in Gold

In his program interview with theater writer A.J. Goldmann, Barrie Kosky described his new production of the Royal Opera House “Ring” cycle as “stripping opera back to the quintessential human condition,” taking inspiration from the distilled purity of Greek dramas over the expanse of Norse and Germanic myths. This spare, brutal, yet lubricious production sets […]

Posted inInterview

The Possibility for Conflict

Discussing repertoire in VAN last week, pianist András Schiff said, “No one can do everything; we have our limits.” Tell that to Jacob Greenberg. A longtime member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Greenberg performs as a soloist, accompanist, and with orchestras on piano, harpsichord, harmonium, organ, and clavichord. He has recorded repertoire ranging from Bach […]

Posted inEssay

The Wanderer’s Return

As night fell on September 2, 1978, Iannis Xenakis stood, walkie-talkie in hand, by his console on the back row of a temporary seating stand. As he looked across Mount Elias in the northeastern Peloponnese from his vantage point in the foothills, he could survey a peculiar kind of avant-garde circus with hundreds of performers, […]

Posted inReport

“I’m Willing to Commit the Crime of Music”

Icy silence is all that’s left of Afghanistan’s musical terrain. When the Taliban rose to power in 2021, accounts of immolating instruments and violent oppression of musicians foreshadowed censorship of virtually all forms of self-expression—an intimately harrowing circumstance for Afghan musicians.  The Taliban rule of 1996–2001 was characterized by similarly strict censorship, including a wide […]

Posted inInterview

Indirect Nostalgia

Listening to classical music can occasionally give you the kind of blow on the head that the hero of Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court receives: all of a sudden you’re in a different time and place. Thanks to our very own HIPsters, it’s possible to hear music just—or almost—as it […]

Posted inPages Turned


“It’s a bit of a shame that there is no confrontation anymore,” Nuria Schoenberg Nono reflected in an interview with Wolfgang Schaufler, a publisher at Vienna’s Universal Edition. “Everything is in order today; [audiences] only have ­enthusiasm for the great interpreters, and that is right—but the music itself often has little or nothing to do […]

Posted inInterview

What Ebbs Away

Composer Donnacha Dennehy writes music inflected by the overtone harmonies of the French spectralists and the propulsive rhythms of American minimalism, a combination resulting in something all his own. It’s a captivating blend that perceives the hypnotic thread uniting two genres often considered at odds (and whose practitioners were frequently dismissive of one another). I […]

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