Posted inEssay

An Infusion of Essence

British-Chinese composer Alex Ho tells me over lunch at a bao restaurant in central London: “Not only for the enjoyment, but even professionally and creatively—you’re gonna make better work if you just get on with people.” Ho is one of two artistic directors of contemporary music collective Tangram (七巧板), a group of composers and performers […]

Posted inBreaking

Requiem for a Tweet

Twitter was never a very musical social medium. Unlike YouTube, you couldn’t listen to ten hours of “Für Elise” on repeat; unlike TikTok, teenagers didn’t go viral for singing sea shanties. You can’t really share your own music like on SoundCloud or Bandcamp, and probably no one will care about your rare vinyl of Gérard […]

Posted inEssay

Clothing the Future

Drummers, as a species, are generally granted asylum from the dictates of onstage formal dress. Their counterparts in classical percussion, however, are not so liberated: When Mike Truesdell, then a graduate student in percussion at the Juilliard School, arrived backstage to a fall 2011 solo performance in a t-shirt, he was promptly asked to change. […]

Posted inReview

The Young Adult Self-Insert Fanfic “Magic Flute”

For those with no knowledge of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final singspiel, the poster and cast list of Florian Sigl’s new film version of “The Magic Flute” (produced by Roland Emmerich—of “Independence Day” fame and “Moonfall” infamy) might raise some questions. For those familiar with the (incomprehensible) plot of “The Magic Flute,” featuring bird men (and […]

Posted inProfile

Go Out, Keep Playing

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I’m a fan. In the last 30 years I’ve heard him play many times, many more than any other pianist or conductor: Bach, Liszt, Mahler, Schoenberg. My main motivation was curiosity. You could call it professional curiosity. But you could also call it professional bias. Why do […]

Posted inInterview

A Glimpse of the Butterfly

Few conductors manage to cross the invisible boundary separating contemporary music ensembles (with their emphasis on ephemeral premieres) from mainstream orchestras (where even the 867th rendition of a Brahms symphony is expected to sound gripping and fresh). The American David Robertson is one such conductor. In 1992, Pierre Boulez appointed Robertson music director of the […]

Posted inInterview

Authentic Human Utterances

Nearly a decade ago, I watched Julia Bullock crawl around the floor of the Juilliard stage in the title role of Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.” A great talent had arrived. I kept listening: First, to her Joséphine Baker-inspired “Perle Noire” in a penthouse at Lincoln Center (and the tweaked version that followed on the […]

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