Posted inOpinion

Cartographies of Meaning

At the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky posed the question: “What is more opposite to music?” and answered, “The silence of ruined cities and killed people.” Dressed in his now-iconic khaki t-shirt, Zelensky evoked in a short video the silence which Ukrainians are facing in their own land, and exhorted musicians […]

Posted inInterview

The Birth of a New Ritual

As a child, Alvin Curran would lie in bed at his parents’ Providence, Rhode Island home and listen to the counterpoint between the booms of trains shunting together at a nearby rail yard and foghorns down at the harbor a few miles away. “Was that a piece of music?” I ask him. “Absolutely,” he replies. […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

An Elegant Matrix

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Joonas Ahonen: “Le monde selon George Antheil” (Alpha Classics) Florent Ghys: “Ritournelles” (Cantaloupe) Florent Ghys: “Mosaïques” (Cantaloupe) Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava: “John Cage: Choral Works” (Ondine) The fact that you are reading this article right now owes much to a request posed to composer George Antheil in 1940: “Hedy Lamarr wants to […]

Posted inEssay

Method Singing

“Operatic performers quickly learn how to make a declaration of love, to suffer, to meditate, to die, and so on, and they repeat these forms in all analogous situations that they happen to be in. These are well-known, rubber-stamp effects. Nearly everyone knows them all, and speaks of them scornfully, yet…a majority of singers go […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Ulysses” Playlist

James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses has hummed with sound for one hundred years. “Mrkgnao!” goes Leopold Bloom’s cat while he makes breakfast; “Pprrpffrrppffff” goes his posterior after dinner later. We hear the chattering of the telegraph in the “Aeolus’” episode, the clattering of cutlery and clinking of glasses as Bloom eats and drinks his way […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Still Somewhere

Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow: “Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2” (BIS) Joanna Goodale: “Debussy in Resonance” (Paratay) Lavinia Meijer: “Are You Still Somewhere?” (Sony) As the composer himself tells the story, when Camille Saint-Saëns was six years old, he composed a romance for a singer. The 12-bar work left its interpreter’s father […]

Posted inInterview

The Dream Place

I first met the director Barrie Kosky when he wrote me asking if I would help him conceive of a spectacular pageant to open the 2026 Gay Games, an LGBTQ+ sporting event that, at the time, the city of Munich was vying to host. Kosky had been engaged to develop the opening ceremonies if Munich […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

A Little Tenderness

Reinis Zarins: “Pēteris Vasks: Solo Works” (Ondine) Nicky Spence, Christopher Glynn: “Schubert: The Fair Maid of the Mill” (Signum) Overheard last week in Tempelhof Field—a public park fashioned, in true Berliner style, out of an abandoned airport:  “I hate it here.” “Berlin?”“No, this plane of existence.” A relatable feeling. Fortunately, there’s a new Pēteris Vasks recording. […]

Posted inEssay

Metaphysical Relief

In September, the legendary German filmmaker, author, actor, opera director, and skateboarding-opinion-haver Werner Herzog turns 80. Herzog’s use of music in his films is noticeably more eclectic and more surprising than that of most of his director colleagues, according to our contributor Thomas von Steinaecker, who is currently finishing a documentary on the artist.  A […]