VAN welcomes story pitches on all topics from journalists and critics as well as musicians, industry professionals, academics, and students. Please take a look at our archive to familiarize yourself with our content, which generally falls under one of the following categories:
We also accept submissions for our series, “I Know, But,” which defends the classical music works we love to hate.
And yes, we pay.
Who to pitch
Please address all pitches (roughly 300 words) to Jeffrey Arlo Brown: jeff[at]van-verlag.com
When to pitch
Unless your piece is time-sensitive, we generally work on a lead time of four to six weeks.
What we look for
VAN is a magazine for classical music fans. Many of our readers work in the industry as artists, administrators, journalists, or academics—but not all do, so please keep this in mind. We also cater to a wide range of tastes, from early music and Baroque to opera and vocal music to electronics to the occasional jazz or non-classical musician whose work still touches on the big amorphous form that is “classical.”
We’re open to all ideas that offer a fresh perspective on a composer, performer, work, discipline, or issue. In terms of length, we’ve found that our readers best respond to pieces in the 1,000-2,000–word range. (We all have shorter attention spans on the internet.)
One pitch we never need to hear again is that classical music is dying, dead, bereft of a future, extinct, pushing up daisies, over, spent, comatose, or on life support.
We love musicologists, theorists, and historians and publishing your work! Please keep our audience in mind when pitching and writing. Helen Sword puts it best in this article on stylish academic writing.
We’re happy to consider pitches for features and review and work regularly with freelancers in the EU, United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. Please have a look at our notes on Interviews and Profiles (below) to see what we’re interested in, and please note that we have a four-to-six–week lead time for any stories that aren’t time-sensitive.
Pitches by section
Here are a few things to keep in mind with some of our most popular sections:
Interviews and Profiles
If you read one piece before submitting a pitch for an interview or profile, please make it this one. We want to go beyond the typical puff-piece when talking with artists. We also love featuring people in our world who don’t normally get featured, or people from other disciplines whose work touches on classical music (such as authors and choreographers). A few representative pieces: violinist Christian Tetzlaff on why children should never be forced to practice; alto Dina König on leaving the music industry to drive a tram; Composers Doing Normal Shit’s curator John Nolan; orchestral travel booker Guido Frackers; author Garth Greenwell.
For hard news and other reported topics, we generally require at least two to three sources, and many more if the sources are anonymous. Recent pieces in this category include Jeffrey Arlo Brown and Hartmut Welscher on Daniel Barenboim’s culture of fear at the Berlin Staatsoper, Benjamin Poore on the role that ushers play in concert halls and opera houses, Sarah Fritz on performers advocating for the work of Clara Schumann, Jeffrey Arlo Brown on the commissions lost to COVID-19.
We publish a range of essays, including personal, reported, and historical. In most cases, it’s good to at least have one or two quotable sources. Recent pieces in this category: conductor Vitali Alekseenok on the 2020 protests in his hometown of Minsk, Olivia Giovetti on queer women and #mezzosexual culture in opera, Eli Zeger on Bang on a Can’s cameo on the PBS series “Arthur,” Adam Behan on the fantastical life of pianist Maria Yudina, and Micaela Baranello on orientalism and Léhar’s “The Land of Smiles.”
We like op-eds that challenge tradition and offer fresh takes, both tied to current events and evergreen subjects. A few representative pieces: Hartmut Welscher on the child prodigy industrial complex, Linda Shaver-Gleason on why classical music isn’t—and will never be—cool, Hugh Morris on bad classical music humor.
Like interviews and profiles, we find our reviews are best when they go a little deeper, and we offer the space to accomplish that. We’re especially keen to cover major events going on in the United States, Canada, UK, and EU, especially those that either have some form of worldwide access (e.g., a livestream or a book publication) or that speak to a larger trend or movement. A few representative pieces: Benjamin Poore on the publication of Elfriede Jelinek’s rein GOLD, Nick Stevens on all 12 hours of Ragnar Kjartansson’s “BLISS” at the Michigan Opera Theatre, Rebecca Lentjes on Heartbeat Opera’s “Fidelio,” and our team’s drunk review of Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas album.