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Whispering Through the Music

It’s a bitter sign that we’re still living in the era of “firsts” when it comes to Black representation in classical music. The first Black musician to hold a principal chair in the New York Philharmonic did not secure that spot in the first decades of the orchestra’s founding; nor in the explosive heyday of […]

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Sandcastles on the Beach

Sometimes you can figure things out just by thinking them through; sometimes you can figure them out by watching other people. But sometimes you just have to grab onto the electric fence with both hands yourself. For those of us who prefer to learn by doing (including with the occasional low-voltage shock), contemporary classical composition […]

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A Shallow Oasis

A Weekend at Tippet Rise By · Title Image © 2018 Calder Foundation, Photo by Andre Costantini · Date 8/30/2018 Aaron Jay Kernis wrote his new string quartet “oasis” in nearly perfect solitude. It was December at Tippet Rise, an arts center and festival near Fishtail, Montana, and windswept snowdrifts made it impossible to enter […]

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Is An Opera An Opera An Opera?

A New Production of “The Mother of Us All” By · Title Image © Robert Umenhofer · Date 11/09/2017 Dazzlingly abstruse and brimming over with surreal touches, “The Mother of Us All,” an opera with music by Virgil Thomson and a libretto by Gertrude Stein, is an idiosyncratic choice for an experiment in community building […]

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Fertile Ground

Pierre Audi at the Park Avenue Armory By · Title Image Paul Baumgarten · Date 10/19/2017 The grass is always greener on the other side of the Atlantic. Throughout my time in the world of contemporary classical music, this is a message I have heard over and over and over again. Governments in Europe fund […]

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Ritual Time

A Conversation with Claire Chase and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir By · Title Image Shena Tschofen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) · Date 08/03/2017 Das 10. Kölner Fest für Alte Musik begibt sich unter dem Motto Early Music: Reload auf die Suche nach ungewöhnlichen Konzertformaten und öffnet sich neuen Impulsen. Dazu verwandelt sich das vom zamus veranstaltete Festival in […]

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Can Cis Men Write Trans Opera?

On Robert Paterson and David Cote’s “Three Way” By · Photography © Anthony Popolo · Date 06/22/2017 “I am a human; nothing that is human is alien to me.” Composer Robert Paterson cites this line from the Roman playwright Terence in defense of his choice, along with librettist David Cote, to write an opera with […]

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Anonymous Man

A New Choral Work by Michael Gordon By · Title Image Michael Gordon on Desbrosses Street, 1981 · Date 06/15/2017 Shortly after 10 a.m. on the morning of Monday April 24, 1865, a ferry set out across the Hudson River from a landing in Jersey City. Bedecked with symbols of patriotism and mourning, it held […]

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Breaking Binaries

Composition Competitions and Transgender Identity By · Illustrations Alex Ketzer · Date 04/06/2017 Classical music has a gender problem. The numbers are consistent and dismal: as various orchestras have announced their 2017–18 seasons, numerous outlets have tallied how many male and female composers are represented, and so far none seem to be doing better than […]

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Queer As In Fuck Yeah

A Profile of Alex Temple By · Photography Alex Temple · Date 01/26/2016 “I’m always drawn to defend anything that people shit on aesthetically.” It’s hard to sum up an artist’s work in a single sentence, but for Alex Temple, that’s not a bad place to start. She has a particular interest in “reclaiming socially […]