Posted inInterview

Stroke, Sign, Gesture

One recent afternoon, I met up with the German-born, New York-based composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher at a Berlin seafood restaurant. He wore a v-neck t-shirt, and after twice asking the waiter whether the oysters were 100 percent safe to eat, ordered nine of them for us to share, along with a glass of white […]

Posted inInterview

Something Organic

I interviewed the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet by phone one recent evening, while he was in Paris. We made small talk, discussing a Caribbean vacation he took where he had to have a piano flown in to practice on. Then we moved on to the recording of complete works, movie music, and being a gay classical […]

Posted inInterview

A Set Of Values

An Interview with Steven Isserlis By · Photography © Christian Menkel · Date 06/08/2017 At the Mozartfest in Augsburg this year, the cellist Steven Isserlis performed during the final concert in Richard Strauss’s tone poem “Don Quixote.” Isserlis’s photograph was plastered all over the festival’s materials, but he insisted that the work was not a […]

Posted inProfile

Internal States

The bar exuded a greenish, fluorescent light. Joshua Fineberg stood outside smoking a cigarette. Recently, two people had told me that Fineberg, one of the most important living Spectralist composers alongside Tristan Murail, and a tenured professor at Boston University, had moved to Berlin and begun frequenting the city’s famous clubs. They suggested to me […]

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I met the soprano Kristine Opolais for this interview at her hotel in Leipzig. It was a hot, overcast day, so we sat outside. A few drops of rain fell periodically. When she laughed, she’d lean forward and create a triangle from her shoulder to her hand with her left arm, bending her wrist. We […]

Posted inEssay

The Air In Which We Swim

Thessia Machado’s Sound Art By · Photography · Date 05/11/2017 In his book Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker writes, “The truth that air is as substantive as concrete remains as counterintuitive as any of science’s most inscrutable revelations.” The sound artist Thessia Machado makes a similar statement: “Working with sound allows me […]

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Aware Awareness

I met the composer Yair Klartag in 2011, when I moved into an apartment he was renting in the Swiss city of Basel. We studied composition there together under Georg Friedrich Haas. Even then, his music seemed lightyears ahead in its beauty—“a hard word,” he says—and sophistication. Recently, we met up in the VAN office […]

Posted inInterview

Burdens of Expectation

In July of 2016, Jay Campbell replaced Kevin MacFarland as the cellist of the JACK Quartet. In the meantime, he’s already shown himself to be an enthusiastic participant in the quartet’s extended technique social media videos. I met him on a sunny day at the bar of the Westin Hotel attached to the Elbphilharmonie. VAN: […]

Posted inProfile


A Profile of Michael Maierhof By · Title Image SCREENSHOT TAKEN FROM Michael Maierhof: EXIT F – Nadar Ensemble (documentary and concert) · Date 04/06/2017 In Mexico City, 7-Eleven carries bottled water in the shape of a dumbbell. One day on vacation, I bought one, drank the contents, took a picture, and sent it to […]

Posted inOpinion

Maestro Monopolies

Why Do Orchestras Share Conductors? By · Illustrations VAN Team · Date 03/09/2016 “Worthy gentleman, and my loving countrymen,” wrote the English lutist and composer John Dowland in the introduction to his 1612 song cycle “A Pilgrims Solace,” “I have been long obscured from your sight, because I received a Kingly entertainment in a foreign […]