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Dissonant and Fabulous

From August 24 to 27, at the Mostly Mozart festival, the American choreographer Mark Morris will present a series of dances to music by the festival’s namesake; on September 8, he’ll show work set to Lou Harrison and Erik Satie at Texas State University. Speaking of Lou Harrison: call the Mark Morris Dance Center on […]

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Mythology Of Our Time

This Tuesday, I spoke with John Adams by phone from his studio, in Northern California. He will be the Artist in Residence at the Berlin Philharmonic next season, and I thought I’d give him some unsolicited advice about techno music here. Does he listen to it? “Sometimes.” Berlin also has a reputation as a paradise […]

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An Interview with Jakob Ullmann By · Photography · Date 06/23/2016 I studied music theory with the composer and writer Jakob Ullmann in Basel, from 2011–2013. For this interview, we met him at his home in Naumburg, Germany, on a rainy Sunday. Books on new music lined the corridor; books on religion lined his study. […]

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An Interview with Rebecca Saunders By · Date 06/16/2016 I met the composer Rebecca Saunders in her Berlin studio on a bright afternoon last week. Her new score was taped up around the wall; a page detached itself and floated to the ground. We started by talking about how we were not going to talk […]

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Two Cities

For this interview, I reached Marin Alsop on Skype from Brussels, where she was conducting the finals of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for pianists. She usually performs a wide variety of repertoire—did she have to do the same piece over and over there? “Three Profokiev Twos, Three Rachmaninoff Threes, and otherwise only one of everything […]

Posted inEssay

Sound Color

Musical White Privilege in Africa By · Photography Maria Kallionpää · Date 05/26/2016 In his gripping and provocative memoir Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa (1997), the journalist and former Washington Post Africa bureau chief Keith B. Richburg writes, “White people traveling in East Africa are rarely stopped, rarely questioned, rarely instructed to […]

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Changing The System

I met the composer Christian Wolff for this interview some time ago in Hamburg, Germany. There were a few other people in the room—from the festival klub katarakt, which had a commissioned a new work from him—and I asked Wolff if he felt like performing an impromptu version of his prose piece “Crazy Mad Love.” […]

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Doctor Baton

In pop culture, there are usually two ways of looking at the conductor’s baton. One way is as the focal point of his or her authority and magic: as Bernstein said, the stick as a “an instrument of meaning in its tiniest moment.” The other way is as a symbol of the conductor’s pretension and […]

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Outsourced Scores

The full score of Miroslav Snrka’s opera “South Pole,” which premiered this winter at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, is 1,000 pages long. Each of its two volumes weighs over eight pounds. The parts for 77 unique voices add up to close to 3,000 pages.    Every composer knows how frustrating and time-consuming the preparation […]

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Continental Shift

Ilan Volkov’s Tectonics Festival, in Reykjavik on April 14-15 and in Glasgow on May 7-8, conjures images of dramatic, continental upheaval. But plate motion is an incredibly slow process—land masses move at rates measured in millimeters per year. Listening to the names of the many avant-garde composers mentioned by the Israeli conductor in our Skype […]