Posted inInterview

Fill the Cracks with Gold

Recently, I spoke with the performer, composer, dancer, and musician Elizabeth A. Baker over Skype, from her home in Florida. A large fold-out picture of Schubert and some of her own paintings hung on the walls behind her. We talked about commercial music, the discourse on diversity, and going to the sex shop for composition […]

Posted inReport

A Black Hole

One evening quite some time ago, in a cramped computer lab, it struck me that maybe my professor had fallen in love with my classmate. Nick Martin was finishing the parts for a piece of his—a nagging job—and the professor was helping him. Recently, I called Martin. “Do you remember [the professor] helping you with […]

Posted inInterview

DNA Of Our Time

An elderly woman flicks the switch on a silver box. Inside a glass container a yellow light turns on and low electric hum begins to sound. She blinks. With her bandaged hand on a wooden handle, she slides some kind of sheet of paper, with metallic stubs, through the hanging strips of a mysterious machine. […]

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The French composer Mark Andre writes music of a vivid, fragile melancholy. To me, it sounds modest, careful, and penetrating, like W.G. Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn, in which precise observations of landscapes, meals, rooms, and destruction accumulate to devastating effect. I met Andre one rainy afternoon in a café in Berlin, where he […]

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 […]

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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

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 kind of concerto for him to star in. Before the performance, I interviewed him […]

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 […]

Posted inInterview


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

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 to think of the air in which we all swim […]