Posted inReview

Two Sides of a Concert, Part I

Naively in retrospect, I came to the Deutsche Oper’s recent production of “Elektra” with an expectation that its reception would be mostly positive. The work is a staple of German opera, staged at a respected German opera house, seasonally appropriate with blood and gore in October, and featuring a world-renowned Wagnerian soprano, Catherine Foster, in […]

Posted inInterview

Good Giggles

The first time classical music humor on the internet was funny can be dated to approximately September 22, 2016, the launch of the page Classical Music Memes for Contemporary Teens. Once ruled by “Bach to the Future” and “You Can’t Handel It” type jokes, classical music humor now referenced Ferneyhough and conservatory anxiety and caused […]

Posted inInterview

Give Them A Vision

I studied with the violinist Roberto González-Monjas at the Mozarteum, in Salzburg, from 2009–2011. My age and once my neighbor in a dormitory, he is now principal concert master of the Swiss chamber orchestra Musikkollegium Winterthur and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Selfies of him with Yuja Wang appear from time […]

Posted inEssay

Sound in Flight

The Airbus A320 was quiet as it waited on the runway behind the other planes for takeoff. I put on a Guillaume de Machaut motet, “Tribulatio proxima est et non est qui adjuvet,” in my headphones. The pilot pushed the throttle forward and the plane picked up speed. A male voice joined the two female […]

Posted inInterview

Adding To The Pantheon

I met the keyboard player and early music savant Ton Koopman one wan, gray morning in the northern German city of Lübeck, where he was performing in a festival dedicated to the baroque organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude. He wore a dark blue blazer, a light blue shirt, round glasses, and pants the color of […]

Posted inInterview


To say about an artist that you “either love them or hate them” is a cliché. Talking about Brian Ferneyhough requires more precision. The absolute mastery of his work is unquestionable. So rather than loving or hating the music, you either worship it or reject its premise absolutely. It’s difficult to talk to a composer […]

Posted inInterview


By · Title Image © Harald Hoffmann · Date 08/24/2017 I met up with the English composer Philip Venables one recent evening at an outdoor bar in Berlin, where he’s been living for the last eight years. He wore a dark cap, glasses, overalls, and a rainbow-striped t-shirt. Over beer and cigarettes, and while two […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Gérard Grisey Playlist

On August 16, the Salzburg Festival ended its focus on the French composer Gérard Grisey with a complete performance of his cycle “Les espaces acoustiques” by the Austrian ORF Symphony Orchestra and Maxime Pascal conducting. It was an hour and a half during which the music’s timbral and structural richness occupied the brain’s entire perceptive […]

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 […]

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