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 […]

Posted inInterview

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


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 Michael Maierhof, one of the most original composers working today and a master manipulator of the sonic properties of plastics. Would he like me to […]

Posted inInterview

Lyric Engine

The American composer Ashley Fure writes music of a flickering and gorgeous intensity. Recently, she was in Marseille doing research for an upcoming work. We chatted via Skype about happy sonic accidents, alternative careers, and the state of diversity activism in new music. VAN: What are you up to in Marseille right now? Ashley Fure: […]

Posted inOpinion

Maestro Monopolies

“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 climate…Some part of my poore labours have found favour in the greatest part […]

Posted inInterview

Make The Building Sing

On Tuesday, the French organist Olivier Latry played a program of organ music by Olivier Messiaen, Gerald Levinson, and Jean Louis Florentz at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. In a sense, he was a guest of Iveta Apkalna—the hall’s main organist and “artistic adviser” in matters related to the king of instruments. Before the performance, I […]

Posted inInterview

Emotional Weapon

Tonight, the Latvian soprano will debut in a Sofia Coppola production of “La Traviata” alongside Plácido Domingo and Arturo Chacón Cruz at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. When I reached her last week via Skype for this interview, she was already there for rehearsals, and seemed lively and engaged. Would […]

Posted inInterview

A Kind Of Truth

In Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “The Aleph,” the narrator walks with a pompous poet down the Calle Bernardo de Irigoyen, in Buenos Aires. Later, he follows the man, whose wife he has fallen in love with, down to his basement, and experiences a single point in which all the mysteries of the “inconceivable universe” […]