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Big Breaks

Early this summer, Polish pianist Elżbieta Bilicka got some exciting news. Bilicka is 28 and lives in Logan, Utah, where she is on the piano faculty at Utah State University. At the time, the novel coronavirus was spreading rapidly throughout the United States and Europe, wreaking financial havoc on the performing arts. In the midst […]

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Struggling with Time

In September, conductor and Alarm Will Sound artistic director Alan Pierson managed a bureaucratic feat of Olympian proportions: traveling, with COVID-19 restrictions in effect, from the United States to Germany. His essential business: conducting the rehearsals, premiere, and later performances of Hans Thomalla’s new opera “Dark Spring” at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. In early October, Pierson […]

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Healthy Confusion

Alex Ross’s Wagernism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music was released in September to wide acclaim. In VAN, Alison Kinney described the book’s complex, nuanced approach to art and morality: “Ross recognizes, and reshapes, the world of Wagnerism as it is, for good and for bad, and makes room for the inadequacy of […]

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Leigh Mesh is associate principal bass at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. His wife Nancy Wu is associate concertmaster. They’ve been playing in the orchestra for a combined 58 years, and have both been making do without their regular incomes since March 31. On June 1, in the New York Times, the Met announced its earliest […]

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Can Met Musicians Survive The Furlough?

On March 19, as the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly in New York City, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it was suspending paychecks indefinitely for its orchestra, chorus, and stagehands, effective March 31. One month later, the members of its renowned orchestra are staring into the financial abyss. Just two days after the furlough was announced, […]

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The Sound Just After

A Profile of Cenk Ergün By · Illustrations · Date 3/13/2020 Cenk Ergün’s two string quartets, “Sonare” and “Celare,” composed from 2014 to 2015, started out as one work, but they are diametrically opposed. “Sonare” is built from tightly intertwined, microtonal and microscopic rhythmic patterns which repeat, the brain glossing them with the illusion of […]

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Sounds From Nowhere

Classical musicians in a Culture War By · Photography András Vizi · Date 1/16/2020 On September 15, 2001, the flutist Klaus Holsten was in the German village of Klein Jasedow, a short drive from the coast of the Baltic Sea, when a truck accidentally unloaded the herbicide Brasan onto 5,000 lemon balm plants. The organic […]