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The Cloudily Divine

An Interview with Alan Hollinghurst By · Illustration © · Date 10/31/2019 The English writer Alan Hollinghurst is one of the great chroniclers of musical experience and anal sex. His characters don’t simply hear music; they live with, through, inside it. I met Hollinghurst one bright afternoon at his home in Hampstead. VAN: There are […]

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Artistic Personas

An Interview with Jasper Parrott By · Photos © Kaupo Kikkas · Date 10/24/2019 HarrisonParrott, the renowned artist management company, represents some 200 classical musicians in all categories, looked after by 72 people on staff. That makes the London-based agency a giant in a small but competitive field. On October 6, HarrisonParrott celebrated its 50th […]

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Illustrations © Gregg Miner (Fair Use) Recognition is a basic neural pleasure. The first five notes of “Parsifal” are thrilling if we expect the sixth, an agonized A-flat. Something similar is at work with names like Bejun Mehta, Ken-David Masur, Kristjan Järvi, Michael Barenboim. On albums and concert posters, the names sound like transcendent concerts. […]

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Sonic Cultures

An Interview with Peter Eötvös By · Title Image © PETER KOLLANYI · Date 7/18/2019 The Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös has lived in Germany, France, and Holland, and worked closely with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. In 2004, he returned home to Budapest. His primary motivation was the theater. Going to plays abroad, he told […]

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Sophie’s Choice

An Interview with Opera Casting Director Sophie Joyce Text · Title Image © Foto PR · Date 12.6.2019 On May 14, I sat in on an hour’s worth of auditions for the early rounds of the 2019 Neue Stimmen (New Voices) opera competition. Visibly nervous singers entered a cavernous rehearsal space, weary pianist in tow. […]

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Cast Together

An Interview with Alan Gilbert By · Illustration · Date 5/22/2019 An orchestra is like a pendulum. Pull it in one direction—toward a more contemporary, progressive repertoire, say—and eventually it will swing back toward the crowd-pleasers. This regrettable pattern can be observed whenever an enterprising music director leaves. In Boston, the profoundly flawed choice of […]

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The Titan’s Shadow

Title Image (EDITED: 8.2.19, 15:15 H) UN GENEVA / UN PHOTO / JEAN-MARC FERRÉ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) This time Daniel Barenboim was furious because a musician tried to give him flowers. It was July 2018, after a guest performance with his orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, a member of the orchestra presents […]

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Sound And Stasis

An Interview with Daniil Trifonov By · Illustrations · Date 1/24/2019 Using mostly the variable of finger pressure, Daniil Trifonov creates an astonishing variety of colors. Often, in the piano’s higher register, he makes the instrument sound metallic, as if it were prepared. Simple rhythmic accompaniments turn rich and propulsive. In one Shostakovich song, he […]

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Baby Work

An Interview with Yu Long By · Title Image © Shanghai Symphony Orchestra · Date 12/20/2018 In November, I traveled to Shenzhen, China for a conference on the future of Chinese classical music. Sponsored by Volkswagen China’s cultural initiative—which, full disclosure, paid for my flights—the conference gathered orchestral conductors, managers and administrators to the top […]