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“I Can’t Wait to Play Again”

The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (YsOU) was founded in 2016 with support from German musical institutions and under the artistic direction of the conductor Oksana Lyniv. The orchestra is open to musicians ages 12 to 22, and is free for participants. The ensemble has toured in Germany, Austria, Croatia, and other countries, and planned […]

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The Light at the End

On February 13, English mezzo-soprano Alice Coote will perform the role of Mère Marie de l’Incarnation in Francis Poulenc’s opera “Dialogue des Carmélites” at the Zurich Opera. It’s her second production—and first set of full rehearsals—since the start of the pandemic, and there are still worries about COVID-19: The cast has made an agreement that […]

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For Better, For Worse

At the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” we meet Marianne and Johan, a couple being interviewed for a magazine story about successful relationships. In the next scene, Marianne asks Johan, “Do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?” “It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from God knows where,” he answers.“A […]

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Luxurious Boredom

When countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo was 11 years old, he performed in a Broadway production of “The Sound of Music” alongside capital-P Personality Marie Osmond. Out of the goodness of her heart, Osmond offered the boy a deep discount on her range of dolls, a line she developed with the television shopping channel QVC. Costanzo […]

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The Fault in our Chords

Born in 1985, the Swedish composer Lisa Streich writes music of engrossing timbral and dramaturgical subtlety, often using traditional instruments prepared or modified by small, homemade, motorized devices. Listening to her pieces, I sometimes feel like I’ve been shrunk down to molecular size and placed inside a music box where noisy mechanics blend with pitched […]

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Infinite Crescendo

I met Viennese pianist Rudolf Buchbinder one recent evening in his dressing room at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, where he was performing his “Diabelli Project” program: variations on the short and somewhat banal waltz by contemporary composers (Jörg Widmann, Lera Auerbach, Max Richter, Toshio Hosokawa) and historical musicians (Liszt, Czerny, Schubert) in the first […]

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The Dreams of Others

When you mention alto Dina König in front of her former colleagues, they insist on her musical excellence. That’s because, in September 2020, König gave up her burgeoning career as a singer of early music. Instead, she decided to become a tram driver with the local public transportation system in Basel, Switzerland.  Musicians often view […]

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Keep Them Up at Night

In June, I met pianist and musicologist Robert Levin at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Complete editions of works by Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and many other composers filled his living room. As a musician, Levin has an almost uncanny ability to assimilate an oeuvre into the component elements of its style. It’s a remarkable process […]

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Formed Under Pressure

In classical music, racism toward musicians of Asian heritage is as casual as it is pervasive. When I was in my first year of conservatory, at the Royal Academy of Music in London, a Korean composition student was late to a single lesson; the professor proceeded to do a disgustingly caricatured impression of his accent. […]

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