Posted inReport

Munich 1997

The First, Failed Investigation into James Levine By · Additional reporting · Title Image A. Currell (CC BY-NC 2.0) · Date 3/8/2018 Norman Lebrecht’s book Who Killed Classical Music was published in 1996, and contained an infamous anecdote about a conductor, named under a pseudonym, abusing children. The culprit was widely rumored to be James […]

Posted inInterview

Flying Blind

An Airline Employee on Instruments and Egos By · Photography UNSPLASH (PUBLIC DOMAIN) · Date 3/1/2018 Musicians who feel that their instruments have been mishandled by airlines like to unleash avalanches of outrage on social media, followed by petitions and calls for boycotts. British Airways recently tested tempers when gate agents refused to take three […]

Posted inInterview

The Bernstein Effect

On an unusually sunny February afternoon, I met Craig Urquhart in his apartment at Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz, the beating heart of the city’s gay life. (Christopher Isherwood once rented a place here.) “I’m going to be very bad and have a gin,” Urquhart said, but then realized he didn’t have any ice. Urquhart was a longtime […]

Posted inReport

Season In, Season Out

Diversity Policy in Classical Music By and · Illustration NYPL (Public Domain) · Date 2/15/2018 On September 30, 2002, two civil rights lawyers, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and Cyrus Mehri, released a report called “Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities.” By then, the problem of diversity in the sport had […]

Posted inInterview

Weather Systems

I’m on the train to Hamburg, listening to Nico Muhly’s opera “Two Boys” and struggling to form an opinion about it. Some of the composition sounds plain to my ears, and the lines of the detective, sung with wide vibrato, sound a little silly, but there are also gorgeous choral moments. In interviews, Muhly frequently […]

Posted inInterview

Singing Within

I had tea with the tenor Mark Padmore one recent afternoon, backstage at the Berlin Philharmonic as it rained and hailed outside. He wore a black sweater over a light gray dress shirt and a sleek bronze bracelet, and had just finished a rehearsal with the violinist Pekka Kuusisto and members of the Karajan Academy, […]

Posted inProfile

The Mischief I Made

On Helmut Lachenmann’s “Marche fatale” By · Collage Alex Ketzer · Date 1/18/2018 When a friend sent me a YouTube video of Helmut Lachenmann’s newest piece, “Marche fatale” for orchestra, I texted him back asking, “Holy shit, is this a joke?” The eminent German, who writes noisy works of intimidating craft and intelligence, who has […]

Posted inInterview

Make It Hurt

On October 26, 2017, the alto Wiebke Lehmkuhl sang a note—a G or an E flat, if I’m not mistaken—that was so quiet and smooth it sounded more like a boy than many boy sopranos do. The piece was Bach’s Mass in B Minor, conducted by Ton Koopman at the Berlin Philharmonic, penultimate movement, the […]

Posted inProfile

Sensual Narratives

The music of Jay Schwartz is hedonistic. You listen to it, and when you’re finished you can’t wait to listen to it again. His SoundCloud page becomes an almost physical addiction. It envelopes you in shimmering glissandi of infinite complexity, teases you with the briefest glimpses of tonal intervals, and rewards you with the endorphin […]