Posted inInterview

Silent Valley

Last month, the librettist and Anglican priest Alice Goodman told the New York Times of her text to the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” “Anything I might say about the controversy”—she was accused of anti-Semitism in her depictions of Jewish characters—“would pour gasoline on the embers.” She went on, “I doubt I’ll ever write anything […]

Posted inInterview

Cross Pollination

Recently, I spoke with the keyboardist Kristian Bezuidenhout by phone. His demeanor was gentle without being apologetic: while ironing his shirts, he talked about the music of Bach with immense sincerity. But his programming often includes music by other composers, particularly Bach’s contemporaries. I was interested to find out why. VAN: In an upcoming concert, […]

Posted inInterview

Walking on Wire

Skyping me from his house in Amsterdam, keyboardist and conductor Richard Egarr took time out of his vacation to answer some questions for VAN. Richard’s characteristic honesty and sense of humor really came out in the interview, as well as his enthusiasm and passion about the different mediums in which he performs and conducts. I […]

Posted inInterview

Sacred Spaces

Recently, I met the organist Paul Jacobs at a restaurant in Lincoln Center, where he ate a salad and a bowl of cold soup. Jacobs is known in the U.S. as the only organist to have ever won a Grammy; he has an active recital career and collaborates regularly with major American orchestras, such as […]

Posted inEssay

School Sucks

Burns, Tennessee In my house, the week before Thanksgiving was always exam week. 2005 was no exception: I had been lined up to take four different grade 8 examinations for the Associated Boards for the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) in organ, harp, voice, and piano. Following my fourth and last encounter with the examiner, […]

Posted inInterview


Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani was born in Tehran in 1984. Known increasingly for his dynamic programs combining 20th and 21st century works with music from the 16th-18th centuries, his approach to the instrument stands out in contrast to the traditional associations of the harpsichord with the historical performance movement. But that’s not all he talked […]

Posted inHistory


When you think of small towns in rural England, you envision medieval stone buildings, carefully manicured gardens, and tearooms with Thomas Hardy-esque quietude, serenity, even sleepiness. That is, until you hear the bells. In every church. Ringing every hour, on the hour. Every Sunday morning, I remember incessant calls to worship at the cathedral next […]

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