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The Listener is Present

Marina Abramović on Music By · Title Image Frankie Fouganthin (CC BY-SA 4.0) · Date 11/22/2018 I. (beauty) “I really think that beauty can come from ugliness,” Marina Abramović told me as she gestured to several pictures of her boobs. We were seated across from each other at a long wooden table in her Greenwich […]

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Hearing Queerly

The Gendered and Sexual Politics of Music Metaphors By · Photography NYPL (Public Domain) · Date 6/28/2018 Sometimes we produced sounds that lasted over an hour. If it was a loud sound my ears would often not regain their normal hearing for several hours, and when my hearing slowly did come back it was almost […]

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Wordlessness

Care, Companionship, and Ecological Distress in Meredith Monk’s “Cellular Songs” By · Title Image Shoshone (CC BY-SA 3.0) · Date 3/29/2018 “I’m a happy woman, I’m a happy woman.” Meredith Monk’s sudden singsong was the first and only instance of actual words to be heard throughout an evening of vocal sound. This interlude, in which […]

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A Catalyst

On October 7, National Sawdust celebrated the CD release of Du Yun’s Pulitzer-prize-winning opera “Angel’s Bone” with a performance of excerpts from the work. The concert was preceded by a panel during which ethnomusicologist Lara Peligrinelli moderated a discussion between Du Yun, librettist Royce Vavrek, and conductor Julian Wachner. Through vocal, acoustic, and electronic sound, […]

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Ostrava Days, Brooklyn Nights

On Hypocrisy and Insularity in New Music By · Title Image radim77 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) · Date 09/28/2017 The Ostrava Days 2017 festival was pervaded by an atmosphere of such overbearing toxic masculinity that I could barely hear the music. The festival lasted 10 days and served as a gathering place for avant-gardists and “risk-takers.” […]

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Shape and Silence

An interview with Amy Williams By · Title Image A painting by Gerhard Richter / Saralekker (CC BY-SA 4.0) · Date 09/14/2017 Recently, the JACK Quartet played a series of concerts at the Whitney Museum, sounding the sparse celestial beauty of John Cage’s “Thirty Pieces for String Quartet” among the floating colors and shapes of […]

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Alchemy

The audience had to creep carefully around the performance space, as a constellation of strings were stretched at hip-height from one wall to another. Ellen Fullman had spent the day here, setting up her traveling installation, the Long String Instrument; she had stretched dozens of stainless steel and phosphor bronze strings across the room in […]

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Against The Grain

Photography Wikipedia (Public Domain) The last time I visited my family in Atlanta I stumbled across an answering machine in the closet while hunting around for a beach towel. It took me a moment to place the clunky black object, but as soon as I pieced together what it was, I hurriedly plugged it in. […]

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Doom and Womb

A Feminist Listening of Éliane Radigue’s “Biogenesis” By · Title Image Delphine Migueres (CC BY-SA 3.0) · Date 06/29/2017 Few pieces within the contemporary classical repertoire concern themselves solely with pregnancy, a fact of which I am all too aware as someone living a double life as a music writer and a reproductive rights activist. […]

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Listening to Homelessness

On Robert Ashley’s “Dust” By · Photography Martin Seck / Courtesy The New School · Date 02/09/2016 It’s arguable whether Robert Ashley’s 1998 opera “Dust,” scored for solo voices, prerecorded orchestra, and electronics, is a masterpiece of opera—but it is certainly a masterpiece of political art in its evocation of empathy for marginalized people. During […]