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The Birth of a New Ritual

As a child, Alvin Curran would lie in bed at his parents’ Providence, Rhode Island home and listen to the counterpoint between the booms of trains shunting together at a nearby rail yard and foghorns down at the harbor a few miles away. “Was that a piece of music?” I ask him. “Absolutely,” he replies. […]

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Personal Mathematics

“Music,” says composer and woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell, “is a science.” The octogenarian is in Bergen, Norway, for the city’s annual Borealis Festival of experimental music. In a few days’ time, he’ll bring the weekend to a thrilling close with two sets, one solo (accompanied by several pre-recorded videos of himself improvising at home), and […]

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Open the Closed Bubble

Launched at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe in the weeks just before the first lockdown back in March 2020, Over/At has grown to become more than just a concert series. It’s now more like a “trans music-making world,” to quote the project website, encompassing record releases, published sheet music, and new commissions. Supported by the Sound and […]

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Visceral Communication

An Interview with Philip Thomas By · Title Image © Carl Davies · Date 2/4/2020 There’s a very long pause, then a single plucked string bends up. Pause again, followed by a long screech from the highest flute register. Another pause. Something rattles. So begins my very own realization of John Cage’s “Concert for Piano […]

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Central Nodes

The word immersive is over-used. But listening to new recordings of Milton Babbitt’s “Philomel” is a disorientating, vertiginous experience. The listener finds themselves plunged, instantly, into an all-encompassing sound world in which bloops and gurgles of electronic sound appear to come from all possible angles, anchored by the central node of Juliet Fraser’s soaring solo […]

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Uncanny Songs

Before she moved to London as a third-year undergraduate student less than a decade ago, Na’ama Zisser had never even been to the opera. This week sees the production of her very own, “Mamzer Bastard,” by London’s Royal Opera House at the Hackney Empire. Taking place within an orthodox Hasidic community and featuring Jewish cantorial […]

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In Fuzzy Color

An Interview with Jessica Cottis By · Title Image © Kaupo Kikkas · Date 5/10/2018 Jessica Cottis has always had a hypersensitivity to sound. As she walks into the cafe at the British Film Institute cinema to meet me, she is acutely aware of little noises—like the man at a table on the right tapping […]

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Degrees of Invention

George Benjamin was once the boy wonder of British classical music. A composer at nine, he became star pupil to Olivier Messiaen in his teens, the youngest ever composer to see his music performed at the Proms while still a student. And then, for a long time, nothing. After a brief stint at Pierre Boulez’s […]

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Degrees of Density

“99 percent of the day, we are in the thinking mode,” Peter Ablinger tells me across a table in the lobby of our hotel in Bergen. “And in opposition to that, if we decide now to be silent for a few seconds. Just…” His voice drifts off and he raises his eyebrows in anticipation. For […]