Posted inInterview

A Knife to Reality

An Interview with Niels Rønsholdt By · Photography © Lars Svankjær · Date 5/17/2018 I was supposed to meet the Danish composer Niels Rønsholdt at the SPOR Festival in Aarhus. There, his recent music theater piece “Gaze for Gaze” received a new production, performed by Denmark’s SCENATET ensemble, with whom Rønsholdt has worked closely for […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Trans Composers Playlist

Title Image yumikrum (CC BY 2.0) Trans people are used to seeing ourselves refracted through the eyes of cis artists. Sometimes it’s done very well; more often it’s not. But what happens when we’re the ones making the art? Much has been written about video games, novels, and rock and pop music by trans artists, […]

Posted inRankings & Roundups


The Best and Worst of Instagram Score Studying By · Date 5/3/2018 If a musician studies a score and doesn’t post about it on social media, does it still count? No point in risking it, which is why the VAN social media channels see a steady flow of visually pleasing, life-envy-inducing photographs of scores being […]

Posted inInterview

I Did That

An Interview with Ben Johnston By · Title Image Plainsound Music Edition (Creative Commons) · Date 4/19/2018 Recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters at the age of 92, Ben Johnston is taking some time to reflect on his life’s work. As a composer who radically pushed the expressive […]

Posted inReport

Tonefoil Hat

Can I Learn Perfect Pitch? By · Title Image Internet Archive (Public Domain) · Date 3/29/2018 I’m a musician and I have bad ears. In my ear training course in college, my teacher would play intervals on the piano. Going in a circle, he would point at the students and ask us to identify them. […]

Posted inInterview

Aesthetic Responsibility

An Interview with Daniel Mendelsohn By · Title Image Donald Sheridan (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons · Date 3/15/2018 Daniel Mendelsohn is a writer, translator, and professor of literature at Bard College. His most recent book is An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and an Epic which, along with the memoir The Elusive Embrace: […]

Posted inInterview


An Interview with Simon Steen-Andersen By · Photography © Lars Svankjær · Date 3/8/2018 At one point during a recent performance of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Piano Concerto in Berlin, percussion sounds seemed to rise and concentrate near the ceiling of the concert hall, like hot air, and it sounded like the Pierre Boulez Saal might come […]

Posted inReport

A Hall of Mirrors

On Music Therapy for Veterans Text and Photography · Date 2/8/2018 How strange to be older than an army specialist. One gray, drizzly day at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky, a 24-year-old firefighter with brown hair, a pale complexion, and a self-deprecating sense of humor was struggling to play a C major scale with both hands […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Mike Svoboda Playlist

Brass in Bach and Boulez Title Image © JENS KLETT · Date 1/25/2018 I listen to a lot of music, but mostly live—either while playing myself, coaching chamber music, or in my head while composing. Putting together this playlist was a chance to remember some musical moments of my youth, the “formative years,” that left […]

Posted inInterview

The End Is Pleasure

An Interview with Kirill Gerstein By · Translation · Title Image © MARCO BORGGREVE · Date 1/18/2018 The pianist Kirill Gerstein is something of an insider’s tip. Despite the glossy magazine covers and ever-changing artist flavors of the month in classical music, the concert reality is closer to a bit of Alfred “Adi” Preissler’s soccer […]