Posted inEssay

Silence, Breaking

Title Image © James Meyer/ Columbia Artists When I was 12 years old, James Levine began his tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. My father was a cellist there. This is not an essay about abuse—I never met James Levine. This is an essay about what happens when knowledge is warped by […]

Posted inEssay

Before Leaving this Place

Title Image Pavel Vaan & Leonid Semenyuk When Gounod brought his “Faust” to London five years after its world premiere in 1859, there was one devil lurking in the details: venerated baritone Charles Santley was singing Valentin—the soldier brother of Marguerite who is killed by his sister’s lover (and the work’s title character)—but despite his […]

Posted inEssay

The Soul Must Descend From Its Mount

Remembering Klaus Huber Text and Title Image · Translation and · Date 10/05/2017 I haven’t composed anything in three years,” he laughed, “too lazy!” That was two years ago. Klaus Huber was 90, and knew full well that his oeuvre was complete. He took another Mozarella in Carozza and a sip of prosecco, and blinked […]

Posted inEssay

Sound in Flight

Photography Jeffrey Arlo Brown / Screenshots from X-Plane 10 The Airbus A320 was quiet as it waited on the runway behind the other planes for takeoff. I put on a Guillaume de Machaut Motet, “Tribulatio proxima est et non est qui adjuvet,” in my headphones. The pilot pushed the throttle forward and the plane picked […]

Posted inEssay

A Cold War

When he was 16, Wolf Biermann emigrated from his hometown of Hamburg to the German Democratic Republic. The year was 1952 and the young man, whose father was a staunch Communist and killed in Auschwitz, was welcomed in the East. Less than 25 years later, Biermann, now a rock star—his apartment, dubbed “the waiting room […]

Posted inEssay

Limits of Perspective

On Franz Lehár’s Operetta “The Land of Smiles” By · Photography © T+T Fotografie / Toni Suter and Tanja Dorendorf · Date 07/20/2017 In Franz Lehár’s 1929 operetta “Das Land des Lächelns,” a Viennese lady, Lisa, loves a Chinese diplomat, Sou-Chong. She follows him back to China and marries him, only for them to ultimately […]

Posted inEssay

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. […]

Posted inEssay

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. […]

Posted inEssay

My Father, The Flying Dutchman

Time is often the unspoken main character in opera. The drama of “Don Giovanni” stems from the plot unfolding in just one day. Orpheus’s tragic downfall is being unable to avoid gazing at Eurydice until they’ve left the underworld. And the plot of “Der fliegende Holländer” is cut short if Daland doesn’t seek shelter from […]

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, […]