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Against The Grain

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. The voice of my […]

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Doom and Womb

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. Examples of womb-centric compositions include chamber and orchestral works by Dai Fujikura, in which he appropriates and musicalizes his […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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The Air In Which We Swim

Thessia Machado’s Sound Art By · Photography · Date 05/11/2017 In his book Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker writes, “The truth that air is as substantive as concrete remains as counterintuitive as any of science’s most inscrutable revelations.” The sound artist Thessia Machado makes a similar statement: “Working with sound allows me […]

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Performance Paralysis

1. Rewired Circuits In the fall of 2015, my career as a violinist in Chicago was in trouble. On the outside, my level of success appeared to be growing: after living in the city for seven years, I was receiving invitations to play on bigger stages and take on bigger challenges. But, unbeknownst to almost […]

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Honey in the Throat

“Life here is a John Cage score, dissonance made eloquent.” Bill Hayes, Insomniac City “This text is a mosaic of remarks,” begins the Florent Ghys composition “An Open Cage.” When I first hear it, I mistake John Cage’s voice for essayist David Rakoff’s. They share a raspy, disaffected tone, a soft sibilance that exudes ironic […]

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Teaching at Sapir College

Ever since I started my new teaching job as a music lecturer at Sapir College in the south of Israel, I’d had the itch to drive at the end of the day and watch the sunset—a beautiful desert sunset, with its giant red orb glowing in a light that is particular to the Negev district. […]

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Ringling and Riots

A Dispatch from Sarasota, Florida Text and Photography · Date 12/15/2016 I was dumbfounded by the spectacular opulence of my surroundings. This was Cà d’Zan, the first venue of my “Overtures to Bach” series at the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, Florida, and once John and Mable Ringling’s beloved winter palace; a gilded mansion […]

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The Savior’s Gaze

Forgiveness in Janáček’s “Jenůfa” By · Title Image Anonymous English painter (PD) · Date 12/15/2016 Upon hearing her own stepmother the Kostelnička guiltily admit that she was the one who killed her infant child—whose frozen corpse the people of the Moravian village have now discovered—Jenůfa, initially shocked and appalled, first orders her to “stand up.” […]