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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

Trauma and the Musician’s Body By · Date 03/23/2017 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 […]

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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

Music by the Gaza Strip By · Date 12/15/2016 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 […]

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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.” […]

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Flattened Multiplicities

On Musical Genre and Personal Identity By · Illustrations Christian Gwiozda (CC) · Date 12/1/2016 In the very first episode of the critically acclaimed ESPN documentary “OJ: Made in America,” the sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards contemplates OJ’s racial self-distinction during his college days in the 1960s. OJ thought he should be “judged not by the […]

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A Perfect Surface

I hope I play the piece better than last time. Oh, there’s the music critic. His most recent review of me said I was overrated and oversold. Also, this is going to be on live radio. If I make a mistake, about 3 billion people will hear it. It wouldn’t be the first time. In […]

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Notes Towards A Movement

On November 24, 1963, two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Leonard Bernstein conducted Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the New York Philharmonic on a nationally televised memorial to the slain president. Three days later, Bernstein spoke before an audience of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden, where he delivered his famous words: “This […]