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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 […]

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Dark Ocean

“We aren’t supposed to drink on the bus, but I brought beer!” After a full day of rehearsals and a concert in Copenhagen, the musicians of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic were on the road to Sønderborg, a town straddling the main Danish peninsula and the island of Als. It was halfway through their Baltic Sea […]

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Crocodiles and Collio

A Dispatch from Cormons, Italy By · Photography Courtesy of Matt Haimovitz · Date 09/08/2016 Around his rustic country table in Cormons, Italy, Kristian Keber, a 28-year-old winemaker, poured his family’s 2013 Collio. Perhaps Kristian could sense that my mind was racing for adjectives and metaphors to describe the chilled white wine swirling in the […]

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Mezzo-sopranos from Outer Space

Morton Feldman’s “Three Voices” By · Title Image NYPL (PD) · Date 08/04/2016 In 2015, the writer Lisa Bolekaja published a short story in Uncanny, a magazine for science fiction and fantasy, called “Three Voices,” inspired by the Morton Feldman piece of the same name. At the climax, a vocalist’s skin pigmentation drains from her […]

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Brandenburgs and Buffalo

Downbeat was in less than 24 hours for the inaugural concert on the ranch. A herd of trucks and tractors still rumbled through, as hundreds of construction workers added finishing touches to buildings, and cleared roads to the eight sculpture sites placed among the dips and rises of the 11,500 acres of this working cattle […]

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Performing Creativity

When I was starting out as a composer, in Canada in the early 1990s, being a composer was the opposite of being a business person. A few composers devoted a small amount of attention to promoting their work, which seemed both admirable and quirky; but if anyone was too self-promoting, it seemed like they were […]

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Mental Composers

Throughout history, artists, composers, and musicians have been plagued by personal demons. As a society, we adore the works of Beethoven, perhaps due in part to the crippling emotional impact his deafness had on his music. We appreciate Schumann, though he went insane through the latter stages of syphilis. But is there a more modern […]