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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

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 standing on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, with stunning […]

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The Savior’s Gaze

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.” Then, going against the general bloodthirsty tenor of the crowd surrounding them, she grants her […]

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Flattened Multiplicities

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 color of my skin, I want to be judged by the content of my character […]

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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

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 glass. He began to recount a story about Luigi Veronelli, one of Italy’s most respected […]

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