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Artifacts

I studied music theory with the composer and writer Jakob Ullmann in Basel, from 2011–2013. For this interview, we met him at his home in Naumburg, Germany, on a rainy Sunday. Books on new music lined the corridor; books on religion lined his study. VAN: At one point, you used a professional biography that consisted […]

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Voids

I met the composer Rebecca Saunders in her Berlin studio on a bright afternoon last week. Her new score was taped up around the wall; a page detached itself and floated to the ground. We started by talking about how we were not going to talk about her experiences as a women composer. “It’s an […]

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Two Cities

For this interview, I reached Marin Alsop on Skype from Brussels, where she was conducting the finals of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for pianists. She usually performs a wide variety of repertoire—did she have to do the same piece over and over there? “Three Profokiev Twos, Three Rachmaninoff Threes, and otherwise only one of everything […]

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Occupy Handel

On May 12, 2016, the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff, of the left-of-center Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), and begin an impeachment trial against her. Rousseff—who spent three years in prison in the 1970s during the dictatorship—is now suspended from her duties for 180 days; Michel Temer, a 75-year-old politician, will succeed her […]

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Dresden Wall

The standard translation for the acronym of the anti-immigrant, Dresden-based protest group Pegida is Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. But the movement’s German name uses the word Abendland—roughly, “Occident”—a term that comes closer to evoking its irrational, almost apocalyptic, clash-of-civilizations mentality. The cellist Jan Vogler grew up in East Berlin and lives […]

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Upside Down

In a February 2016 Guardian article, the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja wrote of staid programming in classical music, “Wouldn’t some madness be preferable to this normality?” Her latest project, with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, is called “Bye Bye Beethoven.” This is not a coincidence. VAN: If you could, would you take a year or two off […]

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Changing The System

I met the composer Christian Wolff for this interview some time ago in Hamburg, Germany. There were a few other people in the room—from the festival klub katarakt, which had a commissioned a new work from him—and I asked Wolff if he felt like performing an impromptu version of his prose piece “Crazy Mad Love.” […]

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Coordinates of Value

As part of our partnership with ricordilab, we spoke with the composer Liza Lim about her duties with this competition and the benefits and limitations of composition competitions in general. VAN: Composers often complain that hyper-complex-looking scores have an advantage in competitions. How much does the way the score looks impact your decisions? Liza Lim: […]

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Unfinished Business

For Intro, we speak with the musicians who don’t show up in press releases. We hope to portray a diversity of background and experience in classical music. This is the second interview in an ongoing series. Occasional contact keeps memories vivid. When I think of Eli Marshall, I remember a crisp, sunny autumn morning and […]

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Answers

Elīna Garanča stunned audiences when I saw her in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Roberto Devereux” in March, with a memorable performance even against Sondra Radvanovsky’s history-making role. She received an Opera News Award along with Waltraud Meier at the Plaza Hotel in New York on April 10, where we spoke to her about new versus old […]