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Digging

Cassie Kinoshi’s compositions appear on her SoundCloud in a couple of unassuming annual collections. The six-minute clips are given generic titles like “Compositions: Instrumental Showreel 2020.” But beneath their utilitarian form lie collections of substantial creativity. “Afronaut,” a gritty Afrofuturist track from the Mercury Award-nominated SEED Ensemble, sits alongside “If She Could Dance Naked Under […]

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The Eternal Factor

New Year’s and third lockdown resolution: trying to listen to and rank every Schubert song. (I’m not done yet, but I attempted something similar for the Scarlatti sonatas.) Because my impressions are very subjective—not to say flat-out wrong—I also decided to get a more holistic view of this oeuvre, which numbers somewhere around 700 lieder, […]

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Input

Look through older interviews with violinist Julia Fischer, and you’ll find a disturbing mix of chauvinism and sleaze: “A desirable German export with doe eyes and blond, angelic hair”; “young, sexy, and classical”; “ready for the runway.” One television anchor says she has the “looks, talent, and intelligence of a superwoman,” only to ask her […]

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Struggling with Time

In September, conductor and Alarm Will Sound artistic director Alan Pierson managed a bureaucratic feat of Olympian proportions: traveling, with COVID-19 restrictions in effect, from the United States to Germany. His essential business: conducting the rehearsals, premiere, and later performances of Hans Thomalla’s new opera “Dark Spring” at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. In early October, Pierson […]

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Healthy Confusion

Alex Ross’s Wagernism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music was released in September to wide acclaim. In VAN, Alison Kinney described the book’s complex, nuanced approach to art and morality: “Ross recognizes, and reshapes, the world of Wagnerism as it is, for good and for bad, and makes room for the inadequacy of […]

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Cultural Gumbo

Titus Underwood is the principal oboist of the Nashville Symphony in Tennessee. In February, he became the first Black tenured principal oboist of an American orchestra. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Underwood attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Colburn School, studying with legendary oboists John Mack and Elaine Douvas. This year, […]

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Across And Over

For 42 years, Daniela Huber has been a violinist in the Bavarian State Orchestra. She also plays chamber music, composes, arranges, appears in cabaret performances as part of a string quartet, and founded a jazz band in which she plays mainly piano. Outside the concert hall, too, Huber rarely remains silent. In 2014, a group […]

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Fighting Windmills

The doors of the Berlin Philharmonic closed to the public on March 11, 2020. They won’t open again this season, making the coronavirus closure the Berlin Philharmonic’s longest break in its 138-year history. Instead of the musicians, it’s the construction workers who now have the run of the house, with improvements taking place on the […]

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Make Up The Notes

The first thing one sees in Gwendolyn Toth’s apartment on the west side of Manhattan, above Lincoln Center, is the keyboards: Three of them wrapped up and standing on their ends inside the front door. In the living room, there are several more, some ready to travel, some available to play—seven in all, including a […]

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Visceral Communication

An Interview with Philip Thomas By · Title Image © Carl Davies · Date 2/4/2020 There’s a very long pause, then a single plucked string bends up. Pause again, followed by a long screech from the highest flute register. Another pause. Something rattles. So begins my very own realization of John Cage’s “Concert for Piano […]