Posted inProfile

Whispering Through the Music

It’s a bitter sign that we’re still living in the era of “firsts” when it comes to Black representation in classical music. The first Black musician to hold a principal chair in the New York Philharmonic did not secure that spot in the first decades of the orchestra’s founding; nor in the explosive heyday of […]

Posted inProfile

Once More Unto the Breach

On New Year’s Eve, 1991, the Berlin Philharmonic gave its annual New Year’s concert in the city’s Schauspielhaus. The Wall was still fresh in the minds of Berliners from both the former West and East; the two cities had only resorbed as one a little over a year earlier. Under the baton of Claudio Abbado, […]

Posted inProfile

Lived Experience

“I don’t know if you can hear the helicopters overhead,” guitarist Sean Shibe said as he introduced his encore. The helicopters were policing a Black Lives Matter demonstration just down the road from the Wigmore Hall. Shibe’s encore was a guitar arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Farewell to Stromness,” a piece of protest music written […]

Posted inProfile

Sandcastles on the Beach

Sometimes you can figure things out just by thinking them through; sometimes you can figure them out by watching other people. But sometimes you just have to grab onto the electric fence with both hands yourself. For those of us who prefer to learn by doing (including with the occasional low-voltage shock), contemporary classical composition […]

Posted inProfile

The Sound Just After

A Profile of Cenk Ergün By · Illustrations · Date 3/13/2020 Cenk Ergün’s two string quartets, “Sonare” and “Celare,” composed from 2014 to 2015, started out as one work, but they are diametrically opposed. “Sonare” is built from tightly intertwined, microtonal and microscopic rhythmic patterns which repeat, the brain glossing them with the illusion of […]

Posted inProfile

Withdrawal

Cameron Carpenter and the Feedback Loop of Notoriety By · Photography András Vizi · Date 12/11/2019 In November 2014, Sony Masterworks released a documentary called “Cameron Carpenter: The Sound of My Life.” Intended to accompany the American organist’s album “If You Could Read My Mind,” released that August, the film included footage of Carpenter ripping […]

Posted inProfile

The Antidote

A Profile of Andrew Manze By · Photography © NDR / Krueckeberg · Date 5/9/2019 At the end of our conversation, Andrew Manze says something puzzling. We’ve been speaking for nearly two hours, about Brahms, Bruckner, Brexit, orchestral honeymoons and the right time for a conductor to say goodbye; about tempi, literature, and how to […]

Posted inProfile

The Listener is Present

Marina Abramović on Music By · Title Image Frankie Fouganthin (CC BY-SA 4.0) · Date 11/22/2018 I. (beauty) “I really think that beauty can come from ugliness,” Marina Abramović told me as she gestured to several pictures of her boobs. We were seated across from each other at a long wooden table in her Greenwich […]

Posted inProfile

The Inner Mountain

Memories of Galina Ustvolskaya By · Photo © Josée Voormans · Date 11/15/2018 I worked in a music library for some years. One of our regular visitors was an elderly Irish nun whose eyes twinkled with purpose. She was working on her book, she told me, about the Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Ustvolskaya’s music was […]

Posted inProfile

33 Variations on Vladimir Jurowski

A Profile of a Conductor By · Title Image © MATTHIAS CREUTZIGER · Date 10/25/2018 Theme Vladimir Jurowski will become music director of the Bavarian State Opera in 2021. He has been leading the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Enescu Festival in Romania since 2017. He will remain principal conductor of the London Philharmonic […]