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Internal States

The bar exuded a greenish, fluorescent light. Joshua Fineberg stood outside smoking a cigarette. Recently, two people had told me that Fineberg, one of the most important living Spectralist composers alongside Tristan Murail, and a tenured professor at Boston University, had moved to Berlin and begun frequenting the city’s famous clubs. They suggested to me […]

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Sails

In Mexico City, 7-Eleven carries bottled water in the shape of a dumbbell. One day on vacation, I bought one, drank the contents, took a picture, and sent it to Michael Maierhof, one of the most original composers working today and a master manipulator of the sonic properties of plastics. Would he like me to […]

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Matchups

The melody from the hymn Dies Irae breaks the creamy quiet of a restaurant in upmarket Taipei, and the patrons raise their eyes from their waffles and cake and Vienna coffee. The disrupter of the mid-Thursday morning hush is Chung Yiu-kwong, Taiwan’s most noted classical composer, giving an enthusiastic rendition of the Day of Judgement’s […]

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Exile Aria

“Whenever a country is in turmoil, inevitably, people try to find groups to blame for the problems at hand,” conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya began her explanation of why she left her native Russia 22 years ago. “I remember as a small child going to my chorus rehearsals, and every week as I went passing through the […]

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I’m Not Doing Anything

It wasn’t Helga Davis’ idea to have a podcast named after herself. Nor was ending up on the radio in the first place. At WQXR, the most listened-to classical station in the United States, Davis is among a cohort of contributors—including violist Nadia Sirota, composer Nico Muhly, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas—who conjure art both […]

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Queer as in Fuck Yeah

“I’m always drawn to defend anything that people shit on aesthetically.” It’s hard to sum up an artist’s work in a single sentence, but for Alex Temple, that’s not a bad place to start. She has a particular interest in “reclaiming socially disapproved-of (‘cheesy’) sounds,” often taking and warping them into something more than a […]

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Unified Music

The American composer George Crumb lives in an unassuming two-story house, tucked away on an acre plot of land in Media, Pennsylvania, a sleepy suburb of Philadelphia. Recently, he met me at the local train station in his old maroon Toyota, and after a short drive along winding back roads, we arrived at his longtime […]

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Protect

In the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore, a building that could easily be mistaken for the state-of-the-art hospital nearby, a workshop performance of “Bangsokol: Requiem for Cambodia,” by the composer Him Sophy was taking place. The atmosphere there was festive. Friends greeted one another; soloists on traditional Cambodian instruments, a string orchestra […]

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Just Like A Concert

Lukhanyo Moyake was the first singer I heard at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition last June, which for the first time in its 35-year history held rounds in Cape Town, South Africa. Still bleary-eyed from the day-long flight, I quickly regained my senses upon hearing the first phrase of his aria, “Ella mi […]

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Mythology Of Our Time

This Tuesday, I spoke with John Adams by phone from his studio, in Northern California. He will be the Artist in Residence at the Berlin Philharmonic next season, and I thought I’d give him some unsolicited advice about techno music here. Does he listen to it? “Sometimes.” Berlin also has a reputation as a paradise […]

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