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With Friends Like These

Last week, multiple Argentine newspapers broke the story of Plácido Domingo’s alleged connections to four members of a criminal cult called Escuela de Yoga de Buenos Aires, or the Buenos Aires Yoga School. Sources close to the investigation told the media that Domingo has known these alleged cult members for 26 years. Two of the […]

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Trial and Error

In November 2021, two trumpets of the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal in western Germany slithered up a chromatic motive at the beginning of the fourth movement—the “Tuba Mirum”—from Antonin Dvořák’s Requiem before disappearing into an unsettling augmented woodwind chord. The kind of exposed orchestral passage that only registers as difficult when someone cracks a note or the […]

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The Maestro’s ATM

On April 12, the website of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released an investigation into the hidden international wealth of conductor and Putin confidant Valery Gergiev. The report is the latest in a series authored by Navalny’s team which, as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project notes, do not constitute neutral journalism—a video […]

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Fooling Mother Nature

It’s at around the 15-minute mark that I’m pretty sure I’ve pissed off Renée Fleming. Speaking with America’s most famous living soprano just before last October’s release of her latest recording, “Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene,” I’ve gone into our conversation anxious to discuss one of the album’s central themes: the climate crisis.  Programming for […]

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“I Can’t Wait to Play Again”

The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (YsOU) was founded in 2016 with support from German musical institutions and under the artistic direction of the conductor Oksana Lyniv. The orchestra is open to musicians ages 12 to 22, and is free for participants. The ensemble has toured in Germany, Austria, Croatia, and other countries, and planned […]

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Russian Voices

Throughout a 22-year reign as president, Vladimir Putin has paired military aggression and human rights violations with a culture of fear and silence. Mass protests against his leadership have been violently quashed. Public figures who openly oppose his leadership have faced dire consequences. When Putin made a public address shortly before 6am local time on […]

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The Pitch of Living

“I’ve been interested in the 432 Hz conspiracy theories for a while,” began an email from my editor at VAN. “Would you like to spend some time using the 432 Player, a website that adjusts all your music to 432 Hz?” I consider myself a very online person, and yet, through a mixture of willful […]

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For Better, For Worse

At the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” we meet Marianne and Johan, a couple being interviewed for a magazine story about successful relationships. In the next scene, Marianne asks Johan, “Do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?” “It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from God knows where,” he answers.“A […]

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Wieck Spot

For all her infamous name recognition, performances of Clara Wieck Schumann’s works are still puzzlingly rare. For decades I never questioned this; I bought the industry-wide indoctrination of “low quality.” But when I began to objectively look and listen, I realized Wieck’s compositions were filled with innovative tonal relationships, thematically unified structures, advanced motivic developments, […]