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Long Time Passing

An old Pete Seeger song that ran through my head in the autumn of 2016 ends with the lines: “And by union what we will can be accomplished still. / Drops of water turn a mill; singly none.” In 2020, I’m listening to folk singer Lee Knight sing that same song (“Step by Step”) on […]

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The Insurmountable Wall

In July 2019, the Aspen Music Festival and School staged a concert production of Rodger and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” This was a performance of the show’s 2006 revised concert score, a score that had preserved Pacific Islander stereotypes and an anti-Japanese racial slur. It was so offensive to one student in the orchestra that he […]

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How to Eat

One chapter in Virgil Thomson’s 1939 book, The State of Music, is titled “How Composers Eat, or Who Does What to Whom and Who Gets Paid.” Thomson identified the subsequent means both clearly and derisively: “A surprisingly large number of composers are men of private fortune… the number of those who have married their money […]

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Holistic Improvisation

I work in the niche realm of historical performance, but videos from the 2020 Bovicelli Competition are the nichest thing I have seen in a long time. This year’s competition, officially titled the “International Singers’ Competition on the Diminution Practices of the 16th and 17th Centuries,” was hosted by the Schloss Weißenbrunn Foundation in Germany […]

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temporarily unavailable

Leigh Mesh is associate principal bass at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. His wife Nancy Wu is associate concertmaster. They’ve been playing in the orchestra for a combined 58 years, and have both been making do without their regular incomes since March 31. On June 1, in the New York Times, the Met announced its earliest […]

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Live, From New York

As I write this the first weekend in May, the rate of new COVID-19 cases here in New York City, where some 20 percent of the population has caught the virus, has remained level for a week. Far from the recent peaks of infection and death, the numbers are nowhere near what’s needed to return […]

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Can Met Musicians Survive The Furlough?

On March 19, as the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly in New York City, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it was suspending paychecks indefinitely for its orchestra, chorus, and stagehands, effective March 31. One month later, the members of its renowned orchestra are staring into the financial abyss. Just two days after the furlough was announced, […]

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The Perpetual Investigation

Six months ago, we reported on years of sexual harassment allegations at the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music against composition professor Dan Welcher. The allegations spanned a period of almost 20 years. They ranged from sexual comments to non-consensual touching, from intimate questions about students’ sexual lives to an unwanted kiss […]

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Electronic Intimacy

The Surreal Experience of Playing in a Quarantined Hall By · Title Image Stephen Train (CC BY-NC 2.0) · Date 3/19/2020 On 8 p.m. Thursday, March 12, pianist Simone Dinnerstein and musicians—mezzo-soprano Kady Evanshyn, violinist Rebecca Fischer, oboist Alecia Lawyer, and the ensemble Baroklyn—were to take the stage at Miller Theatre and play music by […]