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On the Road

Days with a Piano Technician Text and Photography · Date 09/08/2016 When I received an email with an assignment to follow a piano technician during the course of his work, to explore the instruments and places he encountered, I found it hard to resist. I spent a few days on the road in Seattle with […]

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I Am Singing About Myself

Conversations with Black Otellos By · Title Image © Roy Peters · Date 06/09/2016 Introduction On a late night this past spring, I saw a headline in The Independent that would soon provoke exasperation in parts of the opera world, outrage in others: “Otello: Why is a white tenor leading the Royal Opera House’s new […]

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Repression and Reduction

Improvisation on the Fringe in Russia By · Photography VLADIMIR GORLINSKY UND ALEXEY SYSOEV · Date 05/26/2016 200 years since his birth, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Karl Marx Exhibitions Organisation present a series of concerts, soundart installations and events commemorating the life and work of Karl Marx in Trier in Germany and Birmingham and […]

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The Broken Musician

The Taboo of Injury and Disability in Music By · Title Image Leanda Xavian· Date 05/11/2016 “It was impossible for me to tell people, ‘Speak louder, shout, because I am deaf.’  Oh, how could I possibly admit a weakness in the one sense which should be more perfect in me than in others.” Beethoven, Heiligenstadt […]

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Doctor Baton

In pop culture, there are usually two ways of looking at the conductor’s baton. One way is as the focal point of his or her authority and magic: as Bernstein said, the stick as a “an instrument of meaning in its tiniest moment.” The other way is as a symbol of the conductor’s pretension and […]

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Outsourced Scores

The full score of Miroslav Snrka’s opera “South Pole,” which premiered this winter at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, is 1,000 pages long. Each of its two volumes weighs over eight pounds. The parts for 77 unique voices add up to close to 3,000 pages.    Every composer knows how frustrating and time-consuming the preparation […]

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Music for a New World

On Streaming and Piracy By · Illustrations Stallio (CC) · Date 03/03/2016 Technology is changing the recorded music business, as it is changing all businesses. 10 years ago, music piracy was seen as the great threat to the future of music. It’s since been largely replaced by music streaming—in the minds of many musicians, not […]

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Authoritarian El Sistema

El Sistema, the Venezuelan youth orchestra program spearheaded by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, was created in 1975. It was the orchestra’s Proms debut in 2007, however, that cemented El Sistema’s place on the global stage, with Simon Rattle claiming that it was “the most important thing happening in music anywhere in […]

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On Quitting

Some years from now, you might find yourself looking back on a former hobby or pastime, something you’ve long since ceased, with nostalgia—maybe with a pang of regret. This happens to most of us at some point in our lives, that bodiless longing for the passions or diversions we used to keep. And at this […]