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Disappearing Act

The rarely performed music of Horatiu Radulescu, the iconoclastic Romanian composer and self-described founder of spectralism, will be at the center of an ambitious upcoming three-day festival at Acker Stadt Palast in Berlin on October 19-21. Organized by Iranian composer and conductor Arash Yazdani and his Ensemble for New Music Tallinn (ENMT) in honor of […]

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Nestled

Heinz Holliger sits on the edge of his seat, moving his hands knowingly to the atonal wanderings of Frédérique Cambreling’s harp. His face cycles between anticipation, excitement, and a little thrilled relief. Holliger is watching the world premiere of the full version of his Partita No. 2 for Harp, which is stretching both the limits […]

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Playing God With Sound

In film and childhood memories, concert halls darken and the audience murmurs. They begin exerting force on you long before the first note is played. So why can watching a live orchestra—with its reverent circumstance—feel a little like sitting in an elaborate wedding cake or complicated wicker-basket? Maybe it’s because getting acoustic music to fill […]

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Beckmesser’s Dream

A pogrom unfolds on the streets of Nuremberg. It’s the end of Act II of Barrie Kosky’s new production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” at the Bayreuth Festival. Elsewhere in the piece, Hans Sachs sings that “all poems and verse are just the interpretation of dreams.” In some sense this production represents Beckmesser’s dream, or […]

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Can Cis Men Write Trans Opera?

“I am a human; nothing that is human is alien to me.” Composer Robert Paterson cites this line from the Roman playwright Terence in defense of his choice, along with librettist David Cote, to write an opera with characters that don’t share his demographic background. “I think there’s too much of that these days,” Paterson […]

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Vulnerable to the Unknown

The setup itself, two pianists and two percussionists, is not conventional. Yet it formed naturally, without a deliberate plan. This naturalness elucidates why giving a title to each member of Yarn/Wire is perhaps misleading: there’s a fluidity to the quartet that shatters and belittles the relevance of the principles imposed on being a pianist or […]

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Iterations

Among landmarks of opera, 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s “Aventures” (1962) and “Nouvelles Aventures” (1962-5) count as two of the most bizarre. They’re both written for singers and a small (seven-piece) orchestra, but that’s where the concessions to operatic conventions end. The music—with percussion including mallets hitting tables, papers being ripped apart, and, in “Nouvelles […]

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Music For The Thinking Ear

“Music for the thinking ear” is the slogan for Berlin’s new Pierre Boulez Saal, which opened its doors to the public on Saturday, March 4. Why a new hall? The city’s Philharmonie (Zirkus Karajani, or “Karajan’s Circus,” as West Berliners dubbed it) remains a monument to architectural, acoustic, and indeed performative modernism; there are no […]

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Listening to Homelessness

It’s arguable whether Robert Ashley’s 1998 opera “Dust,” scored for solo voices, prerecorded orchestra, and electronics, is a masterpiece of opera—but it is certainly a masterpiece of political art in its evocation of empathy for marginalized people. During the 90 minute work, we hear the conversations and monologues of a cast of five homeless characters, […]

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The Erotic-Elegiac

On a early fall evening, a packed audience at the Kitchen theater in Chelsea’s art district sat quietly as the visual artist and gallerist Emily Sundblad took the stage. Dressed in a red and black Proenza Schouler gown with suggestive cutouts and a dramatic slit, her long strawberry-blond hair cascading over one shoulder, she looked […]

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