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Too Big To Fail

Can a piece of music be too big to fail? The latest work by Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Finnish composer and conductor who is currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony, has a startling number of what politicians like to call “stakeholders”: The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice (which gave the premiere on […]

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The Threshold of Time

In the big pond full of big fish that is the New York contemporary classical music scene, the Argento New Music Project, led by composer and conductor Michel Galante, is an unusual and irreplaceable specimen. As artistic director of the ensemble, Galante combines two qualities that rarely go together: An ear for logical and creative […]

Posted inInterview

Transience

The composer Rebecca Saunders was not where I imagined her to be. Plans for a meeting in person were moved online, owing to her retreat to the countryside to complete a deadline. So it was a surprise when Saunders appeared, not in some remote rural studio, but in her Berlin flat. “I think a lot […]

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“Will I Die? You Bet I Will.”

Steve Reich is the Bob Dylan of classical music: Everyone loves the revolutionary early stuff (“Come Out,” “Piano Phase,” “Four Organs,”) but the variety and longevity of the career that followed inspires more controversy. And also like Dylan, whose 2020 album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” was largely acclaimed, Reich’s most recent work is worth a […]

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Into the Cosmic Unknown

When does your experience of a new piece of music begin? When you hear the first note? When the performers first enter the space? Or does the context of the venue’s ambience beforehand also affect how you take in the piece? Does the experience begin with the first rehearsal, the first compositional sketch, the first […]

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The Troubled Kids Club

Starting tomorrow, the New York-based Experiments in Opera will launch its latest venture: a ten-part video opera series told in 15-minute segments. Each segment is written by a different composer-librettist team. In “Everything for Dawn,” the eponymous heroine spends her critical teenage years coming to terms with her father’s mental illness and eventual suicide, which […]

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Advanced Easy Listening

Christof Dienz is a composer, zither player, and bassoonist, born in Innsbruck in 1968. This year he was joint artistic director—along with composer Clara Iannotta—of the Klangspuren (“Sound Traces”) festival in Austria. Based in the small Tyrolean town of Schwaz in the Austrian Alps, Klangspuren features 18 concerts given over 18 days in venues around […]

Posted inBreaking

Unveiling

On September 13, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini was detained by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “morality police” in Tehran. Three days later, she died in police custody. Protests erupted around the country, and while their causes are manifold, they have been led by women and take as their primary target what Iranian […]

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A Glutton for Sound

As a Southcentral Alaskan kid in the early ’90s, I was unaware of the composer patiently crafting his strict and sensuous body of work 600 miles to the north, close to the Arctic Circle. In 2013, after living, studying and composing for a decade on the Eastern Seaboard, I co-founded a new music project in […]

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