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The Inner Mountain

I worked in a music library for some years. One of our regular visitors was an elderly Irish nun whose eyes twinkled with purpose. She was working on her book, she told me, about the Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Ustvolskaya’s music was little known in the West when Sister Andre Dullaghan had first heard it, […]

Posted inOpinion

Adams 2.0

Thanks to John Adams, I am no longer a snob. When I was studying composition in graduate school, I was possessed by a young man’s certainty about his own knowledge and taste. Still, I was exposed to enough contradictory opinions and ideas that I began to— fortunately—entertain doubts. What if I didn’t know everything? One […]

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A Conception of Time

An Interview with Frank Denyer By · Photography © Suhail Merchant · Date 7/26/2018 Frank Denyer’s works draw from many sources. In the 1970s, he did ethnomusicological fieldwork with the Pokot tribe in Kenya. Studying at Wesleyan, he encountered musical giants Morton Feldman and John Cage, with Harry Partch providing undoubted additional influence. Hand-made instruments […]

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Uncanny Songs

Before she moved to London as a third-year undergraduate student less than a decade ago, Na’ama Zisser had never even been to the opera. This week sees the production of her very own, “Mamzer Bastard,” by London’s Royal Opera House at the Hackney Empire. Taking place within an orthodox Hasidic community and featuring Jewish cantorial […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Trans Composers Playlist

Trans people are used to seeing ourselves refracted through the eyes of cis artists. Sometimes it’s done very well; more often it’s not. But what happens when we’re the ones making the art? Much has been written about video games, novels, and rock and pop music by trans artists, but our presence in the contemporary […]

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I Did That

Recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters at the age of 92, Ben Johnston is taking some time to reflect on his life’s work. As a composer who radically pushed the expressive possibilities of non-tempered harmony for over six decades, Johnston holds an important position in 20th-century American music, […]

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Degrees of Density

“99 percent of the day, we are in the thinking mode,” Peter Ablinger tells me across a table in the lobby of our hotel in Bergen. “And in opposition to that, if we decide now to be silent for a few seconds. Just…” His voice drifts off and he raises his eyebrows in anticipation. For […]

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The Bernstein Effect

On an unusually sunny February afternoon, I met Craig Urquhart in his apartment at Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz, the beating heart of the city’s gay life. (Christopher Isherwood once rented a place here.) “I’m going to be very bad and have a gin,” Urquhart said, but then realized he didn’t have any ice. Urquhart was a longtime […]

Posted inInterview

Hidden Theater

An Interview with Georges Aperghis By · Title Image © Xavier Lambours · Date 11/09/2017 “What I find interesting in Georges Aperghis’ works is his way of juggling elements that are all in some way chaotic as a way of writing music, his way of searching for possible creative focuses that assumes an absolute risk,” […]

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