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The Pitch of Living

“I’ve been interested in the 432 Hz conspiracy theories for a while,” began an email from my editor at VAN. “Would you like to spend some time using the 432 Player, a website that adjusts all your music to 432 Hz?” I consider myself a very online person, and yet, through a mixture of willful […]

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Fuse, Liquify, Distort

I have long admired the music of Fausto Romitelli. His epic video opera, “Index of Metals” (2003) pointed toward new worlds of expressive possibilities for young composers like me writing experimental music for instruments and electronics at the start of the 21st century. The piece features a soprano and three enormous panels of colorful video […]

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For Better, For Worse

At the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” we meet Marianne and Johan, a couple being interviewed for a magazine story about successful relationships. In the next scene, Marianne asks Johan, “Do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?” “It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from God knows where,” he answers.“A […]

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Ethereum Voices

On March 31, 2020, the Metropolitan Opera suspended paychecks for the musicians of its orchestra as its productions ground to a pandemic-induced halt. Some performers left New York City, refinanced their mortgages, or took early retirement. Others survived on a combination of Zoom lessons and unemployment. By the end of 2020, concert venues had reopened […]

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The Dreams of Others

When you mention alto Dina König in front of her former colleagues, they insist on her musical excellence. That’s because, in September 2020, König gave up her burgeoning career as a singer of early music. Instead, she decided to become a tram driver with the local public transportation system in Basel, Switzerland.  Musicians often view […]

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Endorphin Rush

Looking back at Tamara Stefanovich’s September schedule, you see a multifaceted artist at work: She played Stravinsky twice with an all-star lineup at Musikfest Berlin, gave a duo recital with Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Amsterdam, and a solo recital in Regensburg, Germany, with a program of seldom-heard works by Scriabin, Roslavets, and Szymanowski. She also played […]

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“The Perfect Voice in the Wrong Body”

“A chubby bundle of puppy fat.” “Unsightly and unattractive.” “Repulsive figure.” These comments count as professional feedback in the world of opera. At first glance, they may appear to be isolated cases; only seldom does body shaming make headlines in the opera industry. The most prominent exception was the “little black dress” which did not […]

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The Audiencers

Illustrations Carine Kuntz We seldom pay attention to ushers. In “The Natural History of the Theatre,” Theodor Adorno’s otherwise extravagant sociology of concert-going, the usher receives only a glancing mention: a missed opportunity for a writer who discerned the ideological contradictions and atavistic energies of music in a thousand minor details, from gales of applause […]

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Big Breaks

Early this summer, Polish pianist Elżbieta Bilicka got some exciting news. Bilicka is 28 and lives in Logan, Utah, where she is on the piano faculty at Utah State University. At the time, the novel coronavirus was spreading rapidly throughout the United States and Europe, wreaking financial havoc on the performing arts. In the midst […]