Posted inEssay

Timbral Bombast

On Saturday, the Birmingham Royal Ballet will take the stage, not to the languid string melodies of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky or Adolphe Adam, but to the distorted power chords of pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath. The new production, “Black Sabbath – The Ballet,” honors the hometown musicians whose eponymous debut album helped spark a global […]

Posted inInterview

Playful Entities

Composer, improviser, and trombonist Alex Paxton has had a busy few months. Between winning both this year’s Ernst von Siemens Composer’s Prize and Paul Hindemith Prize, preparing for the release of his upcoming album “Happy Music for Orchestra” on Delphian Records, and commissions for Riot Ensemble, Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, and Ensemble Modern, it felt like […]

Posted inInterview

Tender Transitions

Nicole Mitchell is a leading flutist in jazz, a player with one of the strongest senses of swing there is, either inside a beat or playing freely. Her thematic albums and projects like “Mandorla Awakening” and “EarthSeed” are inspired by, and develop, Afrofuturist ideas that she first discovered through the great speculative fiction writer Octavia […]

Posted inInterview

A Servant of Their Voices

For nearly three decades, Ian Nagoski has been collecting old 78 RPM records made by people who immigrated to the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Since 2009, he’s restored, digitized and shared those records on his independent Baltimore, Maryland based label Canary Records. Over the years, he has built a […]

Posted inProfile

Throw the Doors Open

In early December, I went to a concert in London called a noisenight. Founded 18 months ago by through the noise, led by Jack Bazalgette and Jack Crozier, this nascent live music group organizes classical gigs in traditionally non-classical venues.  Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, arguably the UK’s top classical star of the moment, performed with pianist […]

Posted inInterview

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 […]

Posted inInterview

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 inPlaylist

An Autumn Equinox Playlist

I’m not here to shit all over Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” but I do believe that the Venn Diagram between people who consider the composer’s “Autumn” to be the epitome of fall-inspired classical music and people whose image of autumn stops at Pumpkin Spice Lattes and rewatches of “Hocus Pocus” is a circle. On the eve […]

Posted inInterview

The Beautiful Moment

Wadada Leo Smith plays the trumpet with a brilliant, forceful sound and has been a major creative figure in jazz for over 50 years. This century, his importance and prominence as a composer have grown. His beautiful and moving large-scale piece, “Ten Freedom Summers,” made him a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in […]

Posted inInterview

A Climate of Fusion

Aeham Ahmad, known as the Pianist of Yarmouk, gives concerts throughout Germany and the world and has published a book about his life, also titled The Pianist of Yarmouk. He grew up as a Palestinian refugee in Syria, before fleeing the war there, and came to Germany in 2015.  His concert format often includes passages […]

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