Posted inInterview

Mission Family

In 2013, Groupmuse launched as an app to help you put on live classical concerts in your home. It was the height of the app boom, and outlets from Wired to the Wall Street Journal praised Groupmuse as the AirBnB or the Uber “of classical music.” Those comparisons read differently now—but Groupmuse was never trying […]

Posted inPages Turned

In The Sonorous Air

It’s my first time visiting Berlin in springtime. Incapable of shaping my own destiny, I find a tongue-in-cheek itinerary for a couple of politics-themed hours in the German capital, designed for irony-addled people with time to burn. I decide to follow the plan with slavish sincerity, heading from Alexanderplatz down Karl-Marx-Allee towards Cafe Sibylle, a […]

Posted inInterview

Unfurling the Image

Have you heard a concert, seen a play, or watched an opera, any time in the last 30 years? (Or read VAN?) If so, you’ve probably come across a photograph by Monika Rittershaus. She’s one of Europe’s best and most in-demand theater photographers, working with leading houses, conductors and directors. Rittershaus is the first choice—and […]

Posted inReview

Ode to the Jungle

Welcome, welcome to Garden Europa! Well, no, not welcome exactly—because you cannot be allowed enter—but welcome to the fence. Peer just over the wire. Look, isn’t it beautiful? Everything’s clean, everything works! And listen, listen to this: our anthem, our glorious anthem, the height, the apotheosis of music—of culture!—itself: Beethoven’s (surely you’ve heard of him?) […]

Posted inEssay

The Halls Are Alive

So many facets of classical music culture are holdovers from the 19th century and at odds with 21st century society. To name just a few examples: the sacralization of classical music; the deification of its (male) composers; the snobbery that results when one believes they are listening to a superior form of art; the damaging […]

Posted inReview

When Is The Real Reopening?

And so, at long last, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden has reopened its doors to the public, its resident company’s long exile—seven years—in Charlottenburg’s Schillertheater over. It will close again at the end of the week, to re-reopen, as it were, in December, some final work to do, but let us not worry too much […]

Posted inReview

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 […]

Posted inReview

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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