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Living in the Elsewhere

Some years ago, I found myself stranded in a guesthouse in the Scottish Highlands after an unexpected storm put an end to my hiking plans. As I buttoned up my coat by the door, the lady who ran the establishment asked me where I was headed. I’d intended to find a fireside drink to salvage […]

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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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The Time Remaining

On March 25, pianist Lars Vogt wrote on Twitter: “Today: fight against cancer, round 2 (chemo). Keep your fingers crossed for me…” A month and a half later, he’s made it to the cusp of round five. “Another six months like this, until October, 12 rounds in total, as long as my body holds up. […]

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Electronic Intimacy

On 8 p.m. Thursday, March 12, pianist Simone Dinnerstein and musicians—mezzo-soprano Kady Evanshyn, violinist Rebecca Fischer, oboist Alecia Lawyer, and the ensemble Baroklyn—were to take the stage at Miller Theatre and play music by J.S. Bach: “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for piano solo; the Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060; […]

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Indigo Moods

All music is mood music. There is party music, from Parliament to “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” there is music, like Air Cushion Finish and Mompou, to induce waking dreams and soothe the savage breast, and there is music, like Boduf Songs and Lustmord, that expresses foul, dark moods. For me the latter can seem permanent. Because […]

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A Hall of Mirrors

How strange to be older than an army specialist. One gray, drizzly day at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky, a 24-year-old firefighter with brown hair, a pale complexion, and a self-deprecating sense of humor was struggling to play a C major scale with both hands on a little keyboard. As I watched her instructor, a blond […]

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My Father, The Flying Dutchman

Time is often the unspoken main character in opera. The drama of “Don Giovanni” stems from the plot unfolding in just one day. Orpheus’s tragic downfall is being unable to avoid gazing at Eurydice until they’ve left the underworld. And the plot of “Der fliegende Holländer” is cut short if Daland doesn’t seek shelter from […]

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Performance Paralysis

1. Rewired Circuits In the fall of 2015, my career as a violinist in Chicago was in trouble. On the outside, my level of success appeared to be growing: after living in the city for seven years, I was receiving invitations to play on bigger stages and take on bigger challenges. But, unbeknownst to almost […]

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Flattened Multiplicities

In the very first episode of the critically acclaimed ESPN documentary “OJ: Made in America,” the sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards contemplates OJ’s racial self-distinction during his college days in the 1960s. OJ thought he should be “judged not by the color of my skin, I want to be judged by the content of my character […]