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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 […]

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Mental Composers

Throughout history, artists, composers, and musicians have been plagued by personal demons. As a society, we adore the works of Beethoven, perhaps due in part to the crippling emotional impact his deafness had on his music. We appreciate Schumann, though he went insane through the latter stages of syphilis. But is there a more modern […]

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The Broken Musician

“It was impossible for me to tell people, ‘Speak louder, shout, because I am deaf.’  Oh, how could I possibly admit a weakness in the one sense which should be more perfect in me than in others.” Beethoven, Heiligenstadt Testament, 1802 Musicians expire. For some lucky members of the profession, the musical expiry coincides with […]

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Chalk Spaceships

1. After graduating from Juilliard in 1997, I moved to Berlin on a lark, escaping from the untenable pressure of finding work in a city that needed no more musicians. In 2001, two years into my studies with the great Boris Pergamenschikow, I found myself in my first orchestral job as principal cellist of the […]

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The Pianist’s Eye

The pianist Lilian Kallir was a formidable sight-reader who could easily play a Mozart Piano Concerto on the first reading, though she was mostly known for the instinctive musicality, tonal beauty, and precocious maturity of her playing. In 1991, presented with a last-minute change in a program, switching from Mozart’s Piano Concerto in F Major, […]

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