Posted inOpinion

Cartographies of Meaning

At the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky posed the question: “What is more opposite to music?” and answered, “The silence of ruined cities and killed people.” Dressed in his now-iconic khaki t-shirt, Zelensky evoked in a short video the silence which Ukrainians are facing in their own land, and exhorted musicians […]

Posted inInterview

The Dream Place

I first met the director Barrie Kosky when he wrote me asking if I would help him conceive of a spectacular pageant to open the 2026 Gay Games, an LGBTQ+ sporting event that, at the time, the city of Munich was vying to host. Kosky had been engaged to develop the opening ceremonies if Munich […]

Posted inInterview

Is Wagner Addictive?

Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., is a retired specialist in addiction medicine and a cofounder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The first person to write about AIDS in the U.S. press, he is the author of Homosexuality and Sexuality: Dialogues of the Sexual Revolution, Volume 1, and Homosexuality as Behavior and Identity: Dialogues of The Sexual […]

Posted inInterview

Pact with the Dictator

In the summer of 2009, Valery Gergiev organized an exhibition in St. Petersburg called “Wilhelm Furtwängler: Maestro, Man, and Myth” as part of the White Nights Festival. At the opening, Gergiev gave a speech noting that Furtwängler had been attacked all his life because of his biography, yet “he served a great cause with all […]

Posted inPlaylist

A May Day Playlist

Whether your Labor Day falls on May 1 or the first Monday in September, the core concept remains the same: honoring the workers who keep countries running. In this decade, we’re facing another cultural reexamination of work—one perhaps best summarized by a TikTok sound that has somehow been attributed to both “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and […]

Posted inInterview

“We Cannot Just Sit and Be Terrified”

In conversation, Ukrainian concert pianist Anna Fedorova is controlled, which belies the expressive style with which she usually plays. Her disposition is unfailingly sweet, and the hint of a kind smile is ever-present—but her face is also understandably lined with stress and sadness, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a follow-up to […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Imitations and Intimations

Alexei Lubimov: “The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross” (ECM) Alexei Lubimov, Ivan Monighetti: “Silvestrov: Piano Sonatas, Cello Sonata” (Erato) Radu Lupu, Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra: “Beethoven: Piano Concerto Nos. 3 & 5” (Decca) Nicholas Angelich: “Prokofiev: Visions Fugitives, Piano Sonata No. 8 and Romeo & Juliet” (Erato) “I play Haydn after […]

Posted inInterview

Dangerous Symbols

On April 14, the Russian keyboard player Alexei Lubimov and the singer Yana Ivanilova performed a concert at DK Rassvet, a venue in central Moscow which, similar to New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge, hosts concerts and cultural events and doubles as a club. As Lubimov was performing playing a solo portion of the concert, with […]

Posted inReport

The Maestro’s ATM

On April 12, the website of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released an investigation into the hidden international wealth of conductor and Putin confidant Valery Gergiev. The report is the latest in a series authored by Navalny’s team which, as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project notes, do not constitute neutral journalism—a video […]

Posted inInterview

Truth Over Hope

On February 23, one day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Anna Stavychenko, the artistic director of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, spoke with VAN about life in “a constant state of stress” and the importance of music for the Ukrainian identity. Since then, Stavychenko and her family have left their home. She is now commuting between Warsaw […]

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