Posted inInterview

A Glimpse of the Butterfly

Few conductors manage to cross the invisible boundary separating contemporary music ensembles (with their emphasis on ephemeral premieres) from mainstream orchestras (where even the 867th rendition of a Brahms symphony is expected to sound gripping and fresh). The American David Robertson is one such conductor. In 1992, Pierre Boulez appointed Robertson music director of the […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Weather Patterns

“You are the sky,” says the Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. “Everything else is just the weather.” Chödrön offers this as a guide for dealing with strong emotions—a more tangible variation on “this too shall pass.” Emotions arise and, while they feel like they may fully inhabit every pore of our body, they rarely leave […]

Posted inInterview

“Will I Die? You Bet I Will.”

Steve Reich is the Bob Dylan of classical music: Everyone loves the revolutionary early stuff (“Come Out,” “Piano Phase,” “Four Organs,”) but the variety and longevity of the career that followed inspires more controversy. And also like Dylan, whose 2020 album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” was largely acclaimed, Reich’s most recent work is worth a […]

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

The Responsibility of Connection

On Saturday, October 15, the International Contemporary Ensemble presents “Peyvand (پیوند),” a program of works featuring the ensemble (currently celebrating its 20th anniversary). What began as a collaboration between IntCE with Composers Now and the Cheswatyr Foundation—which commissioned a work by Niloufar Nourbakhsh to honor the life and legacy of philanthropist Cece Wasserman—grew into a […]

Posted inInterview

Cherish the Quiet

Valentyn Silvestrov is a Ukrainian-born composer who has lived long enough to write nine symphonies and have his music be censored by both Soviet apparatchiks and Putin’s police. He lived in Kyiv for 84 years until this March, when he left the country due to Russia’s invasion.  Silvestrov now lives in exile in Berlin, but […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Iannis Xenakis Playlist

This year marks the centenary of Iannis Xenakis, the Romanian-born Greek-French composer who died in 2001. Architect, mathematician, communist, and composer of both instrumental and electronic works, his music plowed an idiosyncratic furrow in the history of the European avant-garde.  The centenary has happily meant retrospectives of his work. The most substantial was Révolutions Xenakis […]

Posted inInterview

The Troubled Kids Club

Starting tomorrow, the New York-based Experiments in Opera will launch its latest venture: a ten-part video opera series told in 15-minute segments. Each segment is written by a different composer-librettist team. In “Everything for Dawn,” the eponymous heroine spends her critical teenage years coming to terms with her father’s mental illness and eventual suicide, which […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Beauty in Shadows

Daisy Press: “You Are the Flower — Music from Hildegard von Bingen, Vol. 1” (StorySound Records) Kotoka Suzuki: “Shimmer, Tree” (Starkland) Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir: “strengur” (Carrier Records) “The quality that we call beauty,” writes Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, “must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came […]