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Form and Function

With a rough scratch, the young cellist Valerie Fritz drenches the hair of her bow in sticky rosin. The vibrations of this ritualistic rubbing motion are amplified for the listener via contact microphones. So begins Fritz’s own work, “Additional Value” for cello bows and electronics.   Three weeks ago, the 24-year-old Fritz won the Berlin Prize […]

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Input

Look through older interviews with violinist Julia Fischer, and you’ll find a disturbing mix of chauvinism and sleaze: “A desirable German export with doe eyes and blond, angelic hair”; “young, sexy, and classical”; “ready for the runway.” One television anchor says she has the “looks, talent, and intelligence of a superwoman,” only to ask her […]

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Across And Over

For 42 years, Daniela Huber has been a violinist in the Bavarian State Orchestra. She also plays chamber music, composes, arranges, appears in cabaret performances as part of a string quartet, and founded a jazz band in which she plays mainly piano. Outside the concert hall, too, Huber rarely remains silent. In 2014, a group […]

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Windows

It starts with the name. He gets irritated when you ask about it. Americans can’t pronounce the “ij” in “Bijlsma,” but the U.S. market is important, so marketing had the last word. He settles for “Bylsma.” He’s Dutch. In 1959, he won the International Pablo Casals Cello Competition, the Nobel Prize for cellists. When he […]

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Alchemy

The audience had to creep carefully around the performance space, as a constellation of strings were stretched at hip-height from one wall to another. Ellen Fullman had spent the day here, setting up her traveling installation, the Long String Instrument; she had stretched dozens of stainless steel and phosphor bronze strings across the room in […]

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A Perfect Surface

I hope I play the piece better than last time. Oh, there’s the music critic. His most recent review of me said I was overrated and oversold. Also, this is going to be on live radio. If I make a mistake, about 3 billion people will hear it. It wouldn’t be the first time. In […]

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Recurring Themes

Maintaining an active career performing with major orchestras around the world, Canadian-American violinist Leila Josefowicz has managed to walk the line between the expected standard repertoires for violin and orchestra and more daring new works. As a testament to this, over the past year, Leila has performed Sergei Prokofiev’s “Violin Concerto No. 1” (1917), Alban […]

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Dresden Wall

The standard translation for the acronym of the anti-immigrant, Dresden-based protest group Pegida is Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. But the movement’s German name uses the word Abendland—roughly, “Occident”—a term that comes closer to evoking its irrational, almost apocalyptic, clash-of-civilizations mentality. The cellist Jan Vogler grew up in East Berlin and lives […]

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Upside Down

In a February 2016 Guardian article, the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja wrote of staid programming in classical music, “Wouldn’t some madness be preferable to this normality?” Her latest project, with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, is called “Bye Bye Beethoven.” This is not a coincidence. VAN: If you could, would you take a year or two off […]

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Faces of Change

Chineke! is Europe’s first black and minority ethnic orchestra. Founded by Chi-chi Nwanoku, its artistic director and the principal double bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the ensemble is made up of independently active musicians who come together especially for projects. The name derives from a word in the southeastern Nigerian language […]