Posted inInterview

“Stop Touring, Take Mushrooms”

Pekka Kuusisto and I have turned up to the interview looking vaguely similar. Two pairs of glasses, lots of short, dark-blond hair, and two not dissimilar jumpers meet on the screen: mine, a sludge-green skiing fleece borrowed from my dad; his, a bottle-green Icelandic-knit sweater made by his mother-in-law during lockdown. Kuusisto is an intense […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

What You Sow

What’s the carbon footprint for a beheading? And why is this seemingly the one question I am unable to answer via Google?   I mean, yes, I could just review the new studio recording of Puccini’s “Turandot,” including the role debuts of Jonas Kaufmann as the Calaf and Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, as well […]

Posted inInterview

Beauty in the Limits

Violinist Adam Woodward was one of two winners of the March 2023 edition of the Berlin Prize for Young Artists. His program, meticulously curated and performed with palpable intensity, included music by Liza Lim, John Cage, and Bahar Royaee, and summoned the austere, indifferent beauty of landscapes and stars. Woodward, who is the youngest of […]

Posted inInterview

 “I’m Grateful to Destiny”

Violinist Gidon Kremer was unusually quick to develop an aesthetic of his own and has long been ahead of his time. This independence is most obvious in his love for contemporary music, which he developed as a conservatory student in Moscow and which brought him into contact with composers such as Pärt, Schnittke, Gubaidulina, and […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Organized Systems

Among Leo Tolstoy’s many near-death experiences (he did, after all, serve in the army, receive multiple threats against his life, and lived in a time before antibiotics) was one that took place when he was 25. In January 1854, the young count was lost overnight in a snowstorm with his servant while traveling by troika […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Historical Pauses

Early on in “The Factotum,” Will Liverman and K-Rico’s setting of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” in a Black barber shop, Liverman’s Figaro-ish character, Mike, sings about the legacy of carrying on the barber shop he inherited from his father. When Lyric Opera of Chicago shared a sneak peek of “The Factotum” in 2021, it included […]

Posted inEssay

Wood Made Flesh

“If Marina Abramovic had been a violinist, she would’ve been drawn to” Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s “Rosary” or “Mystery” Sonatas for violin and continuo, violinist Daniel Pioro tells me. With organist James McVinnie, Pioro performs the complete “Rosary” Sonatas at London’s Southbank Centre on January 22. The cycle is spread across three performances in […]

Posted inInterview

Multiple Realities

In the first weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Denys Karachevtsev recorded himself playing Bach’s Fifth Cello Suite in front of bombed-out buildings in Kharkiv. The videos went viral, becoming iconic documents of the beginning of the war. Karachevtsev, aged 30, is a cellist at the opera house in Kharkiv and teaches at 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 […]