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Deep Listen: Kaija Saariaho

Confession: As a music lover, one of my least favorite things to do is actually go to a live performance. Not because of the performance itself, but for the hell-is-other-people experience of being in an audience and the unspoken sense of competition that seems to come through in the concert hall. One evening, as a […]

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Feminine Beginnings

Since musicology’s inception as an academic discipline in the 19th century, few scholars have influenced the field as profoundly as Susan McClary. Perhaps best known for her central role in “New Musicology”—the late-1980s push to incorporate social, political, and cultural analyses into music studies—she is certainly no stranger to criticism and controversy. Although there were […]

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Deep Listen: Maryanne Amacher

Magic Eye images, or autostereograms, are those illusory images you used to see in books and magazines back in the ‘90s. If looked at in the right way or for the right amount of time, parts of the image would appear on a separate plane and acquire a kind of three-dimensionality produced entirely within the […]

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Make It Hurt

On October 26, 2017, the alto Wiebke Lehmkuhl sang a note—a G or an E flat, if I’m not mistaken—that was so quiet and smooth it sounded more like a boy than many boy sopranos do. The piece was Bach’s Mass in B Minor, conducted by Ton Koopman at the Berlin Philharmonic, penultimate movement, the […]

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Sound Travels Surgically

Suzanne Farrin’s “La Dolce Morte” sets love poetry Michelangelo wrote to the young nobleman Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, after their meeting in 1532. The monodrama was performed again on December 8-9 2017 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Vélez Blanco Patio. The countertenor Eric Jurenas performed the central role in collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble. […]

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Movement/Stasis

One of Jessica Ekomane’s works imagines what a church bell might sound like inside a baby’s mouth; another explores our perception of rhythm through a spatial field with quadrophonic sound. The later example was from a performance at the We Make Waves festival a couple of weeks ago in Berlin, an event that was fully […]

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A Catalyst

On October 7, National Sawdust celebrated the CD release of Du Yun’s Pulitzer-prize-winning opera “Angel’s Bone” with a performance of excerpts from the work. The concert was preceded by a panel during which ethnomusicologist Lara Peligrinelli moderated a discussion between Du Yun, librettist Royce Vavrek, and conductor Julian Wachner. Through vocal, acoustic, and electronic sound, […]

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Shape and Silence

Recently, the JACK Quartet played a series of concerts at the Whitney Museum, sounding the sparse celestial beauty of John Cage’s “Thirty Pieces for String Quartet” among the floating colors and shapes of Alexander Calder’s mobiles. Listeners wandered through the gallery featuring an exhibition of Calder’s works, aptly titled “Hypermobility,” focusing on the sound and […]

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Fill the Cracks with Gold

Recently, I spoke with the performer, composer, dancer, and musician Elizabeth A. Baker over Skype, from her home in Florida. A large fold-out picture of Schubert and some of her own paintings hung on the walls behind her. We talked about commercial music, the discourse on diversity, and going to the sex shop for composition […]