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Some Rawness

Lisa Renèe Coons is a composer, sound artist, and professor at Western Michigan University. Through the course of several emails exchanged in the last few weeks, just after her return from a residency at the MacDowell Colony, we discussed the difficulty of honoring one’s origins, music as a vehicle for dealing with the unspeakable, welding, […]

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Two Cities

For this interview, I reached Marin Alsop on Skype from Brussels, where she was conducting the finals of the Queen Elisabeth Competition for pianists. She usually performs a wide variety of repertoire—did she have to do the same piece over and over there? “Three Profokiev Twos, Three Rachmaninoff Threes, and otherwise only one of everything […]

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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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Answers

Elīna Garanča stunned audiences when I saw her in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Roberto Devereux” in March, with a memorable performance even against Sondra Radvanovsky’s history-making role. She received an Opera News Award along with Waltraud Meier at the Plaza Hotel in New York on April 10, where we spoke to her about new versus old […]

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Listening, Not Hearing

The American composer, performer, and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros performed a two-day Deep Listening Intensive and Sonic Meditation alongside her partner, author and dream specialist Ione, and jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran and his band, the Bandwagon, on April 1 and 2 as part of the 2016 Artists Studio at the Park Avenue Armory in […]

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Depth Psychology

The German mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier performed her last Kundry, a complex figure from Wagner’s “Parsifal,” on March 28 at the Staatsoper in Berlin. On April 10, she will receive one of five Opera News Awards at The Plaza in New York. We spoke with her, in the middle of her final preparations, about Wagner, “updated” […]

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Patriarchal Structures

This interview took place in November 2015, and is reproduced here in an abridged version. We spoke with Neuwirth about the persistence of the patriarchy in classical music, the new generation of women composers, and her recent and older works. VAN: I feel there’s an imbalance between the genders in our musical society. Are quotas […]

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An Olga Neuwirth Playlist

Malaria! – “Geld/Money” In the 1980s, I was a punk living in the Austrian countryside, and I couldn’t wait to trade alpine meadows for a big, rough city. This all-girl band from Berlin made provocative, social-political, tough-as-nails songs; they inspired me to be loud, and ironic, and stir things up in my uptight environment.  Besides […]

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Stay Worried

I first met Betsy Jolas, a distinguished composer with a nearly 70-year career, in 2005. I had received a scholarship to attend the Academie Villecroze in Provence, France, and performed a piece of hers there. The work was “Mon Ami,” for a pianist; it’s unique in that the pianist sings, her voice melding with the […]