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Emotional Weapon

Tonight, the Latvian soprano will debut in a Sofia Coppola production of “La Traviata” alongside Plácido Domingo and Arturo Chacón Cruz at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. When I reached her last week via Skype for this interview, she was already there for rehearsals, and seemed lively and engaged. Would […]

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I’m Not Doing Anything

It wasn’t Helga Davis’ idea to have a podcast named after herself. Nor was ending up on the radio in the first place. At WQXR, the most listened-to classical station in the United States, Davis is among a cohort of contributors—including violist Nadia Sirota, composer Nico Muhly, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas—who conjure art both […]

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Sonic Monuments

The music of composer, oboist, and installation artist Sky Macklay explores bold contrasts, theatrical elements, humor, and the physics of sound production and perception. Her works have been performed by ensembles such as ICE, Yarn/Wire, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Spektral Quartet. Two of her pieces, including the string quartet “Many Many Cadences” discussed in this […]

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The Texture of Being Alive

A few weeks ago I interviewed Jennifer Walshe via Skype; I was in Berlin, she in her office in London. That week Walshe’s work was to be recognized with an Innovation award from the British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), and she was also looking ahead to coming to Berlin in January for […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Pamela Z Playlist

The composer, performer, and media artist Pamela Z works with a wide variety of techniques, including “voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video,” and has produced art both for the concert hall and the museum. From San Francisco, she sent us this playlist. Each track here contains a multiplicity of influences; taken together, the […]

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The Middle of the Highway

On a recent Wednesday, I met the Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang in a café in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood: an area popular with classical musicians for its chic, international atmosphere. She had to cancel our previous appointment, writing on WhatsApp that she had a bad cold; then a doctor diagnosed her with mononucleosis. She described […]

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On December 1, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City will perform its first opera by a female composer since 1903. Kaija Saariaho’s 2000 opera “L’Amour de Loin” is a haunting tale of love transcending the bounds of distance and death, adapted from a medieval troubadour’s fictionalized life story. There are only three characters: Jaufre […]

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10 years ago, in an ill-tempered article for the Berliner Zeitung, a music critic coined the term “cuddle classical.” It referred to musicians whose PR strategies tended towards the sweet and approachable; alongside the violinist Hilary Hahn, he named Janine Jansen, Baiba Skride, Leonidas Kavakos, and (of course) Lang Lang. I think he got Hahn, […]

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Hierarchy of the Moment

The conductor Elena Schwarz grew up in Lugano, Switzerland, with parents who were both doctors specialized in internal medicine. Her recently work has emphasized contemporary music: she performed Olga Neuwirth at The Lucerne Festival, and Brian Ferneyhough in 2013 in Berlin, among other composers and ensembles. When we spoke on Skype, she spoke English fluently, […]

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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 […]