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Personal Mathematics

“Music,” says composer and woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell, “is a science.” The octogenarian is in Bergen, Norway, for the city’s annual Borealis Festival of experimental music. In a few days’ time, he’ll bring the weekend to a thrilling close with two sets, one solo (accompanied by several pre-recorded videos of himself improvising at home), and […]

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After the Silence

The 29-year-old German oboist Juri Vallentin constructed his Berlin Prize for Young Artists program around a climactic scene from Patrick Süskind’s novel Perfume, adding theatrical elements taken from our common experience of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, titled “Inner Voices,” made Vallentin one of two winners of the competition, alongside cellist Valerie Fritz.  […]

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Whispering Through the Music

It’s a bitter sign that we’re still living in the era of “firsts” when it comes to Black representation in classical music. The first Black musician to hold a principal chair in the New York Philharmonic did not secure that spot in the first decades of the orchestra’s founding; nor in the explosive heyday of […]

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Digging

Cassie Kinoshi’s compositions appear on her SoundCloud in a couple of unassuming annual collections. The six-minute clips are given generic titles like “Compositions: Instrumental Showreel 2020.” But beneath their utilitarian form lie collections of substantial creativity. “Afronaut,” a gritty Afrofuturist track from the Mercury Award-nominated SEED Ensemble, sits alongside “If She Could Dance Naked Under […]

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Cultural Gumbo

Titus Underwood is the principal oboist of the Nashville Symphony in Tennessee. In February, he became the first Black tenured principal oboist of an American orchestra. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Underwood attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Colburn School, studying with legendary oboists John Mack and Elaine Douvas. This year, […]

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Lived Experience

“I don’t know if you can hear the helicopters overhead,” guitarist Sean Shibe said as he introduced his encore. The helicopters were policing a Black Lives Matter demonstration just down the road from the Wigmore Hall. Shibe’s encore was a guitar arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Farewell to Stromness,” a piece of protest music written […]

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Ritual Time

When people bring up the rituals of the classical concert hall, it usually isn’t to celebrate them. Countless blog posts, newspaper columns, and tweets have criticized the unspoken formalized rules of such performances—especially rules about when it is appropriate to clap—for being barriers to new listeners not already steeped in the culture. Whatever the merit […]

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Beauty is a Process

Miami-based composer and saxophonist Matthew Evan Taylor’s career has formed an impressive arc—from playing jazz and blues in Mississippi, to being signed with rock band Moses Mayfield to major label Epic Records, to receiving his doctorate in composition. These days he is engaged in composing and performing new music and opera, and is an active […]

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Occupy Handel

On May 12, 2016, the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff, of the left-of-center Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), and begin an impeachment trial against her. Rousseff—who spent three years in prison in the 1970s during the dictatorship—is now suspended from her duties for 180 days; Michel Temer, a 75-year-old politician, will succeed her […]

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