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The Curious Power of Outdoor Music

By Justin Davidson, Contributor

[From a Room is a series from architecture and classical music critic Justin Davidson that examines how people and spaces work together to create great venues. Read parts one and two. — Ed.] The cruelest thing you can do to a note is to play it outdoors. Inside, it bounces merrily around walls before it hits the ear, acquiring character, depth and resonance. Outside, it just floats away like a helium balloon, never to be heard… more »

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David Lang Wants to Be More Superficial

By Justin Davidson, Contributor

In 1987, David Lang was a 30-year-old composer and doctoral student who, with his Yale buddies Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, founded Bang on a Can, a scruffy organization dedicated to the proposition that all musics are created equal. These days, Lang is an eminence: Pulitzer Prize winner, member of the Yale faculty, and composer in residence at Carnegie Hall for 2013-14. Justin Davidson talked with him midway through "collected stories," a six-concert festival he… more »

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Meredith Monk Finds Her Own Vocabulary

By Seth Colter Walls, Contributor

Only a minute or so into our phone interview in late April, I realized that talking with Meredith Monk wasn't so different from listening to one of her recordings. And not merely because the singer-composer-dancer-filmmaker will often adorn phrases with a thrilling and wordless vocalization, just like she does on most of her classic albums. In her casual speech, Monk is as emotionally direct — and as capable of elegant, quick movement between radically different… more »

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yMusic, Balance Problems

Label: New Amsterdam

The New York-based sextet yMusic has quickly become the go-to ensemble in the so-called “indie classical” community. They have recently been championing the music of Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, and on Balance Problems they’ve assembled a collection of works from fellow shape-shifters like Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens.

The title track, by Nico Muhly — only 33 and already a seasoned veteran who’s written for the Met, the New York Philharmonic, Hollywood and Björk — offers Muhly’s engaging blend of minimalist rhythm patterns and… more »