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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 »


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 »


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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Vicky Chow, Tristan Perich: Surface Image

Label: New Amsterdam

The interlocking rhythm patterns of Steve Reich, the micro-universe contained in the drones of La Monte Young, the hypnotic sounds of the German motorik bands of the ’70s…these are a few of the straws I will grasp at in an effort to describe the sound world of Tristan Perich‘s Surface Image. Perich specializes in 1-bit electronics, meaning electronic sounds that contain only a single piece of information, unlike, say, a synthesizer, where each note is a complex composite of different frequencies. Charmingly low tech and surprisingly… more »

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 »

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Classical Music For A Modern World

By Seth Colter Walls, Contributor

Sure, we play Bach, Beethoven and Mozart -- though we also dig the early music of Tallis, chance works by Cage, arias from Verdi and John Adams, as well as the composers on New Amsterdam records. Everything here was released after 2008, too, which is another way of declaring that notes written down on paper are still some of the most exciting ones to hear in all of contemporary music. more »

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