NewMusicBox

Your home for the diverse and timely stories, news, opinions, and voices of new music creators and practitioners across the United States.

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Tyshawn Sorey at Wesleyan
Interviews
Aakash Mittal

Tyshawn Sorey: Music and Mindfulness

Tyshawn Sorey’s music emerges from a vast array of experiences, communities, storytelling, and a deep engagement in mentor-mentee relationships. Throughout his rigorous career as a composer and performer, Sorey regularly teaches and mentors other artists to support the creation of their own work.

A space telescope image of a distant galaxy.
Articles
Multiple Authors

Towards a Framework for Responsible Trans Casting Part 4: The Framework

After pondering a list of 10 questions representing the most frequent and pernicious” you should ask yourself to avoid bad trans writing in opera and music theater, we encourage you to “unlearn the lazy shortcuts that use binary genders to bypass genuine characterization.”

Christopher Rouse and Marin Alsop
Articles
Marin Alsop

Irreverent and Profound—Remembering Christopher Rouse (1949-2019)

Chris Rouse was not only one of the great composers of our time, he was also a great friend and colleague.

Members of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective performing on a proscenium stage in front of a large audience.
Articles
Benjamin Barson

Answering the Call: Antiphony Between the Music and Social Movements

There is a “call and response” that exists between revolutionary art and meaningful political outcomes.

Hiking
Articles
Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer

Creating and Listening in Alaska: My experience with Composing in the Wilderness

Composing in the Wilderness takes composers out into the rugged expanse of Alaska to find inspiration, connect with nature on an intimate level, and bring a new piece of music from idea to performance all within a few weeks.

Ianne Fields Stewart
Articles
brin solomon

Towards a Framework for Responsible Trans Casting Part 3: The Writers

Before an actor can bring a character to life, someone has to write that character into existence. Who are the trans writers bringing trans stories into the world, and how do they handle trans issues in their work? This article starts to provide an answer.

Over 50 people gathered in a room in front of a banner for the Mesopotamian Water Forum, the ones in front holding placards which read
Articles
Benjamin Barson

Building a Solidarity Economy through Revolutionary Music: the Making of Mirror Butterfly

How can art be a hammer, and not simply representational? One solution is to work in dialogue with actual social movements and create spaces where activists are at the center of the creative and economic processes behind the creation of new work.

Samy Nour Younes
Articles
brin solomon

Towards a Framework for Responsible Trans Casting Part 2: The Performers

The artists interviewed for this article have performed everywhere from Germany to San Francisco, in grand opera houses and black box theaters, in revivals of standard repertoire and world premieres; they are different ages, at different points in their careers; they have different genders, and different ethnicities. Their voices capture a broad cross-section of contemporary trans singing theater communities.

Articles
Miranda Cuckson

Fierce and Tender Humanity—Remembering Mario Davidovsky (1934-2019)

Mario Davidovsky was a passionately involved member of society and the music world. A lot of people have noted his generosity nurturing other artists, his integrity, his vehemently stated opinions, his volubility and notoriously long conversations that would range over world history, science, religion, politics.

Activists of the international including Nejma Nefertiti, Mama C and Gizelxanath Rodriguez.
Articles
Benjamin Barson

Fighting for Our Senses: Ears, Bodies and Hearts in the struggle to redefine Reality

How we convert our environment, through the sensory mediums of our ears, tongues, fingers, eyes, and nostrils into reality is as political and contested as net neutrality versus corporate control of the internet.

Eric McKeever, Mikki Sodergren, and Adrienne Danrich
Articles
Kamala Sankaram

The Musical is Political

Music has the ability to touch us deeply, and music used in the service of storytelling can transport us into different places and times, even allowing us to assume the perspectives of people very different than we are. I believe that this is where the potential power of the art form lies. I also believe that embracing this power is what will allow the form to remain vibrant and relevant well into the future.

A 1750-52 painting by Jacopo Amigoni depicting (from left to right) Metastasio, Teresa Castellini, Farinelli, Amigoni, Farinelli's dog, and Farinelli's page boy; the score is
Articles
brin solomon

Towards a Framework for Responsible Trans Casting, Part 1: Words, Words, Words

In all the stories I’ve experienced across all forms of media featuring trans characters written by cis creators, only a handful haven’t been deeply misguided at best, and that number keeps shrinking because the creators who get it right keep coming out as trans. Operas and musicals are no different.

Nejma Nefertiti on stage performing the role of
Articles
Benjamin Barson

Artivism and Decolonization: A brief Theory, History and Practice of Cultural Production as Political Activism

We do not claim that our definitions of artivism are monopolistic. There are probably as many ways to define artivism as there are to define music, performance art, jazz, or growing your own food. We share our experiences after years of an activist-infused practice, such as performances at the U.S.- Mexican border outside of migrant detention centers, at an environmental conference in Northern Iraq, and at the founding of an Ecosocialist International in Venezuela. We feel the Artivist must go beyond critiquing the moment in which they were born.

Lucy Dhegrae sitting and her reflection in the mirror.
Interviews
Frank J. Oteri

Lucy Dhegrae: The Art and Science Behind the Voice

Urgency is an important ingredient in everything Lucy Dhegrae does—whether singing music by Eve Beglarian, Joanna Newsom, Jason Eckardt, Gabrielle Herbst, and many others, or curating Resonant Bodies, a three-day festival of contemporary vocal music that takes place annually in New York City and which has now had iterations in Chicago as well as in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Urgency is also what fuels her life’s mission: to be empowered as a singer and to empower other singers which, aside from a desire to make musical experiences fairer, yields better performances.

The Refugee Orchestra Project performing at the United Nations in 2018
Articles
Lidiya Yankovskaya

“Shut up and play"—Musicians as Activists in the 21st century

Musicians are uniquely positioned to convey the following simple message that we should all, as artists, understand: no matter who you are, where you are from, how much money you have, or what language you speak, you have inherent worth.

Composing desk
Articles
Paul Elwood

Is Passion a Young Person’s Game?

Paul Elwood explores a fundamental question: If it’s not passion in the 50+ age category (and, in his mind, that’s debatable) what is it that keeps us going in our work—especially if, like him and countless others, huge success hasn’t come knocking?

Girl with balloon, graffiti on concret
Articles
Josh Armenta

The Aftermath

When your life falls apart, you learn to build a new one. Likewise, when your vision collapses, you learn to see things through a different lens. Josh Armenta has used these experiences to transform how he works and to embrace citizen-artistry with a new found defiant zeal.

The audience singing
Articles
Lidiya Yankovskaya

Working to Create a Plurality of Voices Within Classical Music

The need for a plurality of voices within our field has become dire. If we do not begin to represent our communities and the world around us, our institutions cannot continue to evolve. As organizations across the nation attempt to deal with this issue, many continue to face roadblocks, despite incremental efforts. How do we break the cycle and move the culture of classical music into the 21st century?

A path between fences
Articles
Josh Armenta

Admitting I Had A Problem

After struggling with depression and anxiety, Josh Armenta tried adjusting his lifestyle and even moved to a new city, hoping that the changes would help alleviate these problems and allow him to better focus on his composition. Eventually he took the step to try medication, however, and for the first time in years could see that things would be okay.

Road to the lighthouse
Articles
Molly Sheridan

It's not a goodbye, it's a see you later

There was perhaps no more important a “yes” in my career than when I accepted Frank J. Oteri’s offer to come and work on this crazy thing called NewMusicBox 18 years ago. It has been a beautiful adventure.
 

From Opera Saratoga's 2019 world premiere production of Ricky Ian Gordon and Frank Bidart's opera Ellen West
Articles
Lidiya Yankovskaya

Shaping the American Operatic Canon

It is essential for any composer who wants to write opera to have an extensive background as a dramatist, wordsmith, orchestrator, and musician. But currently, this expectation is also impractical, unreasonable and highly exclusionary. In order to cultivate a diverse generation of talent, we must find a way to overcome the existing limitations of accessibility to sufficient training.

Articles
James Moore

This is the Album of the Future

How are albums adapting and changing in the digital world? James Moore is looking for clues as to where the art form might be headed.

Two elevators
Articles
Josh Armenta

Finding Myself in an Alternate Reality, or 12 months on Sand Hill Road

When composer Josh Armenta took a job in Silicon Valley to pay the bills, he quickly felt completely disconnected from his field and craft. However, after opening his mind to the environment he was immersed in, he was able to take away three lessons that would become incredibly important to moving his music career forward.

Oliver Knussen
IMAGE: Maurice Foxall
Articles
New Music USA

2018 Ditson Conductor’s Award Honors Oliver Knussen

Established in 1945, the Ditson Conductor’s Award honors conductors who have a distinguished record of performing and championing contemporary American music.