Non-academic writing

New York Times, New Yorker, and NewMusicBox

(I group these three outlets together not just because they’re alliterative, but also because they represent my most substantive public writing.)

“The 1918 Pandemic’s Impact on Music? Surprisingly Little.” New York Times, 6 May 2020.

“3,000 Interviews. 50 Years. Listen to the History of American Music.” New York Times, 23 April 2020.

“Charles Wuorinen, Uncompromising Modernist Composer, Dies at 81.” New York Times, 13 March 2020.

“A Composer Puts Her Life in Music, Beyond Labels.” New York Times, 7 February 2020.

“A Year After Kendrick Lamar, Will the Music Pulitzer Embrace Pop?” New York Times, 11 April 2019.

“Making Peace with the Music Left Behind by an Omnivorous Young Composer.” New York Times, 4 January 2019.

“Embodying High Culture, Crankily.” New York Times, 25 May 2018.
A profile of composer Charles Wuorinen (also: related thread)

“Uncomfortable Serious and Disarmingly Fun: The Irreplaceable Matt Marks.” NewMusicBox, 16 May 2018.
An posthumously published interview with the late, great Matt Marks; RIP Matt

“The Pioneering Modernist Who Wrote an Audacious String Quartet.” New York Times, 13 October 2017.
An examination of the life & music of Ruth Crawford Seeger; interview with Peggy Seeger

“Amy Beach, a Pioneering American Composer, Turns 150.” New York Times, 1 September 2017.
An examination of the life & music of Amy Beach, on her 150th birthday; interview with Liane Curtis.

“New Horizons, Old Barriers.” NewMusicBox, 20 August 2017.
Looking back at what the New York Philharmonic’s 1983 Horizons festival meant (and a preview of some components of my book)

“‘Hamilton’ Is Known For Its Music, but What Did Alexander Hamilton Listen To?” New York Times, 11 August 2017.
What the music of the American Revolution sounded like, in the era of Alexander Hamilton; interviews with Alex Lacamoire and Elissa Harbert (also: related thread)

“The Electronic Music That Tom Wolfe and the Kennedys Frugged To.” New York Times, 13 July 2017.
Commemorating Morton Subotnick’s pioneering Silver Apples of the Moon; interviews with Morton Subotnick and Ted Gordon

“How a Somber Symphony Sold More Than a Million Records.” New York Times, 9 June 2017.
Henryk Górecki’s Third Symphony sold a lot of records in the 1990s, here’s why; interviews with Robert Hurwitz and Peter Gelb

“What Du Yun’s Pulitzer Win Means for Women in Classical Music.” The New Yorker, 13 April 2017.
Reflections on classical music & gender after all three music Pulitzer finalists were women

“Tony Conrad Was Such a Good Minimalist, He Was Almost Forgotten.” New York Times, 24 March 2017.
On the music & legacy of experimentalist Tony Conrad; interviews with Tyler Hubby, Henry Rollins, and MV Carbon

“Q2 Music’s Brilliant ‘Meet the Composer’ Podcast.” The New Yorker, 4 March 2017.
Trying to identify why one of my favorite podcasts is so good

“Philip Glass Celebrates His 80th Birthday With an 11th Symphony.” New York Times, 27 January 2017.
A Q&A with Philip Glass in advance of his new symphony; interview with Philip Glass

“To Help Women in Opera, Several Institutions Arise.” New York Times, 14 December 2016.
An article accompanying “Women Are Making Opera, and It’s Not Easy,” on institutional initiatives to promote female composers

“Women Are Making Opera, and It’s Not Easy.” New York Times, 14 December 2016
In advance of the Met Opera staging L’Amour du Loin, the first opera written by a woman that the company had produced since 1903, a discussion with 10 women about writing opera today; interviews with Jennifer Higdon, Kamala Sankaram, Olga Neuwirth, Missy Mazzoli, Tania León, Bora Yoon, Anna Clyne, Unsuk Chin, Meredith Monk, and Lisa Bielawa

“The Secret Muse of the Downtown Scene? Turtles.” New York Times, 8 November 2016.
One of the best things I’ve ever done; interviews with Meredith Monk, La Monte Young, and Kurt Munkacsi

“A Macarthur for the Composer Julia Wolfe.” The New Yorker, 22 September 2016.
A profile of Julia Wolfe after she won a MacArthur

“Colin Kaepernick and the Radical Uses of the Star-Spangled Banner.” The New Yorker. 29 August 2016.
Looking at the history of the Star-Spangled Banner as an anthem for voicing political dissent (I also spoke about this with On the Media)

“Imagining Community at Bang on a Can’s First Marathon.” NewMusicBox, 22 June 2016.
Scrutinizing the significance of Bang on a CAn’s juxtaposition of Reich and Babbitt back in 1987

“For Black Lives Matter, Classical Music Steps In.” New York Times, 10 July 2016.
On the activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished; interviews with Eun Lee, Helga Davis, and Courtney Bryan

“Asking Whether Copland’s Abstruse Works are the Exception or the Rule.” New York Times, 13 April 2016.
Copland as modernist/Copland as serialist/Copland as populist/Copland as political (I even worked in some of my own Library of Congress archival research!); interview with Michael Tilson Thomas

“Hans Abrahamsen: Fame and Snow Falling on a Composer.” New York Times, 13 March 2016.
A profile of composer Hans Abrahamsen, of which I’m particularly proud; interviews with Abrahamsen and Brad Lubman

“Protecting Alberto Ginastera From Oblivion.” New York Times, 6 March 2016.
The astounding and underperformed music of Alberto Ginastera; interview with Julian Wachner

“Making Milton Babbitt’s Legacy Less Fearsome.” New York Times, 13 January 2016.
What Milton Babbitt, and his music, meant, during his centennial year; interviews with Joel Sachs, Conor Hanick, and Kati Agocs

“That Sweeping Sense.” New York Times, 29 November 2015.
A profile of composer Andrew Norman; interviews with Norman and Jeffrey Kahane

“Where the Limo Comes With an Opera.” New York Times, 31 October 2015.
A whirlwind through the streets of Los Angeles with The Industry’s mobile Hopscotch opera; interviews with Yuval Sharon and Ellen Reid

“Classical Duets of a Singular Nature.” New York Times, 30 September 2015.
Double-concertos are weird (but good?), whether they’re by Brahms or Wolfgang Rihm; interviews with Rihm, Lisa Batiashvili, Gautier Capuçon, Wang, and Jan Vogler

“Searching for Beauty Amidst Brokenness.” New York Times, 23 August 2015.
A brief essay on the music of Anna Thorvaldsdottir

“Patiently Playing on a Glacial Scale.” New York Times, 23 August 2015.
The evolution and revolutions of La Monte Young’s String Trio; interviews with La Monte Young, Charles Curtis, and Jeremy Grimshaw

“Mexico’s Envoy to Modernism.” New York Times, 2 August 2015.
Carlos Chávez as composer and bureaucrat; interviews with Leon Botstein and Leonora Saavedra

“A 50-Year-Old Still Plays in Parks.” New York Times, 14 June 2015.
A fun exploration of the New York Philharmonic’s iconic parks concerts; interviews with Irene Breslaw, Lawrence Tarlow, Oscar Schafer, and Alan Gilbert

“They’re Always Borrowing His Stuff.” New York Times, 8 February 2015.
Why young American composers (and the frontman of the Punch Brothers!) are obsessed with the music of Thomas Adès; interviews with Chris Thile, Gabriel Kahane, Andrew Norman, Andrew Bulbrook, Timo Andres, Ted Hearne, Christopher Cerrone, Caroline Shaw, and a bemused Adès

“Revisiting Our Neo-Classical Moment.” New York Times, 31 October 2014.
People should play more Irving Fine; interviews with Martin Boykan, Esther Geller, and Nicholas Brown

“Great Divide at the Concert Hall.” New York Times, 8 August 2014.
Why black composers still remain on the outskirts of classical music; interviews with T.J. Anderson, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Leonard Slatkin, and George Lewis

“Philip Smith, Master Trumpeter.” The New Yorker, 1 July 2014.
A profile of principal trumpet Philip Smith, on the occasion of his retirement from the New York Philharmonic; interviews with Ethan Bensdorf, Matthew Muckey, and Smith

“How the National Anthem Has Unfurled.” New York Times, 27 June 2014.
The early, and still-mostly-unknown, history of the Star-Spangled Banner; interviews with Thomas Hampson and Mark Clague

“His Music, Entwined With His Faith.” New York Times, 16 May 2014.
Revisiting the complicated question of Arvo Pärt’s religion, and how it shapes what we hear in his music; interviews with Pärt and Peter Bouteneff

“Classical Music Isn’t Dead.” The New Yorker, 29 January 2014.
A fairly impassioned (maybe a little overboard?) defense of classical music despite reports of its demise. (Note: the amazing infographic that Andy Doe made for this article is visible here.)

“Beethoven Again.” The New Yorker, 17 January 2014.
A critique of the obsession with cycles of Beethoven’s symphonies, sonatas, and quartets; interview with Jonathan Biss

“Nico Muhly’s Team Spirit.” The New Yorker, 20 October 2013.
Exploring two of my favorite pieces by Nico Muhly, in advance of his Met debut (actually recooking ideas from my undergrad thesis!); interview with Muhly

“Classical Saxophone, an Outlier, Is Anointed by John Adams Concerto.” New York Times, 18 September 2013.
On John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, the rare excuse I get to write about classical saxophone, my instrument, for a mainstream outlet (yes, this is also the article where Adams said some stuff about young composers that got him in trouble); interviews with John Adams and Timothy McAllister

“From the Shed to the Stars: Reflections on the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.” NewMusicBox, 17 October 2013.
Reflections on BUTI, a program particularly important to my musical growth, when its future was in question; interviews with Nico Muhly, Molly Yeh, Sam Solomon, Judd Greenstein, Logan K. Young, Jeffrey Beecher, Missy Mazzoli, Timo Andres

“Secrets Found Online, Shared Softly.” New York Times, 4 August 2013.
Looking at David Lang’s whisper opera as one of many examples of how opera has grappled with contemporary technology; interview with David Lang

“Shape Notes, Billings, and American Modernisms.” NewMusicBox, 24 July 2013.
Examining how shape notes and early American music have crept into American composition, from midcentury ultra-modernists to Brooklyn hipsters (this one won me an ASCAP Deems Taylor award!); interviews with Gabriel Kahane, Matt Marks, and David T. Little

“Looking Back at ‘Lenny’s Playlist.’” New York Times, 2 June 2013.
How Leonard Bernstein promoted avant-garde music, even when he may not have liked it; interview with Alan Gilbert

“Traveling 48 States, By Orchestra.” New York Times, 21 April 2013.
Looking at the artistic legacy of the WPA, in light of Gabriel Kahane’s “Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States”; interview with Gabriel Kahane

“Sounds Heard: Ernst Krenek—Complete Symphonies.” NewMusicBox, 4 September 2012.
I dug up Krenek’s English language memoirs at the Library of Congress, which aren’t listed in the catalog, and which are still stashed in tattered envelopes bearing the label: “This must not be opened before fifteen years after my death.”

“A Renaissance Man, and Many Eras Besides.” New York Times, 2 August 2012.
A profile of Pablo Heras-Casado; interviews with Heras-Casado, Katy Clark, and Pierre Boulez

“Moondrunk for a Century: A History of the Pierrot Ensemble.” NewMusicBox, 25 July 2012.
A deep dive into the so-called Pierrot ensemble and the repertoire composed for it

“New Kind of Online Dating: Classical Competitions.” New York Times, 12 February 2012.
New classical music competitions have emerged in the online era; interviews with David Lang, Hilary Hahn, and Andrew Norman

“Bridging Genres and Generations on the Fly.” New York Times, 3 February 2012.
A profile of the ensemble yMusic, which kickstarted my long fascination with the group; interviews with C.J. Camerieri, Ryan Lott, Judd Greenstein, Rob Moose, and Nadia Sirota (crazily enough, I also interviewed Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark for this article, but was green enough to think it was a slick move to not include them)

“Haunting Unpredictability.” New York Times, 4 August 2011.
Toshio Hosokawa’s Matsukaze is still one of my favorite operas ever, and it kills me that no one has made a recording; interviews with Hosokawa, Sasha Waltz, and Barbara Hannigan

“An Operatic Conundrum Untangled.” New York Times, 6 May 2011.
My Times debut, exploring Stockhausen’s Sonntag aus Licht in Cologne; interviews with Kathinka Pasveer, Thomas Ulrich, and Carlus Padrissa

Note: I write a very short weekly feature in the Arts & Leisure section’s “This Week in Arts,” and there are so many of them I’m not listing them here; if you’d like to read all of my Times output including those previews, click here.

Liner notes

“Collider: Orchestral Music by Daníel Bjarnason.” Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Bedroom Community, October 2018.

“Music by Philip Glass and Nico Muhly.” Angela and Jennifer Chun, violins; Nico Muhly, piano. Harmonia Mundi, April 2016.

“Paul Epstein: Piano Music.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, December 2015.

“Manfred Werder: Stück 1998.” Cristián Alvear, guitar. Irritable Hedgehog, October 2015.

“Jürg Frey: Pianist, Alone.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, September 2014.

“Britten: Cello Symphony, Cello Sonata.” Zuill Bailey, cello; North Carolina Symphony. Telarc, January 2014.

“Eva-Maria Houben: Piano Music.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, October 2013.

“Jürg Frey: Piano Music.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, November 2012.

“William Duckworth: The Time Curve Preludes.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, October 2011.

“Ann Southam: Soundings for a New Piano.” Andrew Lee, piano. Irritable Hedgehog, August 2011.


“A Long Time Coming.” 5 February 2016.
On Nonkeen [Frederic Gmeiner, Sebastian Singwald, Nils Frahm]’s The Gambler

“Striking Out on His Own.” 29 January 2016.
On Gabriel Kahane’s The Fiction issue

“A Joyful, Percussive Noise.” 5 January 2016.
On Sō Percussion’s Drumkit Quartets

“Tagging the Metropolis.” 8 December 2015.
On music in Baltimore

“Creating a Wide Platform.” 10 November 2015.
On Populist Records and the Los Angeles new-music scene

“Opera is the New Black.” 6 November 2015.
On recordings of new opera by Shara Nova, Emily Hall, Ted Hearne, Missy Mazzoli, and Christopher Cerrone

“Ain’t No Mellow Cello.” 30 October 2015.
On interesting approaches to the cello

“DIY Hustlers.” 9 October 2015.
On Alex G and Car Seat Headrest

“Solace in Sound.” 11 September 2015.
On Safia Nolin’s Limoilou

“The Studio is the Instrument.” 4 September 2015.
On K. Leimer/Savant

“Collaborator Hopscotch.” 24 July 2015.
On new music’s sprawl into other genres in Chicago

“Beauty in Repetition.” 26 May 2015.
On Rachel Grimes’s The Clearing

“Do You Feel Me?” 19 May 2015.
On Holly Herndon’s Platform

“Strange, Splendorous Sounds.” 28 April 2015.
On Roomful of Teeth’s Render

“Sufjan Stevens: Intimacy Umoored.” 30 March 2015
On Carrie & Lowell

“If You Can’t Join ‘Em…” 10 March 2015.
On the tenth anniversary MusicNOW compilation

“Perpetual Improvisation.” 27 January 2015.
On Ryuichi Sakamoto, Taylor Deupree, and Iluha’s Perpetual

“Expanding the Expanse.” 28 October 2014.
On minimalism

“The Lover and the Killer.” 9 September 2014.
On My Brightest Diamond’s This Is My Hand

“Psychedelic Journey.” 18 August 2014.
On Moodoïd’s Le monde Möö

“Tweaking and Shaping: Adult Jazz.” 5 August 2015.
On Adult Jazz’s Gist Is

“Small Town Secrets.” 3 June 2014.
On Welcome to Night Vale

“Unsettling Identity.” 20 May 2014.
On Sofia Reta

“Mechanical Sagas.” 29 April 2014.
On Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer and Michael Gordon’s Rushes

“Rolling Boulders, Making Beats.” 18 March 2014.
On Sisyphus

“Music for the Massacre at El Mozote.” 4 March 2014.
On David T. Little’s Haunt of Last Nightfall

“Chicago’s Quirky Modernism.” 13 December 2017.
On Parlour Tapes, Spektral Quartet, and the Chicago new-music scene


“Live: Sufjan Stevens’s deep explorations of death.” 13 May 2015.
On Carrie & Lowell live

“Live: At Duke, a day of sacred and secular new music.” 17 April 2014.
On James MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion and the duke new music ensemble

“A festival explores ancient music played by ancient instruments.” 22 January 2014.
On the H.I.P. Festival

“Musicians > audience members: Polyorchard’s first anniversary concert.” 30 December 2013.
On the improv collective Polyorchard

“In yMusic, indie rock meets classical, with satisfying results.” 30 October 2013.
On yMusic.

“Caroline Shaw, a North Carolina native not looking to be called a composer, wins music’s Pulitzer.” 8 May 2013.
A profile of Caroline Shaw, right after she won the Pulitzer.

Twitter threads and other tweets worth linking to

My dissertation, The Tweet

Classical music’s predators

Critiquing the premises of new operas

Gender and genius

Pay to play trends in music ed

Nadia Boulanger mythology

Statistics on gender disparities in music composition & theory PhDs

North Carolina symphony

Systemic sexism in classical music


Trump’s inaugural music


Caroline Shaw and The Life of Pablo

Other projects

“Composer of the Year: Julia Wolfe.” Musical America, October 2018.
A commissioned profile of from Musical America in honor of her being awarded Composer of the Year.

“What Controversial Changes at Harvard Mean for Music in the University.” The Log Journal, 25 April 2017.
Interviewing professors Anne Shreffler, Suzannah Clark, and Alexander Rehding about Harvard’s new music curriculum

Symphomania 2016; and here’s the playlist

Symphomania 2015; and here’s the playlist

A long time ago, mostly in college and right afterwards, I regularly blogged as Seated Ovation. Much of the writing is probably embarrassing, but it’s there if you want to read it.

“Muhly’s ‘Two Boys’ Debuts at ENO.” Washington Post, 27 June 2011.
One of my only professional concert reviews — of the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys

Commissioned essays

“Glass at 80.” Six essays on Philip Glass and his collaborators. Carolina Performing Arts, January 2017.

Essay on Paul Jacobs. Curtis Overtones, spring 2016.

Essay on Gil Shaham & The Knights. Carolina Performing Arts, spring 2016.

Essays on Les Arts Florissants and Lil’ Buck. Carolina Performing Arts, spring 2016.

“A Duo Recital: Gabriel Kahane & Timo Andres.” Carolina Performing Arts, January 2016.

“SONiC: A 21st Century Snapshot.” Program book for SONiC Festival, American Composers Orchestra, October 2015.

“Reinvention and Collaboration: Austrian Music in the U.S.” Our Haus: Austrian Cultural Forum New York, The First 10 Years. New York: Verlag Anton Pustet, 2013.

Essays for Huffington Post about Carolina Performing Arts’s “The Rite of Spring at 100,” 2013.