Sarah Cahill: What I Learned As a Music Critic, and Why It Still Matters

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Dave’s Coffee Shop on Broadway in Oakland was always the destination for me to meet a deadline. I started going there soon after becoming the classical music critic for the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly, in 1985. After a concert, I would take the bus to Dave’s, open all night, and sit at the counter and order fried eggs and corned beef hash – the kind that comes in a perfect oval patty, and looks and tastes like dog food – and endless refills of coffee. I would sit there and write out the whole review by hand, and then take it home and type it up on my ancient Royal typewriter. It could be five pages or eight pages – however long was necessary to go into great detail and depth.

R. Andrew Lee: Maximal Minimalist on the Facebook Frontier

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Ask any musician who makes a habit of playing so-called minimalist music, in any of the various shades and permutations of that term, about the secrets to success; the answer likely would involve qualities like patience, stamina, perseverance, and faith in the value of the undertaking. Look at the burgeoning career of R. Andrew Lee, a pianist and pedagogue whose sterling reputation largely resides in his exemplary performances and recordings of minimal music, and you see precisely the same qualities in play.

Kate Outterbridge: Fostering Creativity and Communal Presence Through Music

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“We will deepen the connection between music and mental health through a residency that offers musical performances and group exercises that inspire the creative process, fostering a safe space for openness and expression.” This ambitious statement reflects the mission of my string quartet as we aspire to design a residency program within a hospital setting this spring.

Musing on the fate of music journalism.

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National Sawdust has not only taken a keen interest in monitoring and evaluating the current state of music journalism and criticism from its inception, but also more recently has pursued an active role in fostering its continued health. We talk regularly with journalists, critics, institutions, and other influential figures about the state of our collective affairs – now, we'll be sharing some of those conversations with the reading public.

Finding Relevance and Revelation in Jim Crow-era Black Press Arts Coverage

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On March 10 and 11, scholars from various academic disciplines and institutions will gather at Yale University for an interdisciplinary conference that will explore coverage of the arts in African American newspapers and magazines between Reconstruction and the end of legalized Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s. Over the course of two days and 12 panel sessions, participants will delve into the many ways in which the arts appeared in a perhaps paradoxically flourishing black press during this era.

Amanda Monaco: As Serious As Your Life

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When I turned 30, even though it was going to be expensive, I felt I ought to purchase health insurance. Having heard horror stories from older colleagues about scenarios in which they had found themselves, it seemed to be the right thing to do. I could only hope it was the biggest chunk of money I would ever “throw away.” Fifteen months after I had made that decision, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Kinan Azmeh: Exiled by Travel Ban, Maintaining Optimism in Adversity

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In the hours and days after President Donald J. Trump announced an executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, including those with valid visas and residency permits, numerous stories circulated about soldiers, translators, teachers, scientists, and others who'd performed exceptional service on behalf of the U.S., yet suddenly couldn't come back home. One such narrative that gained especially wide circulation, through an Associated Press article published on January 29, was that of Kinan Azmeh, a 40-year-old clarinetist and composer born in Damascus, Syria.

Performance Response: Prototype Festival 2017

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Having completed its fifth year, the Prototype festival is a success. But in applauding a festival for its vision, we can also ponder uncomfortable questions, some of which might be unanswerable. What do we expect from a 21st-century opera? Does it have a cultural obligation to the representation of gender? What is its role in advocacy? Is it possible to be progressive and retrospective at the same time?

David First: How to Profit During the End of the World

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Presenting something meaningful and beautiful that has enough immediacy to address and express peoples’ hopes, fears, anxieties, etc, is always a good thing. It’s nothing less than a measured, subversive counterbalance to the outside world’s sinister forces. Does it do much to change things on a grand scale? Probably not. But as I said to a fellow musician the other day, shoemakers make shoes. We do what we do.

Olivia Giovetti: Ways of Listening

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“No why. Just here.” I first came across the Cage quote shortly before I started meditating, a practice that I’d adopted initially out of the need to give myself some space from my work in the music industry. When I started practicing at MNDFL, a Greenwich Village studio that offers classes based around different branches of mindfulness, an offering of sound-based practice seemed counterintuitive to someone whose livelihood depended on sound.