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Ashley Bathgate

When a Critic Hosts the Premiere
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Zachary Woolfe
February 14, 2020

“Please silence your cellphones.”

There are few phrases I hear more often in my life as a music critic. But it was strange — like a child playing dress-up — to speak the sentence myself, and in the incongruous setting of my own living room on a rainy evening earlier this week.

A few months ago, I got an email from the publicist for Michael Gordon, one of the Bang on a Can trio of composers who, since the 1980s, have infused into classical styles a wry and rebellious rock sensibility.

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The Guardian UK has listed David Lang's the little match girl passion as one of the top 25 works of classical music written in the 21st Century. The composition received a Pulitzer Prize, the recording won a Grammy Award, and the score has since become one of the most performed new works in the world.

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Fire in my mouth, conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden, is nominated for two Grammy awards:

Best Contemporary Classical Composition (Julia Wolfe)

Best Engineered Album, Classical (Bob Hanlon and Lawrence Rock, engineers; Ian Good and Lawrence Rock, mastering engineers). Lawrence Rock is Audio Director of the New York Philharmonic; Ian Good is Assistant, Digital Platforms & Experience at the New York Philharmonic.

Fire in my mouth, co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, is a searingly vivid evocation of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The World Premiere performances, this past January, capped New York Stories: Threads of Our City, our exploration of New York’s roots as a city of immigrants.

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