Seth Colter Walls is a freelance writer whose arts reporting and criticism have appeared in Newsweek, the Village Voice, the Washington Post, and The Awl. Previously, he worked as a writer and editor at The Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, and as a reporter in The Huffington Post's DC bureau. He is a graduate of NYU and Columbia University. Follow Seth on Twitter at @sethcolterwalls.
Reedist and composer Ken Thomson's first album – titled "Thaw" and performed by the JACK Quartet – stands as his new career highlight. Stream the album in full all this week.
The debut release of John Luther Adams's epic Inuksuit is a strong reading of a piece that otherwise precludes the very idea of a “benchmark” or reference recording. Stream the album in full all this week.
On her newest album, "Density," Claire Chase, flutist and director of the International Contemporary Ensemble, presents selections by Reich, Lucier, Balter, Varèse and more. Stream the album all this week.
James McVinnie's debut on the Bedroom Community label offers up nearly an hour of new organ music from composer Nico Muhly that ranges from standalone prelude-stunners to a cycle of Anglican Common Prayer hymns. Stream it in full all this week.
Caleb Burhans clearly has a sense of purpose. As a founding member of various performer collectives like Alarm Will Sound and Newspeak – and with his contributions as a composer to several projects on the New Amsterdam and Cantaloupe labels – any casual observer might easily be able to identify the string-player/vocalist as an important part of the contemporary classical scene in New York.
John Luther Adams's powerful compositions are inspired by a lineage of American mavericks from Henry Cowell to James Tenney. Read more and listen to the Alaskan environmentalist introduce his music.
With pianist Jacob Greenberg’s mobility of attack complementing soprano Tony Arnold’s every step of the way, "Harawi" feels like one of the best new interpretations of Messiaen in years. Stream the entire album this week.
Poul Ruders’s diverse body of compositions is tied together by his smooth absorption of many styles and modes. Read a full profile on the Danish composer, featured on this weekend's CONTACT! performance with The New York Philharmonic, and listen to him introduce his music.
The big news, in indie-centric corners, will be that Jace Clayton (a.k.a. DJ /rupture) is releasing a classical album. Yet even more noteworthy is the album's subject matter. Stream the entire album this week.
Given his Yale teaching post and the number of composers he has mentored there, Martin Bresnick may wind up being remembered as the Nadia Boulanger of the late 20th-century American scene: a rite of compositional passage embodied in a single instructor.
Lonesome Roads, the title track of 30-year old composer Dan Visconti's new album, gives the oft-separated styles of modernism and folk a reason to hang together. Stream the entire album on demand.
Esa-Pekka Salonen’s affection for the modern composer Witold Lutosławski has long been evident. Now the Finnish conductor has recorded a complete set of the Polish icon's four symphonies. Stream them on demand this week only.
Now that Elliott Carter has passed, we might well bestow the title of “world’s most impressive late-blooming composer” onto the shoulders of Esa-Pekka Salonen. Read a full portrait of the Finnish composer-conductor and listen to him introduce many of his key works.
Composer Laurie Spiegel had something like a career year in 2012, at least so far as attention goes. Stream for this week only the reissue of her classic 1980 album, "The Expanding Universe."
If you thought the San Francisco Symphony's promotion of American "maverick" composers has gotten tiresome, this collection of Cowell, Varèse, Harrison and Cage may make you reconsider.
Charles Ives wrote him a letter of recommendation to Harvard. He attended the New York premiere of The Rite of Spring. Decades later, Stravinsky himself would proclaim that he had written the first American masterpiece.
Cellist Jakob Kullberg and the New Music Orchestra present cello concertos by Saariaho, Norgard and Nordheim.
Heinz Karl Gruber (or HK Gruber, depending on your program) isn’t afraid of being called silly. One of the Austrian composer’s most notorious pieces, Frankenstein!! (yes, with two exclamation points), is formally described as a “pan-demonium,” and takes as its text some would-be Austrian children’s rhymes penned by an absurdist-minded pal of Gruber’s.
This live 1984 recording of Glass's Einstein is nothing close to complete. However, it's a (smartly) edited 77-minute highlight reel from the opera, paired with a DVD of the documentary produced during the same run.
Seth Colter Walls reviews Cornelius Dufallo's release Journaling for Q2 Music. Stream the whole record in our online preview all week.