Parlando: Musical Matters with Vivien Schweitzer

Vivien Schweitzer (former New York Times music critic, pianist and author of A Mad Love: An Introduction to Opera, interviews artists who are changing the narrative in classical music and opera. Schweitzer produces these podcasts for Classical Voice North America.

On this latest episode of Parlando: Musical Matters I interview the composer, pianist and climate activist Gabriela Lena Frank talks about the environmental damage caused by the music industry, how her significant hearing loss has impacted her career, the issue of cultural appropriation, and how the music industry’s “emphasis on perfection leads to a perfect imperfection of soul.”

Previous episodes: Can music save and heal?  Educators Dr. Kevin Johnson, instructional supervisor at Education Through Music, and Anne Fitzgibbon, founder and executive director of the Harmony Program – discuss the value of music instruction, the disruptions of the pandemic, and the many social and academic benefits that kids reap from a solid music education.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra composer-in-residence Tarik O’Regan and executive director Courtney Beck discuss the “fetishization of new music” and “the dirty truth” of why many composers prefer writing for period-instrument orchestras.

Violinist Augustin Hadelich spoke to me about his quarantine videos of Black composers, racism in the classical music world, the wonderful Bach album he recorded for Warner Classics during lockdown, the benefits to being his own duo partner, why he keeps his politics private, and the hostility he encounters when he programs contemporary music.

The violinist, composer and teacher Daniel Bernard Roumain  discusses his work as a social justice activist, his Trump-loving older sister, how the opera and classical music world need to change, the importance of open dialogue, and some of his recent and upcoming musical projects. 

Vivien Schweitzer is the author of “A Mad Love: An Introduction to Opera” (Basic Books), named one of the Ten Best Books of September by the Christian Science Monitor and praised by BBC Music Magazine and the NYT Book Review. She was a classical music and opera critic for the New York Times between 2006-2016 and currently writes about music and culture for various publications. She trained as a pianist at the Eastman School of Music and (before the pandemic) performed regularly at venues such as Bargemusic in Brooklyn. She loves chamber music and collaborating with singers. Also find her at •

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