Recitativo oscuro, Salvatore Sciarrino

Articulate Silences

Kandinsky Composition VIII

The music of Salvatore Sciarrino doesn’t just interrogate our strictly musical expectations, it probes the very boundaries of aural and temporal perception. Conjuring cavernous voids punctuated sparingly by fleeting outbursts of instrumental colour, the Italian composer confronts the listener with stretches of inactivity so vast that the sheer absence of event begins to imbue a near-excruciating sense of tension and urgency to his music. Such prominent use of silence is intended, in Sciarrino’s own words, to “put pressure on the ear”, ushering us into an almost meditative state of awareness in which all sounds, even those of our bodies, take on a revelatory significance. And this acute attunement to the corporeal is mirrored in the textures of the music: often centred around a heartbeat-like throb of a bass drum, Sciarrino’s sound-world seems as tied to the natural and the physical as it is to the ethereal.

Completed in 1999, Recitativo…

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What We’re (Not) Arguing About

Adventures in (Post) Gradland

“The life of the mind is born of fear,” writes Sarah Kendzior, referring to the fact that William Pannapacker and the small number of academics who have spoken out about the crisis in higher education have almost all felt compelled to use pseudonyms. Whatever side of the debate you may be on, I’m at least grateful that more and more people ARE speaking out, that more adjuncts are unionizing, and that potential and current humanities grad students can now make more informed decisions about their futures.

The numbers don’t lie, and they’re worth repeating. 70% of faculty positions are now held by adjuncts. This means that 70% of current humanities grad students, should they seek university jobs, are likely to end up making less than $25,000 a year, living without health insurance or any job security beyond the end of the current semester, and knowing that they…

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