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Some Pig! Radiant Justin Davidson

Filed under: Pick of the Issue   Tagged: ,

Justin, my former Newsday colleague and a Pulitzer genius sort of person, has really outdone himself with this week's story (not online, but this accompanying video is) on the art and science and dance of classical music conducting. As I read it I was suddenly itching to listen to some Mahler, and then realized what I wanted really badly was to conduct some Mahler.

One of my sundry uncredited blurbs on the backs of paperbacks goes (this is for Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven, which I reviewed for Salon), "[Smiley] makes us care about horses the way E.B. White made us care about pigs in Charlotte's Web, and makes us understand them the way Walter Tevis made us understand chess in The Queen's Gambit." I feel the same way about this piece: Justin is going to make thousands of people who hardly ever listen to classical music suddenly dream about batons and the waiting faces, poised bows, and expectant embouchures of orchestras, like that great scene in The Phantom Tollbooth where Milo gets to conduct the sunset. Incidentally, I think this one story may contain more juicily expressive adjectives than even the most ardent of New Yorker issues in their entirety. The editing is also palpably excellent (I felt the same way about the Sarah Silverman Profile I was just rereading). Well done!

Some Newsday stories by Justin Davidson
Justin as guest writer on Alex Ross's blog


Do like my Dad does. Buy yourself a conductor’s baton, and some fantastic speakers (he has giant, big, medium, and some really little ones I think are called “tweekers”), turn up the music, and start conducting! Nobody need know….

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