Alex Ross at the Fitzgerald

WHAT: The New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, joins Fred Child, host of American Public Media’s Performance Today®, for an evening of music and conversation, with music provided by the Turtle Island String Quartet.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 7, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E Exchange St, St. Paul

TICKETS: $20; MPR members receive a discount. Contact the Fitzgerald Theater box office at 651-290-1221 or visit

TUNE IN: The event will be recorded for broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio’s Classical Music Service (date TBD).

Alex Ross, one of the leading classical music writers in the country, will join Performance Today host Fred Child for an evening of music and conversation to discuss Ross’ new book, The Rest is Noise. The Turtle Island String Quartet’s famous ability to cross genres will provide a musical complement to Ross’ exploration of the stylistic range of 20th-century music.

With his book, The Rest is Noise, and his blog of the same name, Ross tackles head-on the notion that classical music lives in a vacuum, observing the changing attitudes within the classical music world toward “accessible” music. In a “compulsively readable” style, Ross looks at musicians as diverse as Strauss, Gershwin and Philip Glass, casting their stories against a backdrop of the upheavals of 20th century history.

Together with the avant garde, jazz-infused Turtle Island String Quartet, Ross will discuss the changing trends toward the viability of all musical genres.

About The Rest is Noise

“There seems always to have been a ‘crisis of modern music,’ but by some insane miracle one person finds the way out. The impossibility of it gives me hope.” —Björk

“…[T]his is no plodding history. With his typically lyrical and attentive style, the author presents a lucid, often gripping story of a complex history.” —Kirkus Reviews

Ross’ first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, is a cultural history of music from 1900–2000. Just published, it has already received resounding acclaim, and Ross’s appearances have attracted enthusiastic capacity crowds.

The Rest Is Noise shows why 20th-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise,” said Ross. “It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.”

The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the 1920s, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, to downtown New York in the 1960s and ’70s and beyond.

About Alex Ross

Hailed as “the best listener in America” by the New York Observer, Alex Ross has been the music critic of The New Yorker since 1996 and his blog, The Rest is Noise, is one of the first stops on the Web for insightful music talk. His work has also appeared in The New Republic, The London Review of Books, Lingua Franca and The Guardian. From 1992 to 1996 he was a critic at The New York Times. He has received two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for music criticism, fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the Banff Centre, and a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for contributions to the field of contemporary music.

About the Turtle Island String Quartet

Since its inception in 1985, the Turtle Island String Quartet has fused the classical quartet aesthetic with contemporary American musical styles, exploring a world of genres including folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, rock and hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India. The group has recorded for the labels Windham Hill, Chandos, Koch and Telarc; contributed soundtracks for major motion pictures, TV and radio credits such as The Today Show, All Things Considered and A Prairie Home Companion; and collaborated with famed artists such as clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, The Manhattan Transfer, pianists Billy Taylor and Kenny Barron, the Ying Quartet and the Parsons Dance Company.

The group’s latest album, “A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane,” explores Coltrane’s repertoire as translated to strings, with a blend of composition and improvisation.

About Fred Child

Fred Child is the host of American Public Media’s Performance Today, the most listened-to classical music radio show in the United States. Child is also the commentator and announcer for Live from Lincoln Center, the only live performing arts series on television. He was the host of NPR’s Creators @ Carnegie and he contributes CD reviews to All Things Considered and his classical music reports appear on Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. He’s been a contributor to Billboard magazine and a commentator for BBC Radio 3.

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