Adam Dalva is a graduate of NYU’s MFA Program, where he was a Veterans Writing Workshop Fellow. His work has been published by The Millions, Tin House, Guernica, The Guardian, and other publications. He teaches Creative Writing at Rutgers University, and is also a dealer of French eighteenth-century antiques.


A Smashed and Splintered Music

A performance of David Lang's Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, the 23rd Street Armory, Philadelphia, December 3, 2017

Finally, the man with the broken trumpet began to blow, signaling the third and final movement of the fifty-minute performance. This was the most beautiful, lyrical, chord-based section, and as their flawed machine began to soar triumphant, I forgot that these instruments were broken. The orchestra’s crescendo stretched on until the piece closed with a short passage from a single clarinet player, fragile in that huge space. This was David Lang’s remarkable Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a score written to accommodate the various the infirmities of damaged instruments from Philadelphia’s public schools.