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New 'Goldberg Variations' at Gilmore

In the world of classical music, it's not often that one is encouraged to take liberties with a masterpiece. But recently, a dozen composers took a new tack with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Mich., commissioned 12 musicians to each compose a new piece, based on Bach's "Goldberg Variations."

For some Bach purists, messing around with the "Goldberg Variations" is heresy. But David Del Tredici, one of the dozen composers who contributed, thinks the idea is just what classical music needs. "Why not mess with a classic? The classics suffer from too much respect," Del Tredici tells NPR's Tom Huizenga. "Anything that shakes up a classic and makes it seem alive again -- as this project does -- is great!"

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.