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Tom Huizenga

Arlene Acevedo, Aline Vasquez, Alexis Carter and Tiahna Sterling of Recap.
Innova Recordings
Arlene Acevedo, Aline Vasquez, Alexis Carter and Tiahna Sterling of Recap.

A continuing pandemic, an attempted coup d'etat at our Capitol and further racial injustice — just a few things on my mind this year. In perilous times, music often comes to my rescue, and I leaned hard on music again in 2021. Thankfully, musicians hunkered down in studios with robust results. The thrill of discovering Emily D'Angelo's plush voice was a highlight this year, as was facing the staggering symphonic force of the 90-year-old composer Sofia Gubaidulina and delighting in the debut album by a quartet of teenage percussionists. These are among my rays of hope shining through another embattled year.

Top 10 Albums of 2021


• Wild Up, Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine
• Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
• Emily D'Angelo, enargeia
• Toumani Diabaté & London Symphony Orchestra, Kôrôlén
• Anna B Savage, A Common Turn
• Recap, Count to Five
• Lucy Dacus, Home Video
• Žibuoklė Martinaitytė, Saudade
• Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Andris Nelsons, Sofia Gubaidulina: Orchestral works
• Lucas Debargue / Gidon Kremer / Kremerata Baltica, Zal The Music of Miłosz Magin

Top 10 Songs of 2021


• Toumani Diabaté & London Symphony Orchestra, "Elyne Road"
• Anna B Savage, "Baby Grand"
• Arooj Aftab, "Baghon Main"
• Tyshawn Sorey & Alarm Will Sound, "For George Lewis"
• Lucy Dacus, "Thumbs"
• Recap, "Hedera"
• Baby Rose, "Go"
• Will Liverman, "Two Black Churches: No. 2, The Rain"
• Morgen Wurde, "Weiht"
• Max Richter & Baltic Sea Philharmonic, "Flowers of Herself"

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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.
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