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  • A REVOLUTION IN MOVIE-MAKING: Sure high definition movie projection makes for a better quality viewing experience. But when it's widely used two years from now, it will also change the way movies are made: "If you buy quality 35mm stock and then process it, you can be looking at costs as high as $1,800 a minute. With HD, it's about two bucks a minute depending on where you bought your tape. And a film print generally costs anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800. Billions of dollars get blown in prints. Digitally, you can bounce a signal off a satellite right to the projector. So the accounting side of this is very impressive." Chicago Sun-Times 11/12/00

  • BETTER LIVING THROUGH MUSIC: There's a growing body of science that shows sound has a very pronounced effect on the body. The big challenge is finding the right mix of sounds and music that works for you. Music created specifically for relaxation is often lumped together derisively by detractors as New Age or metaphysical music. But the reality is that the types of recordings that fall under this banner are incredibly diverse, though they are almost exclusively instrumental (if you don't count the chanting). Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/07/00

  • WRITING ABOUT WRITING AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE: The modern literary biography is wrapped in a paradox. "Only famous writers attract biographies, writers who are famous because their writings are. But the more space a literary biographer devotes to discussing an author's writing, the less commercial the biography will seem to be, to those who decide which books to publish and push. It looks as though the word is out that readers will happily read about famous writers as long as they don't have to be troubled much about what they wrote." London Review of Books 11/00



  • THE MALE DANCER PROBLEM: It's still difficult to be a male ballet dancer what with the social stigmas and stereotypes. But "in many ways, things look better than they did 15 or 20 years ago: New York's School of American Ballet (SAB) and the school of the Dance Theatre of Harlem boast higher male student enrollment than ever before, and the number of gifted male dancers currently onstage indicates that more men are feeding into the pool, probably at younger ages." Village Voice 11/08/00
  • WORKING TO PRESENT DANCE: "Theaters now hire companies not just to perform but to participate in residencies, outreach and barter programs as well. In the New York area, for example, the College of Staten Island offers residencies in which rehearsal space is exchanged for performances in its five theaters. Theaters are also paying increased attention to audiences. New York Times 11/12/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE SUCCESSFUL GHOUL: The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the oldest continually performing ballet in North America. But five years ago it had a crushing $1 million debt and its subscriber list had dwindled to 3000. Then it found "Dracula"... The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 11/09/00



  • RIGHT TO WATCH: "A new British poll on film censorship suggests four out of five viewers would rather censor their own viewing, rather than watch poorly cut films. The study, Making Sense of Censorhip, found that three quarters of those surveyed thought cuts in movies shown on television were the least appropriate methods of controlling content." BBC 11/09/00
  • RELUCTANT REFORM: Hoping to avoid federal regulatory action after recent scoldings from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s largest film trade group has agreed to beef up its enforcement of the movie ratings system with such measures as selective screenings of adult-themed trailers and audience education. 11/08/00
  • BETTER VIEWING AT HOME? The movie box office in New Zealand is down almost 10 percent this year compared to last. Why? "It’s those new-fangled DVD things, apparently. The ones parallel-imported straight to your neighbourhood video store. So by the time some films show up at the local multiplex, DVD queue-jumpers have already seen them." New Zealand Herald 11/09/00
  • RADIO THAT NEVER FADES: Digital radio is almost here. "If all goes well, the 115 million U.S. commuters stuck in their cars for half a billion hours every week will soon be able to pick and choose exactly what they want to listen to— usually without commercials— and the sounds will never fade away, no matter where they drive, coast to coast. Beginning in the middle of next year, all the major auto makers will begin building cars with satellite radio receivers as standard equipment, appearing first in luxury models." Discover 11/09/00



  • BUY AMERICAN? Leonard Bernstein was a trailblazer. And yet, "since Bernstein's passing in 1990, at 72, none of the Big Five American orchestras has appointed an American music director. Of the other leading U.S. orchestras, only the San Francisco Symphony, which is thriving under Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Atlanta Symphony, which recently named Robert Spano as its music director, have dared to engage native sons." Chicago Tribune 11/12/00

  • THE ESSENTIAL COPLAND: Aaron Copland would have turned 100 years old this week. "Ten years after Copland's death, and 29 after Stravinsky's, the latter seems secure as one of the seminal figures of 20th-century music. Copland's position is more provincial, his reach only barely extending beyond the Americas. But Copland made it respectable to be a composer of art music in America." Dallas Morning News 11/12/00
    • UNDERSTANDING COPLAND: "All in all, there were roughly five Coplands, some of them overlapping. He was a Stravinskian modernist of the 1920s, a folk-inspired populist from the 1930s through the '50s, an even more modernistic 1960s serialist, a Hollywood film composer who won an Oscar for 1949's The Heiress, and, in the most encompassing characteristic of all, a musical dramatist. In all guises, Copland is, more than ever, a fixture in the American musical landscape." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/12/00
  • TROUBLE AT CARNEGIE HALL: The staff tumult at Carnegie Hall since its new director took over become nastier. "Maybe the Carnegie staff has not done its job and is being told so in no uncertain terms. Yet having observed the people who seem to be fleeing pell-mell from the building, I find that notion hard to believe. Another possibility is that Americans take more kindly to persuasion than to command and obedience. Resistance to strongly expressed authority is in our nature; in fact, it is why we happened as a country." New York Times 11/12/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • PULLING MUSIC APART: Thousands of musicologists converge on Toronto to dissect the elements of music. "The paradox is that Western thinking about music has provided the field's lingua franca at the very moment that Western art music is considered least central." New York Times 11/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • A ROYAL MESS: London's Covent Garden is in total disarray and not getting better any time soon. How'd it get in this mess? " 'It is brutally run by some deeply insensitive people, but to say there is a Mafia at work here is to credit them with too much organisation,' said one well-known tenor." The Scotsman 11/09/00
  • THE PROBLEM WITH KISSEN: Pianist Evgenny Kissen was a star when he burst onto the concert scene 10 years ago at the age of 19 and dazzled the music world. He's still wildly popular with audiences "But if Kissin is more popular than ever, music critics at several important newspapers have fallen out of love with him. These critics report that Kissin is playing worse, instead of better, as he gets older." Public Arts 11/09/00
  • WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM CONDUCTORS: "Can you learn to manage a business by conducting an orchestra? A conductor's leadership and the musicians' interactions produce an immediate result for all to see. Business results are more difficult to interpret because it takes more time to judge the outcome of initiatives. Still, all knowledge workers face the same pressures to succeed. Helping musicians overcome their doubts and fears and adapt to new ideas is one of the principal tasks of their manager - their conductor." The Globe and Mail 11/07/00
  • DECOMPOSING: The original musical notes JS Bach wrote on manuscript paper are fading away. "Experts say the iron- or copper-based ink and cloth paper he used contained or produced sulfuric acid over the years. As a result, Bach's very notes are disappearing in a slow-burn chemical reaction - literally eating themselves right off the page." High tech conservation efforts are underway. 11/07/00

Plus: New technology allows masterclasses where pupil, teacher and audience might be in different cities ~  Daniel Barenboim's dispute with the Berlin government over funding of Barenboim's Staatsoper has gotten out of hand ~ A record collection of more than 40,000 recordings of Italian music has been donated by a Toronto family to the Canadian Museum of Civilization ~ Leonard Slatkin makes his debut as chief conductor of the BBC Orchestra ~ Britain's top two opera company jobs are currently up for grabs ~ The Royal Opera House will develop its first Bollywood opera - a version of Turandot ~ Three new orchestras are being created in financially strapped South Africa.



  • UPDIKE AT 68: John Updike is 68 and contemplating his life's profession. "There is a dumbing down of fiction, don't you think? In so many other areas there is dumbing down. People are impatient with any attempt of the novel to pry apart their expectations or surprise them, challenge them. Make them look up a word, think over a prejudice. I think, yes, by and large people read less and maybe they read less intelligently, because they read less and there are more alternatives." Baltimore Sun 11/12/00

  • WILDE ABOUT OSCAR: On the 100th anniversary of his death, Oscar Wilde is everywhere in London. His grandson is the biggest keeper of the Wilde flame. He "seems to tread a fine line between a personal crusade to defend the family honour and a belief in the strict observation of factual accuracy." London Evening Standard 11/10/00

  • MACKINTOSH' S HOME DESTROYED: Producer Cameron Mackintosh's home has been destroyed in a fire. BBC 11/06/00



  • BUT E-PUBLISHING WAS SUPPOSED TO CHANGE ALL THIS: E-publisher MightyWords sent notices to the 5000 authors whose work it carries. Half of them are to be kicked off the site and the other half will have their royalties reduced. "MightyWords' decision fits neatly in the trend of downsizing dot-coms. In other words, e-business stinks as usual. But it's significant in the world of bookselling, where self-published authors are getting a wake-up call. If they didn't realize it already, they're largely out there on their own." Wired 11/10/00
  • PUBLISHER'S CLEARING HOUSE: Publisher Random House says it will now share all revenue from e-books 50-50 with authors. Some predict this may become the industry standard. Other e-publishers are not so sure: ''They've laid tracks that are very unwise. I think it's a huge mistake on their part.'' 11/10/00
  • MARGARET ATWOOD WINS BOOKER PRIZE for her tenth novel, "The Blind Assassin." Toronto’s Atwood had been shortlisted for the award three times previously. BBC 11/07/00
  • SETTING STANDARDS: Everyone agrees that e-books are the road to the future. But "the industry is nowhere near establishing a common e-book format that will permit consumers to read any e-book on whatever device they happen to own." Until that happens, it's likely to be rocky time for e-publishing. Publishers Weekly 11/07/00
  • PARSE THIS: A Ph.D student from the UK goes to Yale for courses in literary criticism and reports from the front lines: "I am struck by the thought that literary criticism - at least as it is practised here - is a hoax. And the universities that offer it, and the professors who in America earn large salaries teaching it, are fraudulent, wittingly or not." New Statesman 11/06/00

Plus: A NEW MEDIA FIGURE OF STAGGERING PROPORTIONS: Dave Eggers has become a hero of the New Media, he and his friends publishing books and the literary magazine McSweeney's pretty much on their own terms. Is this how the New Media world was supposed to happen or is Eggers a passing flash? New York Magazine 11/07/00



  • COLOR BIND: The number of minority actors in theater productions on Broadway is dwindling - and most of those working are either in choruses or race-specific parts, rarely getting a chance at major roles. "A report by Actors' Equity shows a sharp dip in the number of minorities on stage. In musical productions, nonwhite casting was 19.3 percent during the 1999 season, down from 31.2 percent the year before. In nonmusical productions, the numbers for 1999 - the last time such a study was conducted - were even more bleak, with only 7.2 percent of casts drawn from ethnic minorities, down from 8.5 percent in 1998." Seattle Times (New York Daily News) 11/07/00
  • A TOUGH WEEK ON BROADWAY: Shows closing, new shows jockeying for theatres... New York Post 11/10/00
  • PLAYWRIGHT OF THE DAY: "Patrick Marber's lean, darkly funny writing has led some to dub him the heir to Pinter. Marber scorns the comparison - "Most younger writers are influenced by Pinter; I'm as much influenced by Stoppard and Oscar Wilde." The Guardian (London) 11/09/00
  • SAVING MUSICAL THEATRE: "In an era when people who care bemoan the state of musical theater and wonder where future shows will come from, Hal Prince and his grown chidren are committing their prominence, connections and expertise to support and call attention to a new generation of composers." New York Times 11/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • HONORING THE MAN AND THE METHOD: The family of the late acting teacher Lee Strasberg, founder of "the method" and cofounder of the legendary Group Theatre, plans to commemorate the centennial of his birth this year by producing a season of new plays by emerging playwrights in Los Angeles. Times of India (Reuters) 11/08/00
  • A HISTORY OF THE THEATRE: Theatre is a vanishing art - that is, once produced on a stage it recedes into memory, and even a film of a performance can't truly capture its essence. So how do you produce a TV history of the theatre? "Sir Richard Eyre, doyen of British theatre, has produced a history of 20th-century stagecraft. He says it won't please everyone. The Independent (London) 11/07/00



  • BUILDINGS YOU HAVE TO LOVE: Has London gone back to the sixties? "London is again a swinging world capital, we have a Labour Government that wants to "modernise", the economy just goes on booming, billions of pounds are promised on roads programmes, immigration has returned as a political issue and architects can do no wrong. Today, Government ministers fall over themselves to praise new buildings and the public flock to each new excitement. As in the Sixties, it is no longer fashionable to be sceptical about modern architecture." The Telegraph (London) 11/12/00
  • OXBRIDGE BUILDING BOOM: There's a building boom going on the campuses of Oxford and Cambridge. "Cambridge and Oxford are both as much modern architectural zoos as ancient seats of learning. A glance at the roll call of architects building new colleges and faculties, and extending old ones, in the two cities shows how jealously they observe and mimic each other's activities." The Sunday Times (London) 11/12/00
  • A DOWN MARKET: The Picasso might have sold for $55 million, but otherwise this week's art auction sales in New York were major disappointments. Some 40 percent or more of the artwork failed to sell. New York Times 11/10/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • BLOCKBUSTING: Are museum blockbuster shows ruining museums? One art historian believes so. "Masterpieces are shunted around the world, often against the advice of conservation departments, primarily to bring prestige to the lenders, publicity to the sponsors and paying customers to the host institutions. Small or penurious institutions are deprived of their treasures, and objects which, for one reason or another, cannot be lent are increasingly neglected: less and less attention is paid, for example, to large pictures and artists who specialised in them." The Economist 11/10/00
  • RECORD SALE: A rare Picasso from the artist's blue period sells at auction for $55 million. The price is a record for the artist at auction and the fifth highest price for any work at auction." New York Times 11/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S NEW GLORY: The fuss, in recent months, has been all about the British Museum's use of the wrong kind of stone for its new portico. "Yet now the scaffolding has been removed, it is evident that the critics have simply latched on to one mistake and failed to perceive the greater glory of the whole. Norman Foster’s treatment of the Great Court wonderfully ennobles the austere Greek Revival architecture of Sir Robert Smirke." The Times (London) 11/07/00
  • CLEMENT GREENBERG'S COLLECTION: "The persistent fascination with Greenberg, who died in 1994, extends to his art collection, the acquisition of which was announced last month by the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. Comparing the Greenberg acquisition, the second- largest in the museum's history, to "going from zero to 60 miles an hour," museum director John Buchanan added, 'I am a great believer that museum collections are built by collecting collections'." New York Times 11/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Plus: Matisse sells at auction for $17 million ~ British museums will receive an extra £46 million over the next three years from the government ~ Is post-Wall German art  different from art in the West? ~ Frescoes nearly 2,000 years old have been unearthed near Pompeii in the remains of what experts say may have been an ancient luxury hotel ~ Artists who think they are up-to-date, just because they use digital technologies, are making a "critical error ~ India's Ajanta paintings, which easily rank among the world’s most precious heritage sites, are being restored (but also maybe damaged) ~  Japanese researchers plan to conduct the first ever DNA analysis of the 3,300-year-old mummy of Tutankhamen ~ Guggenheim officials eye Rio de Janeiro as site of their next outpost.  



  • CURE FOR INSOMNIA: "Sleep is the least desired effect of orchestras, ballet companies, theatre troupes and opera ensembles; nevertheless, it is a common phenomenon in concert halls and theatres everywhere. Many of showbiz's most influential powerbrokers are well-known shut-eye artists. Afterward, when they go backstage to congratulate the cast, they can truthfully say, 'Your performance tonight was invigorating'." National Post (Canada) 11/11/00
  • WHAT'S SO BAD ABOUT QUALITY? Time Magazine's Robert Hughes happily proclaims himself an elitist. "What I'm going to talk about is the idea of quality in art, which is a concept which over the last 25 years has taken a hell of a beating. Really good art is much more interesting than really bad art, and there's a lot of the latter and not a lot of the former. The idea of preferring high, articulate, demanding and beautiful experiences from the visual or aural or any other arts is seen as absolutely nuts. But is it damagingly elitist to prefer good baseball to bad baseball?'' Dallas Morning News 11/08/00
  • DREAMS OF DESTRUCTION: The quarterly magazine City Journal solicited plans from three architects to envision completely leveling and then rebuilding Lincoln Center from the ground up, instead of the performing arts center’s pending redesign. "The suggestion, however tongue-in-cheek, that the world's biggest and busiest performing arts complex be razed like Ilium left Lincoln Center at least officially nearly speechless." New York Times 11/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • ARTS INCUBATOR: San Jose has copied an idea used in the high-tech start-up world for arts funding. The plan goes like this: "Bring representatives of arts, neighborhood and social services groups together for a day; feed them good food and good ideas; let them listen, schmooze and think. At the end of the day, ask them for their ideas. Then pick the best and fund them - quickly." San Jose Mercury News 11/06/00
  • A NEW CLASS OF TEACHER: "Affluence, once the preserve of the entrepreneurial class and the corporate sector, has now come to academe. Six-figure salaries, which used to be restricted to college presidents and a few senior faculty members in business and engineering, are no longer uncommon. The stock-market boom of the past two decades, rising home values, two-earner households, and external sources of income from royalties, lecture fees, and other sources have all given the academic world a new taste of prosperity." Chronicle of Higher Education 11/06/00

Plus: Australia's performing arts groups have a problem with diversity ~ Some theatres are selling large portions of their tickets online tickets online ~ Can a dealer sell the original artwork used for films, books, or comics? 



  • A COPYCAT SHOW: A gallery called the Outrageous Art Gallery in Edinburgh claims "to have used a worldwide network of forgers to produce exact copies of works displayed in the Scottish Colourists exhibition" currently on display at Scotland's National Gallery of Modern Art. Curators at the museum are not at all happy. The Guardian (London) 11/06/00
  • WHAT TO DO WITH BBC2? The head of Britain's BBC2 wants reform, and says maybe the broadcaster ought to be a little more like, oh, say, the London Telegraph. What's that you say? asks Norman Lebrecht. In that case, I've got a few tips for you. (more than a few, actually) The Telegraph (London) 11/06/00
  • IN THIS CORNER...THE BATTLING TOSCA: The rock 'em sock 'em World Wrestling Federation has become one of the major sponsors of the Connecticut Grand Opera & Orchestra's Education Program. "It would seem like there are a lot of differences, but there are facets of both that are the same. They perform on a stage, we perform on a stage. They have a story line with good and evil, greed and jealousy, just like we do. The only difference is they solve things through singing, we solve things using various household objects such as tables, chairs or ladders." Hartford Courant 11/10/00
  • WHY HAS VAN GOGH'S STORY NEVER BEEN MADE INTO AN OPERA? "I'm not one of those people who considers opera the catch-all cure for everything, but I've been backstage at enough of them to know that van Gogh, even on his worst days, would have fit right in. His temperament seems to be the soul of opera. Besides his reputed volatility, there's his ability to find soaring emotional resonance in things others consider mundane. Had van Gogh lived long enough, he'd have found opera." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/07/00
  • HOW TO MAKE MUSIC BORING: Almost 4,000 musicologists from around the world gathered in Toronto in the largest musicological gathering in history to present about a thousand academic papers. "Classical music is failing an awful lot of people. Boring concerts and lack of classical music programs in the schools are partly to blame. But so is boring musicology. Granted, I only heard a handful of papers over the weekend. But almost all of them - whether on pop or classical music - were jargon-laden, intellectually trivial, poorly written and atrociously delivered." National Post (Canada) 11/07/00
  • GIOTTO OR NOT GIOTTO: Two months ago a team of scientists in Italy announced they had reconstructed a skeleton found 30 years ago under the Florence Cathedral. It was Giotto, they said. Now an an American art historian who led excavations under the cathedral in the 70s has written to the church's cardinal to debunk the claim. "For heaven's sake, your eminence, do not treat it as Giotto. You risk blessing and honouring the bones of a fat butcher." The Guardian 11/06/00
  • SAVING WINNIE THE POOH: In Winnipeg, Canada "children are breaking open their piggy banks, seniors are dropping off $20 bills and well-heeled Winnipeggers are brandishing their chequebooks so the city can buy the large oval-shaped painting of A. A. Milne's famous bear, honey pot in paw, at Sotheby's auction house in London next week." Winnie was inspired by a black bear bought in Ontario in 1914 and named after the buyer's hometown of Winn-ipeg." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/11/00