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  • TOO OLD TO COMPETE? Oxford University is one of the world's great universities. "Yet today there is also a sense of malaise, both inside and outside the university: a belief that Oxford finds it difficult to adapt to changing educational and social needs, a fear that it can no longer maintain its pre-eminence." Prospect 12/00

  • COPING WITH INFO OVERLOAD: How does one cope with the overwhelming flood of information available today? Who has time to read it all? "Who has time for old books? To be au courant now means that the only information really worth having is news that isn't available yet." Feed 12/05/00

  • MORE THAN LIVE: "We all know that what makes theater irreplaceable (and, on dream nights, irresistible) is that it combines live performance and fakery in ways no other form of art or entertainment can match. Call it the unities of the primal, the artificial and the mythic." New York Times 12/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • ADVENTUROUS BUT NOT TOO ADVENTUROUS: The rhetoric of art interpretation seems to have been frozen for the past century. Pushing the edge is still valued as an ideal, but not pushing it too much. "The image reservoir of art can be plumbed without artists having to be aware of betraying their actual mission, and the mere fact that they are still individual and autonomous is exactly what makes them interesting to industry." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/05/00


  • OUTSIDE INFLUENCE: Before Washington Ballet's recent visit, It had been 40 years since an American dance company had performed in Cuba. "I knew the kind of development we've seen in the United States, melding contemporary ideas and modern dance and ballet techniques, hasn't existed in Cuba. I think the repertoire we brought expressed a lot of elements of our own lives and maybe will contribute to how they'll view or make dance in the future." New York Times 12/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • DANCING FOR PEACE: Nicholas Rowe, a former Australian Ballet dancer and choreographer, now teaches dance to Palestinian children in Ramallah as part of a unique program to use the power of dance to heal. "Giving them the chance to feel something other than anger is very important." The Age (Melbourne) 12/04/00

  • BALLET SHAKEUP: The British ballet world has been turned upside down this year, with directors of three major companies announcing their departures. English National Ballet’s Derek Deane is the latest to go, citing insufficient funding and a lack of board support for his more adventurous work. The Telegraph (London) 12/05/00

  • OUR BODIES AT EIGHT: A parent has filed a complaint against the San Francisco Ballet School for discrimination because the school rejected her daughter on the basis of her looks. The eight-year-old girl was told not to try out because of her figure. The fourth-grader is 3-foot-9 and weighs 64 pounds. The mother claims the school's criteria used to weed budding ballerinas from also-rans violates San Francisco's nondiscrimination provisions. New Jersey Online (AP) 12/08/00

  • ROBBINS REVEALED: "At Jerome Robbins' death in 1998 at 79, he had all the awards that movies, theater and dance could offer, with an unequaled record of ballets and Broadway shows. Yet he carried with him a shame that would not go away. In 1953, he named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee, earning the enmity of many of his fellow artists who were blacklisted for their membership, however brief or desultory, in the Communist Party." Chicago Tribune 12/10/00


  • DO WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER TOP-TEN LIST? As the movie awards season gets underway, the American Film Institute has announced it plans to name the top 10 films of the year on Jan. 9 and continue to do so every year. "The idea is to issue such a list every year of the 21st century to build a compendium of the best and most important examples of American filmmaking." New York Times 12/05/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION: Saying that performers have virtually no rights to collect royalties off their work internationally, representatives from as many as 175 countries are "meeting to hammer out details of an accord on the protection of audiovisual performances. It would apply to movie theaters, television broadcasts and the Internet. The accord would probably increase the price of movie tickets, by a negligible amount." Nando Times (AP) 12/07/00

  • SAVING A TV HERITAGE: The Library of Congress is working to prevent the destruction of old TV and radio recordings. "A fatal mold can grow on the wax cylinders developed for Thomas A. Edison's first phonographs, making them unreadable. Lacquered discs exude a white oil that in time shrinks the grooves so that they peel off. Some early audiotapes, made in layers, begin to "delaminate" in as little as five years." Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) 12/08/00

PlusJesse Ventura changes his mind to support government funding for public radio and TV ~ The Library of Congress is working to prevent the destruction of old TV and radio recordings ~ Sundance Festival announced next year’s slate of movies. 



  • WHAT DEFINES A CLASSIC? "Occasionally we act as though artistic worth were constant across the ages - hence the phrase 'timeless classic' - but it isn't so. The past, as novelist L.P. Hartley remarked, is another country, and the future another one still. Why assume that audiences in all those countries value the same things? And why assume that the things valued by future listeners are more profound and more important than those that appeal to a composer's contemporaries?" San Francisco Chronicle 12/10/00
  • MAKING RECORDING PAY: At a time when classical music recording labels are floundering, the London Symphony Orchestra, which started its own recording label last year, is actually turning a profit. "This may not be the answer to all the industry's ills, but it certainly promises a wider variety of new recordings than might otherwise be on offer, whatever happens to all those labels that have dominated the field for so long." The Guardian (London) 12/08/00
  • RESISTANT TO CHANGE: The apocalyptic wailing we hear from today's music companies didn't start with Napster. Over the decades, a distinct pattern has emerged: a new technology is adopted by music consumers. The music industry, anxious to protect its profits, calls on its lawyers to litigate until the industry can adapt, co-opt, or, failing that, crush the new technology. At the beginning of the last century it was the mechanical piano. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the new enemy was radio." Saturday Night 12/03/00
  • THE BATTLE FOR JAZZ: "In this month's Jazzwise magazine, saxophonist David Murray, the most recorded artist in the history of jazz, issues a declaration of war against Wynton Marsalis. Murray accuses him of stifling the creativity of a music which is inherently about change and improvisation, and of using his power to exclude those who do not adhere to his conservative agenda. 'This is the most non-creative time in the whole history of jazz. They've stopped the clock and gone back again, to the 1960s and late 1950s, to define jazz. These guys are not doing jazz a service'." The Independent 12/03/00
  • PIANO HERO: Li Yundi is only 17, but last month he won the notoriously picky Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. "Displaying what judges called virtuosic technique and a poetic style, Li beat out 97 participants to become the first gold medalist at the competition since 1985." Now he's a national hero back home. Los Angeles Times 12/05/00
  • WHERE'S A YENTA WHEN YOU NEED ONE? The New York Philharmonic's search for a new music director has turned into agony. "The search could be likened to the plight of picky single New York women. It’s like being a marriage broker. You ask, ‘Are you interested?’ Then you go out on a date. But it seems the best ones are always taken." Handicapping the field. New York Observer 12/06/00
  • DEATHWATCH: A mood befitting a bedside vigil has descended on Chicago's classical music community, with tributes issued, guarded hopes expressed and numerous experts trying to determine whether WNIB's situation was symptomatic of some grave illness plaguing America's classical music scene. Chicago Tribune 12/04/00

Plus: is back online with two new levels of service - one free, the other for a charge ~ Critics have changed their minds about Anthony Panye's completion of Elgar's Third Symphony ~ Pianist Maurizio Pollini discusses the crisis in classical recording ~ Jazz books are flooding the market ~ Up With People closes down ~ 70 year old conductor Lorin Maazel is still looking for new challenges ~ Britain's channel 4 sees historic bad ratings for opera broadcast ~ Archeologists excavating a 4,300 year-old Egyptian tomb have found what they believe is the world's oldest known written music — a love song ~ St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will receive a record-breaking $40 million gift, the largest single personal contribution ever made to an American orchestra for its operations. 



  • TERRY GROSS AT 25: When National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" went on air 25 years ago in Philadelphia, it was a modest effort. "Now 'Fresh Air' has a larger staff, has contributing critics and commentators, and goes out to 330 NPR stations with 2.9 million listeners in the United States, Europe and Japan." Orange County Register (AP) 12/10/00

  • CALLAS-MANIA: Maria Callas fans spent $1.25 million buying the late singer's personal things at auction this week. "A Pyrex measuring cup sold for $938, while a French museum paid about $5,000 for a sea-green Christian Dior girdle. The girdle was among numerous intimate objects and underclothes sold by two private collectors." Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 12/05/00

  • KLEMPERER DIES AT 80: Werner Klemperer, actor, and son of famed conductor Otto Klemperer has died. "Mr. Klemperer performed in many opera productions and, in the last two decades, served as narrator with virtually every symphony orchestra in the United States. New York Times 12/08/00 (one-time registration required for access)

  • DISTRESS SALE: Margot Fonteyn's personal effects, costumes and clothes are to be auctioned off next week, but her friends and the dance community are protesting. Sydney Morning Herald 12/07/00


  • I WROTE IT NO YOU DIDN'T: Nega Mezlekia, who won the Canada's Governor General's Award for non-fiction last month, is battling the novelist he hired to edit his book. Anne Stone claims she wrote much of the book, but Mezlakia denies it and sent letters to her accusing her of being ''dull, colourless, humorless, vulgar, and a complete failure." National Post (Canada) 12/04/00

    • WHO'S THE AUTHOR? Canada's Governor General Awards officials have asked the publisher of this year's winner for more information about authorship of the book. National Post (Canada) 12/05/00

  • STEEL-REINFORCED SUCCESS: Danielle Steel's new book is promoted as a "bestseller" on its cover even before it's published. How do they know? "Such is Steel's reputation and following - she has produced 49 best-selling novels in the last 25 years, for total sales of 430 million books - that 'Journey' is guaranteed to be a success." National Post (Canada) 12/09/00

  • PHILOSOPHY OF SELF-PUBLISHING: Self-publishing in the field of philosophy is tempting. "One problem is perceived to be that the system makes it virtually impossible for non-academics to get published, no matter what the quality of their work is." But to the establishment, self-publishing is the kiss of death - no one of standing will take a self-published work seriously. The Philosopher's Magazine 12/00

  • NOT LONG ON LONGFELLOW: Drop Longfellow into a literary conversation nowadays and you will get some odd looks. For all that, Longfellow has been a continuous presence in our language since Voices of the Night was published in 1839, and his lines are still familiar today, though many who know them could not tell you who wrote them. New Criterion 12/00

  • PERILS OF PUBLISHING, CANADIAN EDITION: As Canada's superstore bookseller struggles to keep alive, one thing is obvious: "This country is simply too sparsely populated over too great a geographic diversity to allow for the kind of volume turnover that a chain of 77 big-box stores and more than 200 smaller outlets requires to keep its bottom line from turning red." So does Canada need more competition or less? The Globe & Mail 12/04/00

PLUS: Bestselling writers auction off the names of characters in their next books to the highest bidders ~ Did Clement Moore steal credit for writing "The Night Before Christmas?" ~ Korean writers wonder about the chances of a Korean winning the Nobel Prize for literature.



  • NUNN SPEAKS OUT: The press continues to dog Trevor Nunn and speculate over his departure, despite the National Theatre’s continued success - including earning five of nine "Evening Standard" Awards last week. Nunn’s response: "Some of the suggestions about what should happen are the equivalent of somebody offering help to a brain surgeon by giving them a hammer and chisel." The Independent (London) 12/06/00
  • MAYHEM GOES MAINSTREAM: David Blaine’s recent death-defying ice stunt looks an awful lot like the performance art of the ‘70s. The difference? Now it’s televised and nobody’s shocked. "What used to be some of the more extreme or esoteric forms of performance are suddenly crossing over into the mainstream. It brings up a familiar question: Is it possible to be adversarial anymore?" The Village Voice 12/12/00
  • TRANSLATE THIS: Translations of plays into English can often sound fussy or academic. Now there is a "growing movement to take the job of translating foreign-language classics away from scholars and linguists and hand it over to dramatists - whether or not they speak the original language." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/00
  • LESS REJECTION: Performance artists are moving out of the museums and performing arts centers and into nightclubs. These nightspots are far from the galleries, museums and other art spaces that historically hosted performance art, and they attract a different crowd. The clubs, in need of performers, are embracing the artists. Los Angeles Times 12/07/00
  • THE ALLURE OF LIVE: Regular theatergoers take it for granted that there's nothing like a live performance - which, I think, is why the theater is perennially in trouble. The uniqueness should not be taken for granted. Boston Globe 12/10/00
  • ALL ABOUT THE BUILDINGS: "Truth being stranger than cliché, the very notion of re-inventing theatre spaces - or, to borrow estate agent terminology, location, location, location - is spreading through theatre like wildfire for the simple reason that the biggest problem facing the allegedly dying art form is the buildings themselves." The Observer (London) 12/10/00
  • REGIONAL THEATER BOOM: Taking advantage of the strong economy and unprecedented production support from commercial producers, regional theaters are booming across the the US, presenting ever more adventurous work and strengthening ties with local audiences. "The point is that the American theater gospel is no longer being spread papally from New York. It has its own independent denominations." New York Times 12/05/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Plus: "Merrily We Roll Along," a flop in its first run, is being revived in London ~  Australian $12 million "Peter Pan" sinks owing everyone money ~ "The Mousetrap" notches its 20,000th performance ~ Canada's Straftford Festival reports record audiences/profits ~ Manhattan Theatre Club storms the commercial climes of Broadway.



  • WHAT ABOUT THE ART? At a recent symposium for curators there was a lot of talk about museum expansion, but very little about the transformative power of art. "Museums are great. The problem is, too many of them have started to believe what they're doing isn't just good, but necessary. Too many curators seem to want to teach or preach to us; many are more interested in being do-gooders than in doing good by art." The Village Voice 12/12/00
  • THE ART OF CANCELLATION: "In the last three years alone, the Chinese government has closed at least 10 art exhibitions, offering in most cases no other excuse to exhibitors than an announcement that they failed to properly complete the official application process. The hitch is, the government has never really explained that process. An intriguing exhibition at the University of Chicago's David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art takes a look at one such closing that occurred two years ago in Beijing." Chicago Tribune 12/10/00
  • GENDER CONFUSION: Recent trends suggest there is an increasing convergence of commerce and culture, where "shops are becoming more like museums – places for visual and aesthetic display – while museums are becoming more like shops." The Independent (London) 12/08/00
  • BIGGER IS BETTER? "Nowadays, museums build bigger buildings and erect huge impersonal additions to house uneven collections. Trustees, millionaires and board members pick architects; they help lay out loading docks. Museums are becoming architectural attractions in and of themselves. But is bigger better? Is more more?" 12/08/00
  • THREE-RING MUSEUM: "Considering the Guggenheim’s latest proposal, to appropriate a sizable portion of lower Manhattan for the purpose of creating a mammoth fun-and-games cultural emporium: The Guggenheim Museum is itself no longer a serious art institution. It has no aesthetic standards and no aesthetic agenda. It has completely sold out to a mass-market mentality that regards the museum’s own art collection as an asset to be exploited for commercial purposes." New York Observer 12/06/00
  • OF IMAGES MOVING AND STILL: Painting and cinema are still handcuffed together on a one-way ticket to the morgue. When artists appropriate images from film they always seem to be drawn to the melancholy underside of the tinsel factory. Painting and cinema both create fictional spaces, but the space of painting is static. So when a moment in a film is snatched and turned into a painting, it becomes deathly: you might call it painting noir." The Guardian (London) 12/07/00
  • BRITISH MUSEUM GREAT COURT OPENS: The Queen opens the British Museum's new Great Court. "She hailed the £100m development, with its sweeping roof designed by Lord Foster, as a landmark of the millennium." BBC 12/07/00
    • SCHOLARSHIP TAKES A BACK SEAT: The British Museum’s redesign is certain to drive up attendance and draw viewers who care more about the architecture than the collection. "A more fundamental question, however, is how much the museum's rush to modernize itself will threaten its scholarly mission." New York Times 12/06/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • ARCHITECTURE'S CHAMPION: For nearly four decades, Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been a champion of architecture in the US senate. "The secret is that, to Moynihan, aside from the gravest matters of war, peace, and social stability, other issues simply are not more important than the building and rebuilding of our cities." Now that he's retiring, who will take his place? Metropolis 12/00
    • HILLARY THE PRESERVER: Hillary Clinton is a fitting successor to New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in more ways than her political acumen. New York Magazine 12/11/00
  • ART STING: U.S. Customs officials in New York marked the opening of a new art fraud investigation center by returning to Germany a 16th-century painting stolen from a German castle by American soldiers after World War II. About 65 percent of all U.S. art imports arrive through the port of New York - investigations there this year alone have already seized $10.5 million worth of stolen art. CNN 12/05/00

Plus: Queen Elizabeth opens the British Museum's new Great Court ~ The National Gallery in Ottawa searches its collection for looted art ~  Curators talk more about museum expansion, than about the transformative power of art ~Storm damage at the Palace of Versailles is largely repaired ~ Rio looks to be the Guggenheim's next outpost ~ US government is aggressively going after Bernard Taubman, formerly chairman of Sotheby's, trying to tie him to the price-fixing scandal with Christie's. 



  • INTERNATIONAL ARTS: At a world conference on the arts in Ottawa, 50 "arts councils and funding bodies from around the globe voted unanimously yesterday to establish an international federation to foster the arts." CBC 12/04/00
  • CONTROLLING THE CRITICS: It's tough to Intimidate theatre or art critics. But Hollywood and the fashion industry have so much control over their products (stars) that an indiscreet word (or even question) can put your access (and your job) in jeopardy. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/00
    • WHO NEEDS ART CRITICS? Here and there in a few major periodicals one can find art critics who realize they are writing for a mass medium and general audience, and not for a rarefied elite of cultural academics, museum docents and fellow critics. But then there are those who conduct themselves as though the masses who have lined up in such volume for recent Vermeer, Monet and Cezanne exhibitions were beneath contempt for their lack of art history degrees. Chicago Tribune 12/07/00

    • THE DEVALUED CRITIC: Where do those amazingly obscure rave blurbs for this or that movie come from? With a proliferation of easy-to-access opinions on the internet, how does one sort out who's credible and who's not? *spark-online 12/00

  • STILL ROOM FOR TEACHERS? As the internet rises and distance learning increases, is there still room for old-fashioned teachers? "Perhaps it is inevitable that those whose business it is to flog Rabelais, Montaigne, and Neo-Platonic poetics to technology-savvy, career-conscious, and heavily indebted students should begin to wonder whether their role as teachers is superfluous. After all, teachers, in general, are the apotheosis of human inefficiency." Chronicle of Higher Education 12/04/00

  • BEATING UP ON UNCLE SAM: At an international conference in Ottawa on arts issues, delegates slam "the Uncle Samming of the world, noting that movies and TV have now displaced aeronautics as America's number-one export industry. America's trade negotiators are less likely than ever to understand that culture, for most nations, is about identity, not dollars. Bill Ivey, head of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Jonathan Katz, the well-informed head of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, let it be known that they were feeling a little beaten up." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/06/00

  • LEARNING TO GIVE: In this unprecedented age of philanthropic generosity (a recent study found US arts donations up 43% last year), Europe still lags way behind the US in private support of the arts. "There are two indigenous deterrents. The first is a woeful lack of professionalism in the field of fund-raising. The second, more serious, impediment is the composition of the boards that govern arts institutions." The Telegraph (London) 12/06/00



  • GRAZIE, PREGO AND BRAVOS: Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras get together for a rare conference call joint interview. But can anyone get a word in edgewise? Chicago Tribune 12/10/00

  • ART IMITATES LIFE (OR NOT): Last year a London artist won a £1,500 grant. But rather than spend the money on supplies or even food, she invested in the dot-com stock market. The stocks trade under the ticker symbols ART and LIFE. "They're both doing really badly. But ART is doing better than LIFE, which is a good lesson for me." Red Herring 12/05/00

  • THE CAT SWINGS BACK: The "Seussical" cast has written a "Cat in the Hat"-like review of critics in verse: "I do not like reviews that pan, I do not like them, actor I am. Could I, would I like to see Clive Barnes swinging from a tree? Could I, should I, hope in vain To see them writhing in such pain? I could, I would, oh what the heck, Make them go through four months of tech." New York Post 12/06/00

  • YO-YO MA'S BIGGEST SELLER? "Costco is our No. 1 outlet for Yo-Yo Ma. Bigger than Tower Records? A nod. Another nod. Ma sells about 20,000 units a year, at $11.99 apiece retail. Who sells more? Ricky Martin sells about 60,000. But how many years will he last?'' San Jose Mercury-News 12/05/00

  • OOPS: "For decades, guides have directed countless tourists to a red-roofed, beamed cottage near Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon to pay homage at the place where his mother, Mary Arden, was thought to have been born in the early 16th century. Now it has emerged from new research that she was not born there at all, but in a house some 30 yards down the road in the same village." New York Times 12/07/00 (one-time registration required for access)