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Monday December 9, 2002
25 stories

For The Good Of The World - We're Keeping The Art Directors of 18 major museums from around the world have signed a declaration that their institutions act as "universal museums" for the good of the world, and therefore they will not hand back ancient artifacts to their countries of origin. "The universal admiration for ancient civilisations would not be so deeply established today were it not for the influence exercised by the artefacts of these cultures, widely available to an international public in major museums." BBC 12/09/02

"Mad Professor" Wins Turner Prize Keith Tyson has won this year's Turner Prize. "The 33-year-old former Cumbrian shipyard worker, dubbed the 'mad professor' for his fondness for exploring ideas from the outer limits of cod science and his outlandish proposals for giant neon dinosaurs and the like, had been the bookies' favourite. As the artist with the best jokes, he was also the public's first choice." The Guardian (UK)12/09/02

  • Best Of The Lot? "Though art critics were underwhelmed by Tyson's submissions to the Turner Prize exhibition, describing him as being at the soft end of the conceptual movement, he will probably escape the hilarity and condemnation which greeted last year's winner, Martin Creed, whose sole exhibit was a room in which the lights turned on and off every few seconds."The Telegraph 12/09/02
  • Chew You Up, Spit You Out Think being nominated for the Turner is the answer to an artist's prayers? Not always. "The Turner Prize picks up little-known artists and throws them, albeit briefly, into the eye of a news storm. Unlike actors at the Oscars, artists tend to be among the least well equipped to deal with the sudden, intense attention." The Observer (UK) 12/08/02

Building As Picture Frame The new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is a signature art building like most new museum buildings. But curators say the building ought to be a supporting player to the art. "My job is to represent the artist. If an artist makes a big painting, they want it to look big. What I want is small spaces where I can make small paintings look big and big paintings look big, without compromise."
Houston Chronicle12/06/02

Celebrating Boheme Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme" opens in a flash of color on Broadway. "The show is far more respectful of its sentimental operatic essence than many of the lugubrious, experimental productions of old war horses at the Met. (Think 'Lucia di Lammermoor' or 'Il Trovatore.') What Mr. Luhrmann and his extraordinary production designer (and wife), Catherine Martin, have done is find the visual equivalent of the sensual beauty and vigor of the score." The New York Times 12/09/02

  • Youth Appeal "Luhrmann does not so much reinvent 'La Boheme' as repackage it. He makes a powerful case for wresting it out of the exclusive control of highbrow culture and into the realm of mainstream musical theater. Washington Post 12/09/02
  • Baz's Boheme - Surprisingly Flat Does opera really belong on Broadway? "Opera lovers needn't fear. Luhrmann hasn't gone too far. A young, handsome cast sings the opera in Italian as written. The amplification is far subtler than the miserable Broadway norm and almost pleasurable. To compensate for singing that is not of a particularly high standard - though, for the most part, OK -- there is a sense of intimacy and detailed bits of characterization that are hard to equal in a large opera house." Los Angeles Times 12/09/02
  • The Increasingly Blurry Lines Between Opera And Broadway Opera companies producing Broadway musicals. Broadway taking on opera classics. What's going on? "There are two main reasons for this sudden fusion, neither of which originate in artistic concerns."
    Chicago Tribune 12/08/02

Mahler Manuscript Means Much So what difference does the discovery last month of a new manuscript of Mahler's First Symphony make? "It changes not the substance of the symphony but its sound: its orchestration and how, by means of stress and rhythmic detail, its ideas are articulated how, in a word, it speaks." The New York Times 12/08/02

Isn't Payola Illegal? Er, yes...but if you're a Latin music artist and want to get airplay on the radio, you've got to pay. "Because payola adds so much to the cost of promoting a recording - between 20 percent and 30 percent, according to former major-label employees - it cuts out most smaller, independent labels, typical sources for new genres and artists." Miami Herald 12/08/02

Ticket Prices On The Way Down In recent years concert ticket prices have spiraled up. But in the past six months the concert industry has discovered consumer resistance to the high cost, and finally, prices are staring to decline. One promoter predicts ticket prices will be down 15 percent from last year. Rocky Mountain News 12/08/02

La Scala Opens In An Away Game For the first time in 224 years, La Scala opened its season outside of its own theatre. "The newly built, 2,400-seat Arcimboldi, in a former industrial area, will host La Scala's full program of operas, ballets and concerts through December 2004 while La Scala Theater, the company's venerable temple of bel canto, undergoes a $56 million renovation." Nando Times (AP) 12/09/02

Answering A Complaining Critic Last week the Chicago Tribune published a damning series of criticisms about the acoustics in Chicago's Orchestra Hall. This week, the orchestra's president responds to music critic John von Rhein's complaints. "What confused us was not so much that Mr. von Rhein reversed the opinion that he had stated at the opening of the refurbished Orchestra Hall in 1997 - that the renovation brought "marked improvement" in the area of sound - but that he reversed views that he has been expressing consistently since. Chicago Tribune 12/08/02

Go West, Young Arts Lover... It used to be that the quality cultural offerings in America were found on the East Coast. No longer. "The great and unfolding story of our cultural geography, however, is happening elsewhere now, driven by population shifts, new wealth, expanded education, international migration of artists and the evolution of a prismatic American aesthetic in cities from Miami to Seattle. Nowhere is this tectonic change more apparent than in San Francisco..." San Francisco Chronicle 12/08/02

  • Room At The Top The San Francisco Symphony isn't one of America's Big Five orchestras - it's helped expand the definition of the country's best ensembles. San Francisco Chronicle 12/08/02
  • SF Opera - Best Of The Rest? Of course the Metropolitan Opera is America's best - and biggest. But San Francisco is surely second (or third?) best? San Francisco Chronicle 12/08/02
  • SF Ballet - A Comer... "Long regarded as a solid regional institution, San Francisco Ballet has vaulted forward in the past decade. Versatility and aplomb, distinctive stars from around the globe, depth in the corps, a clean and confident style and a broadly built repertoire now place San Francisco well ahead of the regional pack and into the first tier of major companies." San Francisco Chronicle 12/08/02
  • SFMOMA - The Big Push San Francisco's highest-profile art museum? SFMuseum of Modern Art. "SFMOMA stands reinvented in its landmark - though not universally admired - downtown building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta." San Francisco Chronicle 12/08/02

The Big Orange Sad economic stories from arts groups all over America are common these days. But in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange County, the story is mixed. "Success stories are almost as common as negative reports. The mixture of good and bad news here is further evidence that Orange County is a quirky place, not to be graphed on a simple upward or downward chart." Orange County Register 12/08/02

Escape From... Looking back over this year's offerings in arts and entertainment, there's one trend that's easy to spot - a low reading on the substance meter. "Maybe this year we needed an extra dose of escapism. But if the entertainment industry wants to stay connected with us in the long run, it needs to make more works that matter." Boston Herald 12/08/02

Have Muppets, Will Sell The Muppet empire has been chopped into pieces since Muppet creator Jim Henson died in 1990. The company was sold soon after Henson's death, and some of the characters were resold off to Sesame Street last year. The rest of the troupe has been on the market for the past year. Is Miss Piggy enough of an enduring character to endure? The Guardian (UK) 12/09/02

Incubators R Us Atlanta's main presenter of touring Broadway musicals proposes to build a new school and theatre - "a laboratory-like theatrical environment where, over a period of 10 to 12 weeks, all aspects of a show can be presented to a live audience, revised, shown again, revised again . . . until a Broadway-ready project has emerged." The theatre says the project would be a "one-of-a-kind incubator of new musicals that would make Atlanta an invaluable stop on the road to New York." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/08/02

Style Over Substance? Was Michael Kinsley unethical as a judge for not reading all the nominees for this year's National Book Awards? "The job of a book-awards judge starts with bookicide. Once you've decided a nonfiction book could not possibly win - because, say, its first 50 pages stink - you're free to toss it. There's no further reporting obligation.
Kinsley appears to have leaped way over the line if he didn't read even the opening pages of many nominated books...
Philadelphia Inquirer 12/03/02

The Life & Times Of A Dance Company... Director Robert Altman wanted to direct a dance movie, and chose Chicago's Joffrey Company to tell the story. "Artists steeped in the work of Vaslav Nijinsky, Antony Tudor and Frederick Ashton meet, or, rather, met Robert Altman, Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell during the three-month shoot took place all over Chicago as it focused on a story inside the life and times of the Joffrey." Chicago Tribune 12/08/02