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  • Anti-Putin Protester Gets Onto Met Stage, Interrupts Anna Netrebko’s Bows

    “A protester carrying a sign criticizing the policies of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia climbed over the orchestra pit and onto the stage at the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday night as the diva Anna Netrebko took her curtain call after performing the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.” (includes video)

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    PhilOrch Keeps Yannick For Five More Years

    “[Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s] current contract runs through 2017, which means the new five-year deal extends his tenure to 2022.” With the president/CEO and board chairman having extended their terms as well, the Philadelphia Orchestra has the stability it will need to do the major fundraising it also needs.

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    “American Sniper”, War, Fiction, And Real-World Politics

    “These films strip away almost all of the moral and political ambiguities of international conflict, in its place giving us a singular tale of physical and mental heroics dripping in red, white, and blue. It’s hard as an American to not be affected at some level. Although an unintended consequence of such powerful patriotic storytelling could be its political ramifications.”

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    What Moviegoers In Baghdad Think Of “American Sniper”

    “Mohammed says one of the film’s opening scenes, when Kyle spots a woman and child who appear to be preparing to attack US troops during the initial invasion of Iraq, had the entire audience on the edge of their seats. ‘When the sniper was hesitating to shoot [the child holding the RPG] everyone was yelling ‘Just shoot him!” he said.”

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    Rod McKuen, 81, Poet And Songwriter

    “[He was] the husky-voiced ‘King of Kitsch’ whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ’70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history.”

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    The Most Powerful Artwork I Have Ever Seen (By Jerry Saltz)

    “I don’t want to sound like an insane art-critic version of Werner Herzog rhapsodizing about ‘albino alligators.’ All I know is that something seismic hit me …, some capacious cognizance, cryptic, wakeful.”

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    Fighting Back Against “Wolf Hall”‘s Slander Of Thomas More (With Help From Holbein)

    Jonathan Jones: “Why does Wolf Hall demonise one of the most brilliant and forward-looking of all Renaissance people? Its caricature of Thomas More as a charmless prig, a humourless alienating nasty piece of work, is incredibly unfair. You only have to consider one of Hans Holbein’s greatest works to see this.”

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    Yes, Artists Need Funding – But We Shouldn’t Take It From Oil Companies

    Playwright Mark Ravenhill: “For some 30 years now, many of us in the arts have prided ourselves on our skills as conmen. We can find the money, wherever it may be. And we can take it. And run. … But after all this time, aren’t we now starting to wonder who’s been fooling who?”

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    At Long Last, Peru Is Getting A National Museum

    “Strangely enough, despite its rich cultural and artistic history, the country hasn’t had a large-scale national museum until now. … The new museum will make its home at the storied Pachacamac, an archaeological site southeast of Lima that’s passed through many hands since the Early Intermediate period.”

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    Mental Health Issues Affect 20% Of Theatre Professionals, Survey Finds

    “The survey, which was open to everyone in the sector and completed by more than 5,000 people, found that 46% of those who answered a question about the state of their mental health described it as either poor or average, and that 20% had actively sought help about their mental well-being.”

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    Humans’ Age-Old Fantasy Of Animals That Can Talk

    We’ve had the fantasy for thousands of years – from Aesop and Plato, through the Roman de Fauvel and Montaigne and Lewis Carroll and Orwell and Disney, right through to Mr. Ed and Dogbert and LOLcats and Doge. “We polish an animal mirror to look for ourselves. But perhaps that mirror is more suited for a funhouse.”

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    These Filmmakers Staged A Canine Rebellion With 200 Real Dogs

    “In the upcoming movie White God, … the canine actor Bodie plays Hagen, a mutt that – after he is separated from his owner – leads an uprising of hundreds of dogs against the men who mistreat and abuse them.” The director, the animal trainer, and Bodie tell us how they pulled it off. (video)

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    It’s Okay To Be An Overbearing Pet Parent (Thank God)

    “Neurotic people probably make pretty great pet owners, concludes the author of a new study … In an online survey of about 1,000 pet owners, people who scored higher in neuroticism and conscientiousness also reported higher levels of affection for their dog or cat, which most likely means a better life for the animals.”

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    Top Posts From AJBlogs 01.29.15

    Goshen Commotion: Kimmelman’s Belated, Muddled Plea to Save Architect Paul Rudolph’s Masterpiece
    AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2015-01-29

    The Death of a Great Video Store
    AJBlog: CultureCrash Published 2015-01-29

    Dick Vartanian’s Little Book
    AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2015-01-29

    How To Think About Dance And Movement? Start With An Idea

    “I am convinced that choreography is not only the best [art] form to buy a ticket for, it is also an orchestration of encounters, the setting up of encounters between different minds,” she said. “I hope we give audiences the possibility to enter the choreography themselves, but also to intellectually stimulate the publics we encounter, more than just satisfy them and try to do it very gently, not aggressively.”

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    Bring back The 8-Track! Why Physicality Matters In Music

    “It’s not about toggling between tabs, one for streaming music, one for chatting with coworkers, and another for checking bank statements. It’s about experiencing music as an artifact, and really listening.”

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    France Considers Taxing Netflix, Amazon To Support Culture

    “France has a vibrant film and television sector thanks to a system that requires television networks to hand over a proportion of their turnover to back domestic production, on top of a series of public grants and funds. The result is a diverse field of many small- to mid-size production companies, unlike in the United States, where studios and listed entertainment conglomerates dominate.”

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    Want To Boost Your Creativity? Study Says Ponder Who You Are

    “Spending a few minutes pondering the various identities you wear—spouse, parent, employee, sports fan, political partisan, what-have-you—can lead to more creative insights.”

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    “Thorn Birds” Author Colleen McCullough Dies at 77

    “The Thorn Birds, which has never been out of print, has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 20 languages. In hardcover, it spent more than a year on the New York Times best-seller list; the paperback rights were sold at auction for $1.9 million, a record at the time.”

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    Have We Become Too Sensitive In Public Debate To Have Real Conversations About Ideas?

    “After political correctness burst onto the academic scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it went into a long remission. Now it has returned. Some of its expressions have a familiar tint, like the protesting of even mildly controversial speakers on college campuses.”

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    That “Public Radio Voice” – Is It A Cultural Problem?

    “The voices on podcasts and public radio are informed, interesting, gentle friends. They keep me company as they share important, entertaining, and sometimes tragic stories. But the timbre, accent, inflections, rhythm, metaphors, and references of these voices reflect class, region, ethnicity, gender, and other components of identity.”

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    One Of This Year’s Best Sundance Festival Movies Was Shot On An iPhone

    “Plenty of amateur films have been shot using iPhones, but by all reports, this is the first movie at the Sundance Film Festival to be shot almost entirely on an Apple device. It was a decision that indie writer and director Sean Baker made to accommodate the film’s small budget. But you’d never guess the camera, to look at it.”

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    Woman Steals Artist’s Identity. Artist Makes Art Out Of Woman’s Life

    “Sanctioned stalking” … interesting. I could see how someone would see it that way. And I think anyone outside — anyone who is not me or my PI — I could see that perspective. But I do not consider it to be that at all.”

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    The Problems With Obsessing About Measuring Impact Of Art

    “If we are constantly debating what “good” or “quality” looks like, we’re wasting time we could be using honing our work to better deliver on the social impact we’ve all agreed is important. I’d love to work for an organization that clearly knows that the impact it wants to have is X–so we can focus on doing X.”

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    That Sounds So Familiar (But Does That Mean I’ve Just Plagiarized Tom Petty?)

    “Come to think of it, Petty is more like a musical Mark Rothko, in that he usually paints with only a few big splotches of solid color. Just because he’s famous for doing it, does that really mean nobody else is allowed to?”

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    The New Lands Of Opportunity: Buffalo, Detroit

    If moving to New York City is like dating the most popular kid in your high school only to discover “all the blemishes that aren’t visible when gazed upon from a distance,” then Buffalonians will tell you that moving to their city is like dating the girl next door who’s undergoing a She’s All That-style transformation.

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    Is The English National Opera Losing Audiences And Money? ENO Responds

    “The unequivocal fact is that in the last eight financial years the ENO has run an unrestricted surplus of £2.4 million. Our total audience for 2013/14 was up by 11% and audience numbers for the 2014/15 season to date remain stable.”

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    One Of The Most Infamous Behavioral Experiments, Rethought 50 Years Later

    Under the watch of the experimenter, the volunteer—dubbed “the teacher”—would read out strings of words to his partner, “the learner,” who was hooked up to an electric-shock machine in the other room. Each time the learner made a mistake in repeating the words, the teacher was to deliver a shock of increasing intensity, starting at 15 volts (labeled “slight shock” on the machine) and going all the way up to 450 volts (“Danger: severe shock”).

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    Why Novelists Turn To The Vividness Of Music

    “Perhaps, fearful of losing the attention of their readers, novelists are borrowing the captivating force of music, feeding off its sensuousness in an effort to regain a lost immediacy. The lengthy musical passages in recent novels, including a few loving and climactic concert scenes, seem to strive for music’s Orphic power.”

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    French Comedian Stands Trial Over Comment Against Jewish Journalist (Est-Il Charlie?)

    “The provocative French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala stood trial in criminal court on Wednesday over a comment he made lamenting that a prominent Jewish journalist did not die in ‘the gas chambers,’ prosecutors said. Mr. M’bala M’bala has become an emblem in France of the struggle between upholding the secular republic’s commitment to free speech while maintaining public safety and preventing hate crimes.”

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    A Struggle Over The Very Nature Of Science (Seriously)

    “There’s a battle going on at the edge of the universe, but it’s getting fought right here on Earth. With roots stretching back as far as the ancient Greeks, in the eyes of champions on either side, this fight is a contest over nothing less than the future of science. It’s a conflict over the biggest cosmic questions humans can ask and the methods we use – or can use – to get answers for those questions.” It’s a conflict over … string theory.

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    Van Gogh And The Decision That Changed Art History

    The decision, believe it or not, was the young Vincent’s insistence on trying to become a preacher, even after flunking out of divinity school.

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    Artist Shows Us All How Not To Respond To A Negative Review

    Loris Gréaud decided to tell everyone who’d listen that Lauren Smart, arts editor at the Dallas Observer, needs to get laid.

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    Snowpocalypse, The American Media, And Lewis Carroll’s White Queen

    Adam Gopnik: “The ruling deity of this form of panic and pensive regret is Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, from Through the Looking-Glass. The White Queen, in some Joseph Campbell realm of archetypes, is indeed surely a variant of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, and so perhaps it’s no wonder that in Carroll’s rendering she governs the Kingdom of the Snow That Fell Before It Started Falling.”

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    India’s Only Opera Tenor Wants To Bring The Art Form Home

    Anando Mukerjee: “If it is done, if it is packaged right, if it is not diluted, if the artistic integrity of the music is not diluted, and it is given an Indian narrative and an Indian context, then there is no reason to suppose why it can’t work. … You can certainly have something like Carmen which is a great opera set in Spain, being set in India, Rajasthan. So you’re not masalafying it, you’re not chutnifying it, you’re not making it into a kind of fusion experiment. You’re simply contextualizing it to the Indian setting.”

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    Such A Stoic: How Seneca Became Ancient Rome’s Philosopher-Fixer

    “Even in imperial Rome, matricide was, apparently, bad P.R. … And so Nero turned to the man he had always relied on … The letter ‘explaining’ Agrippina’s murder is just one of the ways Seneca propped up Nero’s regime – a regime that the average Julius, let alone the author of De Ira, surely realized was thoroughly corrupt. How to explain the philosopher-tutor’s sticking by his monstrous pupil?”

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    Zaha Hadid Settles Defamation Lawsuit Against NY Review Of Books

    “After a five-month legal battle, [the] London-based architect … has withdrawn a lawsuit regarding defamatory comments made about her attitude to migrant workers and her Qatar World Cup stadium project … and has donated the settlement money to an undisclosed charity that ‘protects and champions labour rights’.”

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    At The (Very Crowded) Jaipur Literary Festival

    “The heaving, barging, chattering throng of a thousand or so people, packing the aisles and testing the walls of the auditorium … was remarkable and exhilarating. It was a much younger, livelier and more euphoric crowd than literary festivals usually attract. It wanted to be provoked, was eager to laugh and fought to be heard: as the microphones went around for questions, eager hands snatched at them.”

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    Jaipur Isn’t Even India’s Biggest Book Bash – Or Most Bookish City

    That would be Calcutta Kolkata, where “roadside tea shack owners will talk at length on important writers of the day and rickshaw pullers adorn the backs of their vehicles with the names of writers” – and where the world’s largest non-trade (i.e., for the public) book fair, the Boi Mela, attracts 1½ million people.

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    Justin Peck Watches Himself Making A Ballet

    Says the choreographer about Ballet 422, Jody Lee Lipes’s new documentary about the creation of Peck’s first dance for his colleagues at New York City Ballet, “I was actually a little bit surprised by how young I look in it. I felt like I was watching this kid stand in front of the room and make a ballet.”

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    Using Indian Classical Dance To Tell The Stories Of Bangladeshi Garment Workers

    “When she came across Kathak, the staccato rhythms of the dance form reminded [choreographer Helena] Waldmann of the rapid needle of a sewing machine. She saw the stomping footwork of Kathak as the perfect symbol of the pressures faced by garment workers.”

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    Top Posts From AJBlogs 01.28.15

    Orchestras, engage your audience!
    AJBlog: Sandow Published 2015-01-28

    The P Word
    AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2015-01-28

    The Meaning of The Clash
    AJBlog: CultureCrashPublished 2015-01-28

    Just Because: Lester Young
    AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2015-01-28

     

    What Does An Orchestra Engaging With Its Audience Look Like?

    “No more music stands. No more physical barrier between musicians and audience. Musicians free to look at the audience, to make eye contact (if the lighting allows them to see anyone’s eyes). To smile. To show how much they love the music, and love playing it. (And if they don’t love it, or love playing…that’s another long discussion of orchestra culture.)”

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    Carnegie Hall Will Commission 125 New Works

    “Carnegie Hall will celebrate its 125th anniversary next season not only with its customary assortment of the world’s leading orchestras and performers playing long-cherished masterpieces but also by starting a new project to commission some 125 new works over the next five years.”

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    Kinda Creepy? New Machines That Control Your Hand As It Draws

    “Teacher, for example, is a machine that coaches you to draw by forcing your hand to perform certain motions. The thinking goes, repeat the task enough times and eventually your hand will remember how to do it on its own.”

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    London’s National Gallery Workers Plan Strike To Protest Privatization

    According to the union, the National Gallery plans “to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery’s six million annual visitors”.

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    Surely Self-Censoring Art Is Not An Acceptable Answer

    “While we desperately need an open debate about free speech and the freedom to offend in our society, the obsessive focus on Muslims, religion, and blasphemy has diverted attention away from the bigger question of how we handle offending and being offended as part of a big, broad society where not everyone is going to agree.”

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    Battle For The Soul Of Children’s Cartoons (It Ain’t Pretty)

    “Branded toys routinely make more money than the films and cartoons on which they are based—sometimes a lot more—so it’s logical in a way that yes, children’s television shows and movies are basically long, elaborate toy commercials.”

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    How The Meaning Of Movies Changes Depending On When You See Them

    “Whatever impact a film might have on those who see it, the reality is that events, attitudes and present-day understandings affect and shape how we view movies as much, if not more. This cultural exchange doesn’t apply only to new films.”

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    Take That Marriott – FCC Bans Blocking Of Wifi Signals

    “Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal…The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premise.”

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