“What the two orchestras had in common was a nationalistic ethos, a belief in the superiority of Austro-German musical culture that approached triumphalism. One of the darkest manifestations of this ethos was their shared reluctance to hire Jews. The Berlin Philharmonic employed only four Jewish players in 1933, while the Vienna Philharmonic contained only 11 Jews at the time of the Anschluss, none of whom was hired after 1920.”
“It seems that what happened was that Cliburn simply stopped growing, as though he was trapped in a creative stasis like a bug in amber. One thinks of James O’Neill, a distinguished actor who was the father of Eugene O’Neill. In later life, he only took on one role—Dumas’s Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo—and eventually played it more than six thousand times around the world. He made a great deal of money, but reproached himself for what he considered the squandering of his gifts. Likewise, Cliburn returned again and again to the Tchaikovsky concerto, long after he had ceased to have fresh insights into it.”
“Only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers. Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.”
Theater is of course a highly public endeavor, and the world outside is a big bad place, with lions and tigers and critics who have opinions. If its practitioners want safety, they should practice their craft behind closed doors.
As performance art becomes more popular, it is changing. Many are embracing elements of dance, film, theatre and sculpture, even street theatre and rap music. “Performance art was stuck in the 1970s: protest, people cutting themselves,” RoseLee Goldberg, the founder of Performa, said last year. “Some years ago I wondered: why don’t we have visually dazzling, emotional and intellectually challenging performance? Why does everything have to be a single gesture performed on the Lower East Side?”
“The London Symphony Orchestra teamed with techies from the University of Portsmouth and Vicon Motion Systems, who captured Rattle’s movements while conducting, appropriately, Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Digital artist Tobias Gremmler was then called in to convert the gestures into animated films.”
“The expert said it’s probably the second time he’s ever done that type of valuation. I think he was reluctant to say £1 million and nervous to say it was worth that much. We’ve had one of the most significant jewellery finds in 40 years of Antiques Roadshow history – but we don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
“Demand for older, female artists like Herrera, who was famously 89 when she sold her first artwork and is now a ripe 102, has risen sharply in recent years, the result of a perfect art-world storm. As institutions attempt to revise the art-historical canon, passionate dealers and curators see years of promotion come to fruition, and blue-chip galleries search for new artists to represent among those initially overlooked, prices and institutional recognition for artists such as Carol Rama, Irma Blank, Geta Brătescu, and Herrera have soared.”
“[She] made it her mission in the 1970s and ′80s to cover art and artists overlooked by the mainstream press through the journal Art-Rite, which she helped found, and in the pages of Artforum.”
“In this technology-ridden world, it’s easy to assume that the seat of human intelligence is similar to our increasingly smart devices. But the reliance on the computer as a metaphor for the brain might be getting in the way of advancing brain research.”
“Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital studied 17 ‘superagers,’ people over 65 who have the mental function of those in their 20s. The goal was to find out if there were any observable differences between superager brains and normal brains, and if so, whether the rest of us could use that information to give ourselves better brain function through the years.” The Answer? Yes!
“Founded in 2003, Common Sense Media provides parents with an online rating system that suggests age-appropriate shows for children, highlighting those that underscore admirable character traits like courage, empathy and perseverance. On Tuesday it will introduce a new metric: the portrayal of gender. At its website, a symbol with the phrase ‘positive gender representations’ will appear with a film or TV show, meaning that reviewers judged it to prompt boys and girls to think beyond traditional gender roles.”
The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 1,700 Americans — including more than 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns — finds deep-seated kinship in rural America, coupled with a stark sense of estrangement from people who live in urban areas. Nearly 7 in 10 rural residents say their values differ from those of people who live in big cities, including about 4 in 10 who say their values are “very different.”
Born in 1799 in Kent, south of London, Anna Atkins “made her most significant contribution across 10 years in the mid-19th century in which she created at least 10,000 images by hand. But it was what she did with those pictures that gave her a place in art history. … She created the first book to contain photographs.”
“Amid all the dumbed-down outrage, it’s good to be reminded that theater is still a dangerous art form. The reason Plato, the church fathers, generations of Lords Chamberlain and Jesse Helms and his National Endowment for the Arts-axing kind distrusted the stage had little to do with its use as a forum for intellectual debate. Rather, it is the power of spectacle — the symbol made flesh — that has made theatrical performance throughout history so disconcerting to those in authority.”
As early Americans adapted the country dances of Europe, African-Americans (often enslaved, alas) were right there – first as musicians, then as callers. Erin Blakemore gives us the history.
Joe Berkowitz: “Picture someone practicing for a pun competition. It’s the saddest Rocky training montage of all, isn’t it? In my case, the image entails a man firmly in his midthirties, sitting alone in his bedroom with the door shut, making puns about colors. (‘Is having the blues what made Matthew Perry wrinkle?’) The thought of my dead relatives and pets looking down from another plane of existence as I do this is mortifying.”
“Though hardly anyone knows it, the first person ever to attach their name to a poetic composition is not a mystery. Enheduanna was born more than 4,200 years ago and became the high priestess of a temple in what we now call southern Iraq. She wrote poems, edited hymnals, and may have taught other women at the temple how to write. Archaeologists discovered her in the 1920s and her works were published in English beginning in the 1960s. Yet, rarely if ever does she appear in history textbooks.”
“Isn’t this the most royalist of all ballets? King Florestan XXIV and his queen have a daughter, you see, and the story hinges on her finding Prince Right. Dynastic succession is the name of the game. … So why is this classic danced so regularly and well across America? Is royalism merely its surface?” The answer, says Alastair Macaulay, is this: “The fairy godmothers whom the monarchs invite to the heiress Aurora’s christening in the Prologue take the drama into a new, larger dimension: pure classicism. They make this a ballet about ballet itself – ballet as a language of harmonious idealism.”
Notwithstanding our horror-movie headline, this is a serious issue. “These tiny invaders” – bacteria, fungi, even algae – “have wrought catastrophic damage on historic sites like the Lascaux cave paintings in France and the Titanic – [which] is being devoured by a tenacious species of metal-hungry bacteria. That’s why scientists and conservators are working to identify what kinds of bacteria are colonizing an artifact, purge them, and make sure they cannot return. Some are even enlisting bacteria to help protect historic sites.” (The good
guys germs to the rescue!)
“He is leaving a fixer-upper on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for a sleek new home in Hamburg, Germany. Alan Gilbert, the departing music director of the New York Philharmonic, announced Friday that he would be the next chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, whose striking new $843 million concert hall overlooking Hamburg’s harbor opened earlier this year.”
“There is no one in the British cultural world more single-minded, more monkishly devoted to the arts as a civic and public necessity, more able to bend events to his will. … When he arrived at the Tate in September 1988, it was an affectionately regarded and faintly parochial museum; he left it earlier this month one of the most powerful forces in the international art world.” In a Guardian Long Read, Charlotte Higgins looks at Serota’s career as he moves on to lead Arts Council England, the country’s cultural funding body.
“In a rare, almost unheard-of move, the play’s producers announced late Thursday that the production – which was set to close on June 25 because of poor ticket sales – would in fact stay open through Aug. 6 at the Cort Theater. The play, which was written by the Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel, won two Tony Awards and was nominated for three.”
Some observers question whether free or low-cost opera tickets really are reaching new audiences, as opposed to being giveaways to fans who’d come anyway. Here, the general director of Opera Holland Park in London describes the several different programs of the sort his company offers, explains the philosophy behind the schemes, and describes the experience OHP has had with them.
A multi-year restoration of the 1857 theatre at the Château de Fontainebleau, which has already seen the golden jewel-box auditorium refurbished, will focus in its final phase on the original scenic machinery, the upper salons, and “the podium that houses one of France’s most important stage sets.”
“Across the nation, arts and culture industries employed roughly 1 million Americans in 2014. That’s less than 1 percent of all workers. … [Yet] arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), or $729.6 billion [that year], … growing by roughly 2 percent annually.” With colored maps and charts, Florida shows the impact this activity has in various states and cities. And there are some surprises.
“Only 8% of people regularly engage with publicly funded art, but every day people are creating their own versions of culture. Nick Wilson and Jonathan Gross report on research that makes the case for a new approach to cultural policy.”
Dancing into Summer
Jacob’s Pillow opens its season with a Gala performance. … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2017-06-22
Propwatch – all the stuff in Hir
‘No good ever came from things.’ This line from Hir by Taylor Mac is guaranteed to strike fear into propwatchers. For what is this series but an act of devotion to the innate goodness … read more
AJBlog: Performance Monkey Published 2017-06-22
Recommendation: Miles Davis At Newport 1955-1975
Miles Davis At Newport 1955-1975:The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4 (Columbia/Legacy)
Miles Davis’s importance and recognition grew dramatically in the decades covered by the recordings on these four volumes. When he played in … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2017-06-22
Great new jazz photography #2: Lauren Deutsch’s Made in Chicago portfolio
“Made in Chicago” is true of the photography of Lauren Deutsch, and also the name of the four-day-long collaborative jazz festival she’s organized in Poznan, Poland for the past 12 years as artistic director (formerly with Wojceich Juszcsak) on behalf of the Jazz Institute of Chicago. … read more
JBlog: Jazz Beyond Jazz Published 2017-06-22
Morton’s terminology is “slowly infecting all the humanities”, says his friend and fellow thinker Graham Harman. Though many academics have a reputation for writing exclusively for their colleagues down the hall, Morton’s peculiar conceptual vocabulary – “dark ecology”, “the strange stranger”, “the mesh” – has been picked up by writers in a cornucopia of fields, from literature and epistemology to legal theory and religion. Last year, he was included in a much-discussed list of the 50 most influential living philosophers. His ideas have also percolated into traditional media outlets such as Newsweek, the New Yorker and the New York Times.
More than 18,000 people voted at 60 polling booths set up by activists and 17,874 chose to eject the ships, which are accused of shaking the delicate foundations of Venice’s venerable palazzi.