Stephen Ross calls it “my baby.” For the moment, it’s known as the Vessel—or, officially, as Vessel. (Ross longs for the public to give it an affectionate nickname.) One can think of it as a compressed extension of the High Line, or as the site of a perpetual evacuation drill; it’s a proposed future venue for downhill mountain-bike races. Starting sometime next year, it will be open to the public, via free, timed-entry tickets. Ross’s evident delight in the piece—even as some of his associates wonder about its size and purpose, and its cost, which exceeds a hundred and fifty million dollars—derives partly from his confidence that, in time, it will become “the icon for New York,” just as the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. The Vessel is about as wide as it is tall, and will fit nicely into an Instagram photograph.
“The medium of expressing emotions in hundreds-of-years-old opera is different from the emotions now. People fall in love on Tinder. In the old days we had time to write letters and to wait for weeks; the speed of emotional reaction and interaction is different. I’m not saying we dump opera – far from it – but we’ve got to let opera evolve.”
Over half of musicians worked unpaid over the past 12 months, and 66% of musicians who worked for free ‘exposure’ believe doing so did not benefit their career, according to the ‘world-first’ live music census. It also reveals that in the past year one in three music venues have struggled to cope with a business rates increase and 27% of venues have been affected by noise complaints.
Plato argued that “the true, the good, and the beautiful” are all things that have value in themselves. Beauty has a value in its own right, not because it serves some other purpose. We do good for its own sake, and so on. In order for a machine to make its own fine art, it needs to satisfy Plato’s dictum, and create without any utilitarian purpose. The open question is whether machines will ever be able to do so.
Picasso painted La Misereuse Accroupie in 1902, and it is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The researchers used a non-invasive technique called x-ray fluorescent spectroscopy to analyze the painting. It turns out that the artist painted his work on top of another unknown artist’s painting of a landscape, and incorporated the landscape’s forms into the woman’s figure. You can sort of see the landscape by flipping the painting 90 degrees to the left.
“The general public tends to assume that contemporary paintings should be easily understandable for anyone with eyes to see them (and for more sophisticated audiences, for anyone who spends time and attention on the work). But this is not the case. Even if you are familiar with the moods, settings and styles of portraits you have previously seen, you are not necessarily equipped to understand Kehinde Wiley’s work.”
The reality that has gotten lost in the impassioned debate over who gets to go to college, which often focuses on racial and ethnic minorities and students from low-income families is: The high school graduates who head off to campus in the lowest proportions in America are the ones from rural places.
“There may be a fundamental weakness in the way opera companies present new work: There is so much pressure on each single piece to get white-bread eaters to magically develop a new palate that it becomes somehow less appetizing. What stimulates the appetite is the sight of a rich assortment of different kinds of flours and seeds and rolls, sweet and savory — what you see when you go into any bakery.”
David Cannadine points out that the price of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, which sold for £333m last November, represents over half of central government’s total funding for museums last year. Of 266 museums he surveyed, only half had a dedicated acquisitions budget and in most cases it was less than 1% of their expenditure. The Art Fund report, entitled Why Collect?, calls for a national debate on the challenges over museum acquisitions.
For her most recent large piece for the New York City Ballet, she “has set tens of thousands of balloons, measuring from ten inches to ten feet, throughout the David H. Koch Theater. They scale the building’s exterior and spill into the Lincoln Center plaza. You may even spot them around town, a colorful off-campus salute to NYCB. And because even professionally inflated balloons constantly change their shape and pop spontaneously, her creations will look different if you attend the ballet more than once this Winter Season.”
A Nashville reporter and editor says the financial situation looks bleak for the epic, storied guitar company. “The situation facing the iconic Nashville-based music instrument maker, which has annual revenues of more than $1 billion, is far from normal. … CFO Bill Lawrence recently left the company after less than a year on the job and just six months before $375 million of senior secured notes will mature. On top of that, another $145 million in bank loans will come due immediately if those notes, issued in 2013, are not refinanced by July 23rd.”
The term comes from a 1994 essay, and it applies to everything from the fiction of Octavia Butler and Nnedi Okorafor to the music of Janelle Monáe and the recent Jay-Z video “Family Feud” (directed by Ava DuVernay). Basically: Afro-futurism “refers to an aesthetic that infuses science fiction and fantasy with cultures of the African diaspora. It shakes up our preconceived notions of history and race by envisioning an often utopic future shaped by black technological innovation.”
The judges, all composers, selected three out of a field of 140 entries in the Hildegard Competition, which comes with a cash prize and mentorship. Paola Paolini, a composer and co-founder of National Sawdust, the sponsor of the prize, said, “The future of composition is bright and the need for opportunity, vast.”
Lauren Lovette, whose “Not Our Fate” for New York City Ballet featured a pas de deux for two men, says she’s proud to be a part of this ballet-world conversation. “A lot of times, we talk about things but we don’t actually do them. … We’ll post on social media, but when you actually make art that represents what you’re trying to say, you’re a part of the action.”
It’s not clear yet whether the firings of many reporters and hosts will affect listeners’ willingness to donate money. However: “WNYC held a one-day pledge drive in late December, after Mr. Lopate and Mr. Schwartz were fired, and the station had its hosts address the controversy and promise transparency. The station declined to disclose the full results of that drive, though it said last week that listener donations in December and January were up 11.5 percent from the same period a year before.”
Writer Melissa Fraterrigo: “Before my daughters arrived I squandered time. I read books from start to finish whether I felt drawn into the world of the story or not. I worked on short stories that were okay but could easily be put aside to check email or run an errand. I lacked dedication. Parenthood changed that. So did the seizures.”
She has said she was attacked, and threatened, by James Toback, and she wasn’t really planning to come forward. “I was the only one who was somewhat known, so I thought this is all gonna be on me, this lawsuit. I won’t be able to put my kid through school. Then it turned out there were 38 other women accusing him, and he called them cunts and cocksuckers and liars, so I thought, OK, I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court. I will be on the right side of history. Now he’s up to 396 women, and I’m sure there are thousands.”
You might know Danai Gurira as a major character on The Walking Dead or as the playwright of Eclipsed, which starred Lupita Nyong’o and ran on Broadway to much acclaim. In the Marvel movie, she plays the leader of a group of women warriors who protect the king. “When I sat down with [director Ryan] Coogler, what’s so very important to me as an African woman and as a playwright who writes from the African perspective — because of the lack thereof, or the misrepresentation thereof, or the distortion thereof — it was very important that an African narrative is treated with the respect and authenticity.”
Analysts predicted an eye-popping $165 million North American weekend take – and their predictions were promptly dismantled by $218 million in ticket sales in North America alone, and almost $400 million globally. The records are almost too many to name: “Black Panther instantly became the top-grossing film in history by a black director (Ryan Coogler) and featuring a largely black cast. … Theaters scrambled to add show times to accommodate crowds; AMC Southlake 24 in suburban Atlanta squeezed in 84 show times on Friday alone.”
For the mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, “the victory completed something of a full-circle journey: She applied to the competition seven years ago without knowing its pedigree, and was promptly told by her teacher to withdraw. ‘She broke it down for me: ‘I appreciate how eager you are, but you are in no way ready for something on this level.’ I was quite bitter,’ Ms. Bryce-Davis said in an interview.”
Norma Winstone’s Movie Music
Norma Winstone, Descansado: Songs For Films (ECM) In an album striking for its quietness and its daring, British vocalist Norma Winstone and her augmented trio interpret music from motion pictures. The augmentation … read more
AJBlog: RiffTidesPublished 2018-02-16
Replay: Igor Stravinsky conducts his Firebird Suite
Igor Stravinsky leads the NHK Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the 1945 version of his Firebird Suite, performed at the Osaka International Festival on May 1, 1959: (This is the latest in a … read more
AJBlog: About Last NightPublished 2018-02-16
Pianist Menahem Pressler at age 94: Fragile, fallible but still a credit to his legacy?
Pianist Menahem Presller, still playing at age 94 Human beings are living longer – and so are performing artists. The question of when do they retire gracefully isn’t going away, and if anything, will only … read more
AJBlog: Condemned to MusicPublished 2018-02-15
Correspondence: Oscar Peterson And Nat Cole
Frequent Rifftides correspondent Svetlana Ilicheva writes from Moscow: I wonder if it is a well-known thing that Oscar Peterson sang? It was a great surprise to find this recording, not only for … read more
AJBlog: RiffTidesPublished 2018-02-15
Conservators had noticed different-colored paint peeking through cracks, but only recently have non-invasive X-rays allowed them to see what lies beneath. “‘This is where technology allows us to get into the mind of the artist, so we can actually understand the creative process of Picasso and how he actually started producing this work of art,’ said Marc Walton of Northwestern University.”