Finding Comedy At Its Source Does where you were born have anything to do with how funny you are? It would seem unlikely at first blush, but haven't we all had the experience of meeting people from an area totally unlike our own, and being stunned at their lack of humor? The Guardian has decided to quantify the phenomenon (albeit in an almost totally unscientific manner) and present a Humor Map of Great Britain. London, not surprisingly, comes out looking pretty funny, as do Glasgow and Wales. Birmingham, it turns out, is quite unfunny, and something called East Anglia is apparently brutally somber. The Guardian (UK) 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 11:28 am
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Cooperative Architecture Benjamin Forgey says that Renzo Piano's expansion of Atlanta's High Museum of Art is a resounding architectural success largely because Piano resisted the urge to make the project all about him. Instead, Piano's expansion built methodically on what the High's original architect, Richard Meier, had done, and the result was "the complex equivalent of a friendly handshake -- not awfully exciting, but satisfying in myriad ways. A sensible, sensitive, low-key sort of triumph, then." Washington Post 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:51 am
de Young Taps Portland's Buchanan San Francisco's M.H. de Young Fine Arts Museum has plucked the director of the Portland Art Museum to be its next director. John E. Buchanan, Jr. is credited with increasing attendance in Portland, and with expanding the museum's collection of modern art. He also led a $125 million campaign in Portland. He will replace de Young's longtime director, Harry Parker, who retires in December. San Francisco Chronicle 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:42 am
Barnes Gets $3m For Transition The Barnes Foundation has raised $3 million in operating funds to carry it through the next two transitional years, as the foundation prepares to make its controversial move from Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, to Center City Philadelphia. "Plans for the highly anticipated relocation of The Barnes Foundation’s gallery have been proceeding smoothly, including fundraising efforts, which have been accelerating even during the current “quiet phase” of a campaign. The Foundation is continuing to expand its Board of Trustees as part of its overall plan to secure the future of its educational activities and art collection." ArtDaily 11/18/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:29 am
- Could The Barnes Still Change Its Mind? The township commission of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, still isn't prepared to just watch the Barnes Foundation walk away, and officials are proposing a series of zoning changes intended to convince the Barnes to scrap its planned move to Philadelphia. "Among the proposed changes are allowing the Barnes to be open to the public seven days in the summer (up from three), to take 50 walk-up visitors per day without reservations (up from zero), and to host school groups without reducing the number of allowable paying public visitors." The Barnes isn't saying whether it might be tempted by the proposal, but a spokesman has confirmed that the foundation has no immediate plans to break ground on its new home, so the door may be open. Philadelphia Inquirer 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:25 am
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The Audubon Tragedy Enters Its Final Act There may never have been a more tragic or bizarre breakup in the classical music world than that of the Audubon Quartet. Six years ago, three members of the Roanoke, Virginia-based group fired their first violinist, David Ehrlich, who promptly sued to prevent the quartet from continuing to perform without him. Since then, recriminations and lawsuits have flown unabated, bitterly dividing Roanoke's musical community and making several attorneys very rich. The courts have sided mainly with Ehrlich, and this month, two members of the quartet will be forced to surrender their home, their possessions, and - no kidding - the instruments with which they make their living, to pay the $611,000 court award to Ehrlich. Roanoke Times 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 12:03 pm
MacMillan: Populism Is Killing Serious Music Is classical music dying a quiet death in Scotland? Composer James MacMillan fears it may be so, and the evidence goes far beyond the dismal state of the temporarily shuttered Scottish Opera. "The de-sacralisation of our world, so enthusiastically cultivated by the new ruling elites, stands at a polar opposite from the potential for transcendence claimed by classical music. In that sense, the battles for serious music are part of a wider culture war apparent at various levels of modern Scotland. What is it about serious music that offends the triumphalistic trendies basking in the apparent victories of a demystified popular culture?" Scotland on Sunday 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 10:57 am
- Dumbing Down Music Ed Is James MacMillan overstating the impact of pop culture on classical music? A glance at the latest standards for music education in Scotland would seem to suggest he is not. "The new Higher music syllabus... misses out key components that are essential for preparing pupils for serious careers in music. In the new curriculum, musical literacy is optional while listening papers have changed from deep analytical essays of musical scores to multiple-choice exercises." Scotland on Sunday 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 10:55 am
Now That's A Cool Boss The chief conductor of Iran's Tehran Symphony Orchestra has resigned from his position and left the country in protest of what he says is the unconscionably low pay afforded to the orchestra's musicians. TSO musicians earn approximately $90 a month. Conductor Ali Rahbari announced his decision to leave the orchestra to the audience at last week's concert, less than six months after he was appointed to the post. Payvand (Mehr News - Iran) 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:53 am
Radio, Recording Coming To San Diego The parent company of San Diego's daily newspaper has finalized a deal to become the principal sponsor of a series of local and national radio broadcasts of the San Diego Symphony, a project which will also allow the orchestra to archive its concerts and create marketable recordings from the master tapes. The 14-part local series will be carried by KPBS radio beginning in summer 2006, and the 6-concert national series will be distributed by National Public Radio, making the ensemble one of a small handful of American orchestras with a national radio presence. The recordings will all be made in high-definition, and the SDS plans to quickly turn them into in-house CDs for wide release. San Diego Union-Tribune 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:49 am
Rising Star Falls On Alabama The Alabama Symphony Orchestra, which emerged from bankruptcy in 1997 and has operated in the black ever since, has hired the young British conductor Justin Brown as its next music director. Brown beat out several higher-profile candidates for the job, and was supported for the position by both musicians and management. The ASO has been without a music director since May 2004, when Richard Westerfield departed following a 6-year tenure. Brown will take up the ASO's reins in fall 2006. Birmingham News (Alabama) 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:41 am
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Why We Go The cultural cognoscenti love to draw comparisons between art, music, and theatre patrons who are in it for the love of the form, and those who show up mainly for social reasons, or simply to get themselves noticed by other "arts people." But is there any real truth to this longstanding legend of the self-interested patron? According to a new study which focuses on why people attend cultural events, the legend is true, to a degree. "The most common major motivation claimed by respondents for attending any or all arts events over the last 12 months was wanting to socialize with friends and family, followed by having an emotionally rewarding experience and gaining knowledge." But arts organizations might want to take note of the study's other finding: attendees are rarely completely satisfied with the experience. Chicago Tribune 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 11:09 am
Using Art To Fan The Flames Of Bigotry Two new and surprisingly popular graphic novels released in Japan are causing observers to worry about a startling rise in Japanese animosity towards the country's Asian neighbors. The long-form comics, sporting the titles Hating The Korean Wave and Introduction to China, openly mock what some Japanese see as inferior societies, and even advocate open confrontation with China and South Korea. Worse, the visual depictions of the various nationalities reveals an ugly racism that has permeated Japanese society for more than a century. The New York Times 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:35 am
The Great Big GoogleLit Debate "If there was any point of agreement between publishers, authors and Google in a debate Thursday night over the giant Web company's program to digitize the collections of major libraries and allow users to search them online, it seemed to be this: Information does not necessarily want to be free. Rather, the parties agreed, information wants to be found. But when it comes to how information will be found and who will share in the profits, the various sides remain far apart - not surprising, perhaps, since the issue has already landed in federal court." The New York Times 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:15 am
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Mackerras at 80: What's Left To Do? Sir Charles Mackerras turned 80 while standing on the podium of the Royal Opera House this weekend, and while he is by no means alone in the ranks of living octogenarian conductors, there is little question that the career he has built in his six decades in the music business is the envy of the orchestral world. What makes Mackerras almost unique among conductors is his diversity of interests: "[perhaps no] other conductor has acquired quite so many specialties or put them into practice with so many ensembles." The New York Times 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 10:45 am
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Movin' Out On A High Note "Three years can be a long time in the life of a Broadway musical. Dialogue that once sparkled dims with routine. Performances grow soggy. Cast changes alter the chemistry that once made a show more than the sum of its parts. Even musicals forced into retirement well before a third anniversary can look prematurely aged by the time the last curtain falls. But as it approaches the end of its run on Dec. 11, after more than three years on Broadway, the Twyla Tharp-Billy Joel musical Movin' Out is an improved model of the sleek, speeding convertible that vroomed onto the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theater in the fall of 2002, to become the most accomplished and most rewarding of the back-catalog musicals that have been washing up on New York stages like so much gaudy flotsam since the Abba gold mine Mamma Mia!" The New York Times 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:56 am
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Sour Grapes? GOP Hits Back At Public Broadcasters Hot on the heels of a blistering report charging the former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with misusing funds and undermining the agency's mission, the CPB's inspector general is "launching an investigation into whether public television and radio stations around the country inappropriately used federal funds to lobby against threatened budget cuts this summer." Not surprisingly, the request for the new investigation came from 14 Republican members of Congress, who were infuriated by what they saw as a liberal witchhunt to oust CPB chair Kenneth Tomlinson because of his conservative political views. The inspector general says openly that he doubts he will find any wrongdoing by local stations, but will look into the matter, regardless. Los Angeles Times 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:27 am
- Previously: CPB Inspector General Blasts Tomlinson The Corporation for Public Broadcasting inspector General says that he found no criminal violations by Kenneth Tomlinson. "His report, however, documented a series of Tomlinson-led initiatives that were undertaken without the knowledge of CPB's board or that directly violated the agency's statutes and procedures. Tomlinson, the former chairman threatened to withhold federal funds if PBS refused to 'balance' its programming with more conservatives and he hired lobbyists, consultants and two ombudsmen without the board's knowledge or approval, according to a five-month investigation and report by the CPB's inspector general, Kenneth A. Konz." Washington Post 11/16/05
AGs Want Smoking Warning On DVDs 32 state attorneys general have banded together in an effort to convince Hollywood to place anti-smoking warning labels on DVDs. The effort comes on the heels of a new study showing that teens are often convinced to take up smoking when they see movie stars doing so. The studios on the receiving end of the warning label request say they will consider the proposal individually, and warn against any move that would take away filmmakers' "creative rights to depict human behaviors." Chicago Sun-Times 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:21 am
Die, Youngster, Die! Putting kids on television has always been a reliable way to get a certain demographic chunk of the population to tune in. But these days, the apple-cheeked youngsters featured in prime time are less likely to spew cuteness than blood. "Television has become an extremely inhospitable place for middle-class children, and in some sense, for the demanding ideals by which they are now raised - a gory receptacle for any and all of our collectively sublimated parental ambivalence. Against our new universe of Humvee-inspired strollers, television constructs a parallel one, in which children are routinely maimed, killed, abused, mocked, mistreated and kept central - but according to a contravening morality." The New York Times 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:16 am
- It's Not Just The Kids Who Are In Trouble What's that? You say watching children maimed and killed isn't your televisual cup of tea? No problem, says Hollywood, we've got plenty of adult women being maimed and killed too! Denver Post 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 9:14 am
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Living The Hard-Knock Life Of A Rockette Think being a Rockette looks like fun? Suppose it's a life full of glamor and adulation for those unbelievably athletic high-steppers who have come to symbolize the entire Radio City Christmas Spectacular? Well, maybe it is, particularly if you consider blown knees, ice-water baths, and sweat-stained leotards to be glamorous. The New York Times 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 10:52 am
Looking Up From Rock Bottom "The Colorado Ballet has a tough challenge ahead as it tries to a climb out of a financial hole and regain the splintered trust of contributors and audiences. The company, which marks its 45th anniversary this season, suffered a 2004-05 deficit of $341,000 and accumulated debt totaling $700,000. As of Wednesday, it owed $439,000 alone to the city of Denver for rental fees and other production expenses. Perhaps even more damaging has been a steady stream of negative publicity, [which] reached a climax in October, when the company fired 19-year artistic director Martin Fredmann... So far, at least the company's artistry has not suffered during the current crisis, but can that stability continue?" Denver Post 11/20/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 10:14 am
Who Would Want This Job? The much-beleagured Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will soon have a new executive director, and he will have his hands full the minute he sets foot in his office on February 1. But even before officially starting work, Harris Ferris (currently head of Nevada Ballet Theatre) is attempting to mend some of the in-house fences that were demolished when the PBT made the decision to lay off its entire orchestra for the 2005-06 season. Ferris will meet with the orchestra this week in what he says is an effort to "eliminate the acrimony," and to listen to the musicians' complaints about PBT's management system. Ferris says it is still possible that the orchestra could return this season, but those comments were undermined when PBT cut ties with its conductor over the weekend. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 11/19/05
Posted: 11/20/2005 8:59 am
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