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25 Fellows Chosen for the Third NEA Arts Journalism Institute
in Classical Music and Opera at
Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism

By Andras Szanto

September 20, 2006

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism has announced that 25 critics, editors and reporters have been chosen to participate as fellows in the third annual National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera. Through the generous support of the NEA, the Institute will take place at Columbia University in New York City from October 15-25, 2006.

The groundbreaking program is part of a $1 million NEA initiative to offer intensive training for arts journalists and editors who work outside the country's major media markets.

“All the American arts depend on media coverage and intelligent criticism. This is especially true for music, where institutions and performers thrive on insightful coverage and reviews," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes bring working critics from all over the country together to develop their skills. This program improves both the quantity and quality of this country's journalism, which benefits both the artists and the public. We are delighted to continue working with Columbia University's outstanding professional development program.”

“As we enter our third year, the Institute is making a real difference in the classical music world. Past participants are constantly in touch with each other and they are advancing their careers. Incoming participants are joining a community of journalists bound together by an extraordinary professional-development experience. But ultimately, it is their readers in their home communities that will benefit the most,” said Andras Szanto, who will direct the institute at Columbia, in collaboration with Artistic Advisor Joseph Horowitz and Institute Producer Anya Grundmann.

Participants in the 2006 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera are:

Spencer Beckwith,  KUNM FM, New Mexico
Claire Blaustein, Freelance,  Pennsylvania
Mickey Butts, San Francisco Classical Voice,  San Francisco
Lianne Curtis, Freelance, Massachusetts
Christopher DeLaurenti, Freelance, Washington
Laura Emerick, Chicago Sun Times, Illinois
Karl Gehrke, Minnesota Public Radio, Minnesota
Charles Greenfield, Coral Gables Gazette, Florida
Eric Harrison, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas
James Hennerty, Freelance, Albany Times-Union, New York
Joel Hoekstra, Minnesota Monthly, Minnesota
Christy Karras, Salt Lake Tribune, Utah
Elizabeth Kramer, Louisville Eccentric Observer, Kentucky
Peter Lefevre, Freelance, Orange County Register, California
Naomi Lewin, Cincinnati Public Radio, Ohio
Dori O’Neal, Tri-City Herald, Washington
Edward Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, California
Diana Roberts, Freelance, San Antonio Current, Texas
Rick Rogers, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma
Dawnell Smith, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
Robert Smith, Freelance, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Mississippi
Lori Solinger, WJAR TV, Rhode Island
Chloe Veltman, San Francisco Weekly, California
Chris Waddington, Freelance, The Times Picayune, New Orleans
Gayle Worland, Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin

The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes establish the importance of arts journalism through lectures and seminars with leaders in higher education, the arts, and journalism. Participants acquire basic working knowledge of the relevant art form through pre-institute reading lists; introductory lectures covering basic vocabulary, historical roots, and contemporary trends; and by attending performances.

“At a transitional moment when classical music is greatly challenged, a moment of flux and ferment, sharing the knowledge needed to foster an informed journalistic response is a heady and exciting undertaking,” said Joseph Horowitz, the Institute’s Artistic Advisor. .

Attendees work with senior journalists and faculty members to improve their viewing, analytical, and writing skills. In addition, participants attend performances that cover a wide variety of genres and styles, as well as rehearsals and behind-the-scenes meetings with artists and administrators. Finally, journalists develop a firsthand understanding of artistic creation through a physical learning component, such as a basic lesson on a musical instrument, memorization of a monologue, or a lesson in physical movement.

Some of the performances this year’s participants will be attending:

Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera (new production by Anthony Minghella)
Steve Reich celebration at Carnegie Hall with Kronos Quartet and Pat Metheny
Violinist Gil Shaham plays Mozart with the New York Philharmonic
Andras Schiff and Cappella Andrea Barca
Valery Gergiev conducts the Kirov Orchestra in a Shostakovich Symphony
Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte at the New York City Opera

What some past participants are saying about the Institute:

“I have attended quite a few professional meetings, conferences and writing workshops. The NEA Institute was the most energizing, inspiring experience of my 15-year career in journalism. I didn’t want it to end!” Elaine Guregian, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH (’05).
“I feel that I have taken a giant step in my understanding of the form. I went from abject fear of writing reviews to a palpable easiness.” T.D. Mobley-Martinez, arts reporter, The State , Columbia, SC (’04).

“Not only did the experts give me more tools for my writer’s toolbox, but they also worked on our style of writing. I have compiled a list of more than 100 great suggestions to help my reviews and my writing.” Terry Rindfleisch, reporter, La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI (’04)

“We wolfed down more music and more understanding in twelve days than I thought was humanly possible.” Thomas Small, Freelance, Concertonet.com, Laguna Beach, CA (’05)
The NEA Arts Journalism Institute for Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism is part of the NEA's Journalism Institute triumvirate, along with the Institute for Dance at the American Dance Festival at Duke University and the Institute for Theater and Musical Theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

Additional information is available at http://www.arts.gov/national/aji/index.html



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