Yaël Farber: “Directing is basically asking a bunch of people to run full speed at a wall with you, and to believe that you’ll all pass through. And sometimes you won’t. But you have to feel it’s still worth the injury.”
“Degas, as seen by the model Pauline, is no stoic devotee of the Muses but a curmudgeon subject to sudden bouts of theatrical self-pity, always on the verge of collapsing into melancholy ruminations over his failing sight, his oncoming death. The artist famous for his deft public quips becomes, in private, a mealymouthed, repetitious prattler, retailing twenty-year-old anecdotes for the two-hundredth time.”
Andrew Katzenstein listens to the devotional songs Coltrane created for her California ashram – “a complex and sometimes befuddling blend of gospel, pop, rock, and Indian religious music. … The unexpected combination of styles and influences are held together by the passion and devotion of the congregation. As unusual as the ashram recordings might sound to listeners, they contain the music of a religious community that viewed these performances as a sacrament.”
A pair of Berlin artists launched stusu (from “studio” and “sublet”) last year as “a website that culls together information on available studio spaces and ultimately makes it easier for artists to seek out inspiration abroad and create work in cities beyond their hometowns.”
“[Lily Arbisser] hopes to someday sing center stage at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, but for now, she works there behind the scenes as a cue-caller: the person responsible for making sure an opera’s subtitles appear at exactly the moment when the performers onstage sing their lines. Each night’s performance is slightly different, and if the timing isn’t just right, it can ruin the punch line to a joke or give away major spoilers.” (audio)
Aisha Harris travels to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to watch Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede – twice. (Audience members choose whether to sit with the North or the South; she wanted to see the show from, as it were, both sides.)
The Washington-based Smithsonian has decided to trim its fat by replacing its impressive facility with a restaurant. To little surprise, the decision to give priority to hot dogs over hot docs has not been popular in the educational-film world.
“The team from the University of New South Wales in Sydney believe that the four columns and 15 rows of cuneiform – wedge shaped indentations made in the wet clay – represent the world’s oldest and most accurate working trigonometric table, a working tool which could have been used in surveying, and in calculating how to construct temples, palaces and pyramids.”
For instance: “The plain old Obama brown carpet clearly wasn’t lustrous or glorious enough, but the new busier version looks like it has been lifted straight from a mid-range chain hotel. It’s clearly a look that the hotelier Trump is comfortable with: a surface of ornament, but ultimately bland, forgettable and good for hiding the stains.”
Artists, on the other hand, can benefit from the backing of a deep-pocketed establishment to make vast artistic productions that revolutionize not only how an audience responds to an opera, but how they respond to the art. The music, libretto, and elaborate trappings of the opera house provide the armature on which a total artwork can be created. Now it’s just a question of getting the right audience in the seats to witness it.
Can the Mann be something more? A summer venue can dream, and the Mann is having some ambitious visions. Several trends are converging. Commercial music presenters have come into the Philadelphia market in a big way, giving the Mann some competition. At the same time, arts education has become a bigger priority for arts groups and funders, and the Mann, sitting in the middle of a neighborhood, is beginning to imagine becoming a bigger player in education, perhaps even morphing into an urban Tanglewood, with a resident professional orchestra atop a pyramid of training ensembles and master classes.
Phil Kennicott: “The big question looming over the awards now is whether future presidents will attend. Can a tradition be reassembled after it has been broken? The arts occupy an already marginal position in American society, and the custom of presidential participation in the Honors has always been an anomaly, given the priorities of American cultural life and a decades-long rhetorical assault against the arts by conservative politicians. If a future president needs an excuse to forego the evening, he or she now has one ready. If Trump lasts in office, and skips the Honors the next four years, the tradition may be effectively scuttled.”
Twenty Years ago Adam Summers, a biologist at the University of Washington, “began his quest to scan every fish in the sea. What may have been considered eccentric then can only be called essential now: new ways of digitizing and sharing scientific data are sprouting up everywhere, and Summers’ prescient work has spurred other experts to attempt the same.”
The appellate court said that a “Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship,” noting that some people have “friend” counts in the thousands. Facebook members often cannot recall every person they have accepted as ‘friends’ or who have accepted them as ‘friends.’”
“Researchers at the e-commerce juggernaut are currently working on several machine-learning systems that could help provide an edge when it comes to spotting, reacting to, and perhaps even shaping the latest fashion trends. The effort points to ways in which Amazon and other companies could try to improve the tracking of trends in other areas of retail—making recommendations based on products popping up in social-media posts, for instance. And it could help the company expand its clothing business or even dominate the area.”
“Closed-circuit television cameras were recording in the museum, but did not clearly capture what happened, the statement said. The family left without reporting the damage, according to news reports, but it was discovered later.”
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s “technique of blending synthesizers, acoustic instruments, and electronic-sounding human voices has made the 30-year-old musician a star among the next generation of post–New Age synthesists.”
This season, the orchestra has a new music director and a new chief executive. But some very big challenges – including raising vast amounts of money for hall renovations and financial stabilization. Also – where is the orchestra artistically? Very big questions hang in the air. Brian Wise explores the issues.
“The Kunstmuseum Bern has so far received 220 works from the hoard of more than 1,500 pieces that Gurlitt inherited from his father, Hildebrand, an art dealer who worked for the Nazis. Cornelius died in May 2014, unexpectedly bequeathing his collection to the Bern museum. The Swiss institution has said it will only accept works it knows are free from suspicion of Nazi looting, while the rest will remain in Germany until provenance research is complete.”
On Tuesday, two singers released a memo from Sheraton Cadwell Group, a Toronto firm that contracts and manages big bands, that read in part, “As per our highly selective casting requirements … only singers who are physically fit and slim (or at the very least, those who know how to dress strategically/suitably in order to not bring attention to their temporary physical/dietary indulgences) would be showcased with our boutique orchestras.” On Wednesday, word of the memo hit the media. By Thursday, Sheraton Cadwell was out of business.
The initial offerings of Stanford’s Global Medieval Sourcebook “range from a 15th-century song translated from Middle French that bemoans a lost love … to five selections from Hong Mai’s 12th-century Yijian Zhi, a sprawling 420-chapter chronicle that is an invaluable record of society, spirituality, and culture of the Southern Song Dynasty. The GMS is, as suggested by its title, a globally focused resource, with plans for medieval texts translated from Arabic, Chinese, Old Spanish, Latin, Middle High German, Old English, and Old French.”