The Vatican’s flagship chorus got a bad reputation during the late 20th century (you may have heard its wobbly yelling on TV when a pope died), but Pope Benedict hired a new director to raise standards, and there’s been real progress. The choir’s only English member tells what it’s like to have a job today in what’s probably the world’s oldest vocal ensemble.
“When I read the hellfire sermon in A Portrait, I had heard some of those very words, even though I was born 40 years after the book came out. The Christmas dinner scene, with the bitter argument about Parnell between Stephen’s father and his aunt, could easily have come from many Irish tables in the 1970s and ’80s … Since corporal punishment in schools continued until as recently as the early ’80s, anyone who had the misfortune to be educated by priests or Christian Brothers (or indeed nuns) would have fully recognised the scene where Stephen is unfairly punished. It happened to us all.”
“By mixing moving bodies with mechanically repeating geometries, Oskar Schlemmer pointed us at today’s world of work, where automation is everywhere in the transcendent projects of globalizing neo-liberalism. Yet the smooth, cute, and joyous mood of Schlemmer’s robotic sensibility conveys something that at least temporarily alleviates the feeling that we are living in an epoch of click-bait robotics fueled by predatory virtual capital, where memes and farcical fragments of vanity culture keep repeating before our eyes, ad infinitum.”
Matthew Lombardo’s one-woman show Who’s Holiday – about the
heroic dastardly deeds of the Grinch’s wife – got cancelled last month when Dr. Seuss Enterprises grinched about copyright infringement. Now Lombardo is fighting back, in Federal court. (And yes, Robin Pogrebin tells the tale with rhyming couplets in dactylic tetrameter.)
“With such astonishing sums of money being tossed around, one might assume that art buyers are making cool, levelheaded decisions, especially when they’re in a room full of people they know and are trying to impress. This is often not the case. To the contrary, scientists see mounting evidence of ‘auction psychology’.” Here’s how it works.
It’s a cliche of course that tools define the art. The recording industry is declaring 2016 the year that streaming became the primary way people are getting their music. But it’s not just that streaming is a vehicle. It’s changing the ways artists are thinking about their projects.
Streaming music services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal are shifting not just how music is consumed, but increasingly how it is funded, created and marketed. The talk of the industry is increasingly about playlists and how labels and artists can seed their music into high-rotation mixes on streaming services to blend their new offerings with old favourites.
When vinyl ruled, musicians thought about creating albums of songs, some using the form to create series of songs that fit together or played off one another. Downloading killed the album as listeners went directly for the songs they were after.
But as streaming has become the preferred format and playlists are a thing again, artists are playing with the format.
Where downloads and playlists favored the lone song, streaming gives the artist and the album a fighting chance again. Anyone interested in a particular artist, from die-hard fans to novelty seekers, can listen to a whole album repeatedly — not just song samples, not just YouTube choices — and let subtler material sink in. Musicians don’t need to think so exclusively about what sounds, beats and structures the radio gatekeepers will allow; they can get poetic, political, sonically weird or all of the above. While big and glossy still works, it’s just possible that odd and heartfelt will, too.
And because streaming reveals precisely how people are listening, artists can see exactly what works and what doesn’t:
Because streaming services automatically count clicks, they make it possible to tabulate more precisely what people are listening to. In years past, a sale of a disc or a download revealed only that the transaction had been made. But a streaming service knows exactly how many plays every song is getting; it measures usage beyond the one-time purchase. And those streaming statistics, along with sales and radio plays, are now included in compiling the pop charts (though it takes 1,500 streams to equal one album sale purchase). The combination of sales, radio and streaming is arguably a far more accurate assessment of which music is finding an audience at any given moment. And because the music business, like all creative industries, runs on ego as well as revenue, a higher chart position is positive feedback for a star who’s thinking about taking chances.
Even better, streaming changes the incentives for listeners. Paying for individual songs as downloads tore apart the album; getting a song legally for 99 cents was a commitment, one that limited the audience for the album cuts beyond radio-approved, video-promoted hits.
Inevitably this will change our expectations about music and what artists give us. And the business model that supports music. Not a minute too soon.
“What happens during REM sleep if your daily routine involves assuming a new identity in front of hundreds of strangers for several hours? Even in small doses, does that repeated performance generate emotional muscle memory?” The answer is yes – Sandra Oh, Judith Light, Simon McBurney, and other actors share their examples.
And only one of them was in D.C. Other major museum/gallery towns are well-represented, though, as are two pretty out-of-the-way spots.
It wasn’t only all-Hamilton-all-the-time, though that certainly leads the list. Among the other big news was the debut of BroadwayCon, the hit show stopped in its tracks by what should have been surprising good news, and the rise of Broadway’s next dynamic duo.
“The nature of truth. Theories of fairness. The essence of bullying. These are big, weighty subjects, and apparently 9- and 10-year-olds just eat them up.”
She was traveling from Philadelphia to the Russian capital via London when someone took $12,000 worth of money and property from her suitcase.
12 Plays of Xmas: 3. Ruined by Lynn Nottage
I can’t remember how I missed the Pulitzer-winning Ruined when it played in London in 2010. It was at a favourite theatre (the Almeida) and starred favourite actors (Jenny Jules, Lucian Msamati). Maybe I was … read more
AJBlog: Performance Monkey Published 2016-12-29
My favorite posts of 2016
In addition to writing about theater and the other arts for a living, I also blog in this space purely for my pleasure. Here are ten of my favorite posts from the year almost past: … read more
AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2016-12-29
Milo Yiannopoulos has parlayed his ban from Twitter — and some controversial appearances on college campuses and cable TV shows — into a $250,000 book deal with Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Thursday.
Research psychologist Paul Bloom, author of the new book Against Empathy, and a colleague from Stanford, Jamil Zaki, argue it out.
Choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is directing the staging of Mozart’s Così fan tutte opening at the Palais Garnier late next month, and her central idea is to have a dancer doubling each of the opera’s six characters. The singing roles are double-cast, and the plan was to use six dancers from de Keersmaeker’s own company with one cast and six members of the Paris Opera Ballet (who had been rehearsing with the choreographer for several weeks in Belgium) with the other. According to a statement from the Paris Opera, de Keersmaeker has decided that, with two sets of singers involved, for practical as well as artistic reasons she wanted to set her extremely detailed direction on only one group of dancers – her own, who have been working on the choreography for more than a year. (in French; Google Translate version here)