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Thursday, September 8



Our Links to Arts and Hurricane Katrina We've compiled a page of aggregated links to hurricane arts-related stories and resources... ArtsJournal
Posted: 09/09/2005 10:08 am

Imagining The New New Orleans Benjamin Forgey says that, given the cost and time sure to be involved, it is not unreasonable for some to be questioning whether New Orleans ought to be rebuilt. But he also says that there are several very clear reasons that it must be. "New Orleans... is a national issue because it is a national treasure. Simple as that. Actually -- because of its history, its unique blending of cultures, especially in architecture and music, and its unending sociability -- the city is an international treasure... The big question, then, is how to do the job. Getting the money and repairing the infrastructure are the easy parts, at least in theory. But who will do the thinking, the conceptualizing of a rebuilt New Orleans? And what, precisely, will be rebuilt? Who will live there, who will visit and what will be its economic engine?" Washington Post 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 6:56 am

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Visual Arts

MoMA Scores A 'Lost' Matisse New York's Museum of Modern Art has a new Matisse in its collection. The Plum Blossoms, from the artist's last series of paintings, was purchased for MoMA by its new president and her husband for an amount estimated to be $25 million. The painting's whereabouts had been unknown for more than 30 years until a Manhattan dealer approached MoMA on behalf of the anonymous collector who owned it. It was last put on public display in 1970, and because it has always been in private collections, it is reportedly in extraordinary condition. MoMA hopes to have the painting on its walls within a week. The New York Times 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:44 am

Reynolds Masterpiece Denied Exit From UK An 18th-century painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds will remain in the UK despite its having been sold last year to a foreign institution. Keeping important works of art in country has become a crusade in Britain in recent years, and "the government slapped a temporary export ban on the sale to give the [Tate Modern] time to raise the necessary £3.2m" to buy the painting back. "The London gallery managed to meet the figure through a combination of grants, donations, the Tate's own collection fund and £500,000 raised by the gallery's own members." The Guardian (UK) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:48 pm

Italian Architects Revolt Against International Superstars 35 of Italy's top architects have signed an open letter to the government asking for an immediate cessation of all building projects designed by foreign "star" architects, and calling for a return to Italy's traditional architectural standard. "The writers warn of the 'architectural mongrelisation' of Italy, and say Italian architects are 'an invaluable cultural resource that cannot continue to be thwarted and ignored'." The Guardian (UK) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:38 pm

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Can A Scene Survive Without Its Backdrop? New Orleans is, of course, an important place in the history of American music. But what many Americans don't know is that there is far more to the Big Easy than jazz funerals and Dixieland. "New Orleans is a jazz town, but also a funk town, a brass-band town, a hip-hop town and a jam-band town. It has international jazz musicians and hip-hop superstars, but also a true, subsistence-level street culture. Much of its music is tied to geography and neighborhoods, and crowds." Because of that reliance on neighborhood identity, many are asking whether the New Orleans scene can ever be rebuilt. After all, if the Lower Ninth Ward has ceased to exist, what happens to the sound cultivated by its residents for so many decades? The New York Times 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:58 am

Met Opera Broadcasts Find A New Sugar Daddy The weekly broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, under threat ever since ChevronTexaco quit as principal sponsor in 2003, have found a new benefactor in an unlikely place. Toll Brothers, a home building company based in suburban Philadelphia, has agreed to sponsor the broadcasts for the next four seasons. The broadcasts cost $6 million per year, and the Met says that Toll Brothers has agreed to pay a "major" portion of that cost. The company, which specializes in high-end luxury housing (its average home sells for $600,000 or more) is hoping that the association with the Met will add an element of class to its image in the eyes of prospective clients. The New York Times 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:52 am

Wichita Holds A Place For LPO Musicians Kansas's Wichita Symphony and Wichita Grand Opera are offering to hire one member of the New Orleans-based Louisiana Philharmonic for each performance scheduled in 2005-06, with no audition required. The chair could be filled by the same musician for the entire season, or by a rotating series of players. The musicians' union has put out a call for orchestras across the country to offer work to the New Orleans musicians. Wichita Eagle (KS) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:24 am

Study: UK Musicians Overworked, Underpaid According to a new study commissioned by the UK's musicians' union, 90% of professional orchestra players in Britain have to find extra work outside their orchestra to supplement their income. The union claims that the study proves that UK musicians are underpaid compared with their counterparts in America and on the European continent. "Most rank and file musicians earned between £22,000 and £24,000 despite having been in the profession for an average of 21 years, with salaries failing to keep pace with inflation." The Stage 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:15 am

Webern In Hindsight Sixty years ago next week, Anton Webern stepped outside of his house for a smoke and was accidentally shot dead by an American soldier. Thus ended the remarkable career of one of history's brilliant and contradictory composers. Norman Lebrecht says that in order to appreciate Webern, it is best to embrace the contradiction. "Inspiration was anathema to Webern. All had to be strictly counted and numerically correct. If pleasure entered the process, it was the solitary satisfaction of making a line read the same forwards, backwards and upside down. Inverted by nature, Webern wrote music that turned in upon itself, rejecting every human value except absolute order. [And yet,] scan the entire canon, Passacaglia to posthumously published piano pieces, and you will not find one weak work of Webern's, or one that fails immediately to proclaim its authorship. In the history of western music, that statement is true only of Beethoven and Wagner." La Scena Musicale 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:09 pm

Paris Opera To Offer Cheap Tickets The famed Opéra National de Paris is going the route of companies in Germany and the U.S., offering standing room tickets for its upcoming season, priced at €5 and aimed squarely at young audiences who otherwise might not attend a production. The company will allow 62 standing-room patrons per performance, and the tickets, which will be limited to two per buyer, will go on sale only 45 minutes before curtain. Opera News 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 6:59 pm

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Arts Issues

Tilting At The Advertising Windmill Everyone knows by now that today's children are subjected to more advertising than any previous generation in human history, and furthermore, that a disturbing percentage of that advertising is aimed squarely at them. But despite frequent warnings by experts about the effect such a barrage of commercialism can have on kids, there has been little public effort to stop, or even scale back, the volume of ads dumped on the average child. Enter the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a "Boston-based coalition of parents, educators, health-care specialists, and advocacy groups" dedicated to wiping out youth-targeted advertising. A bit Quixotic? Maybe. But as the CCFC's leader puts it: "Who won David vs. Goliath?" Boston Globe 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 6:17 am

Even Better The Second Time Around We've all heard stories of those strange, obsessive types who attend the same play hundreds of times. This may not be normal behavior, but Rupert Christiansen says that there is great pleasure and intellectual growth to be derived from viewing the same work of theatre, art, or music more than once. "The point about the return visit is not the infantile pleasure of repetition, but the possibility of surprise. A good work of art never stays quite the same: it ambushes you, outwits you. A first exposure can provide the primitive excitement of wanting to know what happens next, a second provides the opportunity to register details, a third brings a sense of the underpinning joints and girders that make up the structure. And so it goes on." The Telegraph (UK) 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:59 pm

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KC Symphony Musician Murdered 51-year-old bass player Steven Peters, a 21-year veteran of the Kansas City Symphony, was found murdered in his home on Tuesday. Police are releasing little information about the crime, but Mr. Peters' brother-in-law has been quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the house had been burgled four times in the last six months. Members of the orchestra were notified by phone Tuesday night. Kansas City Star 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 6:43 pm

The New Orleans Violinist Unmasked In the awful days following the levee breaks in New Orleans, the Baton Rouge Advocate captured a moving photo of a lone violinist, seen from above, playing Bach for a roomful of his fellow hurricane survivors. The photo was reproduced around the world, and this week, AJ Blogger Jan Herman caught up with the subject. Samuel Thompson is "a professional musician, born 34 years ago in Charleston, S.C., who took up the violin at age 9, and has studied at the University of South Carolina, Oklahoma State University and Rice University." Like so many others displaced by the storm, he is hoping to rebuild his life on the back of his talent, and the works he was performing to soothe the refugees of New Orleans are the same ones he has been using in orchestral auditions over the last several months. Straight Up (AJ Blogs) 09/07/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 6:26 pm

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Nobel's Play Is No Prizewinner A Stockholm theatre is preparing to raise the curtain on a long-forgotten play by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The patron of the Nobel Institute and its world-renowned prizes, Nobel was also an amateur poet, and penned his only dramatic work, Nemesis, in 1896, shortly before his death. Everyone involved in the production seems to agree that it is far from a good play (it mainly deals with torture, rape, incest, and Satan, and was condemned as blasphemous by the Swedish clergy shortly after its publication,) but the staging is being presented as a historical curiosity showing a different side of a revered figure in Sweden's history. The Guardian (UK) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:42 pm

New Mike Leigh Play Delayed In London "Tonight should see the unveiling of perhaps the most breathlessly awaited - and mysterious - theatrical event of the year. But, it turns out, audiences are going to have to wait another two nights to see the new play by Mike Leigh at [London's] National Theatre - because the dramatist and film-maker has yet to finish it." The show's initial run has been sold out for weeks, even though virtually nothing is known about the plot. (Even the title was only unveiled late last week.) "The play will be Leigh's first since 1993, and his first creative outing since the success of the film Vera Drake, which won the Golden Lion at last year's Venice film festival. His best-loved drama is 1977's Abigail's Party." The Guardian (UK) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:34 pm

Archiving American Theatre (Even The Non-New York Kind) "The purpose of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook series, founded by Burns Mantle, has been to create an 'armchair view' of the theatrical season. The challenge of the series has been to capture that ephemeral, elusive moment of connection between playwright, design team, actors and audience. The series now numbers some eighty-five volumes, having captured almost a century in American Theatre and in so doing, provided an encapsulated view of eighty-five years of American History through the eyes of its dramatists... The series has also expanded its reach to cover not only the theatrical world of New York, but around the entire country." Talkin' Broadway 09/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 6:38 pm

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Toronto On Top Everyone's been predicting it for years, of course, but it now seems to be a fact that the Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off this week, has established itself as the most important event of its kind in North America. Mark Caro says that TIFF has achieved that perfect blend of celebrity glitter and outsider ambition, functioning simultaneously as Hollywood's sneak preview clearinghouse and as the most promising location for unknown filmmakers to display their wares. Chicago Tribune 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 6:28 am

Think Of It As A Tip For The Bricklayers Tickets to Toronto International Film Festival screenings have a little something extra built in this year: a surcharge of $1 to $5, with the money earmarked for TIFF's building fund, which already has $175 million of the $211 million needed to construct a new home for the festival. "By tacking on an involuntary contribution towards bricks and mortar, the festival is taking a less familiar path among arts organizations where capital cost fundraising is a separate matter from the continuing relationship they cultivate with their audience." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 6:24 am

California Film Subsidy Bill Tabled A bill backed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which would have provided $50 million in tax breaks to film companies that keep their productions in California, is apparently dead for the year after state legislators objected. "Hollywood lobbyists have argued that the state's dominance in entertainment production is in danger because of pressure from Louisiana, New Mexico, Illinois and other states with generous tax-incentive packages, as well as from countries like Canada and Romania with favorable currency and labor rates." The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, of course, took Louisiana out of the mix for the time being, and many in Mr. Schwarzenegger's own party questioned such a large subsidy being given to a single industry. The New York Times 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 6:07 am

BBC's Leap of Faith In what is believed to be a groundbreaking move for a major national broadcaster, the BBC has released more than 100 clips from its television archive to the public, for use by anyone who wants to download, remix, or sample them. The "rip, mix, and share" idea was launched in conjunction with a BBC Radio 1 contest encouraging listeners to design their own music video, but the implications for broadcasters as a whole are far greater than a simple video challenge. Where most content providers make a point of zealously protecting their copyrighted content and even taking legal action against anyone "sampling" from such work, the BBC has made a conscious decision to encourage the public sharing of its archival material. BBC 09/08/05
Posted: 09/08/2005 5:37 am

The Evolution of the Hollywood Villain It's almost never difficult to spot the bad guy in a Hollywood film - he's immediately recognizable by whatever characteristics Americans have currently devised to indicate people who are not to be trusted. In the 1940s and '50s, it was German accents and jackboots, and the Nazi archetype served the movie business well for decades, even when the villain in question wasn't actually German. Now, with 9/11 fresh (but not too fresh) in the American mind, Hollywood villains are taking a decided turn for the Arabian. Even so, "the most popular enemies of the 21st century are still the ones without nation, religion or creed who aren't going to offend anyone." Another alien invasion flick, anyone? Sydney Morning Herald 09/08/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 8:07 pm

Not Everything In Venice Sucks The Venice Film Festival may have traded some of its credibility for the allure of Hollywood glitz, but one critic says that there are still great films to be found, if you can force your way through the bantering celebrities and "execrable" Calista Flockhart flicks. "There have been some good, even great films in the festival's first few days. Two are outstanding. And one, although it is in the competition, is nothing short of a blockbuster, complete with big stars and Oscar-worthy everything being trumpeted from massive posters along the Venice Lido's main drag." The Age (Melbourne) 09/06/05
Posted: 09/07/2005 7:24 pm

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