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Weekend, September 17-18


Christians In Comedy: A World Apart As a general rule, stand-up comics tend to be fairly liberal sorts. Maybe it's something about the lifestyle - performing late at night in seedy bars with other comics who use the f-word as punctuation - but the right wing, which encompasses a large chunk the U.S. population, has never seen much representation at the local Laugh Factory. But just as the world of American religious conservatism has created and nurtured its own sources for music, news, and education, a new market is emerging for Christian comics, who hit all the usual stand-up targets while simultaneously taking digs at evolution, activist judges, and gays who want to get married. The New York Times 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 9:00 am

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Visual Arts

Stolen Rembrandt, Renoir Both Safe And Sound Hours after police in Denmark recovered a $40 million Rembrandt stolen five years ago from Sweden's National Museum, it was revealed that the other major work stolen from the museum in that infamous raid, Renoir's portrait entitled A Young Parisienne, had been recovered months ago by American authorities. The Renoir recovery was kept quiet so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation into the whereabouts of the Rembrandt. Four men are in custody and will likely be charged in the crime. Washington Post 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 9:49 am

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Access Problems In Denver Denver's new opera house isn't getting rave reviews from disabled concertgoers. "The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition was invited to tour the opera house and found that lifts designed to carry people in wheelchairs to the lower orchestra level were slow and difficult to navigate. Also, lower-level seating near the orchestra is on a slope instead of being level for wheelchairs." Opera House execs say that they will work with the coalition to address the problems, but some observers say that the problems needed to be corrected in the design phase, and may not be tweakable. Denver Post 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 10:45 am

New Era Begins In St. Louis David Robertson has officially arrived as the new music director of the Saint Louis Symphony, and the city may never have seen a conductor more eager to get started. "On Monday, Robertson threw out the first ball at the Cardinals game... On Tuesday, he heard auditions. On Wednesday, he held his first rehearsal as music director, and then charmed the audience at a 'town hall' meeting in [suburban] Des Peres." Robertson's biggest task may be restoring the orchestra to its place among the top American ensembles after years of crippling deficits, high-profile labor disputes, and organizational malaise. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 09/18/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 10:39 am

Awaiting A Operatic Triumph In T.O. Toronto is a year away from the opening of its new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and William Littler says that the long wait for a true opera venue in Canada's largest city may turn out to be worth it in the end, especially if the center properly reflects its main inspiration, Munich's spectacular Nationaltheater, home of the Bavarian State Opera. Toronto Star 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 9:45 am

Pittsburgh On The Road Less Traveled "The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra had a rocky prelude to the start of its new season this month. First a local newspaper suggested over the summer that the 111-year-old orchestra be downsized. Then its administrators, on the heels of a $500,000 expected deficit, were forced to pay a huge raise to its players because of an unusual contract clause. Plans for a European tour in October were abandoned for lack of a sponsor. And the accidental popping of balloons shattered the mood during its gala opening program on Sept. 10, giving a new definition to the term pops concert." But behind the scenes, the PSO is tackling its challenges with an unconventional approach, making a concerted push to expand their subscription base and market the orchestra itself, rather than high-profile conductors and soloists. The New York Times 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 9:27 am

The Strike That Wouldn't End The musicians of l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal have now been on strike for 18 weeks, the second-longest work stoppage by a North American orchestra in 40 years, and there doesn’t appear to have been a single measure of progress towards reconciliation. So what’s taking so long? Unfortunately, the OSM strike is just the most visible battle of a continent-wide war between two mindsets in the classical music industry: that which claims that the market is saturated, and only a significant scaling back of ambitions can put things right; and that which insists that the only crisis in the orchestra world is a crisis of leadership in the boardroom, and holds fast to the notion that top orchestras can still pay top dollar and be financially viable. Both sides in Montreal are firmly dug in, and there’s no end in sight. Maclean's 09/19/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 8:43 am

On The Road To Better Times In San Antonio Two years ago, the San Antonio Symphony was in dire financial straits, and came perilously close to shutting down completely. Today, as the SAS launches its second full season following a tumultuous period in bankruptcy, things are looking up, and the orchestra is seeing a sharp uptick in ticket sales as well as philanthropic giving. "The symphony already has $2 million of its almost $6 million budget for the 2005-06 season," and officials are confident that the ensemble will be able to operate without a deficit this year. San Antonio Express-News 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 8:05 am

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Arts Issues

KC PAC Goes Back To Original Plan The contentious negotiations to build a new performing arts center in Kansas City have taken another turn, this time sparking a return to the original plan to build the PAC on a downtown hilltop. "The decision ends months of uncertainty that began in April when the center board voted to examine an alternative — renovating the historic Lyric Theatre at 11th and Central streets and adding a new concert hall. Backers said the concept did not save enough money to justify abandoning the earlier plan." Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $304 million, is still somewhat uncertain, but backers are hoping to start construction by fall 2006. Kansas City Star 09/18/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 10:00 am

Katrina Relief, In Black And White The cultural divisions that separate Americans - factions of race, region, and economic status - have never been more evident than in the various benefit events being mounted around the U.S. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Musicians from classical, country, pop, and hip-hop scenes are all doing their part for the relief effort - but all on separate stages. Some experts say that "the competition that has emerged among fund-raising efforts reflects cultural lines that were already drawn," but others insist that the factionalized effort is merely a by-product of an already compartmentalized entertainment industry. The New York Times 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 8:52 am

The List: Cultural Sites In Katrina's Path Keeping track of the current state of New Orleans's cultural institutions has been a chaotic enterprise at best, but a picture is beginning to emerge of just how widespread the damage is. The New Orleans Museum of Art lost one of its more valuable works to the storm, and a new, unfinished museum in Biloxi was crushed by a casino barge that was pushed a full quarter-mile inland. Some institutions escaped damage altogether, but not many... Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 8:26 am

  • Far From Home And Missing It Badly David Anderson, the principal bass player of the now-homeless Louisiana Philharmonic has a temporary gig with the Minnesota Orchestra, but all the temp hirings in the world can't answer all the questions the LPO has about its future, nor can they replace a wholly unique orchestra in a city with a musical life unlike any other in the world. "Anderson loves the way whole families permeate the music scene [in New Orleans] -- the Marsalis and Neville clans are only the most familiar. He loves that he's in a classical orchestra but also plays a mean electric bass in New Orleans' more raucous venues, grinding out original jazz, funk and bop with friends in his Symphony Boy Funk Ensemble." Minneapolis Star Tribune 09/17/05
    Posted: 09/18/2005 8:21 am

  • Relief From The Northwest The Seattle Symphony raised $45,000 for hurricane relief with a benefit concert Friday night... Seattle Times 09/18/05
    Posted: 09/18/2005 8:20 am

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American "Man of Letters" Dies At 99 "Stanley Burnshaw, a consummate man of letters who was not only a poet, critic, translator, editor, publisher and novelist, but also skilled at setting type by hand, died yesterday on Martha's Vineyard. He was 99... Burnshaw roamed the peaks of the literary world, famously dueling with Wallace Stevens over poetry and politics; publishing and editing work by his friend Robert Frost; writing a biography of Frost; and publishing important books by Lionel Trilling." The New York Times 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 9:41 am

Rushdie On Terror, Both Personal and Global Thanks to the fatwa issued against him by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini following the 1989 publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie will never be just another writer. "Forced to go underground for several years and travel everywhere with a phalanx of bodyguards, Rushdie was given a reprieve of sorts in 1998, when a reformist Iranian government distanced itself from the previous ruling... Despite this, Rushdie has not settled into a life of hedonistic comfort. He has been active in American PEN, speaking out vigorously on issues that affect writers around the world. And in his latest novel, the critically well-received Shalimar the Clown, Rushdie has taken on terrorism in the best way he knows how: by exploring the personal nature of fanaticism and how it has made the planet a more dangerous place." Los Angeles Times 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 8:15 am

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Lennon's Short & Winding Road Dead-Ends To the surprise of absolutely no one in the New York theatre scene, Lennon, the biographical musical focused on the enigmatic Beatle, is closing only a few weeks into its run. The production had been plagued by problems from the start, and a media report shortly before opening night suggested that the producers and cast were at their wits' end in dealing with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono. The Guardian (UK) 09/17/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 11:09 am

Reverse Course It used to be that America's East Coast-based stage actors toiled at their craft for little money and less recognition in the vague hope that their efforts would eventually earn them a trip to Hollywood, there to become true stars making real money. These days, the march of the actors seems to be going in the exact opposite direction, as many of Hollywood's biggest names beat a path to New York to "legitimize" themselves on Broadway stages. The Observer (UK) 09/18/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 11:05 am

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The "Poor Me" Genre Of Celebrity Film As America and the world become ever more obsessed with fame and the people who have it, it seems that celebrities themselves become increasingly unhappy with their lot. In fact, a stunning number of the films currently on view at the Toronto International Film Festival seem to be about the liability of celebrity, and the great sacrifices one makes in order to be famous. Such navel-gazing may ring hollow with some movie-goers struggling to make ends meet, but Geoff Pevere says that at their best, such films "focus on the spirit-sapping contradictions between being well-known and mortally flawed, of trying to reconcile private needs and public demand." Toronto Star 09/16/05
Posted: 09/16/2005 6:47 am

What If They Gave Out The Emmys And Nobody Watched? The Emmy Awards telecast is coming up this weekend, and from all reports it ought to be one entertaining evening, with the multiple stars of Desperate Housewives battling each other in the same category. But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and with Americans demonstrating a decided fatigue with the culture of self-congratulatory celebrity, will anyone be watching? "Last fall, the Emmy telecast suffered the second-lowest ratings in history. Then the Golden Globe Awards, the People's Choice Awards and the Grammy Awards were all clobbered in the ratings by original episodes of Housewives, which aired opposite each of the ceremonies." Chicago Tribune (LA Daily News) 09/16/05
Posted: 09/16/2005 6:13 am

  • Daytime Emmys Moving West The Daytime Emmy Awards are moving to L.A. for 2006, marking the first time the telecast will originate from a city other than New York. Another change: the nominees for the awards, which honor game shows, soap operas, and other tripe, will now be announced on ABC's The View, which is, of course, eligible for Daytime Emmys itself. New York Post 09/16/05
    Posted: 09/16/2005 6:10 am

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Jones Takes On A 'National Malaise" Choreographer Bill T. Jones seemingly exists to make people angry, and some in the dance world believe that Jones's sort of controversy is exactly the sort of visceral content the genre needs to engage a public distracted by the juggernaut of pop culture. "Mr. Jones has carried himself through the rarefied world of dance with an air of enlivened majesty: speaking out, speaking often and, when speaking of himself, occasionally speaking in the third person. His comportment may partly explain why, during his more than 25-year career, his creative efforts have repeatedly been considered transgressive. But that term mischaracterizes him as an artist and perhaps even as a man, a point rendered clearly in this newest work." The New York Times 09/18/05
Posted: 09/18/2005 11:19 am

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