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Weekend, November 25-26


The New Blackface? Hip-hop culture has always held a mirror up to the racism embedded in American life, but in recent days, references to some of the most disturbing racial stereotypes have begun creeping into the genre in most disturbing fashion. "Free of irony or tongue-in-cheek cleverness, so-called 'minstrel rap' appears to be a throwback to the days when performers (some black, some white) rubbed burnt cork on their faces and depicted African-Americans as buffoons." Baltimore Sun 11/26/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 11:05 am

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Visual Arts

Curators On The Run "Internationalism now rivals youth culture in the art world’s hot pursuit of the never-before-seen," and the result is a newly active job description for those who make their living curating new shows. "The downside, some curators say, is the perpetual demand for new introductions, which tends to encourage a pell-mell rush to judgment in unfamiliar areas."
The New York Times 11/26/06 Posted: 11/26/2006 10:59 am

Engineering The Highly Improbable Cecil Balmond's name probably doesn't ring a bell, even amongst architecture buffs. But Balmond's career has been spent in the service of the world's great architects, finding ways to translate the most unlikely designs into real-world buildings that won't collapse under their own creativity. "As architects push the limits of their formal language, Mr. Balmond’s engineering genius has been crucial to the emergence of a new aesthetic of shifting asymmetrical structures that mock conventional notions of stability. Beyond making their projects buildable, his solutions spur such architects to explore forms they might not have considered before."
The New York Times 11/26/06 Posted: 11/26/2006 10:56 am

Italy Scores A New Museum (With An Assist From Florida) "The Museo Carlo Bilotti is Rome’s newest cultural gem, with extraordinary art housed in a fastidiously restored 16th-century marble palazzo smack in the middle of Villa Borghese. But wait. Carlo Bilotti? A Medici? A Borghese? Guess again: Mr. Bilotti, who died last week at 72, was a loquacious retired Italian-American perfume executive from Palm Beach."
The New York Times 11/25/06 Posted: 11/26/2006 10:12 am

UK Galleries Not Keeping Pace London may be one of the world's global art centers, but new evidence suggests that UK galleries are falling far behind the rest of the world in the acquisition of new works of art. "Our major museums are sliding at a terrifying rate down the international league table while the incentives to encourage private giving are insufficient."
The Guardian (UK) 11/24/06 Posted: 11/26/2006 9:30 am

More Nazi Loot Turns Up In London A Cranach masterpiece on display at London's National Gallery was apparently seized by the Nazis and then taken from postwar Germany by an American journalist, according to sources at the gallery. "The discovery that the picture was spoliated was only recently made and the gallery is now trying to identify the pre-war owner of the painting... The fact that the painting has not been claimed may well mean that the entire family was killed during the war."
The Art Newspaper 11/26/06 Posted: 11/26/2006 9:02 am

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Charleston Symphony On Verge Of Collapse South Carolina's Charleston Symphony Orchestra is on the brink of bankruptcy due to years of red ink and an inability to generate new donations, even after the orchestra's musicians took an 18% pay cut in 2003. "The orchestra finished the [2006] fiscal year, which ended June 30, to the tune of $179,000 in the red. At the same time, the orchestra's cash reserves have plunged 85 percent, from $606,223 to $93,010." CSO officials have set a February drop-dead date after which the orchestra will be unable to continue operations without a major influx of cash. Charleston Post & Courier 11/23/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 12:07 pm

Proceed With Caution A major renovation of Cincinnati's overly large and technologically challenged Music Hall is long overdue - on this, everyone agrees. But actually mounting such a renovation is a process fraught with peril, all the more so because the building is a National Historic Landmark. "The mission is to create more intimacy between the players and the audience while preserving Music Hall's legendary sound." Cincinnati Enquirer 11/26/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:28 am

Using Mozart To Promote The New And Different It's the year of Mozart in Vienna, with festivals on top of festivals celebrating Austria's most famous son. So what is notorious provocateur Peter Sellars doing here? And why isn't his new festival (which claims to be "inspired" by the boy wonder) featuring a single note of Mozart? "The music of New Crowned Hope ranges from operas by John Adams and Kaija Saariaho to a concert series by illegal immigrants living in Vienna. Alice Waters is cooking; Cambodians are dancing a version of “The Magic Flute”; homeless women are serving tea." The New York Times 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:17 am

Taking Online Music Old School "Long before the closing of Tower Records was announced, the notion that a music store should offer a comprehensive selection of classical recordings had been abandoned. Older discs, which typically sold too slowly to help bricks-and-mortar stores meet their costs, were deleted from record labels’ catalogs. But they remained desirable to collectors, and the Internet music retailer ArkivMusic has recently introduced the ArkivCD program as a way to keep these recordings available." The New York Times 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:10 am

Embracing The New "Salvation may well come in digital form" for orchestras struggling with the bottom line. CD sales may be down, but classical fans are discovering downloading in droves, and several forward-looking orchestras are doing everything they can to take advantage. Toronto Star 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:51 am

Locking In The Conductor (And The Money) The North Carolina Symphony has extended the contract of its music director, Grant Llewellyn, through the 2011-12 season. "Since he started in 2004, donors have been giving more money. Major donors wanted to know how long the state would be able to keep Llewellyn, which helped extend his contract." Charlotte Observer (AP) 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:47 am

Are We Teaching Kids To Hate Classical Music? Many in the classical music world have long insisted that regular exposure to the form in childhood is the surest way of cultivating a new generation of listeners. But what if it isn't? What if, in fact, the constant forcing of classical music on children is driving them away? "If you want someone to like something, the only thing you can do is bring them together, once or twice, and then back off. If you try to force them together again and again, or try to play cute games to encourage familiarity and acceptance, you'll probably end up creating dislike." American Thinker 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:25 am

Speaking Up For Those Who Can't Hear The Music Superstar tenor Placido Domingo is teaming up with the Vienna Philharmonic for a unique project designed to bring assistance to the hearing impaired in developing countries. "A key issue is some people's reluctance to use a hearing-enhancing device for fear of appearing elderly or handicapped, or being ridiculed... Domingo and members of the Vienna orchestra were expected at a Carnegie Hall news conference on Tuesday to announce the new, non-profit Hear the World Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland." Newsday (AP) 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:16 am

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Arts Issues

Florida's Arts City? Fort Lauderdale may have lost its resident orchestra several years back, but the city is fast becoming a cultural hub in South Florida, where the arts have traditionally been a very tough sell. Chief among Fort Lauderdale's assets is a top quality concert hall in a prime location. Miami Herald 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:41 am

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Steve Reich: Definitely An Acquired Taste Composer Steve Reich may be getting star treatment this year (he just turned 70,) but his music took a long time to be accepted in the concert hall. "The 1971 Boston Symphony performance of his ‘Four Organs’ — the first time his music had been played in a major concert venue — was cheered but also loudly booed in Symphony Hall. And when [Michael] Tilson Thomas performed the work in Carnegie Hall two years later, the audience proved even testier, erupting in protest in the middle of the performance." Boston Globe 11/26/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:38 am

Getting Inside A Legendary Head "At 84, Canada's great expatriate writer Mavis Gallant complains that the body doesn't move nearly as fast as the mind, but in person she is still like quicksilver -- sly, fast and unpredictable... She carries into every encounter a reputation of ruthlessness, of one who doesn't suffer fools at all -- gladly or otherwise. But she chuckles at the idea that she could intimidate anyone and comes off as open and generous." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:37 am

When Politics Drown Out The Music Kurt Masur is one of an elite group of conductors whose names are known in all corners of the world. But Masur carries more than a musical reputation around with him: "if his life were a coin, its two sides would be musical and political. [He] will always be remembered as the man whose appeal for calm, when East Germany teetered on the brink of revolution in 1989, averted violence and possibly saved lives." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:30 am

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Those Have To Be Some Awkward Conversations Tom Stoppard's plays have never made for light, easy theatrical evenings. So it's no surprise that his latest has resulted in a few early walkouts in New York. But Stoppard is genuinely interested in what audiences think of his work, to the extent that he has begun quizzing those leaving the play after the first act. New York Post 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 9:55 am

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Giving The Comic Book A Shot Of Estrogen Girls have never been a big focus of the comic book industry's sales strategy. But that could be changing, as one of the dominant companies in the comics business begins a major push to get teenage girls reading what are now called graphic novels. "The stories will be far removed from the superheroes who more typically appeal to young males." The New York Times 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:06 am

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Are We Finally Ready To Talk About Sex? Sex used to be the ultimate taboo in American film - movies featuring explicit sex were considered far more socially dangerous than those showing brutal violence and gore. But recently, audiences (and the industry) have appeared to be loosening up on the issue of on-screen sex. "It would be tempting to think that this was because America was finally getting a bit more grown up about sex, or because the nation at war with itself was ready for some frank hedonism." The Observer (UK) 11/26/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 11:33 am

Reinventing The CBC (For Better Or For Worse) "Richard Stursberg took over as the CBC's executive vice-president of English TV a little more than two years ago. It has been a fractious time, at best. Year one left him with a $100-million budget shortfall due to the season-long lockout in NHL hockey, the CBC's single-richest source of revenue... Stursberg is now in the midst of perhaps the most radical retooling of CBC television in its history. Most would agree that it's sorely needed. But whether he's presiding over its rebirth or its death rattle depends on whom you ask." Toronto Star 11/25/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 10:22 am

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Chicago's Surprising Ballet Comeback This has been the year of the dance in Chicago, and audiences have been turning out in droves. "Fall could well have resulted in box-office disaster. Within a period of only five weeks between late September and early November, the Joffrey's 'Cinderella,' the [New York City Ballet] engagement and the Kirov vied to sell tickets, and not cheap tickets, some going for as much as $110 apiece. All three engagements fared phenomenally." Chicago Tribune 11/26/06
Posted: 11/26/2006 11:16 am

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