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Tuesday, November 28

Visual Arts

Paris Plans A Skyline "Paris yesterday unveiled plans for a vast glass-enveloped office block that will become its tallest commercial building and loftiest construction since the Eiffel tower was inaugurated in 1889. The 'Phare' (Lighthouse) tower, designed by the Californian architect Thom Mayne, is a gently sloping eco-friendly glass construction complete with wind-turbines on its roof, that will be the centrepiece of an ambitious overhaul of La Défense on the western outskirts of the city."
The Guardian (UK) 11/28/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 5:04 am

Research Center Completes MoMA's Five-Year Expansion "Frank Lloyd Wright's wood-block model for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Paper neckties with flowery designs by Picasso. Mies van der Rohe's 'projects-general correspondence 1920's 1930's.' MoMA's first guestbook from 1929. A rich trove of background for all the legendary works in the Museum of Modern Art will become more accessible to the public with the opening today of MoMA's new education and research building in Midtown Manhattan."
Los Angeles Times (AP) 11/28/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 4:16 am

Forbidden Skyscraper Provokes Protest In St. Petersburg "Gazprom City, a proposed complex of stylish modern buildings that evoke, among other things, a gas-fueled flame, a strand of DNA and a lady’s high-heeled shoe, would sit on a historic site on the Neva River" in St. Petersburg, "opposite the Baroque, blue-and-white Smolny Cathedral. In any of six designs under consideration, the main tower would soar three or four times higher than this city’s most famous landmarks, an alteration of the landscape that has drawn heated protests from the director of the Hermitage Museum and the head of the local architects’ union."
The New York Times 11/28/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 3:14 am

The Whitney Heads For The High Line "A month after the Dia Art Foundation scrapped its plans to open a museum at the entrance to the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway line that the city is transforming into a public park, the Whitney Museum of American Art has signed on to take its place and build a satellite institution of its own downtown. ... Plans call for the new museum to be at least twice the size of the Whitney’s home on Madison Avenue at 75th Street," museum officials said, "and to be finished within the next five years." Renzo Piano, architect for the Whitney's now-abandoned uptown addition project, will design the new museum.
The New York Times 11/28/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 3:02 am

Richard Meier's Smog Eater "When the American architect Richard Meier was asked to design a church in Rome to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of Christianity, he offered an imposing white concrete structure dominated by three soaring 'sails.' The project’s main technical sponsor got to work on a coating that would enhance Mr. Meier’s trademark white sculptural forms. It came up with a material that essentially cleans itself, minimizing the need for maintenance. What the sponsor, the Italcementi Group, did not know was that the new material — which contains titanium dioxide, a white pigment — has another peculiarity. It 'eats' surrounding smog."
The New York Times 11/28/06 Posted: 11/28/2006 2:51 am

Still Museum Goes With Experience Denver's Clyfford Still Museum has chosen the well-respected team of Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture to design its new home. Allied has plenty of experience designing museums, including recent projects in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Seattle.
Denver Post 11/27/06 Posted: 11/27/2006 6:16 pm

A Rebirth In Old East Berlin When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the stark contrast between East and West was starkly apparent, and reunification did nothing to immediately alleviate the unequal division of resources, especially when it came to the city's museums. But years of renovation and refurbishment finally have East Berlin's Museum Island beginning to glitter like the jewel it once was.
The New York Times 11/27/06 Posted: 11/27/2006 6:00 pm

New Drawing of Stonehenge Unearthed An important early sketch of Stonehenge has been discovered in a 15th-century manuscript in northern France. "The little sketch is a bird's eye view of the stones, and shows the great trilithons, the biggest stones in the monument, each made of two pillars capped with a third stone lintel, which stand in a horseshoe in the centre of the circle. Only three are now standing, but the drawing... suggests that in the 15th century four of the original five survived."
The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06 Posted: 11/27/2006 5:56 pm

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A New Life For Newark's Symphony Hall? Newark Symphony Hall exists in the shadow of the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts, but the city's revitalization efforts could mean a chance for the older, once-illustrious venue to redefine itself and recapture an audience. "There appears to be a fresh opportunity to transform the more than 80-year-old concert hall — perhaps into a version of the Brooklyn Academy of Music or Symphony Space in New York, community landmarks where the programming veers creatively away from the fare offered by Lincoln Center and other major concert halls." The New York Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 3:41 am

Too Few Music Teachers? Juilliard, Carnegie Send Reinforcements "Two pillars of the classical musical establishment, Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School, have joined forces to give birth to a music academy whose fellows will go forth and propagate musicianship in New York public schools. ... Under the new program elite musicians will receive high-level musical training, performance opportunities at Carnegie Hall and guidance from city school teachers in how to teach music." The New York Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 3:28 am

Boxy Violins Made Of Balsa Wood And Graphite "From Australia to Germany to Maui, there is something of an explosion under way in the use of science and new materials to test the limits of instrument making. And the traditional violin-making and violin-playing world is taking note." The New York Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 2:39 am

Fort Worth Opera Overhauls Its Schedule "After 60 years of producing operas singularly over a fall and winter season, Fort Worth Opera has announced a major change in its presentation format: it will condense its entire schedule to an annual festival – with all of its operas and concerts being presented over a four week period" in early summer. The change will eliminate scheduling conflicts with the nearby Dallas Opera, and will hopefully make the company's operations more efficient. TexasGigs.com 11/26/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:34 pm

Stretching Beethoven There are a lot of opinions on the proper way to perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony, especially when it comes to tempo. Recordings of the piece often differ in length by several minutes, in fact. But it's a fair bet that Beethoven never conceived of a performance of his groundbreaking work that would last 24 hours, take place in a grimy bar beneath one of Vienna's great concert halls, and play to an ever-revolving sequence of curious listeners who stop in to catch a few beats before moving on. Grotesque? Maybe. But Mark Swed says that the experience was well worth it. Los Angeles Times 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:27 pm

You Want My Money? Show Me What You'll Do With It. When news broke late last week that the Charleston (SC) Symphony was perilously close to bankruptcy, it sparked a lot of questions about just how high the orchestra's costs really are. As it turns out, the CSO is something of a bargain compared to larger U.S. orchestras - the music director makes only $85,000 a year, and the musicians pull down just $21,000. Still, some local arts supporters wish the organizations they support would make greater efforts towards fiscal transparency. Charleston Post & Courier 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:23 pm

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Arts Issues

GSA Reverses Course "In a move likely to upset traditionalists, cheer modernists and widen the gulf between them, the U.S. General Services Administration has bypassed classicist Thomas Gordon Smith for its influential chief architect post and instead has chosen Les Shepherd, a veteran architect at the agency... Controversy erupted in September after The Wall Street Journal reported that Smith [was] set to become the agency's chief architect. Some modernists charged that Smith's devotion to traditionalism would set back the GSA's progress in improving federal design. Some traditionalists cheered the prospect of a return to the nation's classical design past." Chicago Tribune 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 6:19 pm

Art Or Exploitation? The always-charged debate over child nudity in art is flaring again in Canada, thanks to an editorial decision by a photography magazine to remove several potentially controversial images from its latest issue focusing on what constitutes exploitative child porn. "The decision came after a time-consuming search failed to turn up a printer willing to risk a test of the Child Pornography Act passed in July, 2005. The debate over the images also resulted in the resignations of four members of BlackFlash's volunteer board of directors." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 6:11 pm

Seeing Ancient Athens In A New Light "An ambitious international project to decipher 1,000-year-old moldy pages is yielding new clues about ancient Greece as seen through the eyes of Hyperides, an important Athenian orator and politician from the fourth century B.C. What is slowly coming to light, scholars say, represents the most significant discovery of Hyperides text since 1891, illuminating some fascinating, time-shrouded insights into Athenian law and social history." The New York Times 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 6:03 pm

Celebrating Liverpool, Or Just Arguing About It "The aim is certainly ambitious: to create a museum, unlike any other in the world, to celebrate the rich heritage of Liverpool. From prehistory to its days as a hub of the British empire, to the Beatles and Alan Bleasdale. But the £65m project to capture the city's 'creativity, its wit, its imagination, its sheer contrariness' is already dividing opinion in Merseyside." The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:55 pm

Art vs. Family Can an artist be dedicated to his craft and still maintain a healthy home life? Does parenting necessarily have to take precedence over art, and does the art have to suffer if it does? The answers all depend on whom you ask... The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:48 pm

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Mr. Hall Goes To Washington Riding to Washington on the wave of the Democrats' midterm-election comeback is one John Hall of New York, member of the light-rock group Orleans and co-writer of the band's hits, "Still the One" and "Dance With Me." "Once we forgive Hall for penning such excruciatingly unshakable couplets as 'You're still the one who can scratch my itch / You're still the one and I wouldn't switch,' let us acknowledge his singular place in American history: He is the first professional rock musician elected to Congress." Washington Post 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 4:34 am

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56 "Bebe Moore Campbell, a best-selling novelist known for her empathetic treatment of the difficult, intertwined and occasionally surprising relationship between the races, died yesterday at her home in Los Angeles." The New York Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 2:57 am

A Thoroughly Modern Diva Of The Old School The classic opera diva is not very much in evidence these days, but one woman is still very much upholding the grand tradition of Soprano As Center Of The Universe: Renee Fleming. "First and foremost her own voice has settled into a place where its opulence and bloom and sheer seductiveness can thrive - namely in the hothouse of late romanticism... Her critics will tell you that she is mannered, that she indulges style at the expense of sense, and sound at the expense of words. There are elements of truth in all of this. But would such accusations of self-indulgence have been levelled at her 'golden age' predecessors? Not on your life." The Independent (UK) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:38 pm

Robert McFerrin, 82 Groundbreaking opera singer Robert McFerrin has died of a heart attack in his home in St. Louis. McFerrin, father of Grammy-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin, was the first black man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, and provided the singing voice for Sidney Poitier in the 1959 film version of Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess." St. Paul Pioneer Press (AP) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:17 pm

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It's The Architecture, Stupid "The truth is that it is not the current raft of musicals that are killing the straight play in the West End but the theatre buildings themselves, most of which were built in the 19th century and are entirely unsympathetic for contemporary drama. Modern audiences raised on the intimacy of TV and film are entirely correct to be disinclined to spend £37.50 to see a live performance that from row P in the stalls appears to be taking place in another county. ... As for the straight play, well it's alive and well, it is just happening in places other than the West End - in the subsidised sector and in studio and fringe spaces." The Guardian (UK) 11/23/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 5:53 am

Getting The Theatre We Deserve (Musicals, That Is) "Last week, audiences hyperventilated over the latest [musical], Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Sound of Music, while at Amy's View there was appreciative but reserved applause. It is not all disaster for straight drama: Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll is still doing okay and it will be a real surprise if Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon does not at least run its course. But they are not doing anywhere near as good business as the musicals - and producers, in their more pessimistic moments, talk about straight drama being an endangered species in the West End. Perhaps we get the theatre we deserve. Straight drama will close unless people go and see it." The Guardian (UK) 11/22/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 5:14 am

No Turkey Hangover On Broadway It was a dynamite Thanksgiving weekend for Broadway, as several shows saw record ticket sales. "'Wicked' took in a mammoth $1.7 million, a new all-time Broadway record... Another record was set at the August Wilson Theatre where 'Jersey Boys,' the Four Seasons musical, grossed $1.18 million." Washington Post (AP) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 6:31 pm

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Ah, Latin: It's Catnip To Book-Buyers "It is a thoroughly unlikely publishing phenomenon. A book about Latin - that is, about how to learn Latin, with dozens of verb tables and explanations of the ablative absolute and the gerundive - has crept up, unexpectedly but persistently, as high as number 14 in the Amazon bestseller list in the all-important weeks before Christmas." The Guardian (UK) 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 5:01 am

McEwen: I'm No Plagiarist Bestselling author Ian McEwen was accused this past weekend of copying the work of another writer in his novel, Atonement. But McEwen says that he only drew on historical record as background for certain scenes, and he further points out that he acknowledged the author he is accused of stealing from in his book, and says that he has been crediting her with filling in gaps in his knowledge at speaking engagements ever since Atonement was released. The Guardian (UK) 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:50 pm

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AM Radio Rides To Rescue Of LA's Country Fans "Three months after Los Angeles' only country radio station, KZLA-FM (93.9) switched to a rhythmic pop format, leaving the nation's largest market for country music with nowhere to tune on the radio dial, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Toby Keith and the rest of the twang gang are back on the air. But now they're heard on the AM dial. In fact, when the country music broadcasts started recently on XSUR-AM (540) — transmitting from just across the border in Tijuana — the effect in L.A. was almost like tuning in on an old crystal set with the signal fading in and out." On Friday, Los Angeles station KKGO-AM will go country, too. Los Angeles Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 4:08 am

CanCon vs. HiDef Canadian cable companies are hiking rates in an effort to recoup some of the cost associated with converting to high-definition. But some are questioning the increases, pointing out that the same companies that are asking Canadians to subsidize their tech upgrades have become increasingly uninterested in supporting Canadian-produced content. Toronto Star 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 6:06 pm

Of Course, They'll All Merge Next Year Anyway That the new online video craze sparked by YouTube would have an impact on popular culture has been obvious for some time. What that impact will be is a bit harder to assess. But early indications are that what's good for online video purveyors isn't necessarily good for traditional broadcasters: a new study says that "43% of Britons who watch video from the internet or on a mobile device at least once a week said they watched less normal TV as a result." BBC 11/27/06
Posted: 11/27/2006 5:44 pm

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Broadway Tours: Manna To Dancers, Poison To Troupes "It's a fact of life: Dancers must make the choice between the artistic challenge offered by a concert dance company (a loose term that implies an artistic entity that presents stage performances of modern, ballet or other styles, for which dancers and choreography are the focus) and the steady work, paycheck and benefits that come with a big Broadway touring production, a pop concert tour, an industrial show or even a cruise ship." Los Angeles Times 11/28/06
Posted: 11/28/2006 3:59 am

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