Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Zurich Opera names Fabio Luisi its next music director

Conductor Fabio Luisi, seen last in Boston this past November conducting the Dresden Staatskapelle (under the auspices of the Celebrity Series, ahem), has been chosen to be the next music director of the Zurich Opera.

My SPAM friends #214

I've said it before, I'll say it again:


It's one's closest friends that can say the things that truly need to be said.

National Archives now on YouTube

Start your browsers, there is a new Tuber in town. The National Archives has joined the YouTube fray and promises to dole out weekly videos that will make us feel just a little bit less like we are wasting bandwidth: US National Archives Channel.

Malcolm Gladwell takes technology utopianists to task

He isn't a luddite, but he is a realist - and a thorough one at that. When Malcolm Gladwell takes technology utopianist and author Chris Anderson gently, insistently to task, as he does in this week's New Yorker, you know who's been schooled: Read Priced to Sell.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kind of HOT

I don't think I've ever enjoyed having my shirt stick to me quite so much ...

UPDATE: So much for the hot weather. Back to cool and rainy ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Soprano Measha Brueggergosman has emergency open heart surgery

Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman underwent emergency surgery on June 10 to repair a split aorta, a rare and often fatal hereditary condition:

"'I am alive, and I'm quite good, I've got to say. Thankful,' she said
by telephone Wednesday. 'But [the surgeons] did saw through my sternum,
so that's going to take a little bit of time.'"

Read The Globe and Mail article.

Ms. Brueggergosman made her Celebrity Series debut in November 2007.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Worker finds letter to the future in Museum of Fine Arts wall

A worker doing demolition as part of construction of the new American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has found a letter written by a worker from 1926. Thomas F. Crowley left his typewritten letter inside of two envelopes between two sections of terra cotta wall where it stayed, undisturbed, for 83 years. Maureen Melton, historian and director of the museum’s libraries and archives has been researching Thomas Crowley and is piecing together the details of his life.

Read the Boston Globe story and watch video.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Financial Times eats Simon Rattle's lunch

Sir Simon Rattle

It was a sort of summit meeting between two venerable institutions, with salami. Andrew Clark of The Financial Times sat down to lunch with Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, at his house in Provence. The column, called "Lunch with the FT" (hey, why stay up late trying to be cute?), is a Financial Times staple.

Clark's conversation with Rattle is, predictably, not merely a chat about cooking and, say, the next series of concerts, with a publicist sitting quietly in the corner to smooth out the rough places. For example, Rattle gave the FT this analytical comparison of German and English culture:

"Rattle ponders the challenges of running a German institution. In
England, he says, people like to be indecisive and then, after making
up their mind, they can be relied on to go through with it. Germans, by
contrast, like to be decisive and then change their mind.

necessity for rules and strictness is a way of dealing with an
enormously powerful impulse: Germans are among the most emotional
people on the planet. Maybe it has to do with the fact that as a nation
they are always drawn back to nature and the forest.'"

Then there was this greyish job description:

"What does a conductor actually do, beyond coordinating and
motivating musicians? 'I have no satisfactory answer because whatever
you say, the opposite would also be true. It’s to do with controlling
and not controlling, allowing and not allowing. It’s essentially to do
with balance – responding to each other and finding where that balance

Rattle suggests a coffee. 'Every drug helps,' he says,
alluding to the prospect of a long and arduous Wagner rehearsal 20
minutes away at the Aix theatre."

Read all of Lunch with FT: Sir Simon Rattle.

And here is the menu, by the way:

Simon Rattle’s house

Cherry tomatoes and salami
Shoulder of lamb
Aubergine ragout
Ch√Ęteau Yon-Figeac 2003 x 2 glasses
Jug of water

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Spam Friends 6/19/09

Today's edition of my SPAM friends opens up a new world of possibilities:

Subject line: "Jack Wright: New Model!"

I had two reactions:

1. When were my 8X10s taken?

2. Can I get the new 20-something model?

Odd ads from Zurich Chamber Orchestra

I agree with Bart Collins, at The Well-Tempered Blog, that the Zurich Chamber Orchestra ads are a bit creepy. Or more accurately for me, the give me the heebie jeebies and make me want to sneeze.

NEH grants away on the "Enduring Questions"

Is driving on a
pothole-free road the definition of freedom or just simple human dignity? Is
using the breakdown lane to bypass a traffic jam the definition of evil
or is it leadership? Do we need God for the good life, or just a grill
and something to cook on it? I would pitch in a few bucks for
answers to these questions and I bet you would, too. Well, the National Endowment for the Humanities has put its money where our mouths are ...

Judith Dobrzynski, on her blog Real Clear Arts, tells us that the National Endowment for the Humanities has started a program in which undergraduate college students compete for $25,000 grants by exploring the "Enduring Questions." Here, paraphrased by Judith, are the questions in question:

What is happiness?
What is justice?
What is freedom?
What is human dignity?
What is evil?
What is leadership?
What is the meaning of life?
Do we need God for the good life?
How should we view mortality (especially given biomedical advances)?
What are the dangers of individualism?
Should art be moral?

There have been $21,404,466 in grants to date so if you are an undergraduate student, it's time to rummage around in your closet for that thinking cap.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Suzanne Vega sings "Room Off the Street" at Montreux (video)

Suzanne Vega sings Room Off the Street live at the 2000 Montreux Jazz Festival.

She visits the Celebrity Series via Sanders Theatre in Cambridge on November 6. Subscriptions are available now. Individual tickets go on sale September 14.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrity Series subscription sales by phone begin today

Starting today (June 15), Celebrity Series subscriptions may be purchased by phone. Call CelebrityCharge at (617) 482-6661, Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm.

Subscriptions are still available online (online order form) or by mail (download printable .pdf file of order form). Note: pdf file is 6 pages.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago selects new artistic director

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has appointed the third artistic director in its history. Glenn Edgerton previously held the post of associate artistic director with the company. Read The Chicago Tribune article.

The Celebrity Series has presented Hubbard Street Dance Chicago four times: in 2009, 2006, 2004, and in 1985.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Last day for priority seating on subscriptions with Celebrity Series

Today is the final day to receive priority seating on your Celebrity Series subscription. Subscriptions by phone are available starting Monday, June 15.

For more information on Celebrity Series subscriptions, visit: http://www.celebrityseries.org.

For more information on priority seating, visit or subscriber benefits page.

Bill T. Jones musical about Fela Anikulapo Kuti going to Broadway

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Director and choreographer Bill T. Jones' musical Fela!, about the late Nigerian afro-pop musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is headed to Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theater in the Fall following a successful off-Broadway stint and 2 2009 Lucille Lortel Awards: New York Times article.

The Celebrity Series of Boston has presented the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company twice, in 2003 and 2004.

First Lady to host music series

First lady Michelle Obama will host a new music series at the White House starting next week. The first artists will be 3 members of the Marsalis family: father, Ellis, and his sons, brothers Wynton and Branford Marsalis. The 3 will perform for 150 students. Classical and country music events are also planned: New York Times article.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is the Frick wasting a perfectly good bowling alley?

I usually don't try to cover visual arts or architectural topics, but this story is fun. Down in the basement of the Frick Collection, the old mansion of steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick, that now houses a remarkable collection of European art ... and a gorgeous old-school bowling alley that is, apparently, never used, according to yesterday's New York Times article:

“Occasionally, we invite some friends down for a look,” says Mr.
Bailey, a terse man in a dark blue corduroy suit. And beyond the
occasional look? Mr. Bailey stiffens. “It’s not a public room.”

Read all of In Frick's basement, an Unknown Masterpiece.

You would think the Collection might let the staff down there to throw a few frames at lunch on occasion...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Priority seating deadline for Celebrity Series subs this Friday

Priority seating for Celebrity Series subscriptions ends this Friday, June 12. While good seats still remain for many performances, subscription orders received after June 12 will be seated in the order received.

Also: Subscriptions are available by phone starting Monday, June 15.

Read about subscriber benefits here.

Merce Cunningham, 90, plans dance company's future

Annie Leibovitz's iconic protrait of Merce Cunningham

Choreographer Merce Cunningham, at 90 years of age, has announced plans for what will happen to his dance company when he passes and how his work will continue to be performed. Here is brief outline from the Associated Press:

"The company and the foundation will close at a date to be determined
after a two-year international tour, including a final New York
performance with tickets he wants sold for only $10, foundation
officials said in a statement. All assets — from costumes and props to
audio and video footage — are to be transferred to the nonprofit Merce
Cunningham Trust, which he has established to document his cutting-edge
movements, sets and costumes."

This seems a blueprint any number of artists could follow. Still a leader after all this time.

Read the full article.

JazzTimes Magazine suspends publication

JazzTimes Magazine has announced it is suspending publication. Jazz critic Howard Mandel discusses the situation.

Wall Street Journal: "What was the Van Cliburn jury thinking?"

Benjamin Ivry takes the Van Cliburn jury to task in today's Wall Street Journal. See/hear what the judges saw/heard on cliburn.tv.

"Web 2.0" is millionth word, or is it?

No really. The Global Language Monitor, based on the formula of a neologism being created every 98 minutes, has declared "web 2.0" to be the millionth word in the English language. One million words is more than double the total of Mandarin Chinese, the world's runner up.

But this gimmickry has already been exposed by Professor David Crystal of Bangor University, who claims the English language passed the million marks some time ago:

"It is total nonsense. English reached 1 million words years ago. It's
like someone standing by the side of the road counting cars, and when
they get to 1 million pronouncing that to be the millionth car in the
world. It's extraordinary."

More about this budding controversy can be found here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ingrid Fliter plays Chopin Nocturne (video)

Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter plays Chopin's Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2. The DVD from which this performance is excerpted may be purchased here.

Ms. Fliter makes her Boston debut on Sunday, November 1 at NEC's Jordan Hall. Tickets may be purchased as part of a subscription now or individually starting September 14, 2009.

Bobby McFerrin gig you're sorry you missed ...

Bobby's performance in the United Arab Emirates on April 29, which was actually titled, "Bobby meets Abu Dhabi." (Paging Dr. Suess...?)

And don't you feel good that you have not missed Bobby's performance at Symphony Hall here in Boston on March 21, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Celebrity Series (I know you saw the plug coming).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Yoko Ono on Twitter: the real deal?

Lots of celebrities have a presence on Twitter, but few of them have convinced me that the actual celebrity personage is really behind the curtain. In Yoko Ono's case, I have to say, I think it's really her. Who else could generate such an intriguing blend of zen riddles, wisdom and da-da all with just enough of the non-native speaker tone to be convincing?

Here are some of her recent tweets:

1. Imagine one thousand suns in the sky at the same time. Let them shine for one hour. Then, let them gradually melt into the sky.

2. Imagine letting a goldfish swim across the sky. Let it swim from the East to the West. Drink a liter of water.

3. Be playful. Dance with your mind and body. It's such fun that "they" might start to dance with us, too!

4. If one billion people in the world would Think PEACE - we're gonna get it.

5. Welcome to time - the great equalizer of all things

6. This world is separated into two industries: the War industry and the Peace industry.

7. Next time you meet a 'foreigner', remember it's only like a window with a different shape to it and the person who's sitting inside is you.

8. Clean up the water inside your body. Let's be the oasis for the world. Even if you don't announce it, it will be felt by the whole world.

9.You are the media. We immediately get your message, even when you are not intending to send it out!

My personal favorites are #2, for its casual non-sequitur, #4, for its unintended message, and #5, for the sheer chutzpah of welcoming people to "time" ... beautiful.

Check out Yoko for yourself: http://twitter.com/yokoono

"Mindfulness" can create musical passion, study finds

One of the messages of a new study released in the journal Psychology of Music is that practice does not, in fact, make perfect, practice merely makes permanent. The study, by Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer and Arizona State University music professor Timothy Russell focused on the concept of "mindful performance" primarily in orchestral settings, finding that, "Individual attention to novel distinctions and subtle nuances
appears to alter the process of creative ensemble performance and lead
to music that is more enjoyable to perform and hear."

Tom Jacobs writes about the study for Miller-McCune.

A tie at the Van Cliburn Piano Competition

It's true, the nation's preeminent piano competition (America's Piano Idol?) has produced a tie. 20-year-old Nobuyuki Tsujii and 19-year-old Haochen Zhang both took first prizes. And $20,000 in cash. And 3 years of concert management. And a CD recording contract. Here's the full story from the Dallas Morning News.

Shouldn't they go into overtime or something? Just asking.

Bart Collins at The Well-Tempered Blog offers some comments on the Van Cliburn results.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Updated blogroll

Regular readers (I know you're out there) may have noticed that the Aisle Be Seeing You blog roll on the right panel has migrated. I have added a few blogs and categories to the list and put them all on their own page, here.

Bloggers, if you don't see yourself there and think you should be listed, drop me a line.

Grammy Awards say NO to polka

In bid to ensure they stay "pertinent within the musical landscape," the Grammy Awards have eliminated the Best Polka Album category: http://tinyurl.com/pyb5p9

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

London to put 31 pianos on its streets


In a move designed to foster community (and, presumably, renditions of Heart and Soul), London plans to put 31 pianos on the street for public use. You may remember similar piano shenanigans in Birmingham (that would be England, not Alabama) that got some play on this blog back in 2008. London's version has the backing of no less than the mayor and the National Lottery. Also, London is getting 31 pianos to Birmingham's 15 (I don't think it's a contest, but it sounds like London 1, Birmingham nil). The event (if "event" is the word) is/are part of Sing London, which clearly suggests that throats are to be involved as well as fingers.

SLnewsBig For those planning a London stay, or for those now making plans to attend this event, maps to the locations of the pianos can be found on the Sing London web site, here. The site also features song lyrics for download and a number of, well, tidbits, related to singing, such as:

"'Singing is good for you. It deepens breath and heart rate, releases endomorphenes and strengthens the immune system' - British Journal of Medical Psychology"

We at Aisle Be Seeing You are in favor of communities (we are in a few ourselves), so we wish London well in this endeavor.