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Thursday February 7, 2008

The Knight Foundation has announced major grants to three local arts organizations: $10 million to the Miami Art Museum, $5 million to MoCA, and $5 to the New World Symphony. Other organizations and individual artists can apply for a chunk of another $20 million available for smaller grants, which must however be matched by funding from other sources. Given this, and given the recent $30 million Arsch gift and the $10 million recently given to the Harn museum in Gainesville, the question becomes: who’s going to be the next to step up with an 8-figure donation?

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Monday August 13, 2007

Michael Tilson Thomas has been doing a radio program, The MTT Files, which spotlights trends in the history of music. The first one, You Call That Music?!, is particularly interesting. They’re broadcast on WLRN’s digital substation, but are also available at the link, unfortunately only as streams, not mp3 downloads.

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Wednesday February 7, 2007

Frank Gehry proposed New World Symphony building

Frank Gehry's New World Symphony building

The crappy scan of the Frank Gehry building got some attention, so I e-mailed NWS for a digital copy, and here it is (click it for a screen-filling full sized version). It’s obvious now what’s going on — the rendering isn’t true to color, and the newspaper reproduction obscured the building’s most interesting features: an internal atrium that allows those inside and out to see the performance spaces and rehersal rooms (according to the Bloomberg article).

I recently attended a Musicians Forum that included a recording of an internet feed from video confrencing between some NWS musicians and a Chicago-based contemporary composer. The new building will be wired to make those sorts of interactions an everyday thing.

I had major trouble figuring out where exactly this building will sit, and how the picture above orients to the world. After a phone call to NWS and some quiet time clicking back and forth between the photo and the map, I think I’ve got it. Picture yourself standing in front of the current Lincoln Theater. Now walk down Drexel avenue, around the side of the theater, and behind. Keep going about halfway down the block. Now turn back around the way you came, and you’re just about at the vantage point of the rendering. The glass facade of the building faces east, and the viewer is facing Northwest. The building sits on what is currently a big parking lot, and which will, when it’s all finished, contain a garage, this building, and a new park. What I can’t seem to figure out is why 100% of the cars in the rendering are German.

Anyway, viewed in this light, and with a bit of imagination and optimism, I think this building is going to be suitably spectacular.

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Thursday January 25, 2007

NWS Frank Ghery bldg

A rendering of the proposed Frank Gehry building for the New World Symphony. No idea where Verticus got it. Read more about the plans at Bloomberg and at the Herald.

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Tuesday May 2, 2006

Michael Tilson Thomas elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

michael Bigups to Michael Tilson Thomas, artistic director of New World Symphony, who who has just been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Other 2006 inductees included Martin Scorsese, Paul Vogel, and Bill Clinton. The distinction “recognizes individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large.” While the fellows list mentions MTT’s other gig, as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, the award reflects on the importance of NWS, which he helped to found, and which is creating an important link between serious music’s past and its future.

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Friday April 28, 2006

A childrens' weekend

kid with horn

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Monday April 10, 2006

New World Symphony does Reich

Cookin:' Part IV

The New World Symphony’s performnace of Steve Reich‘s Drumming on Saturday was pretty mind-bending. Exploring the same themes that occupied Reich’s entire career, the piece is built up from simple rhythmic motifs which grow increasingly complex through layering, variation, and “phasing.” The later technique is particularly key – it involves a repeating pattern played by two musicians, whom gradually fall out of sync with each other (one playing just slightly faster), then back into sync (when the “faster” variation gets a full eight-note ahead of the other). The effect is maddeningly complex when done by two musicians, let alone 13. Drumming opens up on four pairs of tuned bongos, moves to marimbas for the second section, to glockenspiels for the third, and finishes with all the instruments playing together. At various points, vocalists, a piccolo, and whistling augment the percussion. All of the action of the piece takes place in a very limited frequency range, and often with incredible density of notes, which result in overtones and perceived sounds that cannot be coming from the actual instruments. The piece also challenges you to “follow the pattern,” knowing full well that the variations will grown too complex by several orders of magnitude for that to be possible — at one particularly hot moment, there are nine musicians playing different patterns on the marimbas. Think of future robots playing patty-cake, fractal/chaos theory, and the game simon, but mostly nevermind: you just have to listen to it from beginning to end to get it.

What I’m trying to say is that this shit is weird. And that gets me to how cool the New World Symphony is for doing it (and doing it well: the performance was easily as good as the one one my box cd.) And getting people to come hear it: the 704-seat theater was maybe 90% full. I was skeptical of combining a show like this with a 90-minute cocktail reception (“Symphony with a Twist,” indeed), but the proof is in the pudding: no more then one person left during the performance, and most of the crowd cheered furiously at the end (from the balcony, I saw a few people sitting with arms folded across their chest throughout the standing ovation, but that’s less then I’d have expected). Before the show, Michael Linville came out and explained the basic concepts of the piece (with a quick demonstration by a couple of the musicians) to give the audience a little background, but mostly they were just thrown in the deep end. So we have another case of NWS doing uncompromising work, and getting people to hear it. Bravo!

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Friday April 7, 2006

Drumming Friday

Tuned bongos, y'all!

Anything else?

Update: Immigrant solidarity rallies (from the Herald):

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