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Month: October 2017

Six Degrees, Six Degrees: Sydney Architecture in 2012

The other day I installed new brake rotors on my mountain bike [1]. They are beautiful; every scrap of stainless steel not required to withstand structural stress and the build up of heat has been removed. A laciness which could be mistaken for decoration is no more or no less than the result of form following function. As a chain is a chain and a tire inexorably a tire, so the rotors would cease to be themselves were they square or triangular, made of concrete or glass.

Architecture is not like this.

Alan Miller

About Alan Miller

Alan Miller is a graduate of the Sydney University Faculty of Architecture and holds a BFA in film from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. A fanatical cyclist, he is a former Sydney Singlespeed Champion. Alan Miller reports on cycling, film, architecture, politics, and other sports in his letters from Sydney. He won the 2011 Architects’ Journal Writing Prize.

Christmas Music As It Was Meant to Be: Noël! Noël! with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

The stuff of music is not stuff. Music’s physical presence, like dance’s too, is gone forever almost as soon as it is played. As Christmas and the planet Earth become more and more burdened with stuff, permanent stuff at that — at least permanently in the landfill — and people seemingly more and more frantic that they’re not spending enough money, you can feel more and more by contrast how music had to have such an enormous part of the festival. To fill an honest need of another person you love is another thing, but even if there is a physical thing involved, it is not the thing itself but the love to which the thing is a mere shadow and the mutually filled need itself. Carpeting one’s wants and feelings of insufficiency with stuff will always miss.

About Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller writes mostly about music and theatre, especially ballet and opera.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Sydney, and once studied the piano and trombone.

2012 Retrospective: Reflections on the 2012 Glimmerglass Opera Festival

At first, music and baseball might seem to have little in common. But don’t tell that to sports diehards and opera buffs in upper New York State. At least not in July and August, when a multitudinous group of fans from across the US converge at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. This year’s annual induction ceremonies were held July 20–23. Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road, devotees of vocal aspirants flocked to the Glimmerglass Opera to hear and see them “play ball.”

About Karl Middleman

Known as an extremely versatile musician, Karl Middleman is familiar to classical music audiences as a conductor of many orchestras and choirs. The Suddeutsche Zeitung in Munich acclaimed Karl Middleman’s conducting as “resolute and impressive.” “Energetic, vivid, and hugely satisfying,” praised the Turkish Times.

A career educator, he has served on the faculties of Arcadia University, Cabrini, Philadelphia and Montgomery County Community Colleges. Currently he teaches at Temple University.

Recently he served as Arts Advocate and Trainer for the ‘Classroom Arts Project’ of Partners in Distance Learning, as well as Scholar in Known as an extremely versatile musician, Karl Middleman is familiar to classical music audiences as a conductor of many orchestras and choirs. The Suddeutsche Zeitung in Munich acclaimed Karl Middleman’s conducting as “resolute and impressive.” “Energetic, vivid, and hugely satisfying,” praised the Turkish Times.

A career educator, he has served on the faculties of Arcadia University, Cabrini, Philadelphia and Montgomery County Community Colleges. Currently he teaches at Temple University. Recently he served as Arts Advocate and Trainer for the ‘Classroom Arts Project’ of Partners in Distance Learning, as well as Scholar in Residence for the South Jersey and Philadelphia Jewish Community Centers. Currently he is a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. His “Dvorak in America,” TV program for PHC will be broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network in December 2011.

He is a regular workshop leader for Pendle Hill Retreat Center, where he teaches courses on music and aesthetics.

In 1994 Middleman initiated a series of legendary concerts with the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, mixing scholarship with showmanship. Middleman’s thematic concerts with that ensemble are noted for their spirited intellectual inquiry and for the bold, revelatory ways they reframe the essential classical music experience for seasoned as well as novice listeners.

He is a recipient of many awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His artistry has been recently cited in 19th-Century Music and Philadelphia Magazine, from which his work with the Classical Symphony was twice awarded “Best of Philly.”

Jonas Alber conducts the Staatsorchester Braunschweig in Franck’s D Minor Symphony—a Podcast.

Some months ago an email discussion arose among our writers and friends about César Franck’s D Minor Symphony. Steven Kruger, who heard the Chicago Symphony play the work under Riccardo Muti on a West Coast tour in February, was surprised to learn from Alex Ross’s review of their New York series in October (The New Yorker, Oct. 22, 2012) that the old warhorse, once performed at Carnegie Hall seven or eight times in a season, had become a rarity, played there only four times since 1988. Kruger observed: “I think senior conductors serve a function in recycling music that was popular forty-five years ago—in the same way that fashion does this. I’ve always noticed that sixty-five-year-olds in positions of power in the fashion industry see to it, perhaps unconsciously, that the styles they saw at age twenty make a return appearance. It is no accident that the women today look the way they did when I was 20. Somebody my age on “Seventh Avenue” is seeing to it that they do. Similarly, I’m delighted to have Muti bring us back to the pieces of our youth…” Ross quoted Muti, who said, “This fantastic symphony by Franck, it was played everywhere in Italy when I was young. Then, suddenly, it vanished. Why is this?”

Jonas Alber

About Jonas Alber

Jonas Alber has been called an unparalleled magician of sound, and has been praised for a maturity that seems unimaginable for such a young conductor. When he was appointed General Music Director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig in 1998, he became the youngest conductor in Germany to hold such a post. Today he is much in demand as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras and opera companies in every part of the globe.

As a symphonic guest conductor, Jonas Alber has led many renowned orchestras. In Germany, these have included the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Cologne WDR Symphony, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken, the Leipzig MDR Symphony, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Hamburg Symphony and the Bochum Symphony. He has also conducted the Tonkünstler Orchestra of Lower Austria in Vienna, the Symphony Orchestra of St. Gallen, the Brussels Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Belgique, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Iceland Symphony, the Gran Canaria Philharmonic, the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Armenian Philharmonic, the Cape Philharmonic, and the Auckland Philharmonia.

Represented in the United States by Columbia Artists Management

An Awesome Trek Through the Cosmos with the Pinchgut Opera’s ‘Castor et Pollux’ by Rameau

Back in the day, when music in the theatre manifested itself dramatically as dance and singing together — specifically ballet and opera — it did so in a myriad of different forms. Though we now call them opera-ballets (or even just operas), they can be difficult to imagine now that the two art forms are not only separate themselves, but tend to have separate audiences in many cities, sharing only their theatre in common. Conveniently, but unfortunately, the choreography has been lost in all cases and the works are revived as what we now call opera in the main. A dance of course is much more difficult to write down than music — though written music is not itself trivial, in fact, baroque composers had no desire to write down every note, and quite a bit of the creative act we now assign to composers was originally given to musicians and singers, ornamentation in particular, were and are very important and in most cases these improvisations were not thought to be written down since that would defeat their whole purpose of expressive dramatic spontaneity. These baroque operas, even the French ones of Lully and Rameau in which the dancing is particularly important, are first and foremost watched and listened to today as opera, even when some care, attention and time are given to recreating the choreography.

About Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller writes mostly about music and theatre, especially ballet and opera.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Sydney, and once studied the piano and trombone.

A Singer’s Notes 62: Chestnuts (Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take it with You)

We were informed upon entering Hubbard Hall on Saturday evening, that a “chestnut” was on the menu. I like chestnuts. Chestnuts are successes, and they are successes because they work. Moss Hart and George Kaufmann’s particular chestnut You Can’t Take it With You is the theme song and battle cry of the 47%. One of the characters, Donald, a kind of serving man, reminds us a couple of times, that he is “on relief,” and the government gets really upset when he works. The government, in fact, is a constant presence in the play, belittled and shrunken and left virtually powerless by the formulations of Grandpa. Everything Grandpa says makes so much gosh-darn sense. Even Trotsky trots in on a borrowed horse as it were, his words printed indiscriminately by slow witted Ed as a kind of hobby.

Keith Kibler

About Keith Kibler

Twice a Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, Keith Kibler’s doctorate was earned at Yale University and the Eastman School of Music. He is one of the region’s most sought after teachers with students accepted at the New England Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Peabody and Hartt Conservatories, the Tanglewood Institute, and the Aspen Music School. Keith Kibler is an adjunct teacher of singing at Williams College.

Drawn to Excellence: Renaissance to Romantic Drawings from a Private Collection, at the Smith College Museum of Art, September 28, 2012 – January 6, 2013

If you wander around Sotheby’s and Christie’s during old master week with open ears, or if you converse a bit at a conference like the delightful and enlightening symposium held for the inauguration of the present exhibition, you are likely to hear some words about the disappearance of good drawings from the market, the ongoing retirement of dealers, the paucity of new ones to take their place, the scarcity of collectors, the resistance of museum directors and boards to these elitist and esoteric artworks, and, ultimately, the demise of the collecting of old master drawings—whereupon the interlocutors stare into space, as if they were on the deck of the sinking Titanic. If this were true, drawings would always continue to be available to the public and scholars, but the heart of the organism would be dead. The circulation of fresh blood—i.e. drawings—would have ceased.

About Michael Miller

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition at Le Stelline, Milan, and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is currently at work on a libretto for a new opera by Lewis Spratlan, Midi, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea set in the French West Indies, ca. 1930.

The Sydney Symphony Becomes Opera Impresario with a Memorable Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky in Concert

Tchaikovsky wrote Queen of Spades, in 1890, and one other opera, Iolanta, in 1891, near the end of his life after having promised never to write another opera because of the unpopularity of The Sorceress (1887). For theatre, these were very fertile years for Tchaikovsky. The Mariinksy first performed Sleeping Beauty in 1890 and Nutcracker in 1892. He wrote Queen of Spades at a Mozartean rate in Florence where it is said he composed the music faster than his brother Modest wrote and sent the libretto scene by scene. Perhaps living in Florence gave him enough distance from the darker, more repellent aspects of the story to avoid getting run down by it, but anyhow it seems a strange subject for him to choose, especially surprising to hear the incredibly lyrical music he created for it. The antihero Hermann is repellent, but for some of the beautiful music Tchaikovsky gave him, yet even so Hermann’s are not as beautiful as Don Giovanni’s arias (and duets), but I don’t believe Tchaikovsky thought or intended his music to be as beautiful as Mozart’s.

About Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller writes mostly about music and theatre, especially ballet and opera.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Sydney, and once studied the piano and trombone.

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