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Shhh, I'm changing your life
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2009/03/12 03 : 05
Pianos, jerks, even trolls -- why everything has a 'whisperer' now

By Mark Peters | March 8, 2009

IT'S EASY TO misunderstand the title of Thomas Paine's new book, "How to Treat a Woman: The Art and Science of Sex Whispering." What sounds at first like a lexicon of seductive pillow talk is in fact about "whispering" in the horse-whisperer sense, a guide to subtly managing one's partner in the bedroom. If this seems like a curious new approach to intimacy, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise - Paine is just the latest entrant in the increasingly crowded world of whisperers.

If there's a job title of the decade, "whisperer" has to be a contender. More than a decade after "The Horse Whisperer" appeared on movie screens, and four years after the debuts of "The Dog Whisperer" and "The Ghost Whisperer" on TV, "whispering" is still gaining steam among a huge range of consultants and instructors who promise subtle yet authoritative transformation in pretty much every aspect of life.

Besides a seemingly endless roster of self-described animal whisperers - really, a tarantula whisperer? - there's now the MBA Whisperer, an online consultant who helps applicants get into business school; the Relationship Whisperer, an author and dispenser of dating and marriage advice; the Startup Whisperer, who mentors new entrepreneurs; the Jerk Whisperer, a teacher of workplace communication; and the Sales Whisperer, who promises "money, prestige, achievement, and success." The Potty Whisperer and the Plot Whisperer unclog blocked toddlers and writers.

What is it about whispering? The word has long carried the sense of subtlety and secrecy. Its newer meaning dates to the early 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "whisperer" as "an appellation for certain celebrated horse-breakers, said to have obtained obedience by whispering to the horses." Despite the name, the job was anything but subtle: Horse-breaking requires subduing a bucking horse's spirit sufficiently to allow saddling. Often this was a violent and coercive process; "whisperers" promised something less disruptive.

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Getting creative to survive
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2009/03/10 01 : 28
Posted on Wed, Mar. 4, 2009

Getting creative to survive


People in the arts feel the pinch, too, but they can draw on their talent to stay afloat.

By Melanie Cox McCluskey

For The Inquirer

In today's economy, Kevin Derrick is lucky to have a job as an interior designer. Not leaving anything to chance, Derrick also moonlights as a studio director, creative consultant, and furniture designer.

Sure, he's feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. The marketing, advertising, and retail worlds that employ creatives like him are suffering.

But artists like Derrick also have built-in mechanisms for survival: their own creativity.

"We are moving into the economy of the free agent," says Richard Florida, the author of Who's Your City and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. "Whether you have a government grant or you work for a company occasionally, you have to take control of your life."

To weather the layoffs and canceled contracts, diverse income sources make sense.

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Conductor Gustavo Dudamel: A Phenomenon to Celebrate and Watch
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2009/03/10 01 : 18

"I have now experienced the conducting of Gustavo Dudamel "live" on three occasions. On top of that I've watched two video recordings and listened to at least three or four CDs as well, in some cases multiple times. I have to say that he is a phenomenon quite unlike just about anything or anyone I have experienced in almost fifty years of concert going. If you want a definition of the phrase "podium presence," the best way I can define it is to suggest watching Dudamel conduct.
Why do I write about him? After all, I rarely use this blog to "promote" an artist. One reason is that I already see signs of the all-too-predictable critical backlash that always follows any big success. I'm old enough to remember when Britten's War Requiem was introduced to the world and the initial reviews labeled it as one of the greatest choral works since Verdi's Requiem. While that may have been an overstatement, certainly the Britten work is one of the sublime masterpieces of the twentieth century. But as rave after rave followed its premiere, I remember saying to my wife something like "You watch. Within a few months the backlash will come." And sure enough, it did. Suddenly the War Requiem couldn't buy a good review: It went from being a timeless masterpiece to being an overrated hodgepodge of styles, most of them stolen from other composers (Verdi included). Eventually history made its determination, and the War Requiem seems to have earned a permanent place in the canon."


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New Musical Instrument Could Change How We Interact With Computers
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/12/10 02 : 21

12/05/2008 05:24 PM
A Table of Light, Playing Music of the Future
By Manfred Dworschak

Scientists in Barcelona have created a new musical instrument that will produce remarkable sounds, even for an untrained novice. But the 'Reactable' is more than a digital synthesizer. It might also point to a new way of using computers.

Rarely have men been seen playing with blocks with such devout intensity. Four stand around a circular table, placing colorful disks and cubes onto the surface, occasionally moving, rotating or plucking them off again.

Each of these seemingly minor changes produces an effect -- noise ranging from gurgles, taps or booming to a loud drumbeat. When the objects on the table are moved a new and unexpected sound results. Suddenly there's a buzzing, followed by a heavy stomping bass. The sky-blue glow of the tabletop reflects in the faces of these peculiar musicians.

The audience might be witnessing an advanced form of witchcraft. But they're hearing a musical instrument unlike anything they have ever heard or seen.

The disks on the table produce the sound. Each has its own magic. Some disks emit sounds of various timbres when they make contact with the table; others reshape these sounds when moved close to the first disks. There are "scrambler" disks, and flicker cubes, and rhythm dice. Some pieces produce a rougher or choppier sound. The possibilities for music are endless.

The magic table was created at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, where a group of young music musicologists have spent years searching for a completely different type of instrument. "It was supposed to be capable of doing anything we wanted it to," says Martin Kaltenbrunner, one of the designers, "and yet be extremely easy to play."

Their efforts have produced a powerful synthesizer that emits any conceivable sound, but doesn't look like a synthesizer at all. There are no knobs or cables, no keyboard and no intimidating technological interface. In fact it seems to consist of nothing more than a blue, luminous table and a pile of translucent pieces, called tangibles.

The table is called a "Reactable." It's been displayed at exhibits and conferences throughout Europe. It was recently awarded the Golden Nica prize at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria. Many museums already have a Reactable in their collections, and the device has been so successful that its creators now plan to offer it to the public.

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Filling The House: Met To Offer Subsidized $25 Tickets
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/12/10 02 : 17
Last Updated: December 8, 2008 00:01 EST

Met Opera Board Rolls Out Recession-Busting $25 Discount Seats

By Patrick Cole

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- New York’s Metropolitan Opera, with ticket sales lagging and the economy in recession, said it will offer some of its priciest seats for weekend evening performances at $25 each for the rest of the season.

Starting today, the opera company will hold a weekly drawing on its Web site, Metopera.org, for orchestra and grand tier seats that usually sell for $140 to $295, Met General Manager Peter Gelb said. The discount tickets are available only for Friday and Saturday evening operas and are subsidized by $3 million in donations from the Met’s board.

“What we’re experiencing is some resistance at the highest ticket prices, whereas last season we were consistently selling out tickets in the highest price brackets in days leading up to the performance,” Gelb said in a phone interview. “That’s obviously a result of the economy.”

The $3 million to discount about 16,000 seats came from a group of managing directors on the board, Gelb said. The Met’s 45 managing directors include hedge fund manager Bruce Kovner of Caxton Associates LLC; Mercedes Bass, wife of billionaire investor Sid Bass; and Agvar Chemicals Inc. founder Agnes Varis, who started the opera house’s program that offers $100 orchestra seats to the public for $20 on weeknights.

Gelb said ticket sales this season at the 3,800-seat opera house have slipped about “2 to 3 percent” from last season. Varis suggested that the Met set up a discount program to boost ticket sales, and the idea was approved by the board, he said. He couldn’t say how many discounted seats will be available for a single performance. Last season, the Met sold 88 percent of its tickets.

The public can enter the ticket drawing on Mondays from 10 a.m through midnight New York time at http://www.metopera.org. The drawing will take place on Tuesday mornings, and winners’ names will be posted on the Web site at noon, Gelb said. There is a limit of two tickets per entry.

Winners must purchase the tickets by noon Wednesday either at the company’s box office at Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue near 64th Street in Manhattan, or by calling the Met’s ticket service at +1-212-362-6000.

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@bloomberg.net.

All copyright @ www.bloomberg.com

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Hey, Chicago, London Has Something Crucial To Teach You
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/12/10 02 : 14
Originally posted: December 7, 2008
Chicago should get hip to theater-centered gathering space

LONDON—At 11 a.m., the lobbies of the National Theatre here are already filled with an eclectic array of businesspeople, students, tourists, artists and (given the times and based on some overheard conversation) the suddenly unemployed. By 4:30 p.m., an ever-expanding gaggle of high-school age students have taken over the banquets, espresso bar and theater bookstore. And a band has started to play. Later in the evening, the action has shifted to the packed-to-the-gills bar of the Royal Court Theatre, a venue in Sloane Square, the social epicenter of London’s well-born young professionals. Fueled by wine, ale and the decent chance of picking up a smart, well-dressed companion, conversation topics range from sex to Barack Obama to the Arsenal football team; from political scandals to leaking Tory members of Parliament to the horrors of Mumbai; from TV shows to holiday plans to the state of poetry.

Both the National and the Royal Court produce plays. Only a very small percentage of the people hanging out in their lobbies are actually going to that night’s show, however.


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Age of the Audience
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/12/10 02 : 08
Conventional wisdom: the classical music audience has always been the age it is now. Reality: It used to be younger -- dramatically younger, in fact. Here's some evidence -- primary sources (actual texts of old studies, links to NEA studies) -- plus two of my blog posts on this subject, and some anecdotal data.


Greg Sandow on the future of classical music
"Age of Audience"

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How they used to do it: Ornamentation
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/12/10 02 : 06
Ornamentation in past centuries was much freer than we often imagine. With a striking example!...
- Greg Sandow

I've talked many times here about performance practice in the past -- how musicians used to change the music they played, and how they often improvised their changes.

We know that, of course, and the standard word for what they used to do is "ornamentation." What we don't often hear, though, is how extensive those changes used to be. So here's a striking example. It's a passage from the Almamiva-Figaro duet in the first act of The Barber of Seville, as sung by Manuel Garcia, the tenor who created the role of Count Almaviva. It was published years later in a book, The Art of Singing, by his son, Manuel Garcia, Jr., one of the most famous voice teachers in the 19th century.


Greg Sandow on the future of classical music
"How they used to do it"
2008 December

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Does This Mean Goldman Sachs Will Sell Stradivari Bonds?
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/11/21 23 : 07
Financial Instruments
by Daniel Menaker
November 24, 2008
The New Yorker

Mark Ptashne, a molecular biologist in his late and skeptical sixties, is a precisionist in everything he does. For example, he won the Lasker Award for discovering exactly how genes are turned off and on. He owns a Gyro Swing golf club, which whirs as it responds to his swing and vibrates when he doesn’t keep his left arm in the right position. And—his great passion in life—he owns and plays and lends out violins, two of which are artifacts of the most exacting craftsmanship. He began playing during his adolescence. “They say you can’t really learn at that age,” he said. “Like so much else ‘they’ say, that’s bullshit.” He has made a creditable CD to prove it. And he started a company, Genetics Institute, mainly in order to make enough money to buy one of his treasures—a Guarneri del Gesù. He now owns quite a few other fiddles yet is at pains to make it clear that he is not a collector but a musician and a devotee.

Both treasures—the Guarneri and a Stradivarius—were just lying out there the other day on top of a piano as Ptashne took a living-room practice golf swing. Lying there like hats or remotes or what-have-you. The Strad had seen action the night before at, of all places, the Blue Note, the jazz club in the Village. Luke Bulla, the fiddler in the band led by Jerry Douglas, Dobro virtuoso, was playing it. It had been lent to him, he said, by Ptashne, through a network that involved someone’s brother-in-law. After the session, backstage, Mr. Bulla offered up the violin to hold. But the offeree, who has a very bad history with expensive wineglasses and vases, declined. This same offeree had recently read an article about violins being an excellent financial bet. Given our tempora and mores, he got curious about whether he had just seen the, um, soundest investment of all.

Arguably, he had. During the market upheavals of recent weeks, spot gold prices bobbed at around eight hundred dollars per ounce. The best Stradivarius violin, on the other hand, could have gone for something like seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars per ounce. That’s twelve million dollars for an avoirdupois pound of wood, if you want to be crude about it, and why shouldn’t you, these days? In this and in other ways, the great violins are, ounce for ounce, among the most valuable commodities in the world. There is even a Web site called stradivariinvest.com. Almost alone among investments, important violins have proved immune to economic downturns. Auction prices for Stradivariuses have increased from about two hundred thousand dollars in 1980 to about three million dollars today.

The person who provided those numbers is Stewart Pollens, who runs a business called the Violin Advisor and used to be a conservator of fine instruments at the Metropolitan Museum. “As opposed to paintings and other works of art, there are no fads here,” he said last week. “Artists can be in or out. Few people want to acquire a gigantic Mother and Child oil these days.”

But, like most violinophiles, Pollens, who is married to the violinist Stephanie Chase, cannot really see the instruments in quite the same light as, say, wheat futures. And that’s the problem with violins as a market. Those who, like Ptashne, buy them because they love them often can’t bear to sell them. “What am I going to do?” he had said in his living room. “The money is basically locked up.” He put the Gyro Swing aside and played a little Bach on the Stradivarius on which Mr. Bulla had played a Bill Monroe tune just the night before. And then a little more Bach on the Guarneri—darker and more rustic in tone. It was melancholy music, as if to mourn a world in which not enough is not for sale.

Copyright: The New Yorker @http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2008/11/24/081124ta_talk_menaker

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Thomas Adès Breaks The Law
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2008/11/21 23 : 01
15 illegal minutes with Thomas Ades
By Lawrence A. Johnson
Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 5:34 pm

South Florida Classical Review

It is almost nine o’clock on the east coast, and three hours earlier in Los Angeles. Thomas Ades has just finished a rehearsal with the L.A. Philharmonic, and the Englishman widely regarded as the most brilliant composer of his generation says that he is nervous.

About being interviewed? “No, I’m nervous because I’m afraid of getting busted for speaking on the phone,” he says with a laugh. Ades is referencing California’s recently enacted ban on using cell phones while driving. “I’m talking to you in the car and I shouldn’t be doing it. I have to keep an eye out for cops.”

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