New Orleans Music – Unending, Unknowing

“New Orleans is two cities now—one inching toward renewal, the other caught in what David Winkler-Schmidt of the local Gambit Weekly called ‘the horrible unending of not knowing.’ Already Gambit’s music section lists my favorite clubs hosting my favorite bands, many of whose members travel from Atlanta or Baton Rouge for gigs. But the great body of culture that long inspired and still shapes the sound of American music—in the form of jazz musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Club second-liners, neighborhood brass bands, and up-from-the-projects MCs— remains stuck in that unending.”

Did Britain Miss Out On The Last 150 Years?

There’s an outstanding new Van Gogh exhibition at a suburban London museum, but to some in the UK art world, such chances to view the work of a French master only serve as a reminder of how previous generations of Brits managed to almost completely ignore important developments taking place on the European continent. “Were we really the only nation to turn its collective back on each new movement in art as it arose, from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to Fauvism and Cubism? … with a few exceptions, English collectors lacked the courage to purchase modern paintings, and that is why there are relatively few of these pictures in our national galleries as compared to Russia or the US.”

If You Build It, They Still May Not Come

The challenge of creating a dynamic and thriving downtown center in Los Angeles is not limited to the pursuit of high-profile architecture and pedestrian-friendly plazas. “The developers must lure back the kind of high-end retailers who began abandoning downtown Los Angeles 50 years ago… Throughout downtown, developers are finding it is a lot easier to lure well-heeled condo buyers to the urban core than businesses. In what some see as an ominous sign, some of the historic bank buildings converted into lofts have filled their upper floors with new residents but have failed to find retail tenants for the street-level spaces.”

NY Phil Wants A Summer Venue

“The New York Philharmonic is stepping up efforts to create an outdoor concert venue for summer concerts… Public relations consultant Howard Rubenstein is working on behalf of the orchestra to enlist New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support for a new venue within the city limits… The Philharmonic currently plays summer concerts in Central Park and other parks around the metropolitan area, but the city has no permanent outdoor music venue along the lines of suburban Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, Cleveland’s Blossom Festival, or Los Angeles’s Hollywood Bowl.”

Knussen Wins $100K Prize

Oliver Knussen has been awarded Northwestern University’s biennial $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition. “Knussen was praised by the anonymous, three-member selection committee for his ‘uniquely focused, vibrantly varied music and his total embrace—as a profoundly influential composer, conductor, and educator—of today’s musical culture.’ One of Knussen’s works will be performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the 2007-08 season; he will also visit Chicago for a residency at Northwestern’s School of Music.”

Scottish Opera’s Year Of Reckoning

Scottish Opera is performing again after its forced 1-year hiatus (imposed when the Scottish government refused to fund the company until an accumulated debt was paid off,) but the company has clearly been decimated. “The spiral of decline into which Scottish Opera has fallen in recent years has reached the make-or-break stage. Funding may have been guaranteed till mid-2008, but the next 12 months will decide whether the company continues as a main-stage entity or shrivels into a touring outfit. Scotland’s political class would tolerate the latter, and even encourage it.”

Rachel Corrie Gets A Reading In Toronto

“The script of My Name is Rachel Corrie, a controversial play about the 23-year-old American activist who died in Gaza during a political demonstration in 2003, received a private reading without incident at Hart House on the University of Toronto campus Sunday night… While the play ran successfully in London for many months, a proposed production at the New York Theatre Workshop was cancelled shortly before its opening, because of fears that it would exacerbate ‘an edgy situation’ within the Jewish community. This cancellation sparked a worldwide controversy, with heated voices being raised on both sides. In light of that reaction, the Toronto organizers decided to make Sunday night’s reading by invitation only.”

The Man Who Might Save Canadian Film

The new head of Telefilm Canada is taking on more than a simple CEO’s job. On his shoulders rest the hopes and dreams of Canada’s entire filmmaking community, and if that seems hyperbolic, you probably aren’t acquainted with the struggles of filmmakers north of the border. “As Telefilm’s newly minted go-to guy for approving and funding English-language features, [Michael Jenkinson] replaces an antiquated (and generally loathed) national decision committee which had been responsible for spreading around roughly $80-million a year.”

A (Last?) Look At Endangered Languages

“By the end of the century, linguists predict, half of the world’s languages will be dead, victims of globalization. English is the major culprit, slowly extinguishing the other tongues that lie in its path… In the next two weeks, however, some of these endangered idioms can be heard at two international literary festivals that celebrate languages big and small, as well as the power and resilience of words themselves.”