Tacoma Ballet Dumps Orchestra, Hires Another

Last Christmas the Tacoma City Ballet almost lost the Tacoma Symphony as its pit orchestra for Nutcracker two days before performances were to begin over a dispute over broadcast on the city’s local TV channel. So when the company decided to expand its programming to include orchestral accompaniment for all of this season’s productions, it dropped the Tacoma Symphony and signed its crosstown rival – Northwest Sinfonietta.

Andy Goldsworthy In Nature

“Officially, Andy Goldsworthy is a leading member of the Earth Art movement, which was founded in the long-haired 60’s and is invariably billed in textbooks as an attempt to free the art object from the marketplace. Almost disappointingly free of self-importance, he describes his most formative experience as the time he spent as a farm laborer in Leeds, England, where he came to think of stacked bales of hay as ‘minimalist sculptures.’ Curiously enough, these days, Goldsworthy is more valued in America than he is in his native England, perhaps because the London art world tends to disparage the notion of landscape as too gentlemanly and old-fashioned, too English.

Jansons Legacy At The Pittsburgh Symphony

This week Mariss Jansons leaves his post as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. “Jansons inherited an ensemble of first-rate musicians. And with that beaming smile and charming personality, he navigated them to warmer artistic waters. If they were choppy at times, it’s clear Pittsburgh and its orchestra ultimately benefited from him as captain, and he with them. The city that repaired his heart with a defibrillator and warmed it with a cordial writing campaign received in return the kind of passionate performances that result in the loftiest of musical standards.”

Who Will Succeed Jansons In Pittsburgh?

“With potential candidates streaming into the vacuum next season — including Marin Alsop, Martin Haselbock, Peter Oundjian and Mark Wigglesworth — it may take a year even to name a designate. Pinchas Zukerman comes often next year as a pseudo music director and Hans Graf will lead the PSO on an important European tour in 2005, but both appear to be far down the list. Candidates such as Donald Runnicles, Alan Gilbert, Leonard Slatkin and Antonio Pappano may now be in the running, though they need to get in front of the orchestra.”

The Curse Of The Big Advance

Hari Kunzru “received a sum approaching £1.25m for the UK, American and European rights to his first novel, The Impressionist, and, around the time of its publication, he was so predictably and so tediously hyped, there was every reason for assuming that he would soon disappear – yet another literary shout reduced to a whisper. For the truth is that however many long-haul air fares and pieces of groovy Sixties furniture an advance buys you (I gather he likes Verner Panton), such immensely fat deals are more a curse than a blessing. Even if, by some miracle, the first book is a hit, the second is doomed.”

Hollywood Jobs Disappearing

“Hollywood’s thousands of journeymen are losing ground, fast, as age-old presumptions and ways of doing business collide with new market forces. In the past few years, the cultural juggernaut known as reality TV and other factors have turned a difficult job market into an untenable one for many of the entertainment industry’s rank-and-file actors, artists and technicians. And those jobs that remain often pay less than they did years ago as studios are forced to surrender more of their films’ budgets to above-the-line talent, new technology reduces the length of shoots and nonunion shops grab ever bigger shares of the entertainment industry’s myriad professions.”

Dance’s Pop Attraction

“More and more, dance companies are turning to popular music — particularly rock ‘n’ roll — as a contemporary outlet for new work. Not that this is anything new. Ballet appears to be cutting to the quick in the drive to meet ticket-buyers at the turnstile. The collective reasoning is to attract new and younger audiences, and those who turned out for Joel and Springsteen ranged from teenagers to middle-aged fans.”

Tonys Signal Broadway Breadth

The range of nominations for this year’s Tonys give a good sense of the health of Broadway, writes Howard Kissel. “These nominations suggest that “mainstream” theater is now less easy to characterize than it was when, say, “Death of a Salesman” or “The Crucible” won Best Play or “Diary of Anne Frank” beat “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” for that award.”

The Enterainment Value Of Destroying New York

And now, another movie that manages to destroy New York City. Why do we seem to get so much pleasure wrecking one of America’s greatest cities? “Cities are meant to be civic, communal places, yet – looking at Piranesi’s panoramas of ruined Rome, or Bill Brandt’s photographs of a lunar London during the blitz – we take a perverse pleasure in imagining them emptied. Is this because we wish our obnoxious fellow citizens dead, or because we know that the city will outlive us?”