Brooklyn is booming, and with the boom there are plans for an extraordinarily ambitious cultural district. “Over the next decade, on four sites covering about 10 city blocks, the BAM LDC wants to build several large developments that will, if realized, drastically alter the landscape of Fort Greene and abutting parts of Downtown Brooklyn.”
“A wealthy software executive named Shawn Hogan has vowed to fight a copyright-infringement lawsuit in court rather than settle with the Motion Picture Association of America. According to the MPAA, Hogan made the film ‘Meet the Fockers’ available for download through a BitTorrent file-sharing network. Hogan denies that he did anything of the sort. How do investigators find their targets? They join the networks.”
Charlotte Higgins recently took some time off from attending live classical concerts, and upon returning to the concert hall, she was struck by how absurd orchestra musicians look in their white ties and tails. “For the musicians, these heavy clothes can barely be comfortable on searingly hot nights; in any case, it is interesting to note that more and more conductors (who, unlike the rank and file orchestral players, have the power to dress as they please) abandon dinner jacket or tails whenever possible… Formality and dignity do not have to go hand in hand with antediluvian dressing. You would have thought that someone would have asked Paul Smith to design their orchestra’s kit by now. Or Prada (what a delicious thought).”
“A community museum in British Columbia has discovered a violin in its collection that may be a rare instrument created by 17th-century maestro Antonio Stradivari. The violin has been held at the New Westminster Museum and Archives since the 1980s.” But the violin has yet to be authenticated, and the museum admits that it may well turn out to be a copy. “An authenticated Stradivarius violin typically fetches between $2 million and $3 million.”
Among the unusual amenities available to patrons of Minneapolis’s new Cesar Pelli-designed public library are two refurbished grand pianos that anyone can sign up to practice on. “But unexpected problems with soundproofing, acclimating and tuning in the new building have caused delays,” and the pianos will stay silent for the forseeable future, until the library comes up with a plan to fix the problems and the money to pay for it.
Washington, D.C., mounted its first ever Fringe Festival this summer, and Peter Marks says that the district is a better place for its presence. “[The Fringe] broke down artistic barriers, making an institution-driven town more hospitable to entrepreneurial spirits in theater and dance, to independent types eager for a local platform to show what they could do.”
Toronto is starting a new arts festival, and modesty isn’t on the agenda. The fest, to be launched in 2007, will be called Luminato, and “organizers hope [it] will boost the city’s profile worldwide and one day rival international arts events in Edinburgh, Venice and Sydney… The 10-day festival will feature mostly free events, including two street festivals. And it will showcase world premieres of works of art, including a spoof of Handel’s Messiah called Not the Messiah, written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, of the Tony-award winning Spamalot musical. The new oratorio will be based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform the piece.”
Following a two-year search, the Houston Symphony has appointed violinist Angela Fuller as its new concertmaster. Fuller, who has been a member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 1999, will join an extremely select group of women leading major American orchestras. At 29, she will also be one of the youngest concertmasters among major orchestras.
“Thieves have stolen more than 200 items – with an estimated value of $5m – from Russia’s prestigious Hermitage art museum in St Petersburg.” Most of the stolen goods are thought to be jewelry and other enameled objects, and the theft was discovered after museum officials performed a routine check of their inventory over the weekend.
Music snobs have always been famously opposed to the ever-increasing daily load of aural clutter in the modern world, preferring silence to background music, and talking in lofty tones of how all this focus on “multitasking” is really just an excuse not to listen deeply. But at least one expert says that our growing ability to focus while shutting out any number of layers of clutter is a sign that all the disruptions are good for our brains.