Archive for August, 2007

Interview: Patricia Pasmanter (English Translation)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Photo: Patricia PasmanterCan children learn to play a musical instrument as easily as they learn their mother tongue? According to Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998), this is not only possible, but is in fact the best way for a child to learn music. Patricia Pasmanter is a cello teacher and the President of the Suzuki Association of Buenos Aires, organizer of the Suzuki Festival of Buenos Aires, which takes place September 15 - 23, 2007.

Patricia talked with KadmusArts about the Buenos Aires Association, the activities of the Festival, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and also discussed the Suzuki method and how it came to be used in Latin America.

 
 Interview: Patricia Pasmanter (English Translation) [17:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Patricia Pasmanter (in Spanish)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Photo: Patricia Pasmanter¿Es posible que un niño aprenda a tocar un instrumento con la misma facilidad que aprende a hablar su lengua materna? Según el violinista japonés Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998), no sólo es posible, sino que es la mejor manera de aprender música. Patricia Pasmanter es profesora de cello y Presidenta de la Asociación Suzuki de Buenos Aires, entidad que organiza el Festival Suzuki de Buenos Aires, que se lleva a cabo del 15 al 23 de septiembre de 2007.

Patricia habló con KadmusArts sobre la Asociación de Buenos Aires, las actividades del Festival, y la Asociación Suzuki de las Américas, y también nos contó qué es el método Suzuki y cómo llegó a aplicarse en Latinoamérica.

 
 Interview: Patricia Pasmanter (in Spanish) [21:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Belarus Arrests Free Theatre

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Censorship

Image by Phillip Retuta — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The Belarus Free Theatre, and members of their audience, were arrested this week during a performance of Edward Bond’s play Eleven Vests.

The story as reported here by the CBC:

Police in Belarus have stormed the performance of a play by an underground theatre group and detained the actors, director and other people at the performance.

British playwright Tom Stoppard told The Guardian newspaper on Friday he learned of Wednesday night’s raid through a text message sent by one of the Free Theatre’s directors.

“One had hoped that the days when artists were arrested for free expression were buried with totalitarian states, but Belarus is as close to a totalitarian state as you can get in Europe,” Stoppard told the newspaper.

The troupe was about to start a performance of Eleven Vests, a play by Edward Bond, at a house in the capital of Minsk when armed officers burst into the building and everyone inside, about 50 people, were taken to a police station.

Radio Free Europe reported several theatre professionals from France and the Netherlands were in the audience.

According to the playwright, everyone was released three hours later, but reports say a political activist who was in the audience remains in custody.

Stoppard accused authorities of a “grotesque” attack on human rights.

Nataliya Koliyada, managing director of the theatre, said police told her that neighbours had reported people were firing weapons at the house. Eleven Vests, published in 1997, is about authoritarianism.

Bond’s 1965 play Saved is credited with ending theatre censorship in England. At the time, all plays were required to be approved by the Lord Chamberlain, the head of the Royal Household.

Saved, which has a scene of a baby being stoned to death, would only be permitted to be staged with several cuts, the censor ruled. The producers ignored the proposed cuts and were sued after the play was staged. The case caused such a furor that it resulted in the abolishment of theatre censorship in 1968.

Belarus, a former Soviet republic, is ruled with an iron fist by its leader Alexander Lukashenko. Political opposition and countercultural activities are often shut down.

Stoppard has been an outspoken supporter of the Free Theatre and had planned to be at the performance but cancelled at the last minute.

Rock star Mick Jagger, Nobel Prize laureate Harold Pinter and former Czech president Vaclav Havel are also supporters of the troupe.

The Free Theater is barred from performing in Belarus and has no permanent space.  Nevertheless, it continues to survive, screening audiences before every performance.

In the Forum, read the open letter from Belarus Free Theatre’s Natalia Koliada, Director and co-founder, Nikolai Khalezin, Art-director, co-founder and playwright, and Vladimir Scherban, director.

The question has been asked too many times before: Why is a government afraid of a play, a performance, an audience?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Alison Pearce

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Photo: Alison PearceSoprano Alison Pearce has a distinguished international career in oratorio, opera and recital. She has performed with the world’s leading conductors and orchestras at major venues and festivals, as well as broadcasting for radio and television. Her major leading operatic roles include those in Tosca, Nabucco, I Lombardi, Fidelio, and Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as Elsa in Lohengrin and Elizabeth in Tannhäuser. Her recordings include the BBC’s 20th Century Britannia at the Opera series, as well as commercial recordings with Hyperion, Helios, and other labels. Her services to Polish culture have earned her the recognition of the Polish people, who have honored her with the Karol Szymanowski Medal. She is also a professor in the vocal department of the Royal Academy of Music and the artistic director of a European Summer School for singers.

Alison speaks with us about the importance of selecting music you enjoy for musical training, teaching master classes for businessmen, and learning to sing in Polish.

 
 Interview: Alison Pearce [13:19m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The Visitors, Brothers in Arms, Sing to a Happy Birthday CD

Monday, August 20th, 2007

MoMA Digital Compact Disc

Photo by Wally Gobetz — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Can you believe 25 years have passed since you first learned how to open that box?

On August 17, 1982, at a manufacturing plant outside of Hanover, Germany, Philips culminated their collaboration with Sony and pressed the world’s first audio format CD. By November of that year, there were 150 titles available, mostly of classical music. In fact, classical music was the key to the size of the disc.

Originally designed to hold one hour of music, the format and size were expanded to seventy four minutes to accommodate a complete recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The switch from analog recording to digital recording has changed the way we record, play, and store not just music but most of our non-live performances: CD, CD-Rom, DVD, Blu-Ray — you get the picture.

The inspiration for digital recording was to find a better, compact, and scratch-free sound. In fact the recording was so good that for the first time engineers noticed how dominantly some artists’ breathing patterns could affect the recording.

According to Frank van den Berg, who was with Philips-owned Polygram for CD development, “When Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau recorded one of the first CDs for Polygram we discovered that he was grunting and panting while playing. Before on vinyl you didn’t hear that but on CD it was crystal clear.” Jacques Heemskerk, one of the senior engineers for the CD player optics, predicted that the product would have a good run — maybe twenty five years. (We should check with Jacques for other predictions.)

In 1985, Philips worked with Dire Straits to promote the benefits of music on CD. Dire Strait’s Brothers in Arms, recorded completely with the new digital technology, was the first CD to sell over one million copies.

It was not until 1993 that the “ban the box” campaign succeeded in convincing record companies to get rid of the long box, designed to fit in the same display cases as records. (Where’s the “ban the cellophane wrapping that no one can open without a car key, sharp pen, or cat’s claw campaign?)

Back in 1982, as with so many romances, it all began with ABBA. Their album The Visitors was the first one made by Philips. If you watch the video you’ll get a good sense of how we all lived back then — including how to decide where to put that bulky phonograph.

Two hundred billion discs later, the CD has certainly become One of Us.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Sherry Kramer

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Photo: Sherry KramerSherry Kramer’s plays have been produced extensively in the United States and abroad, and include Things That Break, What A Man Weighs, and The Wall of Water. She is a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as a McKnight Fellowship. She has received the Weissberger Playwriting Award and a New York Drama League Award. Her one-person play When Something Wonderful Ends: A History, A One Woman, One Barbie Play was performed at the 2007 Humana Festival.

In this podcast Sherry talks with us about being a playwright turned performance artist, the importance of not preaching to the choir, and the translation of When Something Wonderful Ends into Japanese.

 
 Interview: Sherry Kramer [9:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Finely Tuned Festival

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Jools Holland's Big band at Cropredy

Photo by Bill Tyne — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

A festival can be at its best when the expression is natural, the relationship to an audience immediate, and the development organic.

This formula has been the magic behind Fairport’s Cropredy Convention outside of Oxfordshire, England. The annual festival is a genuine gathering of the old and young coming together for three days of joy, comfort, relaxation, listening and dancing. For almost forty years, Cropredy is one of the best examples of what a festival can and should be.

As with many of the great festivals, Cropredy began as a simple gathering of fans and friends — this one for the followers of the group, Fairport. As you may recall, Fairport is credited with creating folk rock. Their influence is so much more than the joining a violin and electric guitar onstage. “Meet on the Ledge” is still an anthem for coming together on the other side.

True to Fairport’s spirit, placing them in history is always done with a wry smile. As noted on their site, “Fairport did for real ale what the Grateful Dead did for LSD.” Or, from David Pegg, the group’s bassman, “You could say the Stones have played a hundredth of the gigs for ten thousand times the dosh.”

Honest and direct, the music is played for the simple joy of playing. The festival continues to welcome all from the oldest to the youngest. Kids can work on their circus skills, have fun improvising a play, or chase after large balloons. Dogs get to meet each other. Friends who come together once a year, get to catch up, laugh, sing and hang out. The festival even boasts the cleanest toilets of any music festival.

The festival holds the spirit of a small pub that comes to life outside, and in the village. Everyone feels safe, accessible, and a part of a genuine community.

So, happy birthday Fairport Cropredy Convention.

Don’t you wish you were there?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Alice Tuan

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Photo: Alice TuanAlice Tuan is a playwright based in Los Angeles. She is the author of monologues, plays and screenplays, including the hypertext play Coastline, and the short plays F.E.T.C.H. and Coco Puffs, which were both presented at the Humana Festival in 2002. Humana commissioned Tuan to work with Whit MacLaughlin (featured in an earlier podcast) and New Paradise Laboratories to develop BATCH: An American Bachelor/ette Party Spectacle, which premiered at the 2007 festival.

In this podcast Tuan extolls the benefits of winging it and then writing it down, and how the process of creating BATCH was a lot like a marriage.

 
 Interview: Alice Tuan [14:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Ingmar Bergman’s Blog

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Persona
Photo by Mallol — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Ingmar Bergman was one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century — not only for his films, but also as a master of the theatre and the novel. To have accomplished so much in any one art form is amazing; across three different artistic disciplines is astounding, and unparalleled. His theatre productions and novels were as insightful, complex, intimate, and immediate as his films. Bergman also left us an unique record of an artist at work, in his books Magic Lantern and Images. Bergman provides us with his own inspirations, points of view, practical approaches, and dreams. He was an artist determined to let us see, search, understand and question.

To honor him, his own words:

from an Interview with Michiko Kakutani

I have maintained open channels with my childhood. I think it may be that way with many artists. Sometimes in the night, when I am on the limit between sleeping and being awake, I can just go through a door into my childhood and everything is as it was — with lights, smells, sounds and people … I remember the silent street where my grandmother lived, the sudden aggressivity of the grown-up world, the terror of the unknown and the fear from the tension between my father and mother.

from The Magic Lantern

I read ceaselessly, often without understanding, but I had a sensitive ear for tone: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Balzac, Defoe, Swift, Flaubert, Nietzsche and, of course, Strindberg.

from Images — on The Seventh Seal

What attracted me was the whole idea of people traveling through the downfall of civilization and culture, giving birth to new songs.

from Sunday’s Children

Erik Bergman was thin-skinned and suspicious, nor did he forgive easily. He never forgot a real or imagined injury.

Even in those days, I had difficulties with reality, its limits unclear and dictated by adult outsiders.

from Best Intentions

I possess fragmentary notes, brief tales, isolated episodes. Those are the numbered dots. I draw my lines in what may well be vain hope of a face appearing. Perhaps a glimpse of the truth of my own life. Why should I otherwise take so much trouble?

from The Magic Lantern

When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside.

from his introduction to the printed Scenes from a Marriage

This opus took three months to write, but rather a long part of my life to experience. I’m not sure that it would have turned out better had it been the other way round, though it would have seemed nicer. I have felt a kind of affection for those people while I’ve been occupied with them. They have grown rather contradictory, sometimes anxiously childish, sometimes pretty grown-up. They talk quite a lot of rubbish, now and then saying something sensible. They are nervous, happy, selfish, stupid, kind, wise, self-sacrificing, affectionate, angry, gentle, sentimental, insufferable, and lovable. All jumbled up. Now let’s see what happens.

from The Magic Lantern

In all the theatres I have worked in for any length of time, I have been given my own lavatory. These conveniences are probably my most lasting contribution to the history of the theatre.

from Sunday’s Children

And Pu asks once and, when he gets no answer, once again: When shall I die? The watchmaker thinks, and then Pu seems to hear a whisper, which is unclear and blurred because of that bloodstained mouth and those still lips: Always. The answer to the question is: always.

from The Best Intentions

Try to understand that God is part of his creation, just as Bach lives in his B-minor mass. You’re interpreting a composition. Sometimes it’s puzzling, but that’s unavoidable. When you let the music sound — then you evince Bach. Read the notes! And play them as best as you can. But don’t doubt the existence of Bach and the Creator.

from The Magic Lantern

On the Sunday, Erland Josephson and I were in my room at the theatre talking about Bach, who had returned from a journey to find that his wife and two of the children had died during his absence. He wrote in his diary: “Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.”

All through my conscious life, I had lived with what Bach calls his joy. It had carried me through crises and misery and functioned as faithfully as my heart, sometimes overwhelming and difficult to handle, but never antagonistic or destructive. Bach called this state his joy, a joy in God. Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me.

from Images

To be an artist for one’s own sake is not always pleasant. But it has one enormous advantage: the artist shares his condition with every other living being who also exists solely for his own sake. When all is said and done, we doubtless constitute a fairly large brotherhood, which thus exists within a selfish community on our warm and dirty earth, beneath a cold and empty sky.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Whit MacLaughlin

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Photo: Whit MacLaughlinWhit MacLaughlin is the Obie award-winning artistic director of the Philadelphia-based New Paradise Laboratories. New Paradise develops work using a collaborative creative process grounded in physical theater. NPL and playwright Alice Tuan (featured in an upcoming podcast) were commissioned by the Humana Festival to create BATCH: An American Bachelor/ette Party Spectacle, which premiered at the 2007 festival.

In this podcast MacLaughlin talks about the unique process by which BATCH was developed, and how Humana helps new work come to fruition.

 
 Interview: Whit MacLaughlin [15:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download