Saturday, 7 March 2020

What if one likes broccoli?

A few weeks ago, I came across an advertising campaign of Folkoperan (Stockholm, Sweden) called “Broccoli vs. Opera”. The idea behind it is that the only think children dislike more than opera is broccoli. Thus, when having to choose between the two… they´ll go for the lesser of two evils.

The campaign irritated me. The prejudiced assumptions behind it irritated me. The way many in the classical music world avoid addressing the real barriers, the ones raised by them, upsets me. Do you remember the “Classical Cannabis: the high note series” promoted by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra back in 2014? That sort of thing… Anything but trying to understand better what is keeping people, of all ages, away. Perhaps because a better understanding would require action; and change.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Beauty will prevail

“Today, our time requires lightness, humor, enchantment and poetry. It is no longer the struggle between good and evil, represented by Star Wars, but the utopia of a beautiful life. To discover the moment of beauty poetry gives us, the inspiration that reminds us that we are in this life not only to work, to fight, to bicker, but also to love, to smile, to dance, to hug, to dream. We live in a time where the most revolutionary thing is to be a poet.”

Sunday, 9 February 2020

The pursuit of happiness: the Trump in us

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Last summer, I read the article Why science needs the humanities to solve climate change. Watching a number of democratically elected authoritarian leaders attacking, as usual, the humanities, this article reminded us of why they're doing it:

“Scholars in the humanities interpret human history, literature and imagery to figure out how people make sense of their world. Humanists challenge others to consider what makes a good life, and pose uncomfortable questions – for example, ‘Good for whom?’ and ‘At whose expense?’”.

The authors – Steven D. Allison, a Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science and Tyrus Miller, the Dean of the School of Humanities, both from the University of California – affirmed that “Cultural scholars and philosophers can inject ethical principles into policymaking” and that “Humanists can also help decision makers see how history and culture affect policy options.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Where are the opportunities? Regarding ACE's new ten-year strategy

Image teken from the Arts Council England website.
A few days ago, I read in The Guardian a piece about young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Kanneh-Mason is 20 years old, he became known when he performed in Harry and Meghan’s wedding and a few days ago he became the first cello player to make it to the top 10 in the UK music chart. He has undoubtedly (and fortunately) had the right opportunities, just like every young person should have. He took them and he has made marvels with them.

Kanneh-Mason is aware of the importance of having an opportunity, of having access. “I’ve benefited from having so much music education. And the thought that lots of people won’t have something even close to that same level is a real shame. Diversity needs to start way, way before people are auditioning. If actual education is not invested in and supported, then nothing will change.”

Monday, 27 January 2020

Seven days in New York

MoMA entrance (Photo Maria Vlachou)

I was flying to the ISPA Congress earlier this month with some concrete expectations: an opportunity for intense political thinking regarding the cultural field worldwide; visiting the new MoMA and its People’s Studio; attending Public Theater’s “Under the Radar” festival and watching Jess Thom performing Beckett’s “Not I”, as well as Guillermo Calderon’s “Feos”. I got all of this and much more (oh… so much more…). And still, I came back with a bittersweet feeling about our field and our self-image.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Radical TRUST

The People's Studio: Collective Imagination, at the new MoMA (image taken from the website)

Hospitality. Courage. Humility. TRUST.

I was in my RESHAPE group’s last meeting for 2019, reflecting on art and citizenship, and I wrote down these words, which kept coming up in our discussions. The word “TRUST”, though, was one that I was carrying with me from other meetings and discussions in the last months. It had sprang on so many occasions, that it finally caught my full attention.

On December 13, the last day of our RESHAPE meeting, we woke up to the news of the British election. One of the first articles I read on that day was entitled “Why people vote for politicians they know are liars”, the pressing question on many people’s mind that morning.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Resistance: to change, but also to tradition

Cellist Patrice Jackson performing back in 2002 (Photo: Andrew Sacks for The New York Times)

My first ever post on classical music, written in 2012, was entitled “
What’s the problem with classical music? Apparently none…”. Seven years later, I still believe there’s nothing wrong with the genre itself, but there are many wrongs in the way it is being managed.

A few days ago, an article in the New York Times informed me that women were not “allowed” in the Vienna Philharmonic until 1997. Even today, only 15 of its 145 permanent members are women. And they actually still make a maximum of 30% in classical orchestras in continental Europe.