Monthly Archives: May 2014

The part of Amanda Wingfield will be played by the City of Los Angeles

L.A. has built quite an industry around “as good as.” Our universities, orchestras, theatres, industries, and startups are “just as good as” elsewhere. And world-class, to boot. Usually the glance lands on Chicago before locking onto New York. Gotham doesn’t glance back but methodically repeats its big lie and reaps the benefits. A considered strategy, backed by money, implemented consistently, with a strong fifth column.

So, where does that leave Los Angeles which does in fact have some nice things? Usually whining about places that don’t or won’t acknowledge its past, present, or potential future. Now the glance turns to San Francisco. Dennis Romero of what’s left of the the LA Weekly encourages Angelenos to start hating San Franciscans. It is sad collection of lists, reeking of high school rivalries, desperation, and ambiguous geography. Just about any argument for or against LA can be supported by where the boundary is drawn. It could have been just-another throwaway article in a once-alternative weekly. Unfortunately, ArtsJournal picked it up and now this swill has worldwide distribution. Fortunately, the comments provide some corrective.

Sculpture in the Garden at the Maloof Foundation

Sam Maloof’s name is known to anyone with even a passing acquaintance of woodworking. His handcrafted home in Rancho Cucamonga is a small cathedral of light containing pieces from his illustrious 60 year career. He built it as he built his furniture – in its own time with what he had available, and to suit his family’s needs. It is hard to find one highlight of the tours offered on Thursdays and Saturdays by the Foundation he left behind. For me, it is a dead-heat between the spiral staircase leading to an airy loft and the chance to be cradled in one of his hallmark chairs.

As his fame grew, he and his late wife Alfreda began collecting and cultivating friendships with other artists in greater Southern California. The Sculpture in the Garden exhibit on the Foundation’s grounds until 10 July 2014 is a loving tribute to a couple whose generosity is as renowned as their craft. Over forty artists were asked to pick a spot and to create something for it. They chose well and came up with a wonderful collection of eye-catching pieces, each seeming to sprout from where it sits. The current garden is thanks to Mrs. Beverly Wingate Maloof whom Sam married after Alfreda’s passing.

This is the canonical great way to spend an afternoon. Tour the house and then stroll around the garden, taking each little surprise as it comes along. This exhibit is not for those steeped in theory, looking for profound analytical opportunities. It is an unapologetic celebration. Photography is not allowed in the house. No great loss since Maloof’s creations are documented extensively. Unlike most museums, guests can lay hands on the tables, chairs, and benches. On the grounds, there is no such restriction. Herewith, a sample.

Hunger in a land of plenty

The operation of the nation’s space borne observatories is so severely impacted by the current funding climate in Washington that the [Senior Review Panel] feels that American pre-eminence in the study of the Universe from space is threatened to the point of irreparable damage if additional funds cannot be found to fill the projected funding gaps.

The SRP was also asked to recommend a path forward should no additional funds be found. Reluctantly the Panel did so.

Spitzer and MaxWISE are tagged.

Words fail.

The full report of the 2014 NASA Astrophysics Senior Review is at:
http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2014/05/15/Final_Report_Astro2014_SeniorReview_Panel.pdf

La Valse internet style

The solo piano transcription is a beast and pianist Konstantin Semilakovs has taken great pains to splice the score into his performance from the 2010 Porto International Piano competition. Getting all the transitions bang-on couldn’t have been a picnic, either.

And here he is with it again sans score from the 2011 Montreal International Musical Competition

The Berlin Phil acknowledges Android

For several years now, the Berlin Philharmonic has offered an iOS app for its stellar Digital Concert Hall.   iPhone and iPad users have been able to listen to live and archived concerts on their devices.  It isn’t surprising that Apple, darling of the  creative set, had first and only dibs while Android users were left seething.  But many months ago, the unthinkable happened.  Windows 8 users also got a DCH app.

Windows 8.  From Microsoft.  And still no app for Android.  If you tried to watch a concert from a Flash-enabled Android browser, you’d get a few seconds of video before a little error message popped up saying the stream was not optimized for that kind of thing.

And yet, the BPO had made an app for Windows 8.

My howls of protest were met with polite responses about an Android app becoming available real soon now.

And real soon now was today.  The BPO has righted the wrong and finally given Android users access to something they’d been subtly subsidizing for other platforms through their Digital Concert Hall subscriptions.  The DCH app is now in Google’s Play store and it is a pip.   About 270 archived concerts are available and it is supposed to be able to stream live concerts as they happen, just like watching from a computer (not phone) browser.  The search feature is not quite full-featured but quite usable.  Pick a composer, conductor, soloist, genre , epoch, or season and you get a list of choices.   Descend the menus, pick an event and see if the piece you want to hear is available or listen to the entire concert.  Perhaps they’ll add the ability to search by keywords down the line.

So long as the data connection is 1-2 Mbps or higher, the quality is very good.  My Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet showed high quality, well-synched audio and video on 3G, 4G LTE, and WiFi links.   Fast-forwarding, pausing, and rewinding all work but of course the more stable the data connection, the better.  Program notes, video interviews, and ten movies on related arts topics are also available.

The archives include concerts led by Rattle, Haitink, Abbado, Mehta, and Dudamel just to name a few.  Soloists include Andsnes, Tetzlaff, Vengerov, and Uchida.   The society does not inflict the micturitions of John Adams or Esa-Pekka Salonen on its listeners or on its topnotch musicians.  They aren’t on the podium, their scores are not on the stands.  Full of win, as the young people say.  Long may it wave, wide may it flap.