You might never have known about the dislocated shoulder, the unexpected asthma attacks or the revolving door of dancers if you just found yourself in the audience of last weekend’s Young Choreographers Showcase, watching the culmination of 10 young dance-makers’ efforts. But if you followed our Arts: Embedded series, you knew there was much more happening behind the scenes than the choreographers let on in their final moments before competition. Allie Daugherty, who’s been working with us on the series, rounded up all of the things we learned about making art move in a handy guide to our coverage of the showcase. Check it out. And tell us: Where should we embed ourselves next?
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
• Brain scientists from UC San Diego and the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla are eyeing the brains of beginning musicians from Chula Vista elementary schools. A group of kids between 5 and 10 years old from the San Diego Youth Symphony’s after-school music program will have their brains scanned and do cognitive tests over the next five years. The scientists will pay close attention to how their brains physically change and what happens to their language and thinking skills. The scientists will compare those results to kids starting consistent karate practice at the same time, and to kids doing neither music nor karate.
We visited that music program, called the Community Opus Project, last year to see how the third-graders at Lauderbach Elementary were learning violin, viola and cello. The program is modeled after a music education program in Venezuela, known as El Sistema, which produced Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
What do you think — or hope — the scientists will find? If you or your kids play an instrument, have you noticed an increase in your language skills or attention span since picking it up? Same thing if you practice martial arts. I’d love to hear your perspective — leave us a comment or a note on Facebook.
• A rousing discussion of art’s place in schools broke out under a letter on our site about proposed cuts to arts education in Carlsbad this week. The letter writer argues the cost-cutting decision is going to undercut student achievement in other subjects, but a reader who says he’s an engineer questions whether teaching arts really helps with math.
• San Diego Symphony’s program for the season starting in the fall features works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and other traditional, core classical composers, with a few “overtures and incidental pieces” from other composers, says the U-T San Diego’s James Chute.
That’s a shift for music director Jahja Ling, who used to more prominently feature contemporary composers in his first few seasons in San Diego. Here’s the symphony’s CEO, Ward Gill:
“It’s not something San Francisco (Symphony) style, where they can have a lot of contemporary music and do things that are truly innovative,” said Gill. “This audience is very straightforward, and it’s a very conservative audience. … If they don’t hear what they like, they just stay away.”
Ling said he cares about hearing that people were emotionally moved when they came to the symphony. “These people, I don’t know them. They are not my friends or my family. They have no stake in this. But they are touched, and that means a lot to us,” Ling says.
What do you think of the plan to stick with a more traditional program next season? Leave us a comment.
• Meanwhile, the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus will feature one of the same Beethoven works — his “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 — but will juxtapose it with an infamous mid-century piece by John Cage that instructs instrumentalists not to play their instrument (i.e. remain silent) during the duration of the piece. Music director Steve Schick loves this kind of generational and style contrast. “In musical terms, we are talking about what it feels like to be at the start of a new century with the century just passed still in sight. In each concert, we are illuminating an oppositional relationship, something to do with a cross-generational or historical interaction,” he said. (U-T)
• Local choir Sacra/Profana performed the San Diego premiere this weekend of “The Little Match Girl Passion,” for which composer David Lang won the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago. The piece marries the Hans Christian Anderson story of “The Little Match Girl” to the format of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. (KPBS)
• It’s all about contemporary composers at Carlsbad’s annual new music festival, like composer Andy Akiho, who just won this year’s chance to write a new piece for the Calder Quartet.
• Local rap group Black Resume has rejected the common “pay-to-play” model where venues and promoters force up-and-coming groups to buy tickets and resell them to their own fans in order to open for national headliners. The group has started booking its own shows with other acts at Porter’s Pub at UCSD and has turned it “into one of the best spots for live hip-hop.” (San Diego CityBeat)
• Musician Trey Anastasio from the band Phish is composing the music for La Jolla Playhouse’s upcoming “Hands on a Hardbody” musical. He recruited some local musicians to play in the show: Guitarist and ukulele player Adrian Demain, pedal-steel player Rick Schmidt and drummer Cliff Almond are among them. (U-T)
• Five high-schoolers from the School of Creative and Performing Arts are learning to play jazz and to improvise; they formed an award-winning combo called Jazz Avenue and just got back from their prize trip to Germany. (KPBS)
Trash and Treasure
• Artist Arline Fisch’s shimmering sea creature sculptures are on view now in Monterey. Fisch just won the 2012 San Diego Art Prize. The San Francisco Chronicle describes her technique for the Monterey show: “Fisch, an innovator in applying textile techniques to metalsmithing, knitted and crocheted the objects from fiber and color-coated stainless steel, nickel and copper wire.” (San Francisco Chronicle and U-T)
• Downtown hotel Palomar San Diego opened an art gallery in its lobby Thursday night, the first to do so in the chain of Kimpton Hotels. The gallery, in close partnership with Salazar Contemporary Art, will feature a different local artist each month. The profits from each collection will be donated to a charitable organization chosen by the artist. (U-T)
• Art writer Kevin Freitas recommends seeing an exhibition of sculptures by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, on view now at Scott White Contemporary Art in La Jolla. He writes, “With their hands at their side, they appear to be engaged in some strange ritual or silent conversation. They’re vulnerable but not weak. Weirdly, I think they knew I was there, and, no, I’m not writing a script for some third-rate zombie flick. I was truly moved by their presence.” (CityBeat)
• A group of artists working together to build a boat-like installation in a Carlsbad gallery rooted through the trash for their materials, using a “gutter taken from a burned-down house in Oregon,” a Donald Duck toy and driftwood, rusty metal and part of a car. (North County Times)
• The local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association recruits artists to teach watercolor painting techniques to people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. (NBC)
• Former San Diego Fire chief Jeff Bowman is growing cabernet franc and malbec grapes on his farm near Escondido for a wine effort called the “Screaming Chief.” (U-T)
• Local philanthropist Darlene Shiley gave $1 million to PBS’s “Masterpiece.” (New York Times)
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