Unpolluted by vast amounts of cash buying advanced psycho-conditioning systems, democracy is a constant negotiation about what’s really important to us in our real world lives. Sometimes, even today and even in America, the negotiation still goes on, most often in areas, geographical and otherwise, where large amounts of money and control aren’t at stake.
Last week, a small amount of good news about democracy and this negotiation came out of Kansas, of all places, where after a long campaign by arts and community activists, the state legislature recreated the state’s arts commission and restored some of its money. It’s not ALL good news, of course. The arts commission, eliminated by Gov. Sam Brownback, ostensibly because of budgetary reasons (though at well under a million dollars, it was essentially meaningless in this regard), has been folded into a the state’s film commission; the funds going to the arts were reduced; the goal of the new commission is to create jobs, not to help Kansas build a common shared culture.
But at least, the people of Kansas reclaimed their ability to negotiate something that was important to them for a moment, even though Brownback, a conservative ideologue, doesn’t believe in the ability of a democratic government to stage these negotiations. But that’s exactly what it is intended to do, and in this case, maybe because the stakes were so low or maybe because the idea of democracy isn’t completely dead in Kansas, the people got something back that was important to them.
And speaking of things that are important to us…
The Second Annual 1 Festival at the Headwaters Theatre started this past weekend, and though I didn’t manage to drop in, I heard good things from people I don’t usually associate with “arts news,” which almost by itself justifies the project! The festival continues through Saturday, June 9, with performances by Mark Hayes, Cindy Tennant, Eric Hull, the 8×10, the Playback Theatre, Contemporary Performance 3, and Luciana Proaño.
Speaking of solo performance festivals, we’ll give you a little more advanced warning for CoHo’s Solo Summer festival, which starts Thursday, June 7, with a reprise of Chris Harder and Steve Patterson’s The Centering, performed by Andy Lee-Hillstrom. The show packed them in at the Shoebox Theatre, and it won a Drammy Award for Chris Harder (who directs this staging) back in 2007. The Centering runs through June 17, then gives way to Cory Huff’s Mormon Redneck Thespian: How to Overcome a Life of Drugs, Abuse, and Being a Redneck (June 21-24), Steven Wolfson’s You Belong To Me performed by Elizabeth Huffman (June 28-July 1), and Irregardless, written and performed by Stacey Hallal
(July 5 – 14).
Classical Revolution PDX has operated in town for five full revolutions of the Earth around the Sun, which is as good an excuse for a party as any! This one starts at 6 pm on Saturday, June 9, at the Waypost (3120 N. Williams Ave.), a haunt of the Revolution, and features a chamber jam (music by works by Ravel, Svoboda, Schumann, Kreisler), pianist Lara Downes (re-imaginings of the Goldberg Variations by Jennifer Higdon, Bright Sheng, William Bolcom, David Del Tredici, Fred Hersch and others) and the Electric Opera Company (a dance party with music via Beethoven, Earth Wind & Fire, Mozart, Jackson 5).
John Yeon designed the Watzek House when he was 26 in 1937, and now it’s the state’s seventh National Historic Landmark, and deservedly so.
Zoë Keating, who brought her cello back to town in May, and (by the way) was one of the founders of the Portland Cello Project had some interesting thoughts about the psychological transition she had to make to move from considering herself simply a cellist to something else, namely a composer, in an interview with the New Music Box. And she dealt with the whole absorbing technology-intersecting-art question, which is so central to her work, and then gets into a long section on her process. The part I liked best was this part, her description of falling in love with the cello in the first place:
“I think the cello is the best instrument, I’m sorry. Bassoon is pretty great; I love French horn—you know, no offense to other instruments! But I just love the cello. I was really influenced when I was in high school by this disc that I got—it was The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic—and they were playing a whole bunch of stuff. I heard that sound, and I was like, “Oh my god! That is the sound to end all sounds.” It was this big, big sound. Also, when I was in high school and just taking lessons and classes at the Eastman School of Music, every Saturday all the cellists would be there and we would play ensemble music. We would play Klengel’sHymnus, or we’d play the Bachianas Brasilieras by Villa-Lobos, and that was really my favorite thing to do. I could just do that all day. So I just want to recreate that feeling of lots of cellos.”
See you tomorrow!