Monday, January 20, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Houston Grand Opera 2020-21

It's season announcement season! A tweet from Christine Goerke reminded me of HGO's announcement. Here's what they're doing:

  • Carmen; Eun Sun Kim/Isabel Leonard & Carolyn Sproule, Andrea Caré & Frederick Ballentine, Christian Purcell, Anita Hartig
  • Werther; Patrick Summers/Arturo Chacun-Cruz, Ana Maria Martinez, Joshua Hopkins
  • The Snowy Day, by Joel ThomPson & Andrea Davis Pinkney; Patrick Summers/Julia Bullock, Zoie Reams
  • Parsifal; Patrick Summers/Russell Thomas, Christine Goerke, Ryan McKinney, Kwongchul Youn, Andrea Silvestrelli, Andre Courville. (Okay, Silvestrelli as Klingsor, not Titurel...?). Noting that this is a co-production with San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
  • Cinderella; Corrado Rovaris/Emily D'Angelo, Jack Swanson, Sean Michael Plumb, Patrick Carfizzi, Andre Courville
  • Breaking the Waves; Nicole Paiement/Lauren Snouffer, Alexander Elliott, Michelle Bradley, Zoie Reams, Nicholas Phan (Scottish Opera production)
  • The Sound of Music; Richard Bado/Jeanine De Bique, Michael Mayes, Katie Van Kooten, Daniel Belcher, Megan Marino.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

War Memorial Opera House Seat Replacement Project


Interior of the War Memorial Opera House
December, 2019
Photo by Lisa Hirsch


San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet have just announced the schedule for completing the seat replacement project at the War Memorial Opera House, as well as other details.

Here's the very short version, direct quotes indicated by quotation marks, with the full press release below the cut.

  • The seats will be replaced from over 14 weeks between May and August 2021.
  • There will be more and better accessible seating.
  • The opera house will reopen on September 10 with San Francisco Opera’s 2021–22 season-opening gala. (The season-opening gala will be a new feature, starting with the 2020-21 season, if you weren't already aware of this.)
  • "San Francisco Opera’s summer season, typically running June into early July, will move to April 25–May 16, 2021 in the War Memorial Opera House." Details to follow in next week's s season announcement.
  • "The new seats, designed to reflect the aesthetics of the Opera House, will be wider, have greater leg room, be positioned at a more comfortable height, and will reflect the latest in ergonomic support. " (Do not ask me how they will wedge in greater leg room in the Grand Tier and Dress Circle, where the front-to-back measurement of each row is a limiting factor.)
  • "Sightlines to the stage from the Orchestra section will be improved by the new seat design and a subtle staggering of seats along the center aisle of the theater. "
Previously:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Museum Mondays


Detail of a door with ironwork
French, 12th - 13th century
The placard for this door and another calls them rare survivals, because wood rots and iron corrodes.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
November, 2019

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Flutes, Several of Them, In Concert

There is a very cool concert next month at the Center for New Music, with an assortment of new music for multiple flutes in two ensembles, Areon Flutes and Siroko Duo:

Saturday, February 8, 2020; 8pm
Center for New Music, 55 Taylor St., San Francisco CA 94102
$15 General, $10 C4NM Members & Students 

Areon Flutes (Jill Heinke Moen, Kassey Plaha, and Meerenai Shim)
Siroko Duo (Victoria Hauk and Jessie Nucho)


Siroko Duo performs:
Speed of Darkness by Izabel Austin
Time and Place by Michael Kropf
Hughes of Sylvia by Chelsea Loew 

Areon Flutes performs:
Personal Space by Julie Barwick
Arboreous Incantations by Jane Rigler
We Live in a Bubble by Igor C. Silva

The Center for New Music is a great venue: intimate, easy to get to, concerts always very reasonably priced. 

And a lot of great new music is being written for flute, as you know if you've been following Claire Chase and her career and commissioning project.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thursday, January 09, 2020

San Francisco Tape Music Festival 2020

The San Francisco Tape Music Festival is this weekend, and the programming looks great (yeah, I'm leaving their retro fonts in place):

Friday, January 10, 8:30pm
Saturday, January 11, 7:00pm
Saturday, January 11, 9:30pm
Sunday, January 12, 7:00pm

P R O G R A M 
Friday January 10, 2020 (8:30pm)
PIERRE SCHAEFFER - Étude aux casseroles [Pathétique] (1948)
PAULINE OLIVEROS - Poem of Change (1992)
BARRY TRUAX - The Garden of Sonic Delights (2016)
ROBERT NORMANDEAU - Tunnel azur (2016)
MAGGI PAYNE - Heat Shield (2018)
BRAN(...)POS - martian brine pool (2019)
CLIFF CARUTHERS - Cupido's Suitcase (2009)
MATTHEW BARNARD - Woche (with apologies to Ruttmann and Brock) (2011)
SANGWON LEE - Torturing Piano (2019)
:such: - Opaque Fragments (2017)
 
Saturday January 11, 2020 (7:00pm)
KEN NORDINE - Tick Tock Fugue (2011)
FRANCIS DHOMONT - Here and There (2003)
NATASHA BARRETT - Urban Melt in Park Palais Meran (2017)
THOM BLUM - To My Son Parker, Asleep in the Next Room (1996)
DOUGLAS MCCAUSLAND - ISOLATE (2019)
KRISTIN MILTNER - Mercey (2020)
CECILIA CASTRO - ROMA III: The Ruin (2018)
MICHELLE MOELLER - Spoke (2019)
FELIPE OTONDO - Irama (2012)
LEAH REID - Sk(etch) (2018)
DANIELLE SAVAGE - Schizo Phonia (2018)
FULYA UÇANOK - Assembly (2017)
 
Saturday January 11, 2020 (9:30pm)
TORU TAKEMITSU - Vocalism Ai (1956)
KENNETH ATCHLEY - bay sky hills fog (2019)
BRUCE BENNETT - Stretch (2001)
SAVANNAH AGGER - Undercurrents (2016)
LÉA BOUDREAU - Quatre machines pour sauver le monde (2019)
NICOLA GIANNINI - Eyes Draw Circles of Light (2019)
TROND LOSSIUS - Listening understood as inhabiting (2015)
 
Sunday January 12, 2020 (7:00pm)
a special 3-set concert of works for instruments and fixed media featuring sfSoundGroup
MARIO DAVIDOVSKY - Synchronisms #2 (1964)
  (for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and tape)
MARIO DAVIDOVSKY - Synchronisms #3 (1964)
  (for cello and tape)
KEN UENO - Ghosts of Ancient Hurricanes (2019 - world premiere commission by sfSound)
  (for 6 winds, percussion, throat singer, 8 megaphones, microtonal metal pipes, and 4-channel tape)
JONTY HARRISON - Force Fields (2006 - american premiere)
   (for chamber ensemble and 8-channel tape)
DENIS SMALLEY - Clarinet Threads (1985)
   (for clarinet and tape)
KYLE BRUCKMANN - Clutterfields (filthy quilt) (2019)
   (for oboe, bass clarinet, and laptop)
MATT INGALLS & SFSOUND - Blue Sedan (2020)
   (for closely-miced chamber ensemble, live processing, and tape)
 
P E R F O R M E R S
Diane Grubbe, flutes
Kyle Bruckmann, oboe & english horn
Matt Ingalls, clarinets
John Ingle, saxophone, conductor
Tom Dambly, trumpet
Brendan Lai-Tong, trombone
Hadley McCarroll, piano
Kjell Nordeson, percussion
Benjamin Kreith, violin
Natalia Badziak, viola
Monica Scott, cello
Lisa Mezzacappa, bass
Ken Ueno, voice


Victoria Theatre
2961 16th Street
San Francisco

$20 general ($10 Sat 9:30 concert)
$10 balcony/underemployed
$50 fest pass (general seating all concerts)

 
advance ticket purchase
or at the door (cash only) the day of show
(box office opens one hour before showtime) 

(Be there or be square.)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Three Tenors! (The Next Generation)


Pene Pati
Photo: Garth Badger

There's a fun concert coming up in a few weeks, at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo on Saturday, February 1, 2020. Tenors Pene PatiAlex Boyer, and Christopher Oglesby are giving a program of opera arias (and, one suspects, more, in the encore section). Pati is a graduate of the Adler Fellows program, in which Oglesby is currently a second-year fellow, while Boyer attended the Merola Opera program, all at San Francisco Opera.


Alex Boyer
Photo: Chris Ayers

More importantly, I have heard and been very impressed with all three! I think I first heard Boyer in West Edge Opera's legendary Lulu in 2015, as one of a fantastic cast, and he's been terrific in everything since, including Sam in Susannah last summer. Pati's performance as Romeo in the Gounod at SFO this past fall was a highlight of the season, as he sang with full-voiced splendor and artistry. Oglesby I've heard in smaller roles in which he sounded great; I'm looking forward to hearing him in a few bigger roles in the future.


Christopher Oglesby
Photo: Amy Livingston


Here's their program, which will conducted by Thomas Conlin, leading the Vallejo Festival Orchestra.
Giuseppe Verdi: Overture to La Forza del Destino
Giuseppe Verdi: “Celeste Aïda” from Aïda
Mr. Boyer
Giuseppe Verdi: “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto                                                 Mr. Pati
Giuseppe Verdi:  “De’ miei bollenti spiriti” from La traviata                                    Mr. Oglesby
Giuseppe Verdi: “Di qella pira” from Il trovatore                                                        Mr. Boyer
Giacomo Puccini: Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut   
Giacomo Puccini: “Recondita armonia” from Tosca                                                        Mr. Pati
Giacomo Puccini: “E lucevan le stele” from Tosca                                                      Mr. Oglesby
Giacomo Puccini: “Che gelida manina” from La bohème                                             Mr. Boyer                 
Giacomo Puccini: “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot                                                      Mr. Pati
INTERMISSION


Pietro Mascagni: “Mamma, quel vino” from Cavalleria rusticana                            Mr. Oglesby
Amilcare Ponchielli: “Cielo e mar” from La Gioconda                                                  Mr. Pati
Gaetano Donizetti: “Una furtiva lagrima” from L’Elisir d’Amore                              Mr. Oglesby
Ruggero Leoncavallo: “Vesti la giubba” from Pagliacci                                               Mr. Boyer

Details:
Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 7:30 p.m
Empress Theater
330 Virginia Street
Vallejo, CA 93590

Reserved seating only: 
$70-$200 
Tickets: www.empresstheatre.org/events/2020-02-01-three-tenors/ www.EmpressTheatre.org/ 
Tel: 707-552-2400

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Meet Dr. Linda Shaver-Gleason

I've been Twitter friends with musicologist Dr. Linda Shaver-Gleason for a couple of years. During the whole period and since before I met her, she has been a cancer patient. A few weeks ago, she decided to enter hospice care. Joshua Kosman wrote a lovely article about her for the SF Chronicle, and Will Robin interviewed her for the Log Journal of National Sawdust. Best of all, there's her blog, which I particularly encourage you to read.
Yes, it sucks that she is dying. Those who know her are hoping that her blog and planned book will continue after she's gone.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Museum Mondays


Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly
Atrium of Victoria & Albert Museum, London
November, 2019

Friday, January 03, 2020

Michael Grebanier

Michael Grebanier, San Francisco Symphony's principal cello since 1977, died on December 19, 2019 at 82.

He had been in visibly frail health for some time, and was often helped on and off-stage by associate principal cello Peter Wyrick or assistant principal cello Amos Yang. He missed a portion of a recent season and had been on leave since the beginning of the 2019-20 season. Over the last couple of seasons, Wyrick and Yang played in the principal chair a fair number of times.

Grebanier was principal cello of the Pittsburgh Symphony for 14 years before joining SFS. He played in the FOG Trio with pianist Garrick Ohlsson and violinist Jorja Fleezanis. He studied at Curtis and won the Naumburg Competition at 19.

He is survived by his wife Sharon, a violinist in the orchestra, and two children.

No announcement for a principal cello is on the SFS audition page, so it seems that this opening will be left for incoming music director Esa-Pekka Salonen to fill.

Elsewhere:

Friday Photo


Seafood
Harrod's, London
November, 2019


Thursday, January 02, 2020

Demand Alternatives

I've mentioned before that I consider anniversary-driven programming to be lazy programming; an easy way to provide structure for a season and, considering who gets celebrated, a way to avoid making difficult decisions about programming that might upset conservative donors. We're in the lead-up to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, coming in December of this year, and so he is inescapable at US orchestras.

In the 2019-20 season, San Francisco Symphony has 7 programs featuring his works. We have to wait a couple of months to see what's up for 2020-21, where presumably incoming music director Esa-Pekka Salonen has had some input. Over at Philadelphia, they're programmed all of the symphonies and piano concertos, plus the violin concerto.

I seriously considered boycotting all programs featuring Beethoven, but two days later I accepted a review that includes the second piano concerto, so that went right out the window. But I'd urge everyone to consider it, in the interests of pressuring orchestras to use more imagination in their programming. I mean, in the last decade, SFS had a three-week Beethoven Festival and a two-week Beethoven and (Mason) Bates Festival. In the festival year, there were 25 Beethoven works performed!

SFS used to have composer-focussed seasons in which they'd have a two-week festival focussed on a living composer. Remember the George Benjamin year? I do! Why can't we have this kind of programming again? The more you play the top-ten composers, the fewer composers get to be heard. There's a tremendous amount of crowding-out with top-ten programming.

There will always be chances to hear Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, etc., etc. It's really time for classical music to stop with anniversary-driven programming.

Here are a few other commentators on the Beethoven anniversary year:

Monday, December 30, 2019

Museum Mondays


Tomb Sculptures
Monument to Sir Moyle Finch and Elizabeth Finch
Probably by Nicholas Stone the Elder
Around 1615-18
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
November, 2019

Sunday, December 29, 2019

FRESH FESTIVAL 2020 FESTIVAL OF EXPERIMENTAL DANCE, MUSIC + PERFORMANCE


Pictured: Kathleen Hermesdorf, Gareth Okan, Delaney McDonough, Kentaro Kumanomido. 
Photo by Robbie Sweeny



Coming to San Francisco, the Fresh Festival 2020, with a great schedule of artists in several areas:


SAN FRANCISCO, CA - November 6, 2019 - ALTERNATIVA, in association with Joe Goode Annex, launches San Francisco’s 11th annual FRESH Festival of Experimental Dance, Music + Performance, January 6-26, 2020 in three San Francisco locations.   Turned toward this year’s theme of tender, FRESH Festival 2020 is a diverse feast of embodied art, action and interaction showcasing three weeks of risk-taking mainstage Performances, immersive studio Practices, and social, inclusive and interactive community Exchanges, featuring 75+ cutting-edge artists from the Bay Area and beyond. FRESH 2020 takes place at three locations in the Mission District in San Francisco, which are also community partners of the Festival: Joe Goode Annex, BRAVA for Women in the Arts, and ODC Dance Commons.  FRESH is open to all curious, adventurous and serious bodies.  Performance tickets are $25-35, available online at https://joegoode.org/calendar/FRESH and at the door. Tickets go on sale November 18. Registration for FRESH Practices and a full schedule of Performances, Practices and Exchanges is available at https://freshfestival.org.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

200-Hour Teacher Training?

I saw a sign in a yoga studio recently advertising teacher training: in just 200 hours, you could become certified to teach yoga.

I wondered whether this was typical, and it turns out that a lot of yoga studios offer a 200-hour certification.

This surprised me and actually left me appalled. That's five weeks of full-time study at 40 hours each week, or if you're studying 20 hours a week, ten weeks.

People who teach any kind of movement discipline, whether it's ballet, Feldenkreis, Pilates, yoga, or a martial art, are working very directly with people's bodies. We are all physically different; we have our own strengths and weaknesses, known and unknown. The amount of training you have and the amount of time you have spent as a student of a style are both important.

The people who teach these styles are in a position to do a lot of damage if they lack sufficient knowledge and experience. I dropped two Pilates teachers because they thought they knew what I could do better than I did. At that point, I was a second-degree black belt in Danzan Ryu jujitsu who had been practicing for 23 years. The instructor I worked with over a three-year period trusted my knowledge and was a brilliant teacher.

Here's a little about my training in jujitsu.

White to blue belt (20 months): around 300 hours of practice
Blue to green belt (13 months): around 350 hours of practice
Green to brown belt (18 months): around 350 hours of practice
Brown to black belt (this is three separate ranks): 1100 hours of practice

Not included in the above: time at seminars, conventions, camps, black belt classes. But I had more than 2,000 hours of practice before I could open my own dojo. That's ten times what you get in a 200 hour yoga teacher training.

My advice: if you're going to take yoga or any other movement discipline, talk to the instructor or instructors about the length of their training, who they trained with, how long they practiced before they started training, and how long they have been teaching.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Opera 2019


Stage of the The Coliseum, home of the English National Opera
Photo by Lisa Hirsch
November, 2019
(ENO encourages you to photograph the house and curtain calls and circulate those photos on social media. Other houses could follow suit, ahem, Festspielhaus and WDCH.)


Mark Berry has done his opera count for the year, so here is mine. I saw two different productions of two operas and will count each as a 2 rather than a 1. My out-of-town locations were Santa Fe, London, Paris, and Los Angeles.

Glass (Ahkenaten, Orphée), Handel (Orlando, Saul), Gluck (Orpheus), Dvorak (Rusalka) - 2

Berlioz (Les Troyens), Birtwistle (The Mask of Orpheus), Bizet (Carmen), Britten (Billy Budd), Davis (The Central Park Five), Floyd (Susannah), Gounod (Romeo), Freschi (Ermelinda), Humperdink (H&G), Janacek (Jenufa), Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves), Monk (Atlas), Mozart (Nozze), Offenbach (Orpheus in the Underworld), Poulenc (Dialogs of the Carmelites), Puccini (Manon Lescaut), Ravel (L'enfant et les sortileges), Rouders, (The Thirteenth Child), Scarlatti (Il primo omicidio), Shearer (Howards End America), Weil (Threepenny Opera) - 1

No Wagner, no Verdi, really? Really. I go out of my way to see rarities, new operas, and works I've never seen before. This year I saw several great rarities: I do not expect to see The Mask of Orpheus or Atlas again, though in both cases I wish I could.

The operatic surprises of the year for me were the beauty of Glass's Orphée and how extremely funny Orpheus in the Underworld was. (You have to love an opera with a character called Public Opinion, after all.) I have to note as well that I loathed Dialogs the first time I saw it, 20 years back at the ENO. The Met HD broadcast changed my mind right around, and now I love it. No idea what I missed the first time; it may be that I have more sympathy for and understanding of Poulenc's style now.

If I were naming the best productions I saw: John Dexter's Dialogs, Phelim McDermott's Ahknaten (Met HD), Robert Carsen's Rusalka (Paris Opera), Yuval Sharon's Atlas, David Alden's Jenufa, Tcherniakov's Troyens. Yeah, there's some controversy about the Tcherniakov, but I would say 95% of it worked for me, and the cast was tremendous all around.

Atlas was just wonderful, so beautiful and with such a great production and performers. (No photo as I don't have access to the press photos, but look around the web. It was gorgeous.)

Special mention to West Edge opera for Breaking the Waves and to Ars Minerva for Ermelinda, for great work on a small budget.

I think that the cast of SF Opera's Rusalka overall worked much better than Paris's, as an ensemble and because Rachel Willis-Sorensen and Brandon Jovanovich were better in every way than their counterparts in Paris. That said, Paris's Michelle De Young was an utterly terrifying Jezibaba and Karita Matilla dominated the stage as the Foreign Princess; both were unforgettable in their respective roles. I liked David McVicar's production, seen in SF, fine, but the Carsen production is a stunner and worth seeking out on video. I understand that its physical size and staging mean that it can only be done at the Opéra Bastille, which has special stage mechanisms.

My personal rising stars:
  • Will Liverman, outstanding as the Foreman in Santa Fe's Jenufa and as Horemhab in the Met's Akhenaten. Gorgeous voice, excellent musicianship, superb stage presence, handsome man.
  • Sarah LeMesh, for her heartbreaking Bess in Breaking the Waves and those songs at The World of Grazyna Bacewicz.
  • Pene Pati, for stealing the show in Gounod's weirdly boring Romeo and Juliette and for the huge positive change since Rigoletto a few years ago.
  • Sara Couden, who was hilarious in Ermelinda and sang fabulously. The last time I saw her, as Penelope in WEO's 2015 Il Ritorno d'Uilisse in Patria, she looked mighty uncomfortable on stage. No more!! She was a real wow in every way.
Special mention to Brandon Jovanovich, for a terrific Enée, a role that has truly become his since his first performances in Chicago, and a beautifully sung and acted, cast-against-type Prince in SFO's Rusalka; and to Karita Mattila, stunning as the Old Prioress in Dialogs and the Foreign Prince in Paris's Rusalka.

Finally, I'm sad about whatever the hell is going on with Bryan Hymel, who dropped out of three productions I saw in roughly the last year (Les Huguenots and Les Troyens in Paris, Romeo in San Francisco).




Museum Mondays


Tile Floor
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
November, 2019


Sunday, December 22, 2019

San Francisco Opera 2020 Adler Fellows

Here's the months-old San Francisco Opera press release about the incoming Adler Fellows. I will miss some of the outgoing fellows! Ashley Dixon, Natalie Image, Christian Purcell, and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen have really stood out, and I'm wishing the entire group great careers.

A big welcome to the 2020 Adler fellows:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 31, 2019) — San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald today announced the 12 recipients of the 2020 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship. Selected from participants of the Merola Opera Program, the ten singers and two pianists/apprentice coaches begin their fellowships in January 2020. The performance-oriented residency offers advanced young artists intensive individual training, coaching and professional seminars, as well as a wide range of performance opportunities. Since its inception in 1975, the prestigious fellowship has nurtured the development of more than 180 young artists, introducing many budding stars to the international opera stage and launching active careers throughout the world as performers, production artists, arts professionals and educators.
The singers selected as 2020 Adler Fellows are sopranos Anne-Marie MacIntosh (Langley, British Columbia, Canada), Elisa Sunshine (San Clemente, California) and Esther Tonea (Buford, Georgia); mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh (Vancouver, Canada); tenors Zhengyi Bai (Linyi, China), Christopher Colmenero (Burlington, Vermont), Christopher Oglesby (Woodstock, Georgia) and Victor Starsky (Queens, New York); baritone Timothy Murray (Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin); and bass Stefan Egerstrom (Brooklyn Center, Minnesota). Anne-Marie MacIntosh, Elisa Sunshine, Esther Tonea, Victor Starsky, Timothy Murray and Stefan Egerstrom are incoming first-year fellows. 2019 Adlers Simone McIntosh, Zhengyi Bai, Christopher Colmenero and Christopher Oglesby continue in the program as second-year fellows.
The pianists selected for Apprentice Coach Fellowships are first-year fellow Andrew King (Syracuse, New York) and returning second-year Adler Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad (Kyiv, Ukraine). The Adler Fellow apprentice coaches work closely with Mark Morash, Director of Musical Studies of the Opera Center, and John Churchwell, Head of Music Staff at San Francisco Opera. The coaches participate in the musical activities of both San Francisco Opera and the Opera Center and are involved in all aspects of the Adler Fellows’ training by acting as pianists for master classes, working with master coaches and preparing the Adler Fellows for concerts and mainstage roles.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Photo





Bartok in London
Outside the South Kensington Underground Station
November, 2019


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

More on SF Opera's 2020-21 Season

Amazing what you can find with a simple web search:

  • On the web page of tenor Clay Hilley: Lead Role Debut TBA, San Francisco Opera, Spring, 2021. Hilley looks to be a budding Heldentenor, so that should give you an idea of the range of roles. He also has enough flexibility for "Fuor del mar".
  • In a bio of Kevin Langan, he appears to be slated for Rocco in next season's Fidelio.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Museum Mondays


Nurse's Chatelaine
Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret, London
November, 2019

The placard for this item reads:


The French word chatelaine originally meant "Mistress of the Chateau." In the 18th and 19th centuries, it came to be applied to an object essential to the lady of every household. It was attached to the belt of her dress and suspended from it were essential things she might need about the house. Originally a utilitarian object, it later became a fashion item. Donated by Guy's Hospital.

[The objects suspended from the chatelaine include scissors and a pencil.]

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Will Robin on Academic Research and Public Access to Research

Musicologist Will Robin's newsletter, Industry, is always interesting. In the latest, he writes about his own work and also about an aspect of academic research that not all know:
One more thing about process. One does not get paid for writing musicology journal articles, in case you didn’t know this. (One also doesn’t typically get paid for peer reviewing journal articles.) The idea, in theory, is that it’s part of your regular intellectual work as a scholar, and that if you work at a research university — as I do — your salary goes towards the labor of journal article-ing. For me, that’s actually true; it’s not, though, for adjunct professors who are paid per-course and do not receive any kind of funding towards research. But they publish nonetheless, out of career necessity and out of the fact that it is a vital service that scholars offer to the world: the generation of knowledge!!! So that’s a broken part of this system.
The extremely broken part of this system is that we live in a bullshit corporate capitalist world in which we generate new intellectual ideas for free — sometimes, as in my case, with my salary coming from the public (I’m a professor at a public university) — and they are edited by non-profit journals, and then they are hidden behind paywalls that charge the public anywhere from $30 to $1000+ to read them. These paywalls are run by for-profit conglomerates that make massive amounts of money despite contributing very little to this ecosystem; if anything, they inhibit our research, rather than make it more possible. If you are an independent scholar or adjunct or at a smaller university, you or your library may not be able to afford multi-million-dollar subscriptions to journal databases, and you are thus shut out of doing crucial research. We need to put pressure on journals, academic societies, and publishers to embrace open access approaches, and to look to alternative, publicly accessible models instead of a garbage system that extracts profits from our unpaid labor.
All of that said, a tip for those who are working in the broken system but want to make sure that their articles can still be read: for the journal articles I’ve published thus far, I’ve asked the editors if they would request the publisher to make the article open access, at least for a limited amount of time. I’ve made this pitch by citing my number of twitter followers and public presence, and that it would be good publicity for the journal. Almost everyone has said yes, which is why you can read my MQ article. It obviously seems to work, as my new article is now MQ’s most popular read.

The above text is copyright William Robin, 2019. You can subscribe to Industry by clicking this link.