Thursday, November 20, 2008

NEA Arts Journalism Institute - a terrific experience!

I'm back in Portland and am still digesting the experience of participating as a fellow in the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera. The 10 days that I spent in NYC at this Institute were stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with lectures, writing workshops, concerts, tours, and interviews with artists and administrators. All of it added up to a feast for culture vultures like me and also gave me a chance to sharpen my perceptions.

The leaders of the Institute are Andras Szanto, Anya Grundmann, and Joseph Horowitz kept us busy. We met and talked with the following folks:
- Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera,
- Alan Gilbert, music director designate of the New York Philharmonic
- Jeremy Denk, concert pianist and blogger par excelance
- Gino Francescoi, archivist of Carnegie Hall
- Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras
- Terry Teachout, arts blogger and theater critic
- Steve Smith - blogger and music critic

We received lectures from
- Michael Beckerman, professor of music at NYU
- Elaine Sisman, professor of music at Columbia University
- Duy Linh Tu, professor at Columbia University's Journalism School
- Joesph Horowitz, author

We had to write two overnight reviews of concerts and a think piece. They were critiqued by some of the following folks:
- Justin Davidson, classicla music critic at New York magazine
- Anne Midgette, classic music reviewer at the Washington Post
- James Oestreich, classical music and dance ditiro at the New York Times.
- Greg Sandow, composer and criticism professor at the Juilliard School
- Joseph Horowitz and Terry Teachout

We got backstage tours at Carnegie Hall and the Met. Heard concerts by the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Kirov Orchestra, took in two performances at the Met, a piano recital by Jeremy Denk, plus a cabaret concert by Ute Lemper. We saw Dudamel, Gilbert, and Gergiev work their magic with orchestras. We also watched Gilbert lead the Juilliard Orchestra. Oestreich gave us a tour of the new New York Times building - where we met an talked with Daniel Wakin, the classical music reporter.

I found the work and my colleagues very stimulating and can highly recommend the Institute to others who would like to have an in-depth experience in classical music and opera. Because I wanted to write and post reviews of the concerts I experienced, I didn't have much time to experience more of the city. I did run through Central Park, but that was all.

The Institute has funding for one more year, and the troika of Szanto, Grundmann, and Horowitz are seeking more funding to keep the program gong for another five years. Typically, the Institute is held early in the fall, so be ready to see announcements for applications in

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