The New Puritanism strikes again

I’ve been an enthusiast of the work of the Philadelphia visual artist Paul Cava for more than ten years now — several of his prints have found places of honor on my apartment walls — so it’s saddening to find that he’s the latest victim of the neo-Puritanical narrow-mindedness that seems to have made such inroads into American cultural life over the past few years.

Inks, a solo show of Paul’s work, was scheduled to open today at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral; plans have been laid for the show for the past several months. News comes this afternoon, however, that on the eve of the show’s opening, the exhibition has been cancelled. Paul wrote on Facebook today that:

The administration was supportive of the work and excited about the exhibition, however, after seeing the show installed, a few constituents objected to certain elements of nudity in about half of the works. This created an untenable situation relative to the cohesiveness and meaning of the work.

Paul also says that the entire show — including the nudes — had been reviewed and approved by cathedral staff before today. Twice.

Paul’s work has always emerged organically from concerns of tradition, spirituality, and intellectual perception, the very concerns that form the bedrock of Anglican and Episcopal theology itself (not to mention its open-mindedness and tolerance), which makes this decision doubly damning. It’s a shame that these few “constituents” have been unable to perceive this affinity between Paul’s work and the theology of the Christian denomination to which they belong; it’s a crime that their influence will prevent others from confronting the work themselves.

I do hope that another venue can be found for Inks; in the meantime, you can see several of the works in question at the Od Review web site here.

Shhh …

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Mabel Normand in “Fatty and Mabel Adrift.”

Silent comedy aficionados, take note: This Saturday afternoon, February 10, the Silent Clowns Film Series at Lincoln Center celebrates Valentine’s Day with “Love is in the Air … Comically Speaking” at 2.30pm. On the program are Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance in A Jitney Elopement (1915), Fatty Arbuckle and the inimitable Mabel Normand in Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916), Harold Lloyd and Bebe Daniels in Ask Father (1919), and Buster Keaton and Virginia Fox in Neighbors (1920).

The Silent Clowns Film Series, named for the seminal 1975 book The Silent Clowns by Walter Kerr, is now into its 21st year of offering regular screenings of classic silent comedies, featuring live piano accompaniment from Ben Model, who also produces the series; and you’ll be watching these on film, not in digital reproductions. Best of all, it’s free; for all these reasons, they deserve your support. More information can be found here.

Erwin goes to Salzburg for the Mozart Children’s Orchestra

A few years ago, Erwin Schrottner and his Erwin Cooks team travelled to Salzburg to film the below segment about Salzburg’s Mozart Kinderorchester — an ensemble of more than 60 performers aged between seven and twelve, run by the Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg. Annually, they present two concerts during Mozart Week, featuring music from C.P.E Bach and Mozart to Elliott Carter and Arvo Pärt under the baton of conductor and leader Peter Manning.

Unlike many youth orchestras, in which musicians are usually in their teens, the Kinderorchester gets its players when they’re particularly young. “The Mozart Children’s Orchestra is intended as a motivation for young musicians,” the ensemble’s web page says:

We are convinced that Mozart’s music is particularly suitable as the prime aim of such a project, and we hope the orchestra will provide a strong incentive and an exemplary contribution to early musical training. Even very young musicians are capable of fulfilling the technical and musical demands of works by Mozart and other composers, and of conveying their enthusiasm to audiences.

Above all the experience of playing in an orchestra is crucial for the motivation for young children. In our region it is difficult to become part of an ensemble at an early age (usually not before a musician is 15 years old) and so the orchestra should also be an example for other children, motivating them perhaps to learn to play an instrument.

As the segment below will indicate, this ain’t no high school band; if there’s anything like it in the US, I’d like to know about it. This is ensemble playing of a high order; no wonder Austria’s always been a capital of classical music. More about the ensemble can be found here, but for now, relax and enjoy the show. (And to learn more about Erwin Cooks, try this.)

Wuorinen at 80

Charles Wuorinen.

Composer Charles Wuorinen, best known recently for his opera Brokeback Mountain, is celebrating his 80th birthday this year, and this Sunday, February 11, “Charles Wuorinen at 80” will pull out all the stops (no organs allowed, however) with a program featuring a roll-call of performers that reads like an encyclopedia of America’s top new music pianists. Steven Beck, Alan Feinberg, Marilyn Nonken, Ursula Oppens, and Jeffrey Swann will present Wuorinen’s dual-piano The Mission of Virgil (1993), his solo Oros (2009), and Igor Stravinsky’s Sonata (1924). Composer-conductor Louis Karchin will also offer reminiscences.

Not only will Wuorinen be there to acknowledge their plaudits and congratulations; you can be there too for the price of a subway ride. The concert is free. It begins at 3.00pm at the Frederick Loewe Theatre, 35 West 4th Street. More information at the Facebook page for the event.