May 11, 2016 |
The effect of several centuries of collective ear-training in Western music has led us to expect a certain journey in sound: The basic idea is stated. It gets explored. It returns. But what happens when the composer's assignment is to write a piece only three or four minutes long? How much development is desired, or even possible? It was perhaps not a question explicitly put to composers contributing to the Brass Project this past weekend. But two one-hour-long afternoon concerts Saturday and Sunday at the Philadelphia Art Alliance answered nonetheless - in turns tersely, monotonously, sweetly.
March 4, 2016
YOU CAN'T accuse Mayor Kenney of thinking small. In his first budget address to City Council, the mayor said that what the city needed were "serious, radical, ambitious policies. " And he delivered lots of them. The two likely to get mentioned the most are Kenney's call for the city to spend $60 million a year in providing slots for quality pre-K, at about $8,500 per child. It would, for the first time, put the city in the business of providing subsidies for early childhood education, supplementing the $237 million in annual subsidies now given to poor parents by the state and federal government.
January 16, 2016 |
Last month, playwright Tom Stoppard, author of The Hard Problem , and David Chalmers, the philosopher who coined the titular phrase, appeared on the Wilma Theater stage to discuss, muse upon, and debate the nature of consciousness. What, Stoppard wondered aloud, is the connection between consciousness and value, "undemonstrable, undefinable, but necessary value"? Chalmers quipped that "consciousness is that annoying time between naps. " That heady night was followed by another heady night, the opening of The Hard Problem , directed by Blanka Zizka, one of Stoppard's foremost interpreters.
December 24, 2015 |
Writer-director Adam McKay ("Anchorman") stopped in town recently to talk about his foray into serious filmmaking - "The Big Short," adapted from Michael Lewis' book about the housing bubble and the 2008 meltdown. He chatted with movie critic Gary Thompson about the movie, based on the true story of against-the-grain investors (Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt) who saw the bubble forming, and found a way to profit when it popped. _______________________ The roots of the meltdown are notoriously complex, but your movie goes fearlessly, and cleverly, into the financial nitty-gritty.
May 30, 2015 |
Once a year for the last decade, the city's designers and architects have come together for a weeklong festival of films, tours, open studios, talks, exhibitions, and art installations called DesignPhiladelphia. More or less synonymous with that festival is Hilary Jay, who cofounded it while running the Design Center at Philadelphia University and who managed it through moves to the University of the Arts and the AIA Philadelphia's Center for Architecture, where it's now based. Recently, Jay, of Washington Square, left her job as director of the Center for Architecture and of DesignPhiladelphia.
March 5, 2015
GOV. WOLF'S plans for Pennsylvania are a little like plans for a one-way trip to Mars. Not everybody's ready to sign up. Bold? Sure. Forward-looking? You bet. But like that Mars-or-bust business, pretty expensive, extremely ambitious and unlikely to fly. This is not to say Democrat Wolf's big ideas are bad: Cut the wage tax, cut property taxes, raise the minimum wage, cut business taxes and freeze tuition at state universities. And surely these plans meet Democrat Wolf's favorite self-describing adjective: "different.
March 2, 2015 |
Nora Lichtash has lived in Germantown for more than 40 years. Now she is pitching a development project there for affordable housing that would allow renters to convert their units into equity and home ownership. Lichtash's vehicle is a nonprofit known as the Women's Community Revitalization Project (WCRP). WCRP has operated in Philadelphia since 1987, and Lichtash has been director since 1990. In that time, the nonprofit has developed 250 affordable townhouses and apartments in all five counties of the region, investing about $4 million to date.
January 26, 2014 |
Imagine the universe as a snow globe - you know, one of those round glass paperweights you turn upside down and it snows. Within this snow globe is a little house and a little tree and two women who are stuck inside, trying to figure out what they're doing there. This is the premise of Snowglobe , a new play by Nicholas Wardigo at the Shubin Theatre. If you're going to premiere a whimsical one-act meditation on whether it is possible to prove the existence of God, you can't do better than to have Charlotte Northeast and Amanda Schoonover play Ingrid and Sonja, the two women.
August 20, 2013
IT'S HARD FOR ME to not like Ross Brightwell - part dreamer, part engaged citizen, part pain in the ass. The thing about Brightwell - his snowy hair and beard give him the appearance of a happy elf - is that he's not a pain in the ass on his own behalf. The Pittsburgh native is in love with his adopted Philadelphia and his belief that it can be so much better than it is. Decades ago, Pittsburgh, led by someone named King Mellon, decided its future did not lie with smokestack industries that provided wealth but also provided unbreathable air. Over time, Pittsburgh got clean and reinvented itself.
August 5, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - To Cory Booker, urban poverty isn't just a challenge to address as mayor of Newark. It's a national scourge eroding fundamental principles of equality. Disparities in public schools don't just need fixing, they represent "American apartheid. " But ask Rep. Frank Pallone about those issues, and he will talk about the "sequester" budget cuts and details of the No Child Left Behind law. Rush Holt, a fellow congressman, is likely to stress his views as a scientist and teacher, as he has in a series of self-described "Geek Out" Web videos featuring professorial breakdowns of climate change and Wall Street trading.