Performance Anxiety? Take a Deep Breath
Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard
Do your palms get sweaty as you’re about to make a public presentation? Does the thought of being judged make you jittery?
It’s called performance anxiety, and it bedevils many musicians. New research from Australia suggests a simple solution:
Specifically, breathe deeply, from your diaphragm, for a half-hour before stepping into the spotlight.
This easy exercise produced positive physiological results for a group of 46 musicians, impacting their heart rate in welcome ways. Furthermore, it left the most anxious among them reported feeling noticeably less tense.
Biofeedback? Not necessary, according to the University of Sydney research team led by psychologists Andrew Kemp and Ruth Wells. Deep breathing alone did the trick.
In the online journal PLOS One, the researchers describe an experiment that featured five string players, 30 wind or brass players and 11 trained singers, all of whom were hooked up to a device that measured their heart-rate variability. Previous research has found this is a good measure of emotional stress, with anxious individuals experiencing less variability in beat-to-beat changes.
After completing a questionnaire to determine their base anxiety level, and given five minutes to prepare, they were instructed to sight-read a tricky passage of complex, 20th century classical music.
The musicians were accompanied by a taped piano performance, which they were expected to keep up with. To intensify their stress, they were told to keep going if they made a mistake, “and to remember that interpretative quality was important.”
Afterwards, the musicians were assigned to one of three groups. One-third performed a slow-paced, deep-breathing exercise for 30 minutes. Another third did the same, with the help of biofeedback equipment that indicated their level of heart-rate variability. The final third simply read and relaxed.
To read the full article: http://www.psmag.com/health/performance-anxiety-take-a-deep-breath-47882/
Grantmaking for a Broader Definition of Arts Engagement
Sharon DeMark, Foundation Center
In the nearly three decades during which the National Endowment for the Artshas surveyed Americans about their participation in the arts — typically defined as attending events such as jazz or classical concerts, operas, plays, or ballets, or visiting art museums or galleries — participation has shown double-digit rates of decline, with only 35.6 percent of adults having attended an arts event in 2008. And yet the same 2008 NEA data also show that when the definition is broadened to include engagement in the arts via broadcasts or recordings, some 74 percent of American adults — more than double the number who reported attending an arts event — participated in an arts activity.
What's driving this shift in how Americans experience the arts? Clearly, technological innovation is one major driver of change. High-definition films of live Metropolitan Opera performances are selling out at movie theaters across the country, while local opera companies — which must charge far higher ticket prices than the local movie theater — struggle to expand their audiences. The creation and distribution of media arts has become so affordable and accessible that anyone can make a film or record an album that can be seen and heard by millions. Indeed, YouTube reports that every minute, seventy-two hours of video are uploaded to its site.
Lower levels of exposure to the arts at a young age is another factor in the decline in arts attendance. Given funding cuts in recent years, millions of children and young adults have had little to no access to arts education in their schools. An NEAreport shows that adults who took classes in at least one art form in childhood were about 50 percent more likely to attend an arts event, compared with adults who took no arts classes as a child.
To read the full article: http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/commentary/co_item.jhtml?id=394900009
CBC broadcasts of Toronto opera on hold after fee dispute
CBC Radio broadcasts of Canadian Opera Company performances will cease for the 2012-13 season after the Toronto opera company failed to reach an agreement over rights fees with its singers and musicians.
A COC statement released Wednesday said its offer to the membership of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and the Toronto Musicians Association has been rejected.
The company had sought to reduce rights fees paid to artists for the season broadcasting rights from a total of $200,000 to $150,000.
CBC Radio 2 and Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique had carried COC performances since 2009, enabling people across Canada to hear the Toronto-based company. The broadcasts also were available internationally over the internet.
“It's an unfortunate turn of events. We hope the COC and their musicians can find a way to reach an agreement soon,” a CBC spokesman said in response to a request for comment.
'Challenging' economy cited for not offering more fees
The COC produced the past three seasons in partnership with the CBC, but claims it is a non-revenue-generating initiative, valuable mainly for showcasing the company’s vitality.
“The broadcasts were extremely important to the future of opera in this country, and the COC has tried very hard to broker this arrangement because we felt so strongly about it,” COC general director Alexander Neef said in a statement.
Neef said it was impossible for the COC or CBC to offer more in rights fees under “an extremely challenging economic environment right now that has affected both our companies.”
“We are disappointed on so many levels, and we can only hope that there will be an opportunity to bring these broadcasts back at some point in the future,” he added.
To read the full story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/10/03/coc-rights-cbc.html
Do not mourn loss of Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales Theatre is being torn down and I will shed no tears over its passing.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a gorgeous facility from every point of view, but the city of Toronto never really needed it and so I have no trouble supporting David Mirvish’s bold new plan for the Entertainment District that calls for its elimination.
It’s interesting that when the announcement of Mirvish’s intention to demolish the theatre became public knowledge on Saturday, there was a rush to judgment by a lot of people, pronouncing it a body blow to the cultural life of this city.
It’s no such thing. Here’s the simple fact: there are currently too many large theatres in Toronto and this excess has actually been damaging to our cultural life over the past few years.
Look around us: the Princess of Wales, the Royal Alex, the Sony Centre, the Elgin, the Winter Garden, the Ed Mirvish, the Panasonic, the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
Can you think of one time in recent years when they’ve all been filled with shows that people were clamouring to get into?
Yes, it’s true that once upon a time, there weren’t enough large sized venues in this city to accommodate the mega-musicals that threatened to swallow up the theatrical life of the world for a time.
But then the pendulum swung too far in the other direction.
Between 1989 and 1993, a total of six new theatres opened in Toronto with a combined capacity of 9,211 seats
The Princess of Wales was almost the final one of these, opening its doors on May 26, 1993 with a production of Miss Saigon.
To read the full article: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/onstage/article/1264693--do-not-mourn-loss-of-princess-of-wales-ouzounian
405 Picassos donated to Saskatoon art gallery
The Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation has donated 405 Picasso prints worth $20 million to the Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan.
The donation, called the largest of its kind in the province's history, was announced Tuesday in Saskatoon.
The new art gallery is being built in the city's River Landing area and is scheduled to open in 2015.
Pablo Picasso, the famous modern artist who died in 1973, created the linocut prints between 1951 and 1966.
The 405 pieces are arguably the finest collection of Picasso linocuts in the world, according to the gallery's chief curator, Lisa Baldissera.
Saskatchewan philanthropist Ellen Remai said she's making the donation because she wants to put the new gallery on the international stage.
The gallery will have a special wing devoted to the Picasso collection.
To read the original article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/09/25/sk-remai-picasso-1209.html?cmp=rss
"Oh, Canada" At Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant
A funny music video at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art encapsulates the thoughts visitors may have when entering the exhibit, "Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America":
"What exactly is contemporary Canadian art? It is neo-lumberjack abstraction? Beaver dam earthworks? Something called universal health care? That's not so crazy, it must be art," the Cedar Tavern Singers sing, as iconic Canadian images float by: moose, Mounties, igloos, Tim Horton's, ketchup-flavored potato chips, fries with poutine. "Is it about hockey? Maybe post-painterly hockey?"
What "Oh, Canada" actually is is the largest overview of Canadian art ever mounted outside Canada, featuring 62 artists from across the nation who may be well known north of the border, but not in the United States. It's also the largest exhibit in the history of Mass MoCA.
It's a wide-ranging show that encompasses urban and rural themes, absurdity, realism and surrealism, humor and tragedy, in sculpture, painting, video and kinetic art, made by Caucasian-, Asian- and African-Canadians, French-speaking and English-speaking, as well as and Native Canadians, which are called First Nations.
The result is so wide-ranging, museum spokeswoman Katherine Myers says, it points to the narrow concept American may have of Canada as a country of limited themes. "The interesting thing is that Canada is the second biggest country in the world. It's like putting on a show called 'America'," Myers said. "It's a huge country. Some people are doing this, some people are doing that. It's going to be varied."
Denise Markonish, the curator of "Oh, Canada," said that doing a show about a nation's art is "the most ridiculous thing in this day and age.
"The idea of a survey of a country in this very global era, where a lot of people travel and can see things online, it's just the most old-fashioned idea, like the Grand Tour," Markonish said. "That was part of what made me want to do it. I want to be a little contrary to what's going on out there."
To read the full article: http://articles.courant.com/2012-09-16/entertainment/hc-oh-canada-0916-20120916_1_contemporary-art-native-canadians-wide-ranging-show
Budapest's New Theatre is at center of culture wars
"The Sixth Coffin" has been officially buried. Derided as anti-Semitic agitprop, this work by recently deceased Hungarian playwright-politician-polemicist Istvan Csurka has been the focal point of controversy until it was finally scrubbed from Budapest's Uj Szinhaz's — or New Theater's — new season. But how this production (think: the Hungarian equivalent of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion") ever got anywhere near the performance schedule of a major municipal venue in the first place is part of a larger drama involving this country's leadership and its assault on culture. And that drama has a few more acts to go.
"'The Sixth Coffin' is more a manifesto than a play," explains theater critic Judit Csaki, a columnist at the weekly Magyar Narancs. "Its vision is that the greatest Hungarian historical trauma, the Versailles Peace Treaty — called Trianon — is the result of a plot by rich American Jews." The narrative further descends into the idea of Jews bringing the Holocaust on themselves. For Csaki, like many others here, this cultural embarrassment is the logical outcome of of Budapest's conservative Mayor Istvan Tarlos's announcement
that when the contract of Uj Szinhaz's then director, Istvan Marta, expired, he would be replaced by Gyorgy Dorner, who, in addition to being an actor and the Hungarian-dubbed voice of Bruce Willis and Michael Douglas, is seen by Budapest's urban sophisticates as an uncouth and reactionary extremist. Dorner, in his job tender, proposed taking the "New" out of the New Theater, since "new" did not, he believed, always connote good, especially in "a degenerate, sickly liberal hegemony."
Though Marta's tenure could not be characterized as anything particularly subversive or avant-garde, Dorner envisioned turning the theater into a "pure" Hungarian institution (Hungarian themes, Hungarian playwrights) that would "instill patriotic values." He called for changing the name to "Hatorszag" or "Hinterland Theater," which suggests something like "Home Front Theater." Dorner also proposed an advisory role for Csurka, another right-wing reactionary (he was the founder of another ultranationalist party, MIEP, which lately has been eclipsed by the equally extreme Jobbik party), reviled for his support of skinheads and his exhortations of the "Christian Hungarian masses."
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