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Reviews and Recommendations

Pioneers of African-American Cinema

Kino Lorber recently released Pioneers of African-American Cinema, a five DVD set with extensive film notes.  An announcement of the collection’s release appeared in The New York Times (August 10, 2016), in which the film critic, J. Hoberman, stated that “there has never been a more significant video release” in cinema history.  This set includes films discovered and collected by the late SMU professor G. William Jones, which are part of the Tyler, Texas “race films” in the collection. It includes approximately 20 hours of feature films, shorts, interviews, trailers, and fragments.  Many of these films have only been circulated and seen in 16mm versions of inferior quality or have never been available for home video.  Each film has been digitally restored and reflects a wide-range of subject matter and styles.  Accompanying the set is an 80-page booklet with contributions from scholars.

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Eva Hesse: review of the documentary

While travelling recently, I had a chance to attend a screening of the documentary film Eva Hesse, directed by Marcie Begleiter.  The film draws from the large collection of diary entries and letters written by Hesse, now housed at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, and makes generous use of archival photographs and footage of Hesse and her circle of New York City artists and writers during the 1960s.  Featured in this film are Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), with whom Hesse maintained a close friendship, Robert Mangold and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Paul Thek, Lucy Lippard, her former husband, Tom Doyle, and her older sister, Helen Hesse Charash, among others.   The actress Selma Blair is the voice-over for the selected passages from the diaries and letters.  Most of the still photography is black-and-white, and a few of the photographs are manipulated very subtly so that they appear to be slightly moving, creating a haunting effect.  Hesse’s artwork presented in the film is beautiful, poignant, and profoundly personal.

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Get in formation: a Lemonade syllabus

Many of us have been on an emotional rollercoaster since Beyoncé gifted us with her visual album Lemonade on April 23. Putting aside our concern for Bey and Jay’s marriage, the album itself is aurally and visually stunning and has received high critical acclaim. Lemonade premiered on HBO, and being especially proud of the part they played in its release, the network plans to submit Lemonade for Emmy consideration. Continue reading “Get in formation: a Lemonade syllabus”

We made you a playlist

 

Just in time for finals, the Libraries staff have released a playlist to help you focus while meeting your deadlines. A variety of musical styles are represented, including The Smiths, Leon Bridges, and W.A. Mozart (Rock me, Amadeus was an honorable mention). Here are some highlights, and you can experience the full playlist on Spotify. Continue reading “We made you a playlist”

David Bowie as art critic

Following the announcement of David Bowie’s death in January, a number of memorials have been published praising and critiquing the singer’s other contributions in the arts.  Indeed, he was not just a cultural icon involved in music, fashion, film, and theater; in the 1990s, he also wrote about contemporary art.

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Ed Bland: American urban classical composer

Several years ago when I was brainstorming for a doctoral performance project, I knew that I wanted to deal with something that had to deal with African-American composers.  This was because through all my studies I found that black composers were seldom represented in the classroom and on the performance stage.  After some initial research I came across the works of Ed Bland mostly because it seemed he had many compositions for clarinet (my instrument).  After acquiring his album Urban Classical, I became fascinated by the music I was listening to and decided to focus my research on him. Continue reading “Ed Bland: American urban classical composer”

Pictorial: Meadows singers learn from masters Jake Heggie, Joyce DiDonato, and Frederica von Stade

 

Three judges
The master teachers, Jake Heggie, Joyce DiDonato, and Frederica von Stade (from left to right).

On November 3, Mezzo sopranos Joyce DiDonato and Frederica von Stade and composer Jake Heggie took time between performances of Heggie’s opera Great Scott to give a master class for singers in the Division of Music in the Meadows School of the Arts. Five students performed art songs and opera arias for the artists and a sizable audience of fellow music students and faculty. Each performer was then given feedback and comments from Heggie, von Stade, and DiDonato. Here are some of the highlights of the two-hour class. Continue reading “Pictorial: Meadows singers learn from masters Jake Heggie, Joyce DiDonato, and Frederica von Stade”

New Year, New Titles

Looking for a thought-provoking or entertaining book to spark your interest this spring semester? The librarians have selected a collection of new titles, all of which can be found on display and checked out from the first floor of Hamon by the periodicals and reference section.

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Robert Craft (1923-2015): An improbable life

American conductor and musicologist Robert Craft passed away on November 10 at the age of 92. Craft was best known as the advisor and close friend of Igor Stravinsky from 1948 until Stravinsky’s death in 1971; at times, he even lived in the Stravinsky home. But Craft was also a tastemaker in American classical music during the 20th century. He championed the works of composers Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern, and Alban Berg by conducting and recording their music. He recorded a collection of Webern’s complete works, and he collaborated closely with Stravinsky and conducted recording sessions and premieres of the composer’s later works. Continue reading “Robert Craft (1923-2015): An improbable life”

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