The Collapse of the Titans

The #metoo movement is bringing down abusive power brokers in the arts. But what will we put in their place?

 

An editorial by Mark Sebastian Jordan

 

The titans are falling.

Let them fall.

But let’s not just raise up new monsters in their places.

The recent fallout generated by the #metoo movement has seen formerly untouchable celebrities finally receive their comeuppance. Victims of sexual harassment and assault, cowed into years of silence by the harsh court of public opinion, have turned the tables, publicly naming the perpetrators. That lawless court has just as harshly turned on such celebrities as Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Kevin Spacey, finding them guilty without due process. Every person deserves due process, of course, but the urge to fulfill overdue justice has run ahead, for the moment, and careers are crumbling.

It hit the classical music world big time recently with the firestorm of accusations against long-time conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine, who has been accused of molesting young men (at least one of whom was under the age of consent at the time) for decades.

But a couple of Ohio connections have brought this major cultural shift home to me. One way is fairly impersonal: I am scheduled to cover a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra this winter that was originally slated to be conducted by the distinguished Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit, 81. That was before a half-dozen accusations of sexual misconduct erupted this week, apparently rising up out of a stew of gossip brewing for decades around the musician. In the last few days, Dutoit’s international career has collapsed as orchestra after orchestra has announced his replacement for upcoming concerts, with some stating outright that they are severing ties with him. A replacement conductor has not yet been named for Dutoit’s Cleveland concert.

Dutoit

Charles Dutoit

 

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Meditation Extreme: a Team Sport

medextremeRecently I was given the special privilege of being at the screening of the short film, Meditation Extreme. The film is the culmination of an “Acting for Screen” class taught by Daniel Roemer this past summer. This screening was the first time the actors — all locals — had seen the finished product. I had no clue what to expect from this product of our community.

Daniel Roemer grew up in this town, graduating from Mansfield Christian in 1999. He moved away to study film at USC and stayed out in LA for the next 15 years. In that time his CV exploded impressively with top honors and finalist positions in such programs as “On the Lot,” a reality show produced by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett, showcasing filmmakers “bound for stardom.” He was also twice a finalist for best director in the esteemed Project Greenlight. Continue reading

Beers & Opera: Feed Your Soul

OperaAtPhoenix

Joel Vega & Andrew Potter, singing at The Phoenix Brewing Company

I don’t know one bean about opera. What I do know, is that Andrew Potter produced a note Monday night so low and resonant I felt it in my bones. You don’t have to know much Wagner to appreciate the talent and hard work behind making that music.

I attended “Hopera2!” at The Phoenix Brewing Company — a pairing of Phoenix’s beer with music by Mid-Ohio Opera. The opera company was founded by Joel Vega, a name I knew growing up here as someone to watch out for at the yearly solo and ensemble music competitions. And now look at him! Maybe it was the beer, but the man couldn’t stop smiling. As someone who has created his own successful arts nonprofit in a town where many said, opera? he has every right to grin. Mid-Ohio Opera brings in singers from around the country and offers Mansfield world-class performances. Not to mention the fact that Joel, himself, is a talented opera singer who teaches others for a living. Continue reading

Ren Marketing Director Talks Blogging

Here’s a link to an excellent blog post at Americans for the Arts by Colleen Cook, the Director of Marketing at the Renaissance Theater in Mansfield, Ohio, and a great friend and colleague of VFTB. Colleen is talking about how the Ren has used blogging and podcasting to engage people in the north central Ohio area.

 

VTFB contributor Mark Sebastian Jordan has previously appeared on the podcast, talking about upcoming concerts of the Mansfield Symphony. We’re glad to hear the success Colleen is having with this modern marketing tool!

Walt, Gus, & the Shimmering Black Elephant

 

          An essay by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

 

Fuck me.

Not in a bad way. In a just-got-laid-out-flat by the energy of the universe way.

Every once in a great, rare while, you hear exactly the right piece of music in exactly the right performance at exactly the right time in your life. And it will shake you.

For me, it happened tonight, October 5, 2017, in Severance Hall, when I heard the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst own Mahler’s Sixth. It immediately lept to my short list of greatest concert experiences, ever.

Why the piece matters and why this concert matters goes back a ways. It’s not performed all that often, glittering black beast that it is. Not only is this symphony fiendishly difficult, it’s also long—about 80 minutes—and ends darkly after tumultuous struggle. Not exactly a crowd-pleaser, it would seem, yet the piece is beloved by many, because it is a powerful emotional statement.

About what?

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A Sorcerer Takes the Stage

A renaissance

Is a renaissance about to begin at the Renaissance? Octavio Mas-Arocas opens the season as music director of the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. (Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography, courtesy of the Mansfield Symphony.)

A review/commentary by Mark Sebastian Jordan

Last Saturday saw the beginning of a new era at the Mansfield Symphony and, I hope, in Mansfield itself. But before I comment on that, let me offer full disclosure: Not only do I give pre-concert talks for this orchestra, I was on the committee that selected its new music director, Octavio Más-Arocas. Beyond that, however, I want to caution that the thoughts expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the Mansfield Symphony, the Renaissance Theater, or any other organization.

The music director search committee met many times as we waded through almost a hundred applications for the position. Those who habitually run down Mansfield may be surprised to hear that statistic, but the fact is inescapable that Mansfield has an extraordinary orchestra for a community of this size. It was formed back when this town had an industrial base and the wealth that came with it. The money is scarce today, but passionate dedication has kept alive an ensemble that has a fine regional reputation because it is staffed by players from all over the state, many of them professors, independent teachers, or advanced students.

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