Michael Fabiano

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Arts in the News: 3D-Printed Stradivarius Replica, “I Voted” Sticker, Grief Over Losing an Instrument and more

June 19th, 2017

3D-Printed Stradivarius Replica

Harris Matzaridis from Violino Digitale has created a 3D-printed replica of the “Sunrise” Stradivarius (originally made by Stradivari in Cremona in 1677) for research purposes. The printer does not create the violin replica in ready-to-play shape–instead, the parts come out of the machine in what Violino Digitale calls “primitive form.” On their YouTube chanell, they explain that “hundreds of man hours and traditional specialty knowledge are utilised to create a handcrafted item of art….This project is a testament for the quality of HANDCRAFTED violins–no matter the material, a luthier’s talent and handcrafted skills can produce an audible violin sound.” Do you think the 3D-printed violin could measure up? See if you can tell the difference between the replica and an original Stradivarius <HERE>!

Designing NYC’s Next “I Voted” Sticker

The New York City Campaign Finance Board is hosting the NYC Votes “I Voted” Sticker Contest in order to determine the design of the next round of “I Voted” stickers to be used in the September primary elections. At this point, there are ten finalists for voters to choose from–nine of which were designed by residents of one of NYC’s five boroughs, and one designed by a man in Kansas City. Most of the designs feature the Statue of Liberty; one has a black-and-white city skyline, and another an image of the five borough subway lines meeting together. Rajiv Fernandez’s design features four silouettes alongside the Statue of Liberty, representing that “No matter what shape, size, or color, New Yorkers vote with liberty and justice for all.” Marie Dagata, who designed the sticker featuring the subway lines, explains: “All the people of the boroughs meet together, pass each other, need each other in the subway and the voting booth.” People can vote for their first, second, and third preferences at the “polls” throughout early May.

The Grief Over Losing an Instrument

The relationship between a musician and their instrument is a special one–so the grief of losing one is understandably immense. Min Kym, a former child prodigy who started playing the violin at age 6, shares her story of finding the perfect instrument, only to have someone steal it, in her new book “Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung.” A professional soloist, Kym explains: “From a very young age, I was aware that the most important thing as a violinist and as a musician is to find your voice through the right instrument.” Kym found the right instrument, a 1696 Stradivarius, at age 21. About ten years later, three thieves stole her violin from under the table while she was sitting in a cafe with her boyfriend. Kym was devastated, and explains how people have a hard time relating to what she went through: “You know, when it’s a human relationship, it’s something that everybody can relate to and understand. But I think as a violinist, as a musician, as an artist, when you know the relationship that you have with your particular art, it’s something that lives inside you and has a life of its own. And that’s very difficult to explain or describe.” Three years later, detectives recovered the violin, but Kym had already used the insurance payout to buy a replacement. Her story is a touching testament to the incredible bond between a musician and their instrument.

Pineapple Mistaken for Work of Art

Ruairi Gray, a business information technology student at Robert Gordon University in Scotland, and his friend Lloyd Jack left a pineapple at an art exhibit on campus, hoping it would be mistaken for art. Their wish came true– four days later, the young men found that the pineapple had been enclosed in a glass display case at the event. Gray explains: “I saw an empty art display stand and decided to see how long it would stay there for or if people would believe it was art.” No one seems to know who put the display case around the fruit, as even the person who organized the displays, Natalie Kerr, did not do it. The incident has many remembering a similar prank last year when a teenager placed a pair of glasses on the floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and museumgoers proceeded to take pictures of what they thought to be a work of art. The teenager, TJ Khayatan, explained: “Some may interpret it as a joke, some may find great spiritual meaning in it. At the end of the day, I see it as a pleasure for open-minded people and imaginative minds.” The success of the pranks certainly makes you question how we see and understand art!
 

Arts in the News: Jedi Musicians, New Blue for Crayola, When Kids’ Opinions Mean More than Critics’, Touring Logistics for a Ballet Company

June 11th, 2017
 

Jedi Musicians with Lightsaber Bows

In honor of “Star Wars Day,” as May 4th has come to be known (as fans make a pun on the famous Jedi blessing “May the force be with you” by saying “May the fourth be with you”), a video has been making its rounds on social media showing a rather unusual school music concert. Last year, students at the École de l’Harmonie St Édouard and École Secondaire de La Seigneurie in Quebec put on a Star Wars-themed concert in which they performed excerpts from John Williams famous score dressed as Jedis. The final touch? Their violin bows were equipped with LEDs, thanks to their inventive teacher Philippe Amyot, giving the appearance that the students were playing with lightsabers. The young musicians entertained guests at a local cinema, performing only a week after a fire forced their school to close. What a delightful way to create a unique performance and get kids excited about music!

New Blue for Crayola

Months after announcing it would be retiring the yellow “Dandelion” crayon, Crayola has announced that a new blue crayon, inspired by the YInMn blue pigment, will replace it. The YInMn blue color was discovered by accident in 2009 in a chemistry lab run by Mas Subramanian at Oregon State University; its name comes from the three elements that compose the pigment: yttrium, indium, an dmanganese oxides. Mas and the other chemists in his lab had been mixing and heating these chemicals in order to find a new material for electronics, when one of the samples came out bright blue after being headed to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Crayola’s YInMn crayon won’t actually contain the pigment–it is simply inspired by it, since YInMn cannot yet be added to paints and materials until more experimentation is done. Subramanian hopes that the new blue crayon will inspire children to see the creative potential in scientific experimentation. Yet another example of the science and art worlds working together!

When Kids’ Opinions Mean More than Critics’

Ever since the stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast in 1994, family musicals have been a big business on Broadway. Often, these musicals, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Anastasia, are hugely successful despite harsh words from critics. David Rooney, chief theater critic for The Hollywood Reporter, said of Anastasia: “It’s kind of clunky. It’s kind of old fashioned. It’s a little bit kitsch.” Still, the stage adaptation of the 1997 Fox animated movie continues to sell out. Rooney himself admits that when he saw Anastasia, the young girls in the audience were incredibly enthusiastic. As NPR’s Jeff Lunden explains, “It’s the kids–and the parents who pay for the tickets–who will ultimately decide if Anastasia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have long healthy runs.” After all, kids don’t care what critics have to say. Rooney believes that the upcoming Broadway production of the megahit movie Frozen will likely follow in the footsteps of other family musicals, emphasizing spectacle and energy in order to dazzle kids, not necessarily critics. These family musicals are certainly a reminder that Broadway entertains and inspires a variety of audiences in many different ways!

Mind-Boggling Touring Logistics for a Ballet Company

The Birmingham Royal Ballet is used to touring, traveling across the UK and abroad. But how much is actually involved in organizing a tour for such a sizeable ballet company? For a company of 60 dancers, there are 25 technical staff and as many as 45 musicians, along with all of the equipment and costume paraphernalia. The company must transport the entire set, with lighting and props. They travel with 1000 hair pins, 250 hair rollers, 78 wigs, 44 tutus, 8 baskets of shoes, and two washing machines. They also take two physiotherapists in tow. All costume and set equipment must be handled very carefully, as many are designed by world-class artists and have elaborate details. The artists travel by coach, while the technical teams go first via train. Company manager Will Mauchline is in charge of making sure all of these logistics are taken care of for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and that any injuries or issues are handled: “I was once told there’s a fine line between company manager and mother. A company manager works with everyone to make sure it all happens, from the company coach to performers to guests watching rehearsals and so on. When it doesn’t go to plan, I deal with it and hopefully overcome the problem, ideally with minimal upset.” Next time you see a touring performance, just think about all of the logistics that went into making it all come together!
 

Arts in the News: Difficulty for Visiting Artists, Hacker Blackmails Netflix, NYC Museums and U.S. National Report Card for Students

May 30th, 2017

Economic Austerity in Mongolia Means Difficulty for Visiting Artists
The Philadelphia Orchestra was set to visit Mongolia on a spring tour of the Far East, but due to economic austerity measures in the host country, Mongolia can no longer afford to host the orchestra. “Changes happen when you work with external partners far away,” explains Ryan Fleur, executive vice president of orchestra advancement. The orchestra is exploring several options, including sending a smaller group of musicians for outreach concerts. The originally planned visit was intended to further cement diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mongolia; last fall, the Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj expressed his happiness to work with the Philadelphia Orchestra to make the tour visit happen. Hopefully the orchestra will still be able to make the visit in some capacity, even if it is with a smaller contingent of musicians. The world tours of orchestras and other arts and music groups are no doubt important ways to share beauty and culture across borders.


Hacker Blackmails Netflix, Releases New Episodes of Popular Series
An anonymous hacker has released pirated episodes of the new season of Netflix’s original series “Orange Is The New Black.” After Netflix failed to pay what the hacker called a “modest” ransom, the hacker, who goes by the screen name “thedarkoverlord,” announced on Twitter that episodes 2-10 (of the 13-episode fifth season) were available to be illegally downloaded. Netflix originally planned the release of the fifth season for June 9 of this year; the leak has many thinking the streaming service will move up the release date. The hacker has apparently accessed material from other television providers, including ABC, National Geographic, Fox, and IFC, and is warning them to learn from Netflix’s mistake in not paying the ransom offered. Netflix currently enjoys a worldwide subscriber base of nearly 100 million; some are speculating the leak may inhibit subscriber growth and prove detrimental to the company’s earnings. If the hacker’s threats prove to be real, other companies may face similar consequences. The leak brings new attention to the issue of illegal downloading and the ramifications for arts and entertainment producers.

NYC Museums “Trading Places” on Social Media
For one day at the end of April, museums in New York City switched Instagram accounts with one another to introduce followers to other arts institutions in their neighborhoods. Thirty-two museums are participating in the social media initiative, called #MuseumInstaSwap, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Each museum was paired with a partner museum; throughout the day, each posted photos from the other’s collection, enticing Instagram followers to explore those collections in person. Museums are hoping that the campaign will show the solidarity of the museum world and the connections between, say, the American Folk Art Museum and the Japan Society. Hopefully the campaign helped to inspire New Yorkers to visit different museums and more deeply explore the amazing art collections the city has to offer!

U.S. National Report Card for Students in Visual Arts and Music
For the third time in its history, the U.S. government has released a national report card looking at the knowledge, understanding, and abilities of American eighth-graders in visual arts and music. Unfortunately, the report shows little progress since the last assessment was released in 2008. One of the few areas of improvement shows that the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students has narrowed, though the gap itself is still significant. The report is released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which regularly reports on student achievement in math, reading, and science, but only rarely (1997, 2008, and now from 2016) in music and visual arts. The arts assessment measures students’ ability to understand and interpret historical pieces of art and music, as well as their creative abilities. On a scale of 1-300, students averaged 147 in music and 149 in visual arts (lower than the averages of 150 in both categories in 2008, but not statistically significantly so). Perhaps one of the most disappointing findings is that fewer than half of eighth graders had taken an arts class in 2016–only 42 percent. Hopefully the report brings much needed attention to the state of arts education in the U.S. and important areas for improvement!

#FabFive Things That Are Surprisingly Toxic to Dog

May 20th, 2017

As parents of both the fur and human variety know, it only takes a second for your child to put something harmful in their mouth when you turn your back for a moment.  This is exactly the situation my dear friend found herself in the other day.  While she was putting something in the refrigerator, her dog Kimmy (who I lovingly refer to as my “fur niece”) swiped a nearly-full pack of Trident gum from the counter and instantly inhaled the remaining 17 pieces.  My friend went into full panic mode as Xylitol, a common ingredient in gum, is toxic to dogs and rushed her to the vet.  Thankfully, the vet was able to induce vomiting in time and with the help of fluids, Kimmy (pictured below) made a full recovery later that day.

My friend and I were talking on the phone and I was surprised to learn just how toxic Xylitol is.  As a fur dad myself, I never had to worry about this with Buster because he is unable to reach the counter and largely has no interest in food like candy or gum.  This is not the case for other pet owners and dogs like Kimmy who will eat anything that remotely appear edible.  As a result, I am dedicating a #FabFive to spread awareness about 5 common items that are surprisingly toxic to dogs.

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Interview: Michael Fabiano on Faust

Limelight Magazine's Editor, Clive Paget, heads backstage to meet American tenor Michael Fabiano ahead of his appearance in David McVicar's production of Gounod's Faust, for Opera Australia.

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