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September 2013

GlobalFEST Rocks Central Park's Great Lawn

by Caroline Sanchez


In its second year, the The Global Citizen Festival transformed Central Park's Great Lawn on Saturday with great music and good vibes, aiming to raise awareness about the conditions of global poverty by bringing together world leaders, activists, and musicians for an evening of education and inspiration. The official lineup boasted Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, and Stevie Wonder, but concertgoers were also treated to surprise appearances by Janelle Monáe, Bono, and Maxwell.

Unfortunately, there seemed to be a disconnect between the goal of the event and the means to achieve that goal. Kings of Leon played what felt like a standard set, with numbers off their new album, Mechanical Bull, none of which seemed to play into the festival's overriding themes of reform and equality. Alicia Keys thrilled the audience with her impressive vocal range and piano riffs, but did not speak much about the evening's cause, oustide a brief dedication.

Mayer's soulful performance of "Waiting on the World to Change" was an ironic addition to a concert about taking action, but his guitar solos and crooning were enough to make anyone disregard the oversight. Seeing the great Stevie Wonder was something I never thought would happen, and the music was as groovy and heartfelt as one would expect. His rendition of "Imagine" was prefaced with a speech about gun-control laws in the United States—slightly off topic, but no less serious an issue.

Overall, the Global Citizen Festival featured some great music and a large crowd of enthusastic concertgoers, but ultimately fell short of making the impact it intended. Finding like-minded performers to represent the Global Citizen agenda should be the main goal for next year's event; otherwise, it would be best to find another way to rally the troops.

"We Have An Anchor" Opens at BAM

"We Have An Anchor" at BAM "We Have An Anchor" at BAM"It's not an improvised score, though I would hope it leaves the musicians room to move. I wanted them to make weather out of sound." — Jem Cohen

Another stunning example of live music accompanying film at the BAM Harvey Theater this weekend, featuring members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fugazi, Silver Mount Zion, and others accompanying Jem Cohen's hypnotic mèlange of images from Cape Breton: the remote, desolate island north of Nova Scotia. Driving through snow at night has never felt so dangerous—or momentous.

A Wordless Music co-presentation; more info available on BAM's website.

Cocktail Conversation: Anthony Tommasini

NY Philharmonic Opening Gala Cocktail PartyPhoto credit: Chris Lee, New York Philharmonic

On Wednesday, I was invited to a cocktail party for music journalists on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel prior to that evening's New York Philharmonic season-opening gala. I was speaking with one of Lincoln Center's staffers by the bar when we were approached by Anthony Tommasini, longtime classical music critic of The New York Times. I've seen Tony at all sorts of musical happenings over the past six years, but have never felt comfortable approaching him, given his status as arguably the most influential music critic in New York, if not America. I mean, what would he care what some blogger thinks?

Imagine my surprise, then, when Tony turned out to be completely warm and engaging, enthusiastically holding court on a wide range of topics for more than twenty minutes. Despite his past life as a music professor, Tony is no reserved academic: he speaks with genuine passion for the beat he's covered since 1996. And, while I don't always see eye to eye with him, our chat was a reminder of just how fortunate we are to have his clear, knowledgeable voice. (For the record: Tony drank Coke, while yours truly swilled Chardonnay.)

Below are some highlights:

On Covering the Fall Openings: I've been up until 3:30 a.m. the past two nights, between the Met's opening on Monday and Levine's return in Così fan Tutte last night. I asked my editor to let me send in my story for this tomorrow, since this isn't really as . . . newsworthy.

On the Met's Opening Night Protests: Obviously, this is a deeply personal issue for me (Ed: Tony married his longtime partner, Ben McCommon, last year). But, as I wrote earlier this week, it isn't the Met's place to step in and make a statement here. If they took a stand on this, the next thing you know you'll have people wanting to protest Syria, or the Palestinians, or whatever cause they want to promote. The Met actually has a long history of avoiding political protest: during the first and second World Wars, the Met continued to perform German opera, even as it was boycotted by most other companies around the world.

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