Articles – Cultivating Culture http://www.cultivatingculture.com Thinking and writing about culture around the world Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:08:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 50009989 Exploring the Connection Between Creativity and Mental Illness http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/09/29/creativity-mental-illness/ Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:00:38 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4882 From schizophrenia to depression to bipolar disorder, many a great artists were fraught with mental illness. Even the legendary Vincent Van Gogh was no stranger to psychiatric affliction. The troubled artist went as far as chopping off his own ear after a heated verbal altercation with his close friend, Paul Gauguin. In 1888, Van Gogh […]

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A painting of a young girl sitting at the end of a tunnel.

Image: Shutterstock

From schizophrenia to depression to bipolar disorder, many a great artists were fraught with mental illness. Even the legendary Vincent Van Gogh was no stranger to psychiatric affliction. The troubled artist went as far as chopping off his own ear after a heated verbal altercation with his close friend, Paul Gauguin.

In 1888, Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother, Theo, in which he openly described his struggle with mental illness:

“I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness and fatigue in the head… at times I have attacks of melancholy and of atrocious remorse.”

Van Gogh passed away two years later due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Psychologists have suspected a link between creativity and mental illness for years now, but studies have only recently begun to confirm that connection. One such study, conducted by a team of researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, looked at 1.2 million Swedish psychiatric patients.

Researchers found that people working in artistic fields, such as dancers, photographers, and authors, were 8% more likely suffer from bipolar disorder. But perhaps most revelatory was the finding that writers were 121% more likely to have bipolar disorder, and almost 50% more likely to commit suicide.

But scientists now believe that they have found the gene responsible for this connection. In September of 2013, a team of neuroscientists at the University of Graz in Austria published a study comparing the brains of creative people and the brains of people who suffer from schizotypy.

Schizotypy is a less severe form of schizophrenia. Unlike people with schizophrenia, people with schizotypy can distinguish between reality from fiction. However, they may exhibit strange thoughts or behaviors, such preparing for an alien invasion.

The study involved using a magnetic resonance imaging machine to monitor which regions of the brain were active when participants were asked to come up with creative ways to use everyday objects. The results indicated that the right precuneus (the portion of the brain responsible for attention and focus) was active in participants with the highest levels of creativity and with the highest levels of schizotypy.

Put simply, the findings indicate creative people and people with schizotypy take in more details, and have trouble ignoring extraneous data. Their cognitive process doesn’t filter out unnecessary information. The over-stimulation can result in “madness” by causing the sufferer to obsess over every little detail.

Although researchers are yet to find a cure for mental illness, there are medications that can help ease the symptoms. There are also natural treatment options, such as meditation and counseling. To learn more about mental illness and creativity, click here.

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De Wain Valentine at David Zwirner http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/08/01/de-wain-valentine-at-david-zwirner/ Sat, 01 Aug 2015 21:28:03 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4017 De Wain Valentine was in junior high after World War II, a fact that would mean little for the world at large except for an odd little domino of events: post-war, the defense industries were forced to scale back by lack of demand. A defense contractor in Fort Collins, Colorado, found itself with a surplus […]

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De Wain Valentine

De Wain Valentine’s works will be on display at David Zwirner through August 7th. | Image: rocor via Flickr CC.

De Wain Valentine was in junior high after World War II, a fact that would mean little for the world at large except for an odd little domino of events: post-war, the defense industries were forced to scale back by lack of demand. A defense contractor in Fort Collins, Colorado, found itself with a surplus of the material they used to make patrol torpedo boats, and so they decided to donate some of that surplus to a local school. Valentine’s school.

The material was polyester resin. It’s ubiquitous today, used in everything from printer toner to easy-clean restaurant tables and of course, those clear Lucite trophies. But it was a great new toy for a budding artist in the early 1950s.

Over the course of the next two decades, Valentine created his “Columns” and “Circles” series. Monument-like pieces of polished transparent resin. In 1966, he patented a slower-drying resin so he could work on bigger and bigger scales, allowing him to cast pieces such as Gray Columns, two free-standing wall-like tapered monoliths, each twelve feet high and half as wide, though only inches thick.

Gray Columns, which was commissioned for an office board room in 1975, will be on display along with much of Valentine’s lifetime body of work at David Zwirner gallery in New York. For the first time, that large gray sculpture will be properly displayed as it was intended, with both walls standing upright and edge-by-edge. Valentine himself has brought many works out of storage for the show and re-polished their surfaces back to gleaming perfection, emphasizing his original explorations in transparency, reflection, and refraction.

De Wain Valentine’s works will be on display at David Zwirner, 525 West 19th Street, New York, through August 7th. Other pieces of his work are permanent parts of the collections at MoMa, the Getty, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Coming Soon: Ernest Hemingway at the Morgan Library http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/21/coming-soon-ernest-hemingway-at-the-morgan-library/ Tue, 21 Jul 2015 21:08:25 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4014 Ernest Hemingway is a name to conjure with. It is not overstating things to say that his writing, both as a novelist and a journalist, defined the first half of the Twentieth Century. His stylistic contributions are still influencing writers today – writers either emulate him or work hard to avoid any emulation at all, […]

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Hemingway

Image: via The Morgan Library and Museum.

Ernest Hemingway is a name to conjure with. It is not overstating things to say that his writing, both as a novelist and a journalist, defined the first half of the Twentieth Century. His stylistic contributions are still influencing writers today – writers either emulate him or work hard to avoid any emulation at all, which is just another kind of direct influence. His handwriting is large across the face of American literature.

But he probably never predicted that even his least unpublished scratchings could be considered valuable or art.

For four months this autumn and winter, the Morgan Library and Museum will be hosting the show “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars,” an exhibition with approximately 95 objects salvaged from Hemingway’s life. Among the collection are his dog-tags, lists of un-used titles for “A Farewell to Arms,” and a four-page letter he wrote to his fourth wife before they were wed, in which he explicitly compares orgasm to a grenade.

Most of the items that will be on display come from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston which has its own collect and is teaming up with the Morgan for this show, but roughly twenty-five belong to the Morgan itself. Declan Kiely, the Morgan’s curator of literary and historical transcripts, has spent the last three years hunting them down in auction house and private collection in preparation.

“Hemingway was a pack rat,” was Mr. Kiely’s fond comment on the hoard of letters and lists that make up the bulk of the collection. “He never threw things away.” Which likely made him a curator’s ideal subject.

“Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Years,” touches on every span of the author’s life in six sections, roughly grouped by places Hemingway lived. It will be on display at the Morgan Library and Museum from September 25th through January 31st, 2016. The library’s hours at 11am – 5pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays. Admission is free.

 

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Coming Soon: Great American Dance Cinema from Lincoln Center http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/20/coming-soon-great-american-dance-cinema-from-lincoln-center/ Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:03:35 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4005 New York City has an abundance of places to see incredible dance performances. The Baryshnikov Arts Center, La Mama, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are just some of the incredible dance-centric organizations in NYC, the latter of which will soon be celebrating dance through the big screen. Lincoln […]

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New York City has an abundance of places to see incredible dance performances. The Baryshnikov Arts Center, La Mama, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are just some of the incredible dance-centric organizations in NYC, the latter of which will soon be celebrating dance through the big screen.

Lincoln Center presents an astounding 3,000 programs, events, and initiatives each year. Supported by a massive Board of Directors that includes William Ford of General Atlantic, Ann Ziff, Clara Wu Tsai, and Jim Rosenthal, Lincoln Center is one of the most expansive and diverse performing arts centers in the world. This fall, in addition to programming that includes jazz, theater performances, chamber music, and opera, Lincoln Center will present an ongoing series called Great American Dance Cinema.

Lincoln Center danceReports Michael Cooper for The New York Times, “More dance is coming to a theater near you: Lincoln Center announced Tuesday that this fall’s Great American Dance cinema series would feature performances by the San Francisco Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico and New York City Ballet.” According to a recent press release from Lincoln Center, “the series will launch in fall 2015 with Great American Dance featuring outstanding performances by four of America’s leading dance companies.”

This series, which is dubbed “Lincoln Center at the Movies,” is the first kind of in-cinema program that the leading performance arts center has offered, and is made possible by a partnership with Fathom Events. Reportedly, screenings of performances from the four incredible dance companies will take place in hundreds of movie theaters nationwide, allowing people who don’t live near major metropolitan areas access to an incredible array of performances.

Jed Bernstein, President of Lincoln Center commented, “We are thrilled to launch this collaboration with Fathom Events to bring incomparable performances representing a diverse range of American dance to audiences everywhere.”

Indeed, this will be a fantastic opportunity to witness performances by the San Francisco Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico and New York City Ballet.

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The Restful Sameness of Niele Toroni http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/08/the-restful-sameness-of-niele-toroni/ Wed, 08 Jul 2015 20:33:57 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4010 There is a restful sameness to all of Niele Toroni’s work, all of it in a style he pioneered and named travaux/pientures. Each painting, be it on stark white canvas or old, yellowed newsprint, is a careful study of the nature of paint and surface, almost scientific in its precision. His signature method, repeated over […]

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Niele Toroni

There is a restful sameness to all of Niele Toroni’s work. You can see some of it on display this month at the Marian Goodman Gallery. | Image: Mariken Bakkers via Flickr CC.

There is a restful sameness to all of Niele Toroni’s work, all of it in a style he pioneered and named travaux/pientures. Each painting, be it on stark white canvas or old, yellowed newsprint, is a careful study of the nature of paint and surface, almost scientific in its precision. His signature method, repeated over and over, is imprints of a no. 50 paintbrush in painstakingly measured intervals of 30cm.

He’s been painting those imprints for nearly 50 years, since the process’s debut at a performance exhibition in the Salon de la Jeune Pienture, Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris. And now it’s on display at the Marian Goodman Gallery in Midtown, New York City through July 30th.

It’s art that truly merits stepping close to examine. Despite the almost pixel-like sameness to each nearly-square brush imprint, each mark is distinct and different. They speak of deliberateness, almost over-crafted for what they are. And the measurements do not ever vary, though the surface on which they are painted does. French newspapers, whitewashed canvases, the very walls of the gallery. Whatever the surface, the careful, determined march of the brush imprints goes on unchanged in bold blue, black, yellow, or white.

Along with the gallery show, the Marian Goodman is presenting a solo survey of Toroni’s artistic history, close to fifty years of work. It’s a real treat to get to view that broad a cross-section of an artist’s working life. An invested viewer is able to trace each learning curve, spot the inflow of new inspiration and in essence read the artist’s life in his body of art.

Toroni’s work will be on display until July 30 2015. The Marian Goodman Gallery is located at 24 West 57th Street, New York, NY. Their summer hours are Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm, and admission is free.

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Summer Theater Roundup: Catch all the Drama This Season in NYC http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/06/summer-theater-roundup-catch-all-the-drama-this-season-in-nyc/ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 20:05:59 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4000 One of the best things about living in New York City is the fact that you can always count on there to be a multitude of cultural events and arts programs year-round. Even when it feels like everyone has already taken off for the beach, everywhere you look there are outdoor theater performances, larger-than-life block […]

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Theater-goers make their way to one of the free Shakespeare in the Park performances, put on by The Public Theater. | Image via Instagram.

One of the best things about living in New York City is the fact that you can always count on there to be a multitude of cultural events and arts programs year-round. Even when it feels like everyone has already taken off for the beach, everywhere you look there are outdoor theater performances, larger-than-life block parties, new museum exhibitions, and pop-up arts programming. In honor of the bountiful arts offerings NYC provides in the summer (and always), here are some summer theater highlights:

Lincoln Center Festival

Lincoln Center exists as one of NYC’s most shining cultural gems, and the Lincoln Center Festival does not disappoint. The Lincoln Center and its fantastic programming is made possible in part by the support of prominent board members including William Ford of General Atlantic, Bill de Blasio, David H. Koch, Betty Levin, Lillian Vernon, and many others, as well as private donations. The annual Lincoln Center Festival brings in theater, music, and dance performances from around the globe. This year’s festival runs through August 2nd, so don’t miss out!

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park is a beloved summer theater offering found in various incarnations in multiple cities. However, it might be safe to say that no where else is it performed quite the way it is in New York. Part of this is because it is organized by Public Theater, a theater company that is dedicated to “developing an American theater that is accessible and relevant to all people.” With this mission – cultivated by Public Theater founder Joseph Papp – in mind, it’s no wonder that all Shakespeare in the Park performances are not only free, but deeply engaging and enjoyable for audiences who attend them. The 2015 season of Shakespeare in the Park will feature plays “The Tempest” and “Cymberline.” Learn more here.

Encores! Off-Center

Encores! Off-Center is a successful spinoff of City Center’s “Encore!” series, which shines a spotlight on off-Broadway musicals and plays. This season, don’t miss out on Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, which City Center describes as “a tragic Jazz Age love story.” The play originally premiered off-Broadway in 2000, and you can catch it this summer as part of Encores! Off-Center’s wonderful theater programming.

For even more summer theater offerings, be sure to check out this awesome round-up from am New York.

Featured Image: via Instagram.

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Art as Activism: The Merrill C. Berman Collection http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/02/art-as-activism-the-merrill-c-berman-collection/ Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:45:17 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=3976 Political art, good political art, remains powerful for decades, even centuries. Just think of the phrase “Napoleon Complex.” Everyone knows it means a man compensating for shortness via conquest, but Napoleon himself was no shorter than the average person. Political art of the era fixed that idea in our cultural consciousness, probably centuries still to […]

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Political art, good political art, remains powerful for decades, even centuries. Just think of the phrase “Napoleon Complex.” Everyone knows it means a man compensating for shortness via conquest, but Napoleon himself was no shorter than the average person. Political art of the era fixed that idea in our cultural consciousness, probably centuries still to come.

A walk through the New York Historical Society’s new exhibit Art as Activism will let you feel some of that power. More than 70 political posters from more than 50 years of American history. Worker’s Rally posters from the Great Depression. Victory posters from the end of World War Two. Advertisements for the Black Panther’s food banks and educational programs from the ’60s and ’70s. Pop-inspired powers protesting the Vietnam War from Berkeley.

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Hugo Gellert, “Daily Worker,” ca. 1935, Lithograph on paper. Image via NYHS.

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Lester Beall, “Cross Out Slums,” 1941, Lithograph on paper. Image via NYHS.

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Jay Belloli, “Amerika is Devouring its Children,” 1970, silkscreen on paper. Image via NYHS.

Appropriately for a gallery of American iconography, the featured artists embody diversity itself. Among those displayed prominently are communist and Hungarian immigrant Hugo Gellart, Black Panther minister Emory Douglas, and the Goya-inspired French artist Tomi Ungerer whose art was too radical even for Columbia University, center of many of the most vocal anti-war protests of the Vietnam war era.

Inspiration for the artists came from all over the globe. Anti-fascism protests in 1920s Europe, traditional art forms from African countries and Native American tribes, Romantic-era Spanish art, all are represented among the offerings.

The full title of the exhibit is Art as Activism: Graphic Art from the Merrill C. Berman Collection, and it runs from June 26 through September 13 2015 at the New York Historical Society on Central Park West. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturdays, and is pay-as-you-wish every Friday.

All Art as Activism images are from the New York Historical Society’s image downloads for press.

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Teen Wolf Fan Art Exhibition http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/07/01/teen-wolf-fan-art-exhibition/ Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:43:40 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=3971 Fan art has a long history. Every piece of artwork inspired by a story is fan art, from ancient frescos of still-more ancient legends through Da Vinci’s Last Supper to the explosion of television- and movie-inspired art that floods sharing sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. Today, a lot of derision is attached to fanworks, but […]

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teen wolf fan art

Teen Wolf fan art now on display at Art Directors Club, NYC. Image: via Facebook.

Fan art has a long history. Every piece of artwork inspired by a story is fan art, from ancient frescos of still-more ancient legends through Da Vinci’s Last Supper to the explosion of television- and movie-inspired art that floods sharing sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. Today, a lot of derision is attached to fanworks, but they are, as they have always been, one of the most powerful expressions of the relationship formed between stories and their audiences.

For much of the last century, a focus on the letter of copyright law has made creators wary of fan art, but today, with the internet growing ever more important to television networks, those boundaries are breaking back down. And MTV is showing that it can keep up, with their New York-based art exhibit showcasing nothing but fan art of the hit series Teen Wolf.

Their original intent was to commission high-profile artists already admired by fans of the show to create promotional materials for the show’s fifth season. But the art they received made them seek a way to elevate it, and in the process, all fan artists. After all, what are they doing with their artwork but making a loud, declarative statement about the show’s impact on themselves? A gallery opening places it where it belongs, on a level with all other forms of art.

The 23 works in the show are diverse in style and media, and the artists were given hints about the future of the show’s new season, which debuts Monday June 29th. The show opened in an event on June 25th which saw lines around the block, cast and creators of the show in attendance, and six of the nine featured artists there to receive their due applause.

The exhibition is being held in the Art Directors Club at 106 W 29th St, NYC, and is open to the public on weekends. The works on display are by Carina Tous, Alice Pain, Jessica Short, Frida Svensson, Carlos Rodriguez, Kendra Wells, Swann Smith, Liz Swezey, and an anonymous artist by the pen name Indy.

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Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/06/25/saturday-night-live-the-exhibition/ Thu, 25 Jun 2015 20:35:22 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=3995   Saturday Night Live, the sketch comedy and variety show on NBC, is a long-term jewel in New York City’s culture cred. Earlier this year, they marked their 40th anniversary with a huge, triple-length special and they have aired 787 episodes in all. A whole generation of comedy movie stars got their big break live […]

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saturday night live the exhibitionSaturday Night Live, the sketch comedy and variety show on NBC, is a long-term jewel in New York City’s culture cred. Earlier this year, they marked their 40th anniversary with a huge, triple-length special and they have aired 787 episodes in all. A whole generation of comedy movie stars got their big break live on the show’s sound stage in Studio 9H at 30 Rockefeller Center, the massive American art deco skyscraper in midtown Manhattan fondly known as 30 Rock.

Millions aspire to get onto that stage, but few get their shot. But now, more can, at least, come a little closer. As part of their ongoing celebration of 40 years on the air, NPC has opened an immersive exhibit to the public. The exhibit, designed by creative director Mark Lach, is packed full of memorabilia from the show’s highest points (and some of its lowest), and designed to showcase the infamously frantic schedule of putting out a weekly live show.

Lach wants guests of Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition to laugh and learn, and so the exhibition combines stories and actual props and costumes with snapshots of the amount of work involved day by day through the week. From meeting the guest host to writing the sketches one day and presenting them the next, two days to plan and build sets and rehearse and decide on hair and make up, and all too soon, it’s Saturday, backstage is a circus, and hey, you’re live on the air.

Or, in the exhibition, on an accurate replicate of Studio 8H, looking exactly as it does on the show (Minus, unfortunately, the personalities). It’s not the only set, either. You can walk right into Wayne;s World, for instance, and stretch out on Wayne Cambell’s couch.

For Lach, the ultimate goal is for everyone who visits his exhibition to have a whole new engagement with SNL the next time they switch it on, in its long-time slot at 11:30 every Saturday night. He wants them to have a real sense of everything that underpins the laughs, everything that has to happen just so for the show to come together.

Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition currently lives at Premier Exhibitions, 417 5th Avenue NYC. More information is on the exhibition’s website.

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The San Francisco Symphony Hosts Beethoven Marathon http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/06/19/the-san-francisco-symphony-hosts-beethoven-marathon/ Fri, 19 Jun 2015 19:39:54 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=3964 The San Francisco Symphony is a beloved institution in the Bay Area, and has been cultivating culture there for more than 100 years. Not only does the Symphony offer fantastic programming for music-loving adults, it also organizes programs designed to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, and even does […]

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The San Francisco Symphony’s Music Director, Michael Tilson Thomas. Image: via Facebook.

The San Francisco Symphony is a beloved institution in the Bay Area, and has been cultivating culture there for more than 100 years. Not only does the Symphony offer fantastic programming for music-loving adults, it also organizes programs designed to make classical music accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, and even does community outreach work to ensure that music is an integral part of school for young children.

The San Francisco Symphony is supported by a prominent Board of Governors that includes philanthropists, businesspeople, and strong advocates of the arts. Carol Casey, Dean Cash, and Perry Pelos are among the current Governors, with Sakurako Fisher and Gail L. Covington acting as leading Officers. Life governors include REDF founder George R. Roberts, James C. Hormel, Mrs. Charles R. Schwab, and Andrew S. Berwick, Jr.

This weekend, the San Francisco Symphony is hosting a “Beethoven Marathon,” as an homage to the legendary composer. “On a chilly December evening in 1808, Viennese concert goers huddled into the Theater an der Wien to hear new works of Beethoven,” describes the Symphony of the original even that has inspired this forthcoming “Marathon.” On Saturday, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will recreate that historic concert, featuring the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Choral Fantasy, and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.

If you’re thinking to yourself that a musical marathon sounds exhausting, you can rest assured that there are not one, not two, but three intermissions scheduled to help provide a respite to concert-goers and musicians alike.

Reports SFGate’s Joshua Kosman, “The San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven Festival is about to reach its midpoint with a re-creation of the composer’s insane four-hour concert of December 1808. But first, Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra are wisely easing audience into it by introducing parts of the program on the installment plan,” of the Symphony’s approach to showcasing such a tremendously powerful, prolific body of work. Earlier this week, the San Francisco Symphony offered half of the music in a shorter installment, which earned rave reviews.

Kosman writes, “It featured what is already the clear front-runner to emerge as the high point of the weekend’s festivities: soprano Karita Mattila’s roof-rattling, gut-wrenching, luxuriant account of the concert aria ‘Ah! perfido.’” If you put this degree of artistry in the middle of any sort of musical event of any size, you can immediately count the evening a success.”

If that mid-week performance is any indication of what’s to come this weekend, the concert-goers are in for a profound experience.

Learn more about the San Francisco Symphony by visiting www.sfsymphony.org.

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