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The Borromeo String Quartet Meets Steve Reich!

Note: So far, this piece has been broadcast on the following public radio stations:  New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of MouthWDAV’s Artist Spotlight, Tapestry on 90.3 WBHM in Birmingham Alabama, WRVO in Upstate NY and KUAR, in Little Rock!

Borromeo String Quartet (photo: Christian Steiner)

Steve Reich is perhaps the preeminent composer living today. And one of his most heart-wrenching and affecting works is called Different Trains for String Quartet and Tape. It tells the story of Steve Reich’s early childhood — his train trips between the East and West coasts to visit his separated parents — and also of the train trips Jews were forced to take during the Holocaust.

The piece, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet in 1988, is notoriously difficult to play. But the Borromeo String Quartet has taken up the challenge. ThoughtCast’s Jenny Attiyeh attended a rehearsal at the New England Conservatory, where the Borromeo is currently in residence.

Click here: to listen — (7 minutes) on ThoughtCast!

Click here: for a shorter version (4:30 mins.)

Posted on October 7, 2017 in a new podcast, Front Page, Music
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Al Gore, Reconsidered

Now that we’re faced with Al Gore’s Inconvenient Sequel, it is tempting to ask, again: What if he’d actually won the Presidential election back in 2000? Remember when the century turned, the chads clung and hung, Florida was in Republican hands, and the Supreme Court ended up deciding the race in favor of the fortunate son of a former president? How many wayward chads would it have taken to give us 4 years of Al Gore, the “beta male” who wore sweaters in heather hues, and spoke calmly about the calamitous state of our global environment? For one thing, I don’t think we’d have pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. But what else might have — or not have happened?

I had the chance to interview the Vice President for NHPTV in the autumn of 1999, prior to the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Little did I know of what was to come, or I might have asked somewhat different questions.
I remember it was colder out than it looked, and Gore nursed a cup of coffee throughout the interview, while attempting to come off as well … approachable, like his two chief Republican opponents: the easygoing George W. Bush and the jubilant John McCain, who at the time was touring the state in his Straight Talk Express. More on that in the next post.
But in the meantime, let me know what you think of Gore, back in the Twentieth Century, before our continuum got torqued!

Posted on August 6, 2017 in a new podcast, Environment, Front Page, Politics
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The Hunt for Art Fakes with Tom Hoving

The inimitable Tom Hoving discusses art forgeries, and how to spot them, on ThoughtCast!

Tom Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, speaks with Jenny Attiyeh (reporting for WNYC TV, now off the air) about his book – and his career – spotting, and yes, falling for fakes.
False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes tells the story of many famous frauds, some of which made their way inside the daunting doors of the Met, the Getty and elsewhere, before being unmasked. In the process, Hoving sheds light not just on the rarefied world of high priced antiquities, be they fair or foul, but on his own mercurial personality.

Posted on May 23, 2017 in a new podcast, Art, Front Page, WNYC TV
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Revered New York Review editor Robert Silvers, R.I.P.

Note: this interview has been picked up by the public radio station WGBH, in Boston, and its sister stations WCAI and WNAN.

Robert Silvers (credit Melanie Flood)

The venerable New York Review of Books was launched amidst a newspaper strike in the winter of 1963, and has continued unabated ever since. Devoted to intensive and nuanced coverage of politics, the arts, literature, science (and now movies and the Internet!), the paper, as it’s called, is considered to be the premiere journal of the American intellectual elite.
Robert Silvers, its longtime editor, who shared the post with Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006, spoke with ThoughtCast in the WNYC studios in New York.

Click here: to listen (40 minutes).

Note: Scott McLemee, who writes the Intellectual Affairs column each week at Inside Higher Ed, contributed an excellent question to the interview – thanks!

Posted on March 23, 2017 in a new podcast, Front Page, History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Andres Serrano @ The New Museum of Contemporary Art

Andres Serrano: Works 1983-93 opened at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in Soho in early 1995. It was a mid-career retrospective, and I went there to interview the controversial artist for the PBS station WNYC TV. His infamous “Piss Christ”, among other ecclesiastical subjects, was prominently featured, as well as images of Ku Klux Klan members, and dead bodies photographed in a morgue.

Today Serrano continues to exhibit his work in group shows, but he seems to have calmed down a bit. Some subtler photographs taken in Cuba may seem to be a good deal humbler, but I personally find them to be quietly beautiful. In recent years, Serrano has also taken affecting portraits of New York’s homeless, in order to increase awareness of their circumstances.

For an audio version of this story, click here: to listen. (3:50 mins).

Posted on August 28, 2016 in a new podcast, Art, Front Page, Religion, WNYC TV
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Arianna Huffington on Picasso and the Clinton White House

Arianna Huffington, the author, journalist and founder of The Huffington Post, spoke with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  This interview was broadcast on WNYE, a public television station in New York City.

Today she is a media mogul, one of Forbes’ 100 most influential people. But back in 1999, when I had the chance to interview her, Huffington was merely a media star. Her book Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom had recently been released, and not to universal acclaim. It’s a frolic of a book, a fanciful tale of the Clinton (Bill) White House. But I was more interested at the time in her powerful and still shocking biography of Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.  Huffington, of course, could answer all my questions with ease.
This is the final interview that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The second interview was with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, and the first was with the comedian and writer Sandra Tsing Loh.
For an audio version of this interview with Arianna Huffington, click here: to listen.

Posted on August 31, 2015 in a new podcast, Art, Biography, Front Page, Literature, Politics
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