Hats and High Culture, Reconsidered
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From opera to hats, a fresh twist on old traditions? Hear about Frank Gehry and Rodarte's Don Giovanni from Thomas Aujero Small and Victoria Newhouse. Philip Treacy and Frank Strauss discuss America's renewed interest in hats. Plus, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp remembers Vidal Sassoon, and Anayansi Diaz-Cortez and Eric Pearse-Chavez tell us about the Sonic Trace design challenge to KCRW listeners.
Opera Reaches New Audiences ()
This Friday night, the Walt Disney Concert Hall will unveil the first of four performances of Don Giovanni. It will have sets designed by architect Frank Gehry, costumes by conceptual clothiers Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte, and Gustavo Dudamel at the podium. It’s the hottest high culture ticket in town—and it is a signature example of how opera and classical music are now repositioning themselves to attract new and younger audiences. The set and costumes are being kept under tight wraps, though Gehry has said he’ll create a “moving still-life on the stage” and he has hinted that there’ll be strong contrasts and abstraction.
Thomas Aujero Small writes about the intersection of architecture and music and gives his thoughts on the production, and architectural historian Victoria Newhouse explains how this production demonstrates a new direction in opera and classical music. Small hosts intimate classical music performances in his Culver City home like the Nimbus Ensemble, an LA-based chamber orchestra. He also recommends Chamber Music in Historic Sites, which stages concerts in offbeat, interesting buildings. And through May 27, Crescent City, billed as a "hyperopera," runs at Atwater Crossing. See more new venues for classical music at the DnA blog.
Guests gather at Small's home; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Young Riddle introduces Nimbus Ensemble at Small's home; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Garik Terzian performs with Nimbus Ensemble; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Top image: Nimbus Ensemble perform at Thomas Small's house; photo by Jean-Claude Demirdjian
Hats Are Turning Heads Again ()
It used to be that nobody went bareheaded; now most people do. But hats are making a comeback. And one reason for that might be Philip Treacy. He is the designer and hand-maker of extraordinary headgear for the likes of Lady Gaga and members of the Royal family. The Irish-born designer was in Los Angeles last week for Britweek, and Frances caught up with him at a party at the new Christopher Guy showroom in West Hollywood. Treacy, who grew up in a large Irish family, says Hollywood was his primary influence. Treacy mentions that ten years ago Americans thought the very notion of hat design was odd. Now he says, not so much. This dovetails with the experience of Frank Strauss, who back in 2000 came up with the idea of opening a hat store. Frances visited him at Fedora Primo, on Pier Avenue in Ocean Park, Santa Monica.
Frank Strauss, owner of Fedora Primo; photo by Bennett Stein
Fedora Primo in Santa Monica; photo by Bennett Stein
Top image: Hat by Philip Treacy
Remembering Vidal Sassoon ()
The legendary hairdresser Vidal Sassoon recalled that in the 1950s, you'd place a hat on women’s hair and “dress their hair around it.” Last Wednesday, Vidal Sassoon died, at the age of 84, leaving a huge cultural legacy. KCRW's own art critic, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, was a great friend of his and remembers his remarkable contribution.
Top image: Vidal Sassoon styling Mia Farrow's hair for Rosemary's Baby. Image via Wikipedia
- Hunter Drohojowska-Philp: Contributor, 'Art Talk'
Design a Sound Booth for 'Sonic Trace' ()
Calling KCRW designers, builders and engineers! The independent radio producers Anayansi Diaz-Cortez and Eric Pearse-Chavez are working on a documentary project called Sonic Trace, which captures the stories of immigrants from Southern Mexico and Central America. They need an eye-catching sound booth that they will transport around town for several months as they conduct interviews. They are asking you to compete to design and build the structure that will house their audio equipment. Sonic Trace will cover the cost of materials and give you or your firm plenty of public credit. Here are more details on how to enter.
- Anayansi Diaz-Cortes: Radio Producer
- Eric Pearse-Chavez: Radio Producer
Engage & Discuss
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