Alan Miller, winner of the AJ architectural writing prize, visits Troy, NY.

New York Arts / Berkshire Review editor Alan Miller wins the Architect’s Journal Writing Prize

The winner of the inaugural AJ Writing Prize in association with architecture practice Berman Guedes Stretton has been announced, and New York Arts / Berkshire Review editor Alan Miller has won the prize over six finalists who were chosen from 91 entries to the contest which was launched in June to find the best up-and-coming architecture critic aged under 35.

“What Inspires Design in Istanbul?” with Superpool: Becoming Istanbul at SALT Beyoğlu

On September 13, 2011, Gregers Tang Thomsen and Selva Gürdoğan, of Superpool, in collaboration with Project and Projects, lead a talk at SALT Beyoğlu entitled “What Inspires Design in Istanbul.” The discussion revolved around the innovative project, Becoming Istanbul, which will run from September 13, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

During this three month event, ”two parallel programs [will commence], 90, a program of 90 events focusing on contemporary issues in Istanbul, and The Making Of Beyoğlu, a series of workshops examining the methodology and implementation of projects initiated in the city’s center.” At “What Inspires Design in Istanbul,” Superpool explored the obvious and subtle design opportunities of the Becoming Istanbul installation.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-12 Season Schedule and Preview

Mark Volpe and his organization pulled off an impressive feat in creating this season at such short notice. Former Music Director James Levine submitted his resignation only after most symphony orchestras, including the BSO, have established their programming for the next season and published it to waiting subscribers. Add to that the need to corral a feasible number of potential candidates for the open position of Music Director. The Boston Symphony’s 2011-12 is not only solid and nutritious, it is even rather exciting—apart from the added piquancy of the search. The fall will be mainly given over to guest conductors who have worked with the BSO for many years, or at least a few times in the past. The serious contenders for the permanent position will begin later on.

Istanbul: New Wealth, New Architecture

As I stepped into the 47th floor garden room of a new luxury apartment in Istanbul, a cool breeze caught my hair and made the curtain in the sitting room behind me billow like a sail. Suddenly feeling uneasy, I grabbed hold of the sliding glass door. I was inside, correct? There wasn’t a wide-open window nearby I could fall out of? The sensation I had was that I had just walked onto the windy veranda of a country house or a boardwalk by the beach. The breeze ebbed and flowed, moving the trees and shrubs in the garden. The air felt fresh and clean and at least 5 degrees cooler than the crowded sidewalks below at street level.

San Francisco Symphony: MTT and Yo-Yo Ma in Hindemith’s Cello Concerto, with Beethoven’s Leonore No. 3 and Brahms’ First Symphony

One happy consequence of San Francisco’s famously late summers is the continuing presence of European visitors well into the fall concert season. Warm weather and serious indoor music are a rare mix, and this is the time of year to experience the best of both. So it was no surprise last Saturday to encounter a happy swirl of German voices in the Davies Hall lobby. In fairness to heresy, the French were also out in good humor–or at least the Belgians and Swiss–and for a very German program, too–not to mention unusual numbers of young Asian women, about which more in a moment.

Brahms’s First Symphony: Vladimir Ashkenazy Conducts the Sydney Symphony

For the Brahms First Symphony, Ashkenazy used the orchestra’s fine clarity to illuminate the ideas in the score, loyally keeping a certain respect for the composer, though his conducting was in no way conservative or overly careful, enough so that it made me wonder again why some people call Brahms ‘autumnal.’ Perhaps this clarity of playing which articulates each note also allows Ashkenazy the fine control he needs for his well-defined ideas of interpretation which come across to the listener so plainly.

The Apollo Trio at the Meeting House, New Marlborough play Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Dvořák

This recital was part of New Marlborough’s enterprising “Music and More” series, directed by Harold F. Lewin and now in its twentieth year, which has certainly succeeded in its stated intention of “bringing a diverse and distinguished group of authors, actors, musicians and films to the Berkshires.”

Beethoven completed the Variations, Op. 44 in 1792, long before he undertook the task of setting the world to rights. It is remarkable that a year after Mozart’s death and while Haydn was regaling London with a succession of masterpieces, this young man of twenty-two could write music that sounds like Beethoven and could not be mistaken for a product of either of the two older masters. The variations are by turns elegant, soulful, sparkling and exuberant, and the performance characterized them beautifully.

Paula Robison and Katherine Chi to play a free concert at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall

I don’t mind confessing that I never fully appreciated the flute until I heard Paula Robison play the instrument. The range of color and expression she can create with it are truly astonishing, and she has the ability to make every note count, as Pablo Casals could, and a few of the very best of the musicians who have passed through Marlboro.

On Sunday she will play for her students and colleagues at the New England Conservatory, as well as the rest of us, and I think that will bring a special sense of occasion—not that that is ever lacking at any of her concerts. Lately she has been venturing out into other forms of expression, notably the Sprechstimme in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, in which she has also played the flute part. As when she plays her flute, she approaches this with terrific concentration and fanatical preparation.

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