WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 3-9, 2011)

ARTS & CULTURE

Bob Cassilly Remembered: Part Sculptor, Part Kid.” By Maria Altman. Weekend Edition Saturday/National Public Radio . October 8, 2011. It’s hard to miss City Museum when you’re in downtown St. Louis. It’s the only building with a Ferris wheel on the roof. There’s a large green praying mantis, too. And a bus that’s tipped just over the building’s edge. You can actually get on the bus. “If you can’t climb on it and you can’t slide on it, what good is it?” asks J. Watson Scott, summing up the approach of the man responsible for the spectacle. Scott knew and worked with Bob Cassilly for decades, and says the artist never lost his inner kid. Today, with many in St. Louis, he’s mourning Cassilly, who died last month in an accident while working on his latest creation. Cassilly’s City Museum, which opened in 1997, is a fantastical place that features caves, a jungle gym and lots of slides. As the Ferris wheel squeaks in the background, Scott says the artist loved to reuse discarded items to create unique spaces that children and adults could climb over, under and through. Opened in 1997, the City Museum is an eclectic mix of mosaics, sculpted caves to explore, a hall of mirrors (pictured), slides to barrel down, even a massive outdoor playground where kids climb through tunnels, towers and suspended airplanes. Opened in 1997, the City Museum is an eclectic mix of mosaics, sculpted caves to explore, a hall of mirrors (pictured), slides to barrel down, even a massive outdoor playground where kids climb through tunnels, towers and suspended airplanes. On the morning of Sept. 27, the 61-year-old Cassilly was found dead in the cab of his bulldozer, which had rolled down a large hill.. Cassilly’s friends say his fearlessness was a big part of his success. With City Museum, he turned an old shoe factory in a run-down part of the city into a major tourist attraction. Now his friends say they hope they can carry out Cassilly’s vision, and eventually open Cementland, the place that has become his final project

Gustavo Dudamel-backed classical scheme aims to strike right note in US; New project launches in US, inspired by Venezuela and based on the principle that classical music can be a force for good.” By Ed Pilkington. Guardian. October 7, 2011. What do the sardine-packed, poverty-riven barrios of Caracas and the classical music elites of Los Angeles, Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York have in common? Very little, you might think. But this week a new project has been launched seeking to emulate Venezuela’s revolutionary music programme and replicate it across America. Take a Stand has as its inspiration the celebrated El Sistema, the artistic experiment based on the principle that music can be a force of social good that has transformed the lives of more than 400,000 poor Venezuelan children. El Sistema already exists in the US in the form of the charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who was himself a product of the scheme known officially as the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela. Born into a poor family, Dudamel was exposed to classical music as a young boy and, now aged 30, has risen to be principal conductor at one of the world’s great orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel has called the project that changed his own life “music as social saviour”. Now, with his encouragement, the LA Phil, in collaboration with educational institutions on the east coast, have devised their own version of El Sistema customised for the US. Dudamel said that the plans to co-ordinate and extend a network of musical education was a “beautiful beginning. My LA Phil family, by partnering with two important educational institutions, will become a catalyst for change in communities throughout the US.” Take a Stand will build on 500 or so independent music schemes scattered across the country that have already been inspired by El Sistema but lack the unifying structure on which to grow. One of those schemes is the LA Phil’s own youth programme, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles.

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