Summer Online Festival 2020
The Academy presented its first summer arts festival online August 14—30, 2020: featuring Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera, filmmakers Anna Grimshaw and Roberto Minervini, Italian Academy Fellows Gundula Kreuzer and Rich Benjamin, Ramin Amir Arjomand, Matthew Gold, Jessie Cox, PinkNoise, Sara Davis Buechner on Busoni, Emanuele Arciuli, Youssef Amin, Jonathan Dawe, Paul Griffiths, and a Julius Eastman finale led by Johnna Wu.
Friday, August 14: “There’s No Free Pass into the Future”—Peter Gelb talks with Gundula Kreuzer about life at the Metropolitan Opera during the pandemic, his decision to cancel the fall season, and the future of opera.
Gelb is General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera; Italian Academy Fellow Gundula Kreuzer is Professor of Music at Yale.
Saturday, August 15: The Metropolitan Opera’s flagship Zeffirelli production of La Bohème starring Kristine Opolais, Susanna Phillips, Vittorio Grigolo, Massimo Cavalletti, Patrick Carfizzi, and Oren Gradus, conducted by Stefano Ranzani. [The special-access period has ended; viewers can now find this at Met Opera on Demand.]
Tuesday, August 18: New Yorker writer and Italian Academy Fellow Rich Benjamin talks with Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini about the director’s films, all set in the U.S. South, and issues they raise about race and class in 21st-century America.
Wednesday, August 19: What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?(2018) is the vivid story of a community of Black people in the American South during the summer of 2017 when brutal killings of young African-Americans shocked the country. “A portrait of collective resilience… but that description shortchanges its richness on both human and historical scales” (NY Times).
Thursday, August 20: The Other Side (2015) is Minervini’s darkest and hardest-edged film, about people outside the social order in coastal Louisiana. “A cross between reality television and art film...powerful and disturbing” (NY Times).
Friday, August 21: Minervini’s 2012 film is an autobiographical story of a boy growing up nearly alone. He’s left to figure things out by instinct and experience and grit. This remarkable film, with little dialogue, is unsettling and unforgettable.
Saturday, August 22: Emory professor Anna Grimshaw’s documentary film At Low Tide (2016) follows clamdiggers in coastal Maine who set out daily at low tide. Their work has an unusual beauty that emanates from the ebb and flow of the tide, and shifts of light and wind. The hour-long film explores the choreography of digging and offers an unusual perspective on an aspect of contemporary American working culture.
Monday, August 24: Iranian-American pianist Ramin Amir Arjomandperforms a short-form improvisation for an audience of one (Youssef Amin, expert on cognitive psychology of music at NYU’s Center for Language, Music, and Emotion). And then they find ways to talk about the music. A surprising, forceful performance and conversation.
Tuesday, August 25: Juilliard composer Jonathan Dawe’s opera Being Ariodante will have its premiere with Ensemble Échappé in April 2021 in the Italian Academy’s Teatro. Here we get an inside look at the opera’s striking production—and hear some of its equally striking sounds.
Wednesday, August 26: A New York-based chamber ensemble dedicated to improvisation and compositions in acoustic and electronic media, PinkNoise has, during quarantine, been creating an interactive website—with the composer Jessie Cox—for his piece Black as a Hack for Cyborgification (newly commissioned by PinkNoise); we’ll go behind the scenes.
Thursday , August 27: pianist Sara Davis Buechner, known for her lively discussions of music and her equally lively performances, plans a tribute to the great Italian composer/pianist Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924) for her December recital in the Academy’s Teatro. Here she’ll talk with Youssef Amin about Busoni’s extraordinary, virtuoso music for solo piano.
Friday, August 28: Star percussionist Matthew Gold, one of the virtuosic soloists that make up the much-praised Talea Ensemble, currently in Austria, demonstrates and speaks with Youssef Amin about percussive feelings, emotional surfaces, and the wilder sides of 21st-century European and American music, noise, and drumming.
Saturday, August 29: Italian pianist and expert on American music Emanuele Arciuli will discuss and preview two programs he’ll perform this spring at the Italian Academy under the auspices of Carnegie Hall’s 2021 festival called “Voices of Hope: Artists in Times of Oppression”: Black American Composers and “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” Variations by Fredric Rzewski.
Saturday, August 29: The Italian Academy’s Rick Whitaker asks music critic and novelist Paul Griffiths about Mr. Beethoven, his fantastic new novel forthcoming from publisher New York Review Books.
Sunday, August 30: the festival closes with a unique, synchronous performance—by the festival musicians, from their isolated outposts around the world—of American composer Julius Eastman’s transcendent Gay Guerrilla by Festival musicians. Johnna Wu, violinist and founder of PinkNoise, was Music Director and audio engineer. Also from PinkNoise: Eric Umble, clarinet, Issei Herr, cello, and Roberta Michel, flute. Matthew Gold, percussion, and on keyboards Mika Sasaki, Emanuele Arciuli, Ramin Amir Arjomand, and Youssef Amin.
Special thanks for support from David McConnell and Darrell Crawford.
The festival was produced by Rick Whitaker for the Italian Academy, August 2020.