Atlanta Arts and Culture Blog 

Previews, reviews and commentary on Atlanta's cultural scene

Michael E. Shapiro, director of the High Museum, to step down

  • 11:07 am Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 by Bo Emerson
Michael Shapiro 2 Headshot

Michael E. Shapiro, the crowd-pleasing director who presided over two decades of explosive growth at the High Museum, announced Wednesday he would be stepping down.

“I think, after 20 years, why not give someone else a shot to take it to the next level?” said Shapiro, in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Shapiro will leave the High July 31, 2015, as he completes his 20th year guiding the museum, first as deputy director, then as director.

It has been a time of momentous change at the Midtown cultural center.

During Shapiro’s tenure the High constructed a three-building expansion designed by Italian architect [More]

Updated: Atlanta Symphony musicians’ counterproposal offers compromise on orchestra’s size

  • 3:31 pm Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Howard Pousner
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in concert during the 2013-14 season. CONTRIBUTED BY ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players’ Association made a counterproposal to administrative leaders of the ASO and Woodruff Arts Center on Monday that draws the two sides closer to an agreement as the musician lockout enters its eighth week.

The Players’ Association (ASOPA) made compromises on the matter of the size of the orchestra, which was reduced from 95 to 88 full-time musicians in the 2012 collective bargaining agreement and which management proposed last week should shrink to the 76 players who remain.

ASOPA proposes starting this delayed season with its count of 77 remaining musicians (after defections, retirements and deaths), with an [More]

Despite confusion, shows go on for Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Shakespeare Company

  • 10:00 pm Sunday, October 26th, 2014 by Howard Pousner
The Atlanta Opera's season opener of "Madama Butterfly" is a co-production with Virginia's Castleton Festival. Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun says that such collaborations allow the company to participate in creating fresh new takes on the classics. In the Castleton production (pictured) Christopher Bozeka (left) played Goro and Jonathan Burton played Pinkerton. In the Atlanta production, Jason Ferrante plays Goro and Adam Diegel plays Pinkerton. CONTRIBUTED BY RAY BOC

It ain’t over for the Atlanta Opera, with or without a fat lady singing.

Similarly, the show must go on for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

This would hardly seem like earth-shattering news about these long-running Atlanta performing groups, except that some confused consumers erroneously think they’ve canceled performances, or worse, gone out of business.

Both companies, which are very much alive and kicking, are suffering from cases of oddly mistaken identity.

Some opera lovers think that members of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra have been locked out instead of the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, now in their seventh week [More]

High Museum shows off Florentine art

  • 8:03 am Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Bo Emerson
Carved marble panels from Renaissance master Luca della Robbia are the center of attention at the new High Museum exhibit, "'Make a Joyful Noise': Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral."

Visitors to the Duomo in 15th-century Florence must have found the experience mind-boggling.

Not only were they surrounded by unearthly sculpture and painting, but the soaring 171-foot interior of the dome reverberated with the sounds of choirs, musicians and a pipe organ powered by young men furiously stomping on multiple bellows.

Some of that boggle has come to Atlanta in the High Museum’s new show, “’Make a Joyful Noise’: Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral.”

As lively as the title suggests, the show is focused on the exquisite carvings of Renaissance master Luca della Robbia, whose bas-relief marble panels are crowded with [More]

Updated: Atlanta Symphony musicians, management out of tune over mediation

  • 12:58 pm Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by Howard Pousner
Allison Beck, the acting director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, began mediating the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra labor dispute on Oct. 7.

No news in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra lockout since federal mediators restarted negotiations apparently should not be taken as good news.

Ending a rare period of quiet in the discordant stalemate, musicians emailed a plea for help to ASO board members on Wednesday night. It suggested that negotiators for the orchestra’s administration and its parent nonprofit, the Wooodruff Arts Center, are using delaying tactics since talks resumed on Oct. 7.

The email said that the two sides have met only twice since Allison Beck, acting director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), restarted negotiations and that management asked for [More]

Whole World Theatre celebrates 20 years this weekend

  • 12:42 pm Thursday, October 9th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona

The Whole World Improv Theatre celebrates 20 years in Atlanta this weekend with two events- an alumni show and anniversary party- that pay homage to the growth of the company.

What started as an improv group in 1993 by David Webster, Whole World has expanded over the past two decades to bring together long form improvisational comedy. Creative Director Chip Powell has seen significant development in the group since its induction into Atlanta’s theatre community.

“We have won just about every award out there for improv and theatre year after year, and that has secured our reputation as one of the [More]

Details on the major show of Alex Katz landscapes High Museum will mount in ’15

  • 6:51 am Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by Howard Pousner

The High Museum of Art recently announced details of a major exhibition of New York artist Alex Katz‘s landscapes for summer 2015. “Alex Katz, This Is Now” will include more than 40 works created between 1954 and 2013, including 15 monumental paintings.

Running June 21 to Sept. 6, 2015, the exhibit will place a strong focus on what Katz calls his “environmental paintings” — works that engulf viewers with their expansive, painterly surfaces that depict moments of intense observation in the landscape.

At 87, Katz “seems as young as any emerging artist,” said Michael Rooks, High curator of modern and contemporary [More]

Mediator to begin work on Atlanta Symphony impasse starting Tuesday

  • 2:43 pm Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Christopher Quinn and Howard Pousner

Allison Beck won’t be walking into an unknown situation Tuesday when she relaunches negotiations between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its locked-out musicians.

Last summer, Beck, the acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, talked the New York Metropolitan Opera and its workers and musicians from a dozen unions back into the concert hall and helped save the season. But that was before a lockout took place.

She will begin the difficult work of trying to rescue the ASO’s season after a monthlong lockout during which rancor and tension over pay, benefits and the size of [More]

Woodruff Arts Center board leader takes stands on Atlanta Symphony crisis

  • 10:06 am Saturday, October 4th, 2014 by Howard Pousner

Instead of making soul-stirring music to start its 70th anniversary season, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has produced mostly sour notes for the last four weeks.

The musicians were locked out by management for the second time in two years on Sept. 7 when the two sides could not reach accord on a new collective bargaining agreement, and a war of words commenced.

Management may control the purse strings, but the musicians have commandeered the social media. Constant posts and comments by the players and their supporters on their Facebook page and Tweets on their Twitter account have pushed [More]

ASO musicians: Woodruff board chief Hertz willing to ‘break the backs of employees’

  • 4:37 pm Friday, October 3rd, 2014 by Howard Pousner

The heated words between leaders of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players’ Association and ASO and Woodruff Arts Center management took a harsh turn on Friday, with the musicians’ union releasing a statement sharply critical of Woodruff Arts Center Governing Board Chairman Douglas Hertz.

The statement, included in its entirety below, charges that Hertz is more interested in cutting full-time ASO musician positions than he is “in securing financial stability or in preserving the high artistic standards of the institution he has a duty as a steward to serve and protect.”

The Woodruff responded shortly with a statement by its president and CEO, [More]