Signs…signs everywhere. #NYUAD at #lcatrium

Signs…signs everywhere. #NYUAD at #lcatrium

Tags: lcatrium nyuad

The Spotify playlist so far for my Nov 24 send off party. Feel free to add 1 song you think is appropriate for the occassion. If you add instead of me, I get to remember who suggested it. And everyone can see your excellent (or not so good) taste.

(Source: Spotify)

weforget:

Day 3 of classes: Can’t believe I can now call this my second home #NYUAD #thisisnyu #saadiyat  (at New York University, Saddiyat Island)

Soon to be my 2nd home. (OK, I might not spend much time in the library)

weforget:

Day 3 of classes: Can’t believe I can now call this my second home #NYUAD #thisisnyu #saadiyat (at New York University, Saddiyat Island)

Soon to be my 2nd home. (OK, I might not spend much time in the library)

So many friends have been asking me why I wanted to make the move to Abu Dhabi. This interview with NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom captures the utopian vision, and some of the realities of how NYUAD is already moving towards that vision, really well.

Bloom is the former President of Swarthmore, so I think that it really speaks to my experience at such a similar small liberal arts college, Haverford, with its important emphasis on social values alongside academic studies. At my recent college reunion, I facilitated a Long Table conversation about The Value(s) of a Haverford Education, and most of my classmates talked about how central what they learned outside of the classroom was to what they took away from their college experience.

I’m excited to help lead the role of making the arts central to the vision Bloom describes:

“I call them ‘agents of common humanity’ because they see across difference what is similar in all of us: psychologically; conceptually; linguistically; emotionally; how much we want security; admiration and affection; how much we want meaning; how much we want opportunity; how much we want beauty.”

This was the article that broke the news to many of my friends and colleagues. I kept the news reasonably under wraps for a long while.

It’s a good piece, though it was unclear about the fact the my wife will be remaining in NY, but coming regularly to AD to visit and explore philanthropy in the region under the auspices of her current job. And I’ll be back in NY a for bit to see her, and to see work. We’ll be logging lots of frequent flier miles on Etihad and being thankful for FaceTime and Skype.

A Globalizer for N.Y.U. in Abu Dhabi
By BEN SISARIO
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

Six years ago, Bill Bragin, the music programmer whose hyper-multicultural lineups put Joe’s Pub on the international map, surprised the New York arts world by moving uptown to Lincoln Center. Now he is making an even bigger move, to Abu Dhabi.

On Monday, New York University Abu Dhabi — the institution’s four-year-old branch in the capital of United Arab Emirates — will announce that Mr. Bragin, 47, will become the first executive artistic director of the new university’s performing arts center, giving him command over a 700-seat theater, two smaller performance halls and a screening room. The arts center will be located on Saadiyat Island, a $27 billion planned cultural hub that is to eventually include branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

Mr. Bragin, who since 2008 has been Lincoln Center’s director of public programming, overseeing summer programs like Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Midsummer Night Swing, is known for insightful pairings of far-flung musicians from around the world, and for mixing traditions old and new. That has given him a wide influence in New York and beyond, but Mr. Bragin said that helping to shape the vision of a new institution at a major global crossroads like Abu Dhabi was just too interesting an opportunity to pass up.

“This allows me to test all of my ideas about curation, about audience development, about building communities through arts presenting,” Mr. Bragin said in an interview. “And also challenge my own worldview every single day in a cultural context that is really different but has these strong links to New York.”

N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi opened in 2010 with a mission of providing a world-class education to a globalized generation. The 263 students in its current freshman class are from more than 75 countries and speak 66 languages, according to the university.

“It’s diverse in a way that inspires me,” said Mr. Bragin, who will move there this fall but retain ties to New York programs like Globalfest, the annual showcase of up-and-coming international artists of which he is a co-producer. Mr. Bragin said that his wife, Lisa Philp, a philanthropy expert at the Foundation Center in New York, would take on new responsibilities including a focus on the Middle East.

N.Y.U. has come under scrutiny over labor abuses in the construction of the Abu Dhabi campus that were detailed in an investigative article in The New York Times in May. The university has formally apologized to any workers who were mistreated and said it would investigate.

Alfred H. Bloom, the vice chancellor of N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi, praised Mr. Bragin in an interview and likened his eclectic programming approach to the university’s broader educational goals. “It’s the juxtaposition of ideas that so often allow people to grow,” Mr. Bloom said, “to break down the assumptions they’ve had about the way things are and to start seeing life in a new and more possible framework.”

Welcome to the Arts Center - NYU Abu Dhabi

The weight of the move I’m about to make is just starting to settle in on me, and I’ve been moved by the outpouring of warm wishes and curiosity about this adventure I’m about to embark on. (In many ways, the wild ride already started, months ago when I started contemplating this change.)

While I’ll continue to use Twitter (@activecultures), Facebook and maybe even ello, it seems like Tumblr may be the best place to create a more usable journal of my experiences. I’ll cross-post for now, but may eventually spin this off. 

I’ll try to keep tagging relevant posts NYUAD Arts Center to make them easier to find. 

The above photo is from a lovely welcome tweet from @nyuabudhabi. Folks seem to be quite excited that I’m coming. Me too.

Welcome to the Arts Center - NYU Abu Dhabi

The weight of the move I’m about to make is just starting to settle in on me, and I’ve been moved by the outpouring of warm wishes and curiosity about this adventure I’m about to embark on. (In many ways, the wild ride already started, months ago when I started contemplating this change.)

While I’ll continue to use Twitter (@activecultures), Facebook and maybe even ello, it seems like Tumblr may be the best place to create a more usable journal of my experiences. I’ll cross-post for now, but may eventually spin this off.

I’ll try to keep tagging relevant posts NYUAD Arts Center to make them easier to find.

The above photo is from a lovely welcome tweet from @nyuabudhabi. Folks seem to be quite excited that I’m coming. Me too.

joespub:

Congratulations to Bill on a game-changing move for world music and music in the world!

As I get ready to make the move to NYU Abu Dhabi, I think I may return to Tumblr.

A work in progress. Artists who played for Alternative Concert Series and New Point between 1985-1989.

(Source: Spotify)

Tags: music spotify

sudaca70:

The Post-Punk / New Wave Super Friends by Butcher Billy

Butcher Billy mixes super heroes with music heroes and it’s awesome…

Go Butcher Billy!

(via joespub)

Grateful that Ned Sublette, who doesn’t generally want his writing to be shared on social media, agreed to let me share this piece he delivered at Womex this fall, as he have the lifetime achievement award to Juan Formell and Los Van Van. Long read, and worth it

¿QUÉ TIENE VAN VAN?
by Ned Sublette
October 27, 2013.

[remarks made on presenting the 2013 Womex Artist Award to Juan Formell in Cardiff, Wales, as a storm was rolling in]
How many of you have been to Cuba?
How many of you have seen Los Van Van play?
You’re in for a treat today. Every Van Van concert is a historic experience, and today they’re going to play with the intensity of an impending storm.
In this kind of recital presentation in a seated auditorium, you get every note of the music, but it’s one level shy of the full experience. For that, you’d have to be standing on Cuban soil, preferably at the outdoor Havana dancehall La Tropical, with thousands of young Cubans putting their hearts into singing along with all the coros, experiencing the nuances of the lyrics in their faces, expressing the polyrhythms by moving different parts of their bodies in different directions, pushing the band to drive them harder. I saw this many times.
I came to Los Van Van late. Their official date of foundation was December 4, 1969, and I first heard them play live in January 1990 in a television studio in Havana, my third day ever in the country, at the taping of a TV special in honor of their twentieth anniversary. All that time already they’d been the maximum institution of Cuban popular music. I’d heard their records, though their records weren’t easy to get, given the pariah status of Cuba in the United States, which is why I subsequently started a record label called Qbadisc, at a time when there existed maybe five or ten CDs of Cuban music in the world.
You can’t imagine Cuban music without Los Van Van, any more than you can imagine the world’s music without Cuba. Havana was the first great music capital of the hemisphere. Already in the 16th century, musical ideas traveled from Havana back to Spain and up through Europe. Cuban influence has been heard worldwide ever since then, and Cuba’s a world power in music today. But following the change of government in 1959, after Cuba declared independence from the United States, a whole world came crashing down. Many musicians left, but more stayed. Technical resources vanished. Spare parts couldn’t be gotten. Impresarios fled. The country was embargoed, and, unfortunately, still is, by the United States. Cuban music had to be rebuilt, phoenix-like, out of the ashes. That process took years, out of earshot of most of the world, and it took until the 90s for Cuban music to reclaim its place on the world’s music stage after disappearing for decades into the memory hole.
During those long years, especially after the disappearance of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, during the austerities of what the Cuban government called the Special Period in Time of Peace, it seemed at times that Cubans were surviving on music. A popular song carried a lot of weight in Cuba, where media channels were few but far-reaching. A coro didn’t attain its full meaning until the entire country, from children to seniors, had sung it for a few months. People didn’t come out to hear old hits. They came to hear something new, something that would speak to their situation, and bands competed furiously to provide it.

Juan Formell began putting his coros into the Cuban air in 1968, when he first came to prominence as music director, composer, and bassist of Elio Revé’s group Changüí ’68. After a year and a half or so, he left that band to start his own group, and was joined by a number of musicians he had worked with in Revé’s band, who wanted to be part of the new thing. The first Van Van album sounds fresh today. Despite the technical limitations of the time and place, it’s a fabulous record that already contains the basic elements of the Van Van project. It was utterly experimental in the way it broke with the then prevailing harmonic and rhythmic practices. I love salsa, which is based on prerevolutioary Cuban music, but this is something else. This music took an alternative path, drawing on deep Cuban roots not to answer, but to ask, contemporary questions.
There’s a song they opened their sets with in the 90s: Qué tiene Van Van que siga ahí? What does Van Van have that it keeps going like this? What does it take to be not only the greatest dance band in Cuba, of all places, but to stay on top for almost forty-five years in that highly competitive musical environment, which among other things depends on continually being able to please the teenage dancing public?
Formell updated the band’s sound constantly – not to be trendy, but to take advantage of new instrumental and technical possibilities, as individual musicians came and went. I count twenty-three studio albums over forty-four years, and, despite an almost total turnover of personnel, if you listen to their first album from 1969 back-to-back with the last one, La Maquinaria, from 2011, despite all the changes, there’s a unity to it. Nobody else in Cuba or anywhere sounds Los Van Van. They’ve exerted an enormous influence over the bands that came after them, but nobody could copy their sound. They have a peculiar, original orchestral texture: a charanga instrumentation of flute and violins, but with trombones to fill in the tenor register. They sound like deluxe produced music when they play live.
But that’s just the surface of what’s different about them. Formell changed the rhythmic matrix of Cuban dance music. There’s a steady pulse, which people raised on rock and roll can identify with – cha, cha, cha, cha, easy for anyone to dance to. But then there are all these internal polyrhythms. Formell brought in the rhythms of the great classical music of West Africa, the batá rhythms of the Yoruba religion, into the basic dance texture. He reconceptualized the rhythm section. He popularized the use of the electric bass instead of the upright in Cuba. Los Van Van were brought electronics into Cuban music in a different way than any other band I’ve seen. They used a drumset, something you previously saw in Cuban jazzbands and rock bands, but they used it differently. Los Van Van has had in forty-four years, only three drummers – Blas Egües; the mighty Changuito; and for the last twenty years or so, the drummer’s been Formell’s son, Samuel Formell, who’s presided over an era in which the present-day members of the group all grew up listening to Los Van Van.
Their cubanía shows up not only in the music, but also in the lyrics written by Formell and others, most notably including their great founding pianist and composer César “Pupy” Pedroso. If you want to know what it was like living in Cuba in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond, listen to Van Van, who sang in the language of the people – memorably personified by singer Pedro Calvo, among a number of others — about the challenges and pleasures of contemporary daily life. Even though Van Van played all over the world, the meaning of their music was rooted in the breadlines of Havana, and their validation came at the level of the baile popular, the popular dance. Cabeza, corazón, cintura, hips – lots of bands have two of the three, but Los Van Van has all three. One of Formell’s greatest, simplest lyrics, is a simple exhortation to dance with your heart: Dale con el corazón, muévete, muévete …

There have long been two streams of Cuban music – one for domestic consumption, another for export. But Van Van is both. Over the decades, they’ve lived on airplanes, representing Cuba with sabor and dignity in many of the countries that are represented here today. But back in Cuba, they always had a song on the radio. When they had a song out, it would stay on Cuban radio sometimes a year and a half, until another Van Van song came along. You couldn’t gauge popularity by record sales in the unique anti-market of Cuba, so the way you knew who was the most popular was to line all the bands up on the Malecón and see who draws the biggest crowd, and that would be Los Van Van.
In February 1996, with Cuban music at the peak of yet another of its cycles of creativity, I saw the band play six consecutive nights at the Palacio de la Salsa in Havana’s Riviera Hotel. By that point the band had been in existence twenty-six years, and they rehearsed every day, as Cuban bands do. I was present all six nights, and I realized: even with all those years behind them, each night the band was growing. I heard this happen. Each night the band was a quarter of an inch bigger, finding new places to go as they made their way through the complicated, stretched-out arrangements that they played without reading. The band that finished that six-night run was just a little better than the band that started it. This process had been going on, one gig at a time, for decades.
I asked Juan Formell yesterday what it was like, given the exceptional role of Cuba in the world, what it was like to be emblematic of Cuba both at home and abroad all these years. He said, “to represent your country on a level like this — what more can you ask God for? I don’t think I could ask for more than that.”[1]
I’m happy to bestow this honor on Juan Formell – composer, lyricist, bandleader, bassist, singer — but Cuba bestowed it on him a long time ago. This is Juan’s award, but it’s an award to the heroic musicians of Cuba who kept their country going, to the dozens of people who have played in and facilitated Los Van Van, and it’s ultimately an award to Cuba, which I highly recommend you visit. As Mayito Rivera sang in Formell’s apotheosic “Soy Todo,” Yo soy Van Van, yo soy Cuba.
Ahí na má.



[1] “que seas representativo de tu país a un nivel como este – bueno, qué más se le puede pedir a dios? No creo que yo puedo pedirle más a nadie …”

lincolncenter:

This summer Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing will celebrate the great dance bands and soloists that drive the action on the dance floor.  Taking place in a specially designed open-air ballroom in Damrosch Park (West 62nd Street between Columbus & Amsterdam) Tuesdays through Saturdays, June 24—July 12, Midsummer Night Swing will bring together people of all ages, at every skill level, and from dozens of diverse social and cultural backgrounds for 15 evenings of social dance.  Says Bill Bragin, Director of Public Programming for Lincoln Center, “Many popular music styles have their roots in dance music, before the artists moved into concert halls. Midsummer Night Swing brings some of the best bands from around the world and around the city to play for the most demanding and appreciative audiences they’ll ever play for – dancers.  This year we will present artists whose electric personalities and musical magnetism can lure dancers to do what they do best – swing, mambo, shimmy, shake, tango, hustle, samba, Lindy, two-step, and boogaloo the night away at one of the most joyous festivals of the New York summer season.”

Highlights include:
Jazz Sensation Cécile McLorin Salvant
Salsa Legend Willie Rosario in a Rare New York Appearance
- “Boardwalk Empire” night with 
Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks
- Merengue legend Milly Quezada
- Harlem Renaissance Orchestra tribute to Illinois Jacquet
The Loser’s Lounge: Dancing Queens: The Music of ABBA and More
- The return of Silent Discos, Following Live Sets on June 26 & July 3
Kids Dance, Vintage Fashion and Dance Contests, and More

> Read the full announcement here

(via boxeswishtheycouldholdthis)

wordstimesthree:

The Sunday morning of Figment NYC, I got a text from Bill Bragin asking where to find our piece. I was still on the ferry (I was rushing around that morning because in the evening I was going to the Tony awards!). Bill arrived on the island very early to watch a building get imploded in order to make more green space for a park.

But shortly after I arrived, Bill, his wife Lisa and their friend, Michael put down their mini golf clubs, sat on the blanket and started writing and designing postcards. This is one of Bill’s. 

I hope the stranger who received Bill’s postcard started following him on twitter. I hope you will now too. Because Bill curates some of the best events to hear music (and often go dancing!) in the city. We met when he was the Director of Joe’s Pub - now he’s the Director of Public Programming at Lincoln Center which includes Midsummer Night Swing (ended in July-hope you went/go next year!) and the still running through August 11th, change/make plans and go TONIGHT plus it’s FREE: Lincoln Center Out of Doors

One of Bill’s many outside projects, (including dj’ing), is GlobalFest - keep that on your radar for January - it sells out every year. 

Bill does great things for this city, for the music world and especially for artists and audiences.

photographybykeena:

Tammy Faye Starlite with The Mike Hunt Band at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey

This Thursday at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium, Miss Tammy takes on Marianne Faithfull’s legendary “Broken English.”  But it looks like she’s already been broken.

photographybykeena:

Tammy Faye Starlite with The Mike Hunt Band at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey

This Thursday at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium, Miss Tammy takes on Marianne Faithfull’s legendary “Broken English.” But it looks like she’s already been broken.

(via photographybykeena-deactivated2)

seanhowe:

Do You Believe In Funk After Death?

seanhowe:

Do You Believe In Funk After Death?

(via joespub)

New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band play The Specials’ Ghost Town, set in the 9th Ward post-Katrina. Chilling genius.