News

Conference: Culture and Art in a Populist Age

October 30, 2017

Dupont Circle Hotel, Washington DC

This one-day conference that includes FSI scholar Sir Roger Scruton and friends Heather Mac Donald and Daniel Asia explores the immediate future of the arts within the dynamic and controversial political environment that has emerged in the wake of the 2016 elections. How does the recent strand of populism affect the arts and humanities moving forward? Are the high arts insulated from the vicissitudes of quotidian life? Or does a populist surge speak directly to the arts in a post-Enlightenment era? Conference participants are uniquely suited to address these questions. And FSI founder Andrew Balio will also be contributing as a respondent to these talks.

Heather Mac Donald

The Manhattan Institute
“Vandals at the Opera House: Identity Politics Comes to the Opera Stage”

Eric Gibson

Wall Street Journal
“Headwinds on the Road to a Democratic Culture”

Sir Roger Scruton

The University of Buckingham and the Future Symphony Institute
“Why Taste Matters”

Daniel Asia and Bruce Cole

University of Arizona and the Ethics & Public Policy Center, respectively
“Consonance and Dissonance in the Music and Art World”

Robert E. Gordon and Aaron D. Mobley

University of Arizona and Berkeley City College, respectively
“The Value of Art and Music in a Popular Culture”

For the complete agenda and to register, visit the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Space is limited. Sponsored by the University of Arizona American Culture and Ideas Initiative and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

These are some of our favorite thinkers all gathered in one place to reflect on a very important and timely subject. We look forward to meeting you there!

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FSI Introduces Its Newest Board Member

Birgit Kovacs, MD, MBA, brings to the Institute her passion for music as well as her experience as a physician, scientist, and executive in the pharmaceutical industry where she has served in a number of leadership roles during the past 15 years. An expert in Rheumatology / Immunology by day, Birgit is a dedicated musician by day and night. She is actively involved in multiple ensembles – playing cello, trombones, cimbasso, and tuba – and serves as a member of the development committee of the World Doctors Orchestra USA. As a cellist and trombonist in the World Doctors Orchestra, Birgit has performed benefit concerts in countries throughout the world, including Armenia, South Africa, Romania, Germany, Austria, and here in the US.

The Future Symphony Institute was founded to bring the expertise from fields far outside of the classical music world to bear on the challenges facing our orchestras. We are very excited to have on our team someone who is as competent in the worlds of scientific research and business as she is passionate about her participation in the future of classical music. Welcome, Birgit, from the team at FSI.

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FSI at Classical:NEXT

We need a renaissance in food; We must begin to think about the value of our food, not simply its price.

Our cultural heritage is at risk. The knowledge and traditions behind our food are irreplaceable; if we lose them, they won’t come back.

—Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food International

 

FSI’s Andrew Balio will appear alongside his long-time friend and the award-winning chef of Woodberry Kitchen, Spike Gjerde, at Classical:NEXT’s conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on May 19th. Together they will be presenting their ideas on The Slow Music Movement: How the Slow Food Grassroots Movement May Light the Path for Music.

The ideas born out of their deep mutual respect for and fascination with each other’s craft have inspired a collaboration that includes both Culture Monster’s accomplished director David Donnelly and the Manhattan Institute’s erudite fellow Heather Mac Donald. We couldn’t be more excited about the film project that is underway because we believe that it will help to ignite this important discussion in broader circles and to generate new ideas about the way we relate to and understand our art form, both as individuals and communities.

This appearance at Europe’s largest classical music forum next month is an opportunity to get that discussion started early. We hope that you will follow these events and wish us well as we pursue a wider audience for our admittedly specialized message for music.

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Announcing John Borstlap as FSI’s newest senior fellow

I strongly believe in the artistic value and importance of John Borstlap’s work for the classical music culture of today. In my opinion, Borstlap’s idea of a revival of the classical tradition is a much-needed injection into music life, and an important contribution to the development of new creation.
—Jaap van Zweden, Music Director, New York Philharmonic (2018), Dallas Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic

I think he is one of the truly remarkable intellects of our time, a serious and inspired composer, and a person with an unusual grasp of the role of the artist in general, and the composer in particular in the cultural conditions that have developed in modern Europe.
—Roger Scruton

We are honored to count among our friends and now among FSI’s fellows, a great mind from whom we have gained much insight into the thorny problems of musical composition in our modern age. Composer and author John Borstlap is an especially suitable choice for FSI because of the difficulties he has had to overcome in his career. His struggles, we believe, are those with which many living composers (and would-be composers) can identify.

We often describe FSI as a think tank comprised of experts who bring to the conversation great value and insight from outside the world of classical music and the arts. John Borstlap, a prolific and respected composer, actually fits into that mold. Mid-career, he found himself an outsider, banished by the bureaucratically managed and politically guarded musical system in Holland. His crime was that he composed from his heart in way that might be described as harking back to the late romantic period – an affront to the demands of the ruling avant-garde elite of his country. His struggle to survive became perhaps his most formative experience, pressing him into the roles also of a student of politics and a philosopher of music. This we find true of our other fellows, Sir Roger Scruton and Leon Krier, too: they were banished from mainstream conversation by the new orthodoxy of perverse modernist ideology that controls today’s arts, and the identification of which runs as a common thread through our work at FSI.

Borstlap has written, by our estimation, one of the most insightful books on the challenges faced by classical music, The Classical Revolution.In this concise and adept volume, he delves into the many assumptions that the modernist takes for granted such as notions of progress, limitlessness, and what WWII should have taught us. We encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. And we also direct you to his website, where there is more valuable reading posted on a regular basis.

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A New Book About Wagner from FSI’s Sir Roger Scruton

Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung is one of the greatest works of art created in modern times, and it has fascinated both critics and devotees for over a century and a half. No recent study has examined the meaning of Wagner’s masterpiece with the attention to detail and intellectual power that Roger Scruton brings to it in this inspiring account. The Ring of Truth is an exploration of the drama, music, symbolism and philosophy of the Ring from a writer whose knowledge and understanding of the Western musical tradition are the equal of his capacities as a philosopher.

Scruton shows how, through musical connections and brilliant dramatic strokes, Wagner is able to express truths about the human condition which few other creative artists have been able to convey so convincingly. For Wagner, writes Scruton, the task of art is to “show us freedom in its immediate, contingent, human form, reminding us of what it means to us. Even if we live in a world from which gods and heroes have disappeared we can, by imagining them, dramatize the deep truths of our condition and renew our faith in what we are.”

Love, death, sacrifice and the liberation that we win through sacrifice – these are the great themes of the Ring, as they are of this book. Scruton’s passionate and moving interpretation allows us to understand more fully than ever how Wagner conveys his ideas about who we are, and why the Ring continues to be such a hypnotically absorbing work.

Read more at Penguin Books. Watch for it in our bookstore.

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