The Update - February 9, 2016

Monday, 08 February 2016
Published in ABR Arts

On the unanimity of arts critics

Peter Wilby – whose column 'First Thoughts' is the first thing Arts Update turns to in New Statesman – enjoyed the current revival of Guys and Dolls in London. 'I had no quarrel with the national newspaper critics' seemingly unanimous awarding of four stars,' he wrote. 'Why, though, was one of them not sufficiently generous to give it five stars and why was there no highbrow grouch to give it three?' (New Statesman, 15 January 2016). Wilby, a frequent stirrer, is struck by the seeming 'unanimity of arts critics' and wonders if 'they collude, as do other groups of specialist journalists of which I have knowledge or experience.'

Them's fighting words. Still, Arts Update demurs. We've seen plenty of hacks swapping pints and rollies at opening-night parties, but not stars. Most critics, in our experience, prefer not to swap impressions until they have written their reviews. As for the business of allotting stars (a necessary vice, which we indulge online), this does induce a certain queasiness among critics, who are subtler animals than Peter Wilby acknowledges.

Arts Update critics, it goes without saying, are free to bestar productions as they see fit – from nought to five. Our critics bestow the latter (Barney Zwartz's and Peter Rose's reviews of Spotlight and King Lear are two recent examples). Zero stars is rare. Even a dog of a play or a film has certain qualities: a single performance, a trick of lighting, a frock.

Want to work at Australian Book Review?

Each year Australian Book Review offers a fully paid editorial internship for an early career editor looking for a permanent career in the publishing sector. Few, if any, paid internships are available in this country. The internship is worth a total of $45,000 per annum. We are currently advertising for a fifteen-month internship, to commence in March 2015. Applications close on 29 February. To be eligible applicants must have an editing/publishing degree or equivalent editorial experience. You can read the full position description here.

Two indigenous scholarships from the Melbourne Theatre Company

Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) – in partnership with the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development – is seeking applications for two scholarships for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are preparing for tertiary studies, or employment, in the performing arts. Each scholarship is worth $15,000. Scholarship recipients will also receive mentoring, tickets to performances, etc. Applications close on 19 February.

Bruckner galore

In the November 2015 issue of Australian Book Review, the Editor lamented the dearth of Bruckner on Australian concert programs. We shall have to send him to New York City next January. To mark the sixtieth anniversary of his Carnegie Hall début (that's some career!), Daniel Barenboim will conduct his Staatskapelle Berlin in a complete Bruckner cycle. Could this be the first time Bruckner's nine numbered symphonies have been performed together? Among those nine magisterial symphonies (testing for some, transcendent to others), Daniel Barenboim will also play and conduct several Mozart piano concertos.

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Published in ABR Arts
More in this issue: « Brooklyn Trumbo »

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