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In Brief: Things To Be Thankful For

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • Via Boing Boing, an Italian eccentric who goes by the name of Falco (his real name is Oberto Airaudi) has realized a childhood vision underneath his house in northern Italy. With friends who believed in his mystical artistry the 57-year-old former insurance broker excavated 300,000 cubic feet of rock underground, calling it the Temples of Damanhur. The pictures (like that shown at right) are not to be believed, chamber after chamber of stained glass, mosaic, and painting. Calling the American Visionary Art Museum! [Daily Mail]

  • My parents are readers, they made me into a reader, and my kids are readers. Not everyone is so lucky, according to a new and disturbing report from the National Endowment for the Arts. [New York Times]

  • Via Nico Muhly, Pope Benedict XVI has already made the first move toward returning the Roman Catholic Church to its liturgical roots by making it easier to celebrate the Mass in Latin. He is now putting the hammer down on the Vatican choral system. The new choir director, Fr. Pierre Paul, has put Gregorian chant first on the list for the Vatican choir to sing. The Sistine Chapel choir may soon have a new director, too. Gone is the recent tradition of rotating, visiting choirs singing whatever they want in St. Peter's. What begins with the Vatican may soon extend to the church universal, as the Pope is reportedly in favor of creating a new position in the curia for "church music watchdog." You may begin burning your copies of Glory and Praise in the streets now! [The Telegraph]

  • Thomas Adès gave a recital in New York this week, including some of his pieces (that I heard Louis Lortie play last year). He will be in our area this spring, conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program that includes his own violin concerto. Mark your calendars. [New York Times]

  • Magdalena Kožená has a new CD of Handel arias out (review forthcoming), with Andrea Marcon and his Venice Baroque Orchestra. Martine Mergeay heard the group live with Kožená at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. [La Libre Belgique]

  • What will Anne Midgette's tenure as interim classical music critic at the Washington Post be like? Apprentice singers can expect a warm-hearted but direct and critical assessment judging by her recent review of an opera production at Juilliard. So far, so good. [New York Times]

  • A favorite writer on music, Philippe Beaussant, has been elected to the Académie Française, taking the seat of Jean-François Deniau. [Le Figaro]

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