//Ad libs: The NEA Arts Journalism Institute: Bravo

Friday, November 14, 2008

The NEA Arts Journalism Institute: Bravo

Now I see why people love autumn in New York. I’m in Manhattan, thanks to my fantastic fellowship at the Columbia University journalism school. I’m taking part in the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera, and I cannot give the program enough bravos.

How much information about classical music can one roomful of American journalists absorb in 11 days? You wouldn’t believe. We’ve been packing the days with lectures, discussions, writing workshops and performances. My notebook is bursting at the lines with ideas for stories and blog postings.

And I have learned to love Beethoven’s Hammerklavier. It helped that we got to see Jeremy Denk play it at Carnegie Hall, and then meet him afterward.

Included in the whirlwind: two operas at the Met, Berlioz’s “Damnation de Faust” and Adams’ “Doctor Atomic.” Our trip backstage yesterday included a chat with the Met’s wig wiz and trivia about the human hair his staff uses. (He likes Indian hair because it’s so strong, and is always looking for that elusive commodity: long gray "virgin" hair, without dye or a perm.)

In a few hours we’ll be back at Carnegie Hall to see Alan Gilbert conduct the New York Philharmonic in a program of Leonard Bernstein music. Mambo!

Photos of Central Park and Columbia J-school by Rebecca Wallace.