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Hold The Front Page. Or Not. As You Wish.

June 5, 2012

Jenny Bilfied talks through the Bing plans.

Yesterday, Stanford University held a media reception and briefing to unveil its 2012-2013 season plans. The news was worthy of attention. But the Bay Area's dwindling klatch of arts editors were clearly out to lunch. (Or, more likely, so deeply buried under a pile of press releases and deadlines that they didn't even know to come.)

The upcoming season's programing is already headline-grabbing in its own right.

It includes the first ever collaboration between the Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson, the U.S. premiere of a piece by Steve Reich performed by Alarm Will Sound and a percussion work by John Luther Adams performed by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.

But the season announcement was the least of what Stanford wanted to talk about.

The rest of the news was perhaps even more significant, at least in terms of the Bay Area's arts ecosystem: the opening in January of next year of the high-tech, 844-seat Bing Concert Hall and a complete re-branding of the university's performing arts program from the genteel-sounding "Stanford Lively Arts," to the pithier "Stanford Live."

Given the triple-header of news possibilities on the table, I was to a degree saddened by how few journalists attended the briefing. Besides a couple of internal media people from the various Stanford University publications, only around a handful of external arts media representatives showed up.

Compare this to the media stampede that was Berkeley's Cal Performances announcement around a year ago of the revival of Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach. OK -- so having Glass and his famous collaborators present to talk about the large-scale re-staging of the landmark contemporary opera probably helped to attract a particularly high numbers of attendees. But, still, I was expecting to see a few more people at Stanford yesterday.

I wonder if having Laurie Anderson and Kronos' David Harrington in the room would have made any difference? Hmm.


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