Thursday, September 24, 2009

New York Here I Come!

I'm really thrilled about being selected as a 2009 Fellow for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. I found out I'd been selected earlier this month and the press release came out today. I'll be in the Big Apple Oct. 17-27.

I know from my experiences at the 2006 NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles that this will be a professionally enriching and personally exciting opportunity.

There are several folks who've aided, encouraged and supported me during my time as an arts critic. My wife Ann is chief among them, and I thank her and them. For my successful application to this program (and everything else they've done to help me) I also want to thank my editor/friend Linda Zettler and my friend/mentor Kevin Nance who wrote recommendation letters on my behalf. And of course I'm grateful to the good folks at Columbia for letting me come. I look forward to meeting them and the other fellows in NYC!

The full release follows:

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism
Announces Fellows for the
Sixth NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera

NEW YORK, September 24, 2009 - Columbia University’s Journalism School has announced that 24 critics, editors, reporters, and producers have been chosen to participate in the sixth annual National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera. The program is one of four NEA-funded, discipline-specific institutes for arts journalists.

Through the generous support of the NEA, the music institute will take place at Columbia University from October 17 to 27, 2009. National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “At a time when journalism is roiling with waves of dramatic change, it is especially important to invest in these NEA arts journalism institutes. Informed voices, in whatever media venue they reside, are critical to the health and vibrancy of the arts.”

The 2009 fellows for music and opera hail mostly from media markets outside the nation’s largest cities, though the program now accepts a limited number of journalists who work in major metropolitan regions. This year’s participants represent every kind of news media outlet — print, broadcast and Web — in 21 cities and 16 states.

“The NEA has made it a priority to support arts journalism at a time of cataclysmic change in the press,” said Andras Szanto, who co-directs the Arts Journalism Institute with Anya Grundmann, executive producer of NPR Music, and artistic director Joseph Horowitz, classical music historian and critic. “The Institute at Columbia’s Journalism School has had a significant impact in communities across the United States.”

The 2009 Fellows in the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera are:
JJ Abernathy, feature columnist, The Spectrum, St. George, UT
Mike Allen, arts and culture columnist, The Roanoke Times, Roanoke VA
Amanda Angel, classical music writer, freelance, Time Out, New York, NY
Anne Arenstein, freelance classical music writer, Cincinnati, OH
Zach Carstensen, freelance classical music writer, Seattle, WA
Michael Clive, cultural reporter, freelancer, Waterbury Republican-American, New Preston, CT
Dan Cook, editor, Free Times, Columbia, SC
Geeta Dayal, freelance music critic, Boston, MA
Evans Donnell, arts critic, freelance, The Tennessean, Nashville, TN
Adam J. Goldmann, freelance classical music writer, New York, NY
Megan B. Helm, arts news editor,, Lawrence KS
Gregory Isaacs, classical music writer,, Dallas, TX
Zachary Lewis, classical music critic, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH
Alan Lockwood, freelance, Time Out NY/ Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn, NY
Laura McDowell, music Professor, Brevard College, Brevard, NC
Rebecca Milzoff, reporter/listings editor, New York Magazine, New York, NY
Donald Munro, arts columnist, Fresno Bee, Fresno, CA
Margaret Myers, features editor, Amarillo Globe-News, Amarillo, TX
Susan Nisbett, music/dance writer, freelance,, Ann Arbor, MI
Rosemary Ponnekanti, arts reporter, The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA
Ronni Reich, music writer, freelance, Washington Post/ Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ
Graydon Royce, theater critic and arts writer, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Adeline Sire, producer, “The World,” WGBH, Boston, MA
Jonathan Turner, arts reporter, Moline Dispatch, Moline, IL

The NEA also funds institutes for dance writers hosted by the American Dance Festival at Duke University, for theater writers at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, and, starting this year, for visual arts writers at American University in Washington, DC. Fellows are chosen by a competitive application process. The programs cover most of the participants’ expenses.

“Although there is a lot of hand-wringing about the state of arts criticism, and although much of it is deserved,” says artistic director Joseph Horowitz, “this sixth year of the NEA Institute at Columbia has yielded one of the strongest pools of applicants we have yet seen. I can’t wait to work with so many eager and articulate writers. One thing this confirms, for me, is that classical music itself is at a point of transition that’s invigorating and open-ended.”

“It’s thrilling to watch journalists return home after the Institute not only having heard great music, made new contacts, and learned new skills, but also filled with a renewed sense of purpose about the importance of sparking a conversation about music and culture in their own communities,” added co-director Anya Grundmann.

Institute fellows work with senior journalists and faculty members to improve their listening, analytical, and writing skills. They attend performances that cover a variety of genres and styles, as well as rehearsals and behind-the-scenes meetings with artists and administrators. Finally, the participating journalists develop a firsthand understanding of artistic creation through a physical learning component, specifically, a voice coaching session with a distinguished Julliard voice coach.

Highlights of this year’s Institute performance program include:
• Bernard Haitink conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Symphony No. 9 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.
• Renee Fleming performs in Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera.
• Murray Perahia solo piano recital at Carnegie Hall
• West Side Story on Broadway
• Clarinetist David Krakauer chamber music recital at Alice Tully Hall
• Wu Man, Pipa virtuoso, at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall

Feedback from past participants:
“I have attended quite a few professional meetings, conferences and writing workshops. The NEA Institute was the most energizing, inspiring experience of my 15-year career in journalism. I didn’t want it to end!”
Elaine Guregian, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH

“I cannot say enough good things about this fellowship. It has changed me in profound ways. It was like a crucible that formed a new journalist.”
Edward Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA.

“We wolfed down more music and more understanding in 12 days than I thought was humanly possible.” Thomas Small, Freelance, Concertonet, Laguna Beach, CA

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About the NEA Arts Journalism Institute
The Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera is a 10-day intensive workshop which brings writers and editors from across the country to New York City for a total immersion in the world of classical music and opera. The fellows attend nightly performances, participate in writing workshops, take short classes in music history, and meet with leaders in the field, from administrators of New York's primary music institutions, to critics and writers at major U.S. publications. It encompasses a rigorous schedule of classroom seminars, meetings with arts leaders and writing workshops to help the participants develop their critical skills and report on the world of classical music. For additional information, visit

About the Graduate School of Journalism
For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers master of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees as well as dual degree programs in environmental, religion and international reporting. For more information, visit

About Columbia University
Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and today is one of the world's leading academic and research institutions. For more information about Columbia University, visit