A Different Kind of Festival

Classical KUSC 91.5 FM calls Los Angeles the "Creative Capital of the World."
To answer skeptics, USC Stevens Institute for Innovation provides the data and comments "There are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in the history of civilization."

So it only makes sense that a celebration such as Ring Festival LA would put a creatively different twist on festivities taking place in the "Creative Capital of the World." In addition to unexpected and innovative offerings from our cultural partners, the media are partnering with us in new and innovative ways. The Festival is a citywide conversation. Our media partners are not simply playing the conventional roles of reporting and commenting on events, they are in the conversation and are thus part of the Festival. Because the Festival is happening in the media and not only at cultural and educational venues, readers and listeners can become Ring Festival LA participants even if they cannot attend events.

Three media partners exemplify this by creating special contributions within Ring Festival LA. Los Angeles Times created a Ring microsite and their writers are blogging, vlogging and tweeting all things Ring. The LA Times Festival of Books this past weekend became a Festival of Arts & Books, featuring a dedicated Ring Festival LA tent and young artists from LA Opera's Domingo Thornton Young Artist program onstage in performance. To really appreciate the "ring toss" in the tent you had to be there (as many were.)

InstantEncore.com has created a Ring Festival LA iPhone App complete with a welcome message from Plácido Domingo. It puts the entire Festival at your fingertips wherever you are and provides complete mobile access to the schedule of all the Festival events and music from InstantEncore.com, as well as automatic daily updates of news, blogs, podcasts and video featuring Ring Festival LA partner organizations. (Download here.)

Classical KUSC Radio's personable hosts, who are all Wagner aficionados, are each contributing to the station's Festival involvement. Gail Eichenthal and Brian Lauritzen hosted an Arts Alive program earlier this month that featured "The Bling of the Ring" with a visit to the LA Opera Costume Shop and interviews with LA Opera music director James Conlon and Achim Freyer, the visionary designer and director of the Company's Ring cycle. (Listen to podcast.) Both Duff Murphy and Jim Svejda are devoting programs to interesting historic recordings of the Ring and Ring-related topics.

KUSC's Rich Capparela launched Der Blog des Nibelungen April 15 to coincide with the first day of the Ring Festival. He volunteered to host an audience discussion after the final performance of Götterdämmerung (April 25) and offered to host more discussions during the three Ring cycles (May 29 - June 26). As Rich wrote on Der Blog: "It'll be your chance to rant, rave or just ask questions." And rant and rave they did. The first talk-back was a lively discussion with people sharing their viewpoints and perspectives on Achim Freyer's painterly and provocative production - both pro and con. One man disliked the production yet went on to praise its "unforgettable images" and commented that "people will be talking about it for years to come." The final comment came from a woman who quoted Wagner to support her opinion that the composer would have liked Freyer's production very much. "Macht Neues!, Neues! und abermals Neues"! ("Do something new!, new! and once again new!")

The crown jewel of KUSC's festivities will be the LA Opera On-Air broadcast of performances of LA Opera's complete Ring cycle on four successive Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. (May 29 - June 19).

With apologies to Ernest Hemingway, "between April 15 and June 30, 2010, whether you're online or offline, Ring Festival LA is with you, for it is a moveable feast."