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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premieres Creation/Creator

Photograph courtesy of ASO
Photograph courtesy of ASO

In 2012, music director Robert Spano commissioned Christopher Theofanidis to create a new work for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Yet the composer didn’t set down the first notes for the piece, “Creation/Creator,” until last spring, after months spent researching creation stories from different cultures. “I started with the notion that the impulse to create comes from somewhere,” Theofanidis says, whether that’s “a divine inspiration” or “the search for some kind of truth.”

The work—an orchestral, choral, and solo performance about mankind’s genesis—will have its world premiere at the ASO this month. Since he was hired in 2001, Spano has made it a priority to fund original compositions; the orchestra has premiered 37 new works under his direction. Theofanidis is a member of the Atlanta School of Composers, an informal group of artists that Spano regularly taps for new pieces.

Premiering original work “shows that we care about contributing to the future of the art form,” says Evans Mirageas, vice president for artistic planning and operations at the ASO. Plus, showcasing new music by internationally renowned composers like Theofanidis boosts Atlanta’s status among world-class cities.

“Creation/Creator” blends influences from rock, classical, and world music, and Theofanidis will utilize the full orchestra and chorus, in addition to five soloists—making it the biggest and most ambitious piece he has written for the ASO. “My aim is to help the audience forget party lines and enjoy an experience about our common humanity,” he says.

On the calendar On April 23 and 25, be among the first to hear “Creation/Creator” at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

This article originally appeared in our April 2015 issue.

What connects John Malkovich, Julian Sands, and Harold Pinter?

Pinter: Martin Rosenbaum; Sands: Sbukley/Dreamstime.com: Malkovich: istockphoto.com
Pinter: Martin Rosenbaum; Sands: Sbukley/Dreamstime.com: Malkovich: istockphoto.com

Some of us associate actor Julian Sands with period films like A Room with a View, while others may think of his more recent horror film oeuvre. Here’s an association less likely but infinitely more fascinating: Sands was a friend of the late playwright Harold Pinter and has captured his spirit in a one-man show that comes to Emory in September.

Pinter, a Nobel laureate famous for marital dramas such as Betrayal, also wrote poetry and was well-known for his political activism. In another twist of celebrity friendship, the show is directed by John Malkovich, Sands’s The Killing Fields costar.

Julian Sands: A Celebration of Harold Pinter, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, September 22, theater.emory.edu

This article originally appeared in our September 2014 issue.

Holy music heritage: Atlanta Boy Choir keeps tradition strong with holiday concert

Courtesy of Atlanta Boy Choir
Courtesy of Atlanta Boy Choir

Tradition may not matter to the typical preteen, but for members of Atlanta Boy Choir, it’s fundamental. For three decades, the choir—seventy boys, ranging in age from six to thirteen, and forty alumni—has celebrated the holiday season at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. The program for this year spans centuries, with songs in Latin, Hebrew, and Old English. Completed in 1960 by resident monks, the church complements the concert’s reverent mood. “There’s not a more appropriate space,” says Neil Cardwell, choir administrator. “The monastery is built for choral music.” The concert wraps up a whirlwind year for the choir, which this summer performed in Warsaw, Krakow, and Prague, where they debuted “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a song about the Terezín concentration camp.

The Atlanta Boy Choir Holiday Concert, December 12, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, atlantaboychoir.org

This article originally appeared in our September 2014 issue under the headline “Holy Music Heritage.”

Animal Planet: Atlanta ranks No. 6 for rats


Animal Planet has published a list of the “Top 10 Worst Rat Cities in the World,” ranking Atlanta in sixth place, beating worthy contenders Paris and London. Ever since bubonic plague wiped out half of Europe in the Middle Ages, cohabitation between humans and rats has symbolized the end of civilization. While our spot on the list doesn’t exactly portend the Black Death, it does underscore other problems here.

In some cases, placement on the list is rooted in ancient history; Deshnoke, India, for instance, is home to a temple where rats are worshipped. In Atlanta, on the other hand, the staggering rat population is due to a more recent event: the Great Recession. According to Animal Planet, an already high rate of urban poverty, combined with rampant foreclosures, has left an excess of abandoned buildings here, attracting droves of vermin. Rats thrive in overgrown lawns and derelict structures. If this isn’t the beginning of a real-world The Walking Dead, then perhaps the list can at least draw our attention to the ecological effects of prolonged urban abandonment.

  1. New York City
  2. Boston
  3. Baltimore
  4. Chicago
  5. New Orleans
  6. Atlanta
  7. London
  8. Paris
  9. Rat Island, the Aleutians
  10. Deshnoke, India

Read more about Atlanta and our rat-infested peer cities at Animal Planet.

Report: Georgia ranks No. 2 for stress

The folks at Movoto have released a list of the 10 Most Stressed Out States in America, naming Georgia the nation’s runner-up in overall anxiety. Although it doesn’t require a team of researchers to know that living and working in metro Atlanta is filled with stressors—just try making a left on Ivan Allen Boulevard any weekday afternoon—the dataset shows that Georgians in rural areas and smaller cities face their share of challenges, too.

The Movoto stress index quantifies sitting in heavy traffic, working long hours, and struggling to find a job. The real estate blog’s researchers ranked and combined the following factors: percentage of population with a commute exceeding 20 minutes, unemployment rates, average hours worked, population density, percentage of income spent on housing, and percentage of population without health insurance. The list uses data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey for 2008-2012 and applies these criteria to the lower 48 states. Georgia ranks in the top (bottom?) 20 for each factor, the foremost being the 23 percent of people who lack health coverage.

Since misery loves company, here is the full list of stressed out states:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. New Jersey
  4. California
  5. Nevada
  6. Illinois
  7. New York
  8. Maryland
  9. North Carolina
  10. Arizona

Also, as Movoto observes, coastal states tend to stress out the most, so let’s take a moment to be thankful that at least the Peach State isn’t a peninsula.

You can explore Movoto’s data and interactive maps of stress indicators here.

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