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Sun Rising on Careers in Solar Energy

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The Center for Sustainable Energy offers training in solar power conversion. Students include traditional electricians like Charles Stewart, who calls his new business “Peace and Solar.”

Tough Times for Holiday Toy Drives

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The recession has made it hard for many people to give gifts this holiday season – and even harder to donate to charities, including ones that serve children in need.

While NBC’s “Today” show reaped a record $30 million through its 16th annual toy drive, donations to the Toys for Tots are down. Meanwhile, one local education official is struggling to find toys to brighten the lives of 600 children residing in Brooklyn homeless shelters.

Composer Creates a New Beat

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Composer Arthur Kampela isn’t afraid to make musicians work – especially if they’re master players in the New York Philharmonic.

“They are practicing their a–es off right now,” he said recently, over Sri Lankan tea in his Harlem apartment.

The 20 Philharmonic musicians premiering Kampela’s “MACUNAIMA,” on Dec. 17 a Symphony Space, are grappling with his 70-page score, which demands they shake maracas, stand up and walk off stage, and beat their priceless instruments like congas.

Cello With Chopsticks

The composer’s work takes advantage of “extended technique,” where musicians use their classical acoustic instruments in unorthodox ways. Play a cello with a chopstick. Use your violin as a drum. Stick your hand inside the grand piano. Kampela himself plays the viola, but held at his chest facing out, as if it’s a guitar – another instrument he’s mastered.

“I saw the score while he was working on it, and I told him no classical flutist is going to do this,” said his colleague Margaret Lancaster, a flutist who specializes in new music.

Kampela begrudgingly changed part of the work, but it’s still “very, very challenging,” said Lancaster.

The 49-year old Brazilian has been a fixture on the new music scene in New York since the early 1990s, when he began graduate work at the Manhattan School of Music.

Arthur’s Wonderwall

Kampela, who wrote his first work at the age of 12, went on to earn a doctorate in composition from Columbia University, and currently teaches both there and at NYU.

The inspiration for “MACUNAIMA” came from the wall of percussion instruments that line his living room. Percussionists, Kampela said, are natural practitioners of extended technique.

“When you have a percussionist in an orchestra, you say play the zipper and he plays the zipper. He plays the drums, but then he can play this book,” Kampela said grabbing a book and rifling through its pages, eliciting a muffled flopping.
Some of the musicians who are performing his work are struggling with his ideas, or just baffled.

“I’ve been receiving emails, ‘Arthur, bar 61 – do you really mean really that?’ And I say yes, and they ask me how, and I tell them, and they say, ‘Oh my God,’ and so on,” he said, not entirely displeased.

Beat Goes On

Kampela, who has moved on to working on a new piece commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation, has no patience for naysayers.

“I’m still waiting to get famous, like Bebel Gilberto,” he said, referring to another New York-based Brazilian musician. “Her albums sell so many copies.”

But faced with the suggestion that he might have to make pop records, he’s emphatic.

“Then forget it!”

Flu Shot in the Arm for Asthmatic Kids

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Women and children are most susceptible to the H1NI flu virus. Youngsters with asthma face an additional risk.

While most children receive the nasal vaccine, those with asthma and other respiratory problem are being urged to get flu shot.

On The Run For MetroCards

Monday, December 7th, 2009

FBI Was Clueless on "Deep Throat"

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Parking Signs of the Times

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Amnesty Plan Tackles Fine Mess

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Tech Spurs (Parking) Space Race

Friday, December 4th, 2009