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Local Events: Pat Metheny, Mingei Library Open House, Rae Armantrout Reads

Audio

Aired 4/16/10

A San Diegan wins a Pulitzer Prize and a world renown jazz guitarist comes to Spreckles theater. Here to talk about the arts in San Diego is KPBS arts and culture producer Angela Carone.

UCSD professor Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her collection "Versed."

Above: UCSD professor Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her collection "Versed."

I was on the radio this morning talking arts news in San Diego. Just in case you don't reach the end of my report, make sure to go to the Mingei International Museum on Saturday to hear Dave Hampton (Culture Lust contributor) talk about San Diego's mid-century art scene. Price of admission gets you in to see five exhibits, the rarely seen Mingei library, and the lecture. Total deal! (Below is the transcript from my report. The audio will be available by 9:30am)

PAMELA DAVIS: A San Diegan wins a Pulitzer Prize and a world renown jazz guitarist comes to Spreckles Theater. Here to talk about the arts in San Diego is KPBS arts and culture producer Angela Carone.

Angela, big news this week. A literature professor at UCSD named Rae Armantrout won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. And you knew before she did?

ANGELA CARONE: Yes, apparently the Pulitzer Prize board publishes the winners on its website before telling the winners they've won. I happened to be watching my twitter feed and that's what alerted me.

We'd just had Armantrout on These Days so immediately went to get a quote from her and her number was in my computer which promptly crashed. So I called the publicist at UCSD, informed her, and She immediately called Rae who was blow drying her hair and well, you can imagine – one minute you're blow drying your hair, the next you’re a Pulitzer Prize winner. I talked to her minutes later and she was still stunned and just thrilled.

PAMELA DAVIS: The prize is for her 10th collection of poetry called "Versed." What can you tell us about it.

ANGELA CARONE: One of the things Armantrout is known for is her playful use of language and you see that in this collection. She was also diagnosed with cancer while she was writing the book – so part of the collection includes poems related to her diagnosis and illness and others that deal with her own mortality.

When she was on These Days, Rae read a poem called "Around" so lets listen to Rae Armantrout reading from her Pulitzer Prize winning collection "Versed."

POETRY READING "AROUND" BY RAE ARMANTROUT

PAMELA DAVIS: Wow. Well, congratulations to Rae Armantrout. You're also going to tell us about the latest project from jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, who's in town next week…

Video

Pat Metheny's Orchestrion Project

Above: Pat Metheny plays Spreckles Theater on Wednesday, April 21st. He's touring with his Orchestrion Project, which this video explains.

ANGELA CARONE: Yes, Pat Metheny is playing Spreckels on Wednesday. A little background, Metheny' s won 17 Grammy awards, collaborated with everyone from David Bowie to Herbie Hancock. He's an original voice in jazz today and he's once again trying something new. His latest project is called Orchestrion.

MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH

With Orchestrion, Metheny basically becomes a one man orchestra. What he did was worked with inventors to create instruments that he then automates or triggers through his guitar playing and a computer– basically a robotic orchestra. He's got guitars, marimbas, dozens of percussion instruments, and some custom made instruments as well that involved bottles and jugs.

Remember these aren't recorded samples, this is real life physical mallets striking instruments. Metheny makes it all happen and then accompanies the orchestra on guitar. So on stage it's just him surrounded by all of these instruments and lots of chords and cables.

PAMELA DAVIS: I understand he was inspired by those old player pianos from the turn of the century?

ANGELA: Exactly, his grandfather had one and Metheny talks about going to visit him and spending hours with the player piano getting a flashlight and crawling underneath to see how it all works. It was what sparked the idea of creating this entire orchestra.

PAMELA DAVIS: Angela you also wanted to quickly mention an event at the Mingei Museum at Balboa Park, a library open house?

ANGELA CARONE: On Saturday, the price of admission to the Mingei gets you in to see not only the five exhibits that are up, but there's also a library open house and visitors don't usually get to see the library, which has over 9,000 books on folk art.

And at 1pm there's a talk by Dave Hampton who is a local mid-century art enthusiast and he's going to talk about some of the artists working in San Diego during the 50's and 60's. With mid-century design being so popular right now, it'll be fun to hear what was happening here in San Diego at that time.

PAMELA DAVIS: You can see more of Angela's recommendations for the weekend and a video of Pat Metheny's Orchestrion Project on her Culture Lust blog on kpbs.org.

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