World-renowned architect Frank Gehry criticized the design of Aspen’s iconic Benedict Music Tent for its lack of intimacy on Thursday, during an Aspen Ideas Festival event inside the tent itself.
Gehry, 82, was discussing the vital elements of building a successful performance space during a panel with PBS newswoman Gwen Ifill and Los Angeles Philharmonic CEO Deborah Borda, with whom he collaborated on the design of the popular Walt Disney Concert Hall.
He said the first key to building a satisfying concert hall is good acoustics and collaborating with musicians and artists to get the sound right.
“The other,” he said, “is the relationship between audience and performer, which is terrible here. We should be closer.”
Gehry, and panelists throughout the afternoon, were seated at the center of the 2,050-capacity music tent’s stage. The permanently-constructed tent has drawn acclaim since architect Harry Teague redesigned it in 2000. It was originally constructed by Herbert Bayer in 1964, and is home to the Aspen Music Festival and School’s summer concerts.
In general, he argued, a connection between performers and audience members should be a primary goal of architects for performance spaces. When they miss the mark, he said, audiences miss out on a full viewing experience.
The Canada native used Montreal’s Bell Centre, which replaced the 72-year-old Montreal Forum in 1996, as an example of new architecture designing the intimacy out of old buildings.
“Going to a hockey game at the old Montreal Forum was exciting,” he said. The new one [opened in 1996] isn’t. So we fight for that intimacy.”
Utah is the happiest state to live in, money does buy happiness and chances are the unhappiest point in your life will be in your 40s.
Economist Carol Graham and National Public Radio correspondent Eric Weiner gave a talk on the geography of happiness at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday. The session was a part of a new track the festival has dedicated to understanding happiness.
“When we think of happiness we think of a beach in the Bahamas or another paradise because we’re not there,” said Weiner. But in reality, the happiest places to live have a combination of a stable government and a culture that supports relationships and family values.
“We are not islands to ourselves,” he said, adding that family and connections with people influence happiness the most.
Included in the statistics that Graham and Weiner listed was that the United States is ranked 23 on the international happiness scale; although there is a correlation between democracy and happiness, Russia is an unhappy place to be; in the U.S. women are generally happier than men; there is a universal dip in happiness around the age of 40, after which the older you get the happier you are; people in long-term stable relationships are generally happier and unemployment is deleterious for happiness worldwide.
As for the unhappiest place to live, that honor goes to Moldova.
“Have you ever been to Moldova?” asked Weiner. “It makes sense.”
Before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer took the podium Thursday afternoon at the Aspen Ideas Festival, moderator Elliot Gerson asked the audience not to rant before asking questions and to make sure what was being submitted were indeed inquiries.
Breyer’s speech to the audience touched on various important cases in U.S. history and he argued against interpreting the constitution as it was originally intended, among other things. He defended his right to dissent and said he “tried” to come to a consensus on most cases but that sometimes he just disagreed with the other justices.
The session came to an emotional apex at the end when a girl almost broke Gerson’s rules and asked a vague question regarding the distance the general public has with policy makers.
“I have no sympathy [for that],” said Breyer, cutting her short. “Please know a little bit about your system. Please know a little bit about your history. Please go out in your community.”
People fail to get involved and then complain, he continued.
The interaction led Breyer to close the lecture with a quote from Pericles.
“We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business,” he said. “We say that he has no business here at all.”
— Compiled by Aspen Daily News Staff writers Dorothy M. Atkins and Andrew Travers