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This Janelle Monáe song is from last year but I just listened to it for the first time in ages. I had forgotten how good it was – and the video rocks as well.

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My May 2011

Around New York

High Line – disused railway line turned into an urban park above the streets of the city

32 mile walk around the shoreline of Manhattan – totally worth the effort

Art

Picasso and Marie-Marie-Thérèse , L’Amour Fou (The Gagosian Gallery, Chelsea) – a visual love letter

Rembrandt and His School: Masterworks from the Frick and Lugt Collections (The Frick Collection) : in a digital era 400-year old drawings on paper still have the power to move

Books

Moby Dick (Herman Melville) : hard to believe it was published in 1851 because the structure is so modern

A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan) : my favourite book this year, and is very modern with one chapter in Powerpoint

The Solitude of Prime Numbers (Paolo Giordano) : unique combination of teenage angst, mathematics and love

Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) : scary and heartbreaking combination of teenage angst and love amongst children who grow up with a dark secret

Cinema

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog) – forget Avatar, this is what 3-D was made for

Thor – in contrast I went to see this because it looked totally ridiculous but fun and it totally delivered on this premise

Music

Kylie Minogue : a modern goddess

Theatre

The House of Blue Leaves : manages the difficult trick of being funny and tragic at the same time though pitch-perfect performances from Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh and especially Edie Falco

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To me, the purest beauty is the world of mathematics. Its perfect assemblage of numbers, magnitudes and forms persist, independent of us. The aesthetic experience of the sublime in mathematics is awe-inspiring. It is similar to the experience we have when we confront the vast magnitude of the universe, which always leaves us open-mouthed.

Ryoji Ikeda

The Japanese sound and visual artist’s first US installation at the Park Avenue Armory certainly left me open-mouthed – I have never experienced such immersion in a synchronicity of sound and image:

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My April 2011

Books

The Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins) : intelligent young adult books which topically highlight the impact of war and violence on children

Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule The World (William Cohan): for those interested in finance, an absorbing 600+ pages on the investment bank

One of Our Thursdays is Missing (Jasper Fforde) : one of my friends bought me the latest Thursday Next book which is my favourite brand of literary quirkiness

The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde) : so then I had to go back and read the first one

Cinema

Source Code (Duncan Jones): as original as Inception but with characters that you believe in and care about

The Princess of Montpensier (Bernard Tavernier) : typical French film in which every man falls in love with a beautiful, enigmatic woman in very low-cut dresses but this time set against the backdrop of the wars between Catholics and Protestants in 1562

Jane Eyre (Cary Fukunaga) : wasn’t going to see this but it was on at my local cinema while I was reading The Eyre Affair.  Visually atmospheric but not as emotionally stirring as my favourite version the BBC series with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson.

Lecture

German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse (MOMA) : have now seen this fab exhibition for  the third time and it was fascinating to learn that artists took their etching equipment with them while they served on the front during World War I

Theatre

Jerusalem (Jez Butterworth) : thrilling theatre which displays a decidedly modern view of England.

I saw this play in the same week as the Royal Wedding and it reminded me that one of the things I love about England is that it can be both very modern and very traditional at the same time.

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This is in honour of the fabulous Kylie Minogue who I saw in New York last night :

I love that she fully acknowledges her past, performing  her first hits such as  Locomotion from back in 1987. Who would have imagined that she would transform into the artistic goddess that she has become – a true testament to what can happen if you continue to learn and are not afraid to change:

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My March 2011

Art

German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse (MOMA) : has become one of my all-time favourite exhibitions

Infinite Variety : Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts (American Folk Art Museum) : quilts as modern art

Books

Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart) : super sad and frightening view of a future digital world

Suits: A Woman on Wall Street (Nina Godiwalla) : you should read this if you are a woman thinking about working on Wall St

Readings

Victor LaValle and Gary Shteyngart (92Y) : both as funny as their books

Jonathan Franzen and Jhumpa Lahiri (The New School) : Franzen read some non-fiction while Lahiri read an extract from the new novel she is writing which sounds just as good as her previous books.

Cinema

Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois) : a haunting meditation on religious intolerance which stays in your mind long after the film is over

Win Win (Thomas McCarthy) : a win if you enjoy off-beat comedies with believable characters and intelligent, witty dialogue rather than mindless movies based on comic books with nothing but special effects

Lectures

Gary Wills – Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (The Morgan Library & Museum) : turned out be more about Macbeth but was still a fascinating talk on how Verdi was inspired by Shakespeare

The Big Story : Uprisings (The New Yorker) : proof that a small portion of the American media gets the rest of the world

Music

Seeing Double: Concertos by Bach and Vivaldi (Miller Theater) : part of my ongoing classical music education

Theatre

Good People (David Lindsay-Abaire) – a really good play

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Being musical is one of the many talents that I do not have. So in order to learn more I have been working through The Great Courses’ How to Listen to and Understand Great Music.

The lectures by Professor Robert Greenberg make the subject so approachable that I have unexpectedly become a huge fan of polyphonic Renaissance choir music (and I now actually understand what polyphonic means).

I subscribed to the Chorworks podcast and have just made my first choral download.  It is quite surreal to walk around the modern streets of Manhattan while listening to Latin singing.

I have become addicted to Magnificat‘s performance of Spem in alium, composed by Thomas Tallis in around 1570 for eight choirs of five voices each:

Simply managing 40 independent parts so that they sound well and don’t tread on each other’s toes is hard enough. But Tallis goes beyond simply managing. He uses his eight five-voice choirs in every conceivable combination, sometimes flowing into each other, sometimes set against each other, and saves the glorious 40-voice sound for dramatic high points. (The Telegraph)

Linn Records – Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium.

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