I have several appearances coming up this month. On January 19th, The Rest Is Noise, a year-long festival inspired by the book of the same title, opens at Southbank Centre in London. I'll give four allied lectures over the course of the year; the first of these, "The Big Bang," is at noon on the 19th, in Queen Elizabeth Hall. It will survey the emergence of radical new musical languages in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Expect audio snippets of Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartók, and many others, though Salome, featured that night at the London Philharmonic, will be the center of attention. The following day I'll converse with Jude Kelly, artistic director of Southbank. Details are here. Happily, I'll also be able to hear The Minotaur at the Royal Opera. The next lecture, on collisions of music and politics, is on March 2. As I noted when the festival was first announced, I was not involved in the programming.
Meanwhile, I have been working on a new book, entitled Wagnerism: Art in the Shadow of Music. I can't say that I'm anywhere close to finishing, or even that I've created a big pile of paper, but I've unquestionably read a lot of books and taken a great many notes. On Jan. 31, I'll appear amid an intimidating lineup of scholars at the WagnerWorldWide Conference at the University of South Carolina, addressing the topic "Black Wagner: The Question of Race Revisited." The talk will focus especially on W.E.B. Du Bois, whose story "Of the Coming of John" is one of the most highly charged instances of literary Wagnerism, and on the almost completely unknown contralto Luranah Aldridge. Time will not allow for an examination of the Afro-Wagnerian dimensions of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained — a topic for another time, perhaps.