News Column

Fall Arts Preview: Technology can't compete with a live performance

August 31, 2014

By Rich Copley, Lexington Herald-Leader

Aug. 31--Change is on fast-forward these days.

In the first 20 or so years of my life, the main innovations in entertainment were cable TV, home video with VCRs and the compact disc. Since I moved to Lexington in 1998, home video has gone from tape to DVD to Blu-ray to streaming and downloading. CDs gave way to the iPod and iTunes to now streaming where, for a monthly fee, a variety of services will let you download almost anything recorded.

Cutting the cord is now the hip thing to do with cable, CDs make great coasters, and I do not currently have an operating VCR in my home.

And we haven't even talked about the Internet and smartphones, except tangentially. It is a very different world than it was even when today's high school seniors were born.

But some things remain constant and irreplaceable, and experiencing the arts live is one of them.

There is still nothing like experiencing a performing artist or an artwork in person with others who cared enough to come out.

This struck me when I came home the other night, and Lang Lang was on KET with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing with all the precision and zeal we expect from him. And it was great, but not nearly as great as being in the Singletary Center for the Arts last winter when Lang Lang performed with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.

We were seeing him unfiltered by a camera, breathing the same air, feeling the same energy, watching this artist perform just yards away from us. No HD, massive flat screen with surround sound system would come close to replicating that. Yes, it is great to have video and technology to bring those experiences to us when they are not available within a short drive -- though some of the most dedicated fans have been known to travel great distances to see their favorites.

But when the artists are close, we gotta go.

And that's what this section you have in your hands, printed in what I like to call the Herald-Leader's classic format, is all about.

It's about getting you there, helping you make plans and helping you appreciate all this region has to offer.

Even before I moved here, I heard from and about naysayers who said there was no culture in Lexington, nothing going on. And it was not too much later I started replying, "If nothing is going on here, why am I so busy?"

And this beat has only gotten busier in the 21st century. If we looked at the 1998-99 arts preview, a lot of the names and faces and addresses would be different. But that makes it exciting. This year, we will see Balagula Theatre in a new home, the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky under a new director, the Lexington Philharmonic orchestra venturing into new venues with innovative programming, the Opera House's Broadway Live series bringing in one of the most acclaimed Broadway shows of recent vintage in Peter and the Starcatcher. And yes, the UK orchestra is bringing in another virtuoso superstar in Joshua Bell.

So get out your calendars and red pens -- or open up your online calendar -- and start planning for those events you just can't miss.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @LexGoKY. Blog:


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Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)

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