Barcelona’s pioneering electronic music export Sónar makes its debut in Hong Kong today as the festival kicks off with a headlining performance by DJ Shadow, along with sets by local electronic acts Ocean Lam and Choi Sai Ho. This is not Sónar’s first foray into Asia – it’s previously pitched up in Tokyo and Seoul. Both Barcelona and Hong Kong move to a similar beat, according to Barcelona’s deputy mayor for culture Jaume Collboni: “Barcelona is a gateway city as is Hong Kong,” he said, touting a shared spirit of innovation, technology and creativity. Curiously, the event is happening in the Hong Kong Science Park, a buttoned-down campus for business and innovation that’s a far cry from the more obvious harbour-front location in the centre of town. But, hey, this is a festival that prides itself on experimentation.
Athens has ancient architecture in abundance but this weekend the Greek capital throws open the doors of some of its finest buildings built since the 19th century. “It’s a way of showcasing city architecture for everyone to experience and it’s completely free,” says Tatiana Anagnostara, an architect and co-founder of Open House Athens. Now in its fourth edition, the line-up of 110 buildings ranges from private homes and public buildings to company HQs and hotels. The US Embassy by Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius, which opened in 1961, and the celebrated library of the Athens School of Fine Arts are both highlights and new additions to the list. “People recognise us more now so they’re more comfortable letting us into their office or home,” says Anagnostara.
The protection of cultural heritage sites and artefacts was at the top of the agenda at the G7’s first cultural summit, which concluded yesterday in Florence, Italy. The summit, which saw Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini meet his counterparts from France, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and the US, came hot on the heels of a unanimously passed UN Security Council resolution that will classify the destruction of cultural treasures as a war crime. From the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban to the loss of millennia-old artefacts at the hands of Isis, material cultural heritage is imperilled around the world and this new resolution is a welcome – if somewhat overdue – step towards taking the threat seriously.
Welcome back, Nelly Furtado. Which Nelly? Interesting, odd, quirkily creative Nelly or middle-of-the-road, middle-of-the-charts Nelly? Thankfully the former turns up on The Ride, a new album made after taking some time away from the studio to unstarishly work in a record shop for a bit and learn librarianship at her daughter’s school. Thinking about things other than beats and words that rhyme with “baby” has allowed the Canadian star – always brimful of talent – to reset the clock on a new phase of chic, effortless pop. St Vincent producer John Congleton styles her songs left-of-centre but she was always happy there anyway. Amusingly, her label imprint is called Nelstar too. Give The Ride a spin.
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