Institute of Sociology St. Gallen: How Marketplaces Control Our Daily Lives 

Peering into offices at the University of St. Gallen

The Pandemic brought into the open that a remarkable number of Western citizens believe that a cartel of malevolent super-rich businessmen manufactured a global health crisis to further enrich themselves, subjugate others through a pseudo-vaccine campaign and dominate world politics.  Believe in the conspiracy or not, one of the most obvious reactions to the Pandemic was an international run on toilet paper: this ordinary household item was completely sold out in the fervor and, in its place stood bare store shelves for months.  Those shelves – and the conspicuous dearth of people around them – can be understood as a marketplace gone wrong.  To understand that situation, rather than attributing those unusual conditions to the wanton greed selfish oligarchs, it is instructive to look at both sides of that market’s aisle: both the sellers and buyers.  Buyers had heard that they would have to stay at home for the foreseeable future and decided to stock up on many household items.  Likely, one visionary buyer started to believe that soon there would be no more toilet paper and bought up all the toilet paper in sight.  Other buyers next to the visionary saw toilet paper selling out, and acted in the same way. That belief that there would soon be no more toilet paper then became true.  The sellers – bigwig toilet paper bosses – surely saw this “market collapse” happening, but didn’t want to make toilet paper available to more buyers by raising the price of toilet paper (and start a new conspiracy theory about how they were using toilet paper to take over the world).  As Professor Patrik Aspers, his colleague, Doctor Matias Dewey and their students at the Institute of Sociology at the University of St. Gallen will show us, marketplaces are two-way streets and, though there will always be both conspirator sellers as well as buyers, if well regulated, there will be enough toilet paper for all who want it and at a price everyone can afford to do business at.  Come welcome Patrik, Matias and their students to our show for a look at the marketplaces that control our daily lives.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 7th (2022) at 19:00 CET / 1:00 p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. PST

TAKE PART: Join us in show’s Zoom Meeting Room (interact with the guests and participants from around the world) 

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Finland’s Savonlinna Theater

Actress Heli Lyytikäinen in the Savonlinna Theater’s new production of Rough Diamond

In the second episode of our mini-series discovering the extraordinary Finnish City of Savonlinna, we tour the Savonlinna Theater, a professional theater company that produces five new productions every season. Our tour guides will be Jouni Rissanen, Director of the Savonlinna Theater, Hanna Hautala, an actress and Director of Theater at the Savonlinna Senior Secondary School of the Arts, Chieko Okabe, a soprano and Director of Opera at the Savonlinna Senior Secondary School of the Arts and Jorma Silvasti, a tenor and Former Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival.  

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The Art of the Opera Coach

When asked what he “really” thinks of actors, the film director Alfred Hitchcock famously replied “Fundamentally, actors are a race apart.  This group is divided into two sections: first, those who have talent and have never received any recognition for it, and, second, those who have received recognition without having any talent.  Either way, they’re cattle.”  One wonders what Hitchcock thoughts about singers were.  In any case, as far as the opera house is concerned, singers – be they with or without talent – have a secret advantage that few, if any of us, ever recognize: before singers even get close to the stage, they are coached by a super-musician called an opera coach.  These coaches are at once a singer’s singing teacher, orchestra, conductor, psychologist and best friend.  And no matter how strong-willed and confident looking a singer appears, she or he knows their coach holds the keys to success on stage.  So, whenever you read a great review of a star singer’s performance, don’t forget whom that performance is indebted to.  With that in mind, our show is privileged to simultaneously interview four of the very best coaches in the business: Beatrice Benzi, coach at Teatro alla Scala, Nino Sanikidze, coach at the LA Opera, Yelena Kurdina, coach at the Metropolitan Opera and Luisella Germano, coach at the Vienna State Opera.  Let’s welcome these extraordinary musicians who always have talent and yet, never receive the recognition they deserve.  

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The Society of Friends of the Fine Arts Vienna

In Memory of the Victims of the Stein Penitentiary Massacre by Ramesch Daha (2018)

Vienna: The City of Fine Arts.  When viewing exhibitions at three of Vienna’s most renowned museums – The Academy of Fine Arts, The Museum of Modern Art and the Albertina – it’s likely you are viewing an artwork acquired for that museum by the Society of Friends of the Fine Arts Vienna.  Since 1980, this unique charitable organization has existed solely to purchase celebrated artworks of the past, commission highly valuable new artworks of today and donate all acquisitions to enrich and enlarge the collections of those three museums. Sylvia Eisenburger-Kunz is the art connoisseur and manager behind this incredible 40+-year operation and she joins us, together with artist Ramesch Daha o give us an exclusive look at the newest artworks to call Vienna home.

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Music & More in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A view from Amphitheater of the Church, Trebinje (Photo credit: Tatjana Rankovich)

South-Eastern Europe is one of the few remaining areas of Europe yet to be inundated by commercial tourism, but it probably won’t be that way for much longer.  One city in particular – Trebinje – is sure to start figuring into everybody’s travel plans.  Tatjana Rankovich, a New York-based pianist, discovered Trebinje when she was looking for the right place to organize an international summer music festival.  To find that place, she flew to Belgrade and, with her piano technician friend who recommended Trebinje as a possible location, drove by car across the mountains and valleys of the Balkan Peninsula, documenting her trip with her camera.  When she arrived at Trebinje, well, her photo tells the rest of the story.  Since 2018, the city of 30,000 residents has welcomed Tatjana, the international faculty, students and families of the Music & More Summerfest as musical diplomats and the Summerfest has become a celebrated part of the city’s cultural life.  Let’s get to know this incredible city and its high esteem for the Summerfest: performances can be heard throughout the valley from a stage that overlooks the entire city.  Come welcome Tatjana, composer Ionel Petroi, pianist and her student Knox Oakey, Simo Radic, Historian at the Museum of Trebinje and Dr. Jelena Putre, a public diplomacy professional, to our show and let’s get to know Music & More in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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