Andrew Giangola: Professional Bull Riders

“They slap themselves in the face or ram a fist into their chest then climb into a coffin-shaped steel bucking chute, mounting a muscular quivering beast ten times their size, as if strapping onto an unpredictable carnival ride, part rollercoaster, part roadside bomb. Professional bull riders approach their seemingly insane job with an icy-calm self-assurance that produces shivers in the rest of us – mere mortals who can only marvel at David trying to tame Goliath in the most audacious and dangerous game of chicken imaginable. But these cowboys aren’t crazy. They are alive.”

So writes Andrew Giangola in his new critically acclaimed book, Love & Try: Stories of Gratitude and Grit in Professional Bull Riding, which introduces the rugged cast and crew behind sporting events that wrap 8-second bursts of man-versus-beast mayhem into an all-American celebration of faith, freedom, and family.  Giangola, a New Yorker and total outsider to the Western culture, was warmly welcomed into the bull riding family and he began writing about this mysterious sport mixing a hard-rock music soundtrack with the evangelical Christian faith, those who are saved and others raising hell. He’s coming on Vienna Live to give us the whole story.  Come welcome Andrew to our show for a fascinating insider’s look at just what makes these people and the growing sport of bull riding so alive.

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Indre Viskontas: The Queen, My Lord, Is Dead

Professor Indre Viskontas, a neuroscientist and stage director, is making the final preparations for her newest production, the world première of the opera The Queen, My Lord, Is Dead, an opera based on Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth.  As Creative Director of the Pasadena Opera, Indre has staged many well-known operas; what makes her productions special is the unique neuroscience perspective she brings to them.  Take, for example, her comments on her recent production of Janáček’s Katjy Kabanova: “Modern neuroscience has begun to shift away from strict borders between a brain that’s disordered and one that is not. Instead, we think about a spectrum of behavior, of experience, of wiring. My hope is that we all see aspects of ourselves in every one of the characters, recognizing how different we each are, and how hard it can be to satisfy our deep-seated need for human connection while retaining our individuality and being true to who we are.”  Shakespeare would surely agree.  Come welcome Indre to our show for an exclusive look at her new production of The Queen, My Lord, Is Dead!

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Andrea Ciucci & Claudia Laricchia: Are Humans Sustainable?

“Sustainable development?”  We hear about it all the time, but what does it mean?  And is promoting “sustainable development” just another way of making us feel good about our not-so-benevolent residency on planet earth?  Sure, apocalyptic pronouncements are also a uniquely human phenomenon, but this one about catastrophic global warming and pandemics – all based on science – has gotten enough attention to concern even the Vatican.  Father Andrea Ciucci, Coordinating Secretary at the Pontifical Academy for Life, is intimately involved in the Vatican’s efforts to promote sustainability and will join us with Professor Claudia Laricchia, Head of Institutional Relations and Global Strategic Partnerships at the Future Food Institute, for a presentation of his new book, Pardon me for asking, but why are you here?  Come welcome Andrea and Claudia to our show for a conversation about no less than the fate of humanity.

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Kaisa Makkonen: My Healing Voice

A few years ago, Kaisa was on track for a successful career as an opera singer.  Then she suffered a stroke and it seemed that the young woman had forever lost her voice: she could no longer speak.  But music is a truly mysterious art and through singing, Kaisa would heal herself and learn to speak again.  Come welcome Kaisa to our show and hear her healing voice for yourself!

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Michelle Djokic: Open Rehearsals?

Open relationships are not considered legitimate relationships by Western standards: they are viewed as crumbling façades masking partners’ mutual disrespect.  For much the same reason, “open rehearsals” are unpalatable to conservative classical musicians.  They believe that serious musical partnerships are exclusive and based on paring musicians of the same artistic skill level and maturity.  This phenomenon is so pronounced that it is unquestioned practice in higher education: teachers rehearse with teachers and students with students.  But there is reason to believe that “open rehearsals” – meaning inclusive rehearsals that anyone can take part in – can lead to stronger, more respectful relationships for everyone involved.  Michelle Djokic, a Grammy-nominated cellist and daughter of World War II. survivors, applies such an innovative open-rehearsal format to address social ills, the likes of bullying, shaming and exclusion.  To those rehearsals, she brings elite professional musicians to share the rehearsal process with adolescents.  Come welcome Michelle to our show and let’s ask her how it’s going! 

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