The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 12

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2013

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bournemouth, UK; Bristol, UK; Green Bay, WI; Leipzig, Germany; Marseille, France (EuroPride 2013); Munich, Germany; San Diego, CA; San Luis Obispo, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Tacoma, WA.

Other Events This Weekend: Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, Golden, CO; Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA; QFest Film Festival, Philadelphia, PA; Bear Week, Provincetown, MA Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

Van Cliburn’s historic performance at the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, 19589

Van Cliburn: 1934. In 1958, the Soviet Union, flush with the technological success of Sputnik, inaugurated the first International Tchaikovsky Competition to showcase the Soviet’s cultural superiority. But twenty-four year old Van Cliburn’s astounding performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 resulted in a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. With an American clearly the crowd favorite to take what was supposed to have been a Soviet showcase, the judges reportedly sought Khrushchev permission. “Is he the best? Then give him the prize!” so the story goes. Cliburn returned to the U.S. to a hero’s welcome, becoming the first and only classical musician to be treated to a New York ticker-tape parade. His 1958 Grammy-winning recording of Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto became the first classical album to go platinum and was the best-selling classical album for more than a decade. It would eventually go on to go triple platinum and is still available for download in the internet age.

Van Cliburn’s return to Moscow, 2011

In 1962, he became the artistic adviser for his own namesake competition, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held every four years in Ft. Worth, Texas. His own competition now rivals the Tchaikovsky in international stature. He continued performing and recording through the 1960s and 1970s, but after the deaths of his father and manager, he took a hiatus from public life. He came out of retirement in 1987 to perform at the White House for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhael Gorbachev. In 2011, Van Cliburn returned to the XCI Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, where he served as an honorary juror and was treated like a rock star. He died in 2013 at his Ft. Worth home of bone cancer at the age of 78. His funeral was held at the gay-friendly Broadway Baptist Church, and his obituary listed his sole survivor as “his friend of longstanding, Thomas L. Smith.”

Cheyenne Jackson: 1975. He was named for show business, named by his father after a 1950s Western television series. He is a talented actor and singer, working on stage, film and television. His biggest film role to date was as gay 9/11 hero Mark Bingham in the 2006 Oscar nominated United 93, though he was not yet out yet. Publicly at least. He came out to his parents at the age of 19. His conservative Christian family — including his brother who pastors a large evangelical church and often appears on Pat Robertson’s CBN — encouraged him to enroll in an Exodus International program, but he quietly refused. Fortunately, his family has mostly come around since then.

Jackson came out publicly in 2008, in an interview with the New York Times. That same year, he appeared in a New York production of Damn Yankees with Jane Krakowski and Sean Hayes. In 2009, he opened on Broadway in a revival of Finian’s Rainbows. He has also had recurring roles on television with NBC’s 30 Rock and Fox’s Glee. In 2009, he released a CD with Michael Feinstein, The Power Of Two. He is an avid LGBT rights supporter and an ambassador for amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), and in 2011, he appeared in the New York stage reading of Dustin Lance Black’s play, 8, based on on the Proposition 8 trial transcript. In 2011, he married his husband, physicist Monte Lapka, after New York legalized same-sex marriage. The couple have been together since 1999.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


July 12th, 2013

My impression is that Cheyenne Jackson entered public consciousness when he saved the Broadway musical Xanadu. He replaced the leading actor who was injured — the role was performed on roller skates. Jackson wowed, and was off to the races.

I happened to see a 2007 concert production of the Superman musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, at the York Theatre, where Jackson played Clark Kent/Superman (and Lee DeLaria played the mad scientist). He was great. So I was a fan already when Xanadu opened later that month.

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