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Sir Jonathan Mills to host public lectures at Yale

Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director to address issues related to “Culture, Creativity, and Community”
September 15, 2017

Sir Jonathan Mills. Photo by Seamus McGarvey

Sir Jonathan Mills, Trumbull Fellow, will present a series of four public lectures that will collectively address issues related to “Culture, Creativity, and Community.” Mills, who is known for his directorship, from 2006 until 2014, of the internationally celebrated Edinburgh International Festival, has also led prestigious festivals in his native Australia and is recognized around the world for his thought-provoking compositions. Mills holds a bachelor of music degree in composition from the University of Sydney and a master of architecture from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2011 and knighted in 2013. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, September 26
“A Potted History of Festivals and Festival Making”
4:30 p.m., Sudler Recital Hall, William L. Harkness Hall

As you read this brief description, chances are several new festivals will have been inaugurated, somewhere in the world. But are such events genuine? Do they achieve that special mixture of substance and serendipity, so essential to the intriguing, immersive idea of a festival? What do we even mean when we use the word? Using the festival as a model for social and artistic engagement, Jonathan Mills explores aspects of the complex relationships between ritual and place, habit and space, that throughout history have come to define an illusive, fragile, universal though diverse phenomenon – a festival.

Thursday, October 5
“A State of the Arts”
The case for cosmopolitanism – putting culture at the center of multiculturalism
5 p.m., Whitney Humanities Center, Auditorium

We live in a world that faces huge challenges: exploding population growth, diminishing natural resources, vanishing indigenous cultures, increasing tribalism and bitter localized feuds, human dislocation of unprecedented dimensions, large-scale suffering from easily preventable or treatable diseases. It is increasingly evident that we will not be able to rationalize or legislate, let alone engineer, our way beyond our current predicaments. Culture is a prism through which to perceive the equilibrium of any society. The value of the arts has an inestimable impact on not only the vibrancy of the world we create, but also on the ways in which such challenges might be addressed.  Jonathan Mills explores ways in which one might conceive of a central role for an engagement with culture as an essential element of understanding, imagining, and realizing our social and economic well-being.

Monday, October 9
“Artists and Communities – Performing the City”
6:30 p.m., Paul Rudolph Hall, Yale School of Architecture, Hastings Hall (basement level) 

“Just as places are sensed, senses are placed” – Maurice Merleau Ponty

How do we respond to the intimate details of our surroundings? Our homes, or streets? Our neighborhoods and offices? Our urban, or, decreasingly, our rural environments? Driving through a city, a town, a neighborhood, even within speed limits, how much do we really notice? Are the textures and assemblages of buildings and streetscapes, landmarks and landscapes, ever more than fleeting glances? Are we doing anything other than passing through? Do we truly inhabit or celebrate the places in which we work, love, or play? What kind of sensory relationships exist within these familiar places? Do we perform, through ritual or reverie, consciously or intuitively, simple acts of recognition to reflect upon and evoke the places in which we live  and how those places and spaces transform over time? Jonathan Mills explores the idea of performance as a way in which we might want to inhabit and reimagine our place in the world.

Watch this lecture live, online here.

Tuesday, October 24
Improvisation and Leadership”
5 p.m., Evans Hall, Yale School of Management, Room 4410

How stable or predictable is our world? Can we truly know what the future holds for any of us? Are we in control of our lives or livelihoods? Or is life nothing more than a great big improvisation? The very word “improvisation” conjures images of mellow musicians spontaneously sparking off one another in remarkable and ingenious ways.  The idea of improvisation is much more than a musical phenomenon. In so many ways, and in a wide variety of professional circumstances, at some stage in our careers, we are all called upon to improvise. How we choose to respond to such moments can define our personal, professional, and ethical achievements. Drawing on a range of personal experiences, Jonathan Mills proposes to develop a repertoire of improvisational scenarios and link them to the insights of leadership.

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