Alex Prager was on her way, on the cutting edge of nostalgia
as a “safety net” for the age of angst, soothing her viewers
with “a warm air of familiarity” when she wasn’t evoking, as
Hollywood sometimes does, a world “completely tragic and
morbid.” All of her scenes she shoots in a studio, even those
on a beach. For Face in the Crowd she used a sound stage, with
four sets going at one time for four days, while she pirouetted
among them, in constant rotation.
“The thing about Hollywood,” she said, “is the question,
‘Is this person real,’ or a character made up for this occasion?”
Prager’s characters are definitely made up for the occasion,
but the work is real, and brilliant.
Like Alex Prager, Conrad Tao found high school
problematic. A prodigy of the piano who started performing
Conrad Tao. Photo by Mark Kitaoka
professionally at 12, he pursued his education, to the
extent he could, in the Juilliard Pre-College Division, the
Professional Children’s School, and, independently, through
the Indiana University High School of Continuing Studies.
Conrad excelled at the violin too, but, like Anna-Sophia van
Zweden, he “took early retirement” from that instrument, at
14. Still, he sometimes composes on the violin, or the piano,
or he writes his music “straight onto the computer,” as he
partly did in The World Is Very Different Now, commissioned by
the DSO for its concert commemorating John F. Kennedy
on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The piece, also
written on piano, was so impressive the Symphony made
Conrad Tao its composer-in-residence for 2015–2016.
All this I learned in a bracing phone conversation with