The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach’s 76-year-old cultural institution, will be announcing its much-anticipated 2012-2013 season lineup of concerts, literary events, art exhibits, films and more next week. But in the meantime, Boca Raton asked the Society about its 2013 O’Keeffe Speaker Series, which regularly brings some of the biggest names in politics, art history and entertainment to Palm Beach. This year proved to be no exception.
Here’s a preview of the speaker’s lineup, more than a week before the official announcement. All lectures will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays at 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach.
(Note: Four Arts members will be admitted free with their membership cards. Nonmember tickets to a live telecast of the speakers’ presentations will go on sale for $15 one hour before the lecture begins. Book signings following the lectures, when applicable, are free and open to the public).
Jan. 8: Michael Beschloss: “America in the 21st Century: The American President and the Next Four Years.”
No matter who wins the presidency for the next four years, presidential historian Beschloss will be there to document his tenure and situate it in its proper historic context. Beschloss has written books about Truman, Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson, plus a tome about presidential courage spanning 200 years. His latest book, released this month, is “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.”
Jan. 22: George Will: “America in the 21st Century: The Political Argument Today.”
The Four Arts’ political series continues with one of the luminaries of modern conservatism – or at least pre-Tea Party conservatism. An expert on politics, policy and baseball, Will is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a former editor of The National Review, who was once called “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.” He is the author, most recently, of “One Man’s America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation.”
Jan. 29: Stanley Tucci: “An Afternoon With Stanley Tucci”
No specific topic is necessary for this guest, the most recognizable name on the Four Arts’ speaker schedule. One of Hollywood’s most in-demand character actors, Tucci has acted in more than 60 films in the past 27 years, including titles from John Huston, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Sam Mendes and Peter Jackson. He has also directed renowned independent films, has been nominated for an Oscar, Emmy and Grammy, and is an avid foodie whose “Tucci Cookbook” will be released in October.
Feb. 5: Marlene Strauss: “Andy Warhol: His Life and Art”
Art historian Marlene Strauss will make a rare Palm Beach visit to discuss the life, art and legacy of Andy Warhol, whose death reached a 25-year milestone this year. Strauss has lectured at such cultural institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and the Art Institute of Chicago, but her speeches are not only for the art-collecting elite; she’s known for relating art and artists to everyday life, bringing an infectious enthusiasm to her work.
Feb. 12: Norman Lamont: “The Crisis in the Eurozone: How It Affects America and the World”
It’s not often we have a baron in our wings. OK, in Palm Beach it’s probably more often than anywhere else, but nonetheless, Baron Lamont of Lerwick is a pretty big deal. A former Conservative MP, Lamont served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in John Major’s government from 1990 to 1993. An astute political mind who has authored three books, Lamont will address the Eurozone crisis and the economic instability overseas, issues that will surely be as pressing in February as they are now.
Feb. 19: Dennis Ross: “Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East”
Speaking of issues that will be as relevant in five months – and five years – as they are now, Dennis Ross has the task of breaking down America’s future Mideast policy in just about an hour, a topic that could extend to an entire college course. But if anyone can do so, it’s Ross, a diplomat who has worked on Middle East issues for presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and his vision includes a 12-step plan for Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations. His five books include the pertinent “Myths, Illusions and Peace.”
Feb. 26: Eric Whitacre: “The Virtual Choir”
Composer and conductor Whitacre dreamed of being a rock star before a singing of Mozart’s “Requiem” changed his life; he later graduated from Juilliard and has taken the classical music world by storm. A 2012 Grammy winner for his best-selling “Light & Gold,” Whitacre has succeeded in democratizing classical music to a larger audience, thanks in part to the “Virtual Choir” project he’ll be discussing here – which involves joining together thousands of voices from around the world in an online choir. So far, the project has received more than 3 million hits on the Web.
March 5: Douglas Brinkley: “Cronkite”
“The evening news isn’t what is used to be.” It’s a refrain we’ve been hearing ad nauseum for years now, particularly since we lost Walter Cronkite in 2009. Historian and college professor Brinkley, a six-time recipient of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year honors, recently published the 832-page “Cronkite,” the definitive account of Cronkite’s life – and how the newscaster shaped and was shaped by the events around him. Chris Matthews, who knows a thing or two about presidential biographies, called it “majestic.”
March 12: Judy Collins: “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes”
Iconic singer-songwriter Collins released her first album, 1961’s “A Maid of Constant Sorrow,” at age 22, and remains an active musician today, at 73. Along the way, she has built an eclectic repertoire of originals and cover songs, playing the music of everyone from the Beatles to Kurt Weill, and dabbling in folk, show tunes, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and standards. A Grammy-winning activist who represents for UNICEF and campaigns to abolish landmines, Collins will discuss her 2012 autobiography “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: A Life in Music.”
March 19: Renee Fleming: “An Afternoon with Renee Fleming”
There is apparently nothing Renee Fleming cannot sing. The soprano vocalist’s repertoire ranges from Mozart to Arcade Fire to jazz and opera; she is fluent in three languages and has performed operas in six of them. A natural comedian as well as an uncannily talented singer, Fleming has appeared on “Sesame Street” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Her impressive list of albums is as long as a wine list at a gourmet restaurant, and most of them are just as vintage.
March 26: Sally Bedell Smith: “Elizabeth the Queen”
The last of several great historians edifying Four Arts visitors this season, Smith is a distinguished author who delves deeply into the lives of American and British political figures. Her previous subjects have been William S. Paley, the Kennedys, the Clintons and Princess Diana; her latest book is “Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch,” exploring the public and private lives of Britain’s much-scrutinized monarch.