Jeff Lunden

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.

Lunden contributed several segments to the Peabody Award-winning series The NPR 100, and was producer of the NPR Music series Discoveries at Walt Disney Concert Hall, hosted by Renee Montagne. He has produced more than a dozen documentaries on musical theater and Tin Pan Alley for NPR — most recently A Place for Us: Fifty Years of West Side Story.

Other documentaries have profiled George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen and Jule Styne. Lunden has won several awards, including the Gold Medal from the New York Festival International Radio Broadcasting Awards and a CPB Award.

Lunden is also a theater composer. He wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Arthur Kopit's Wings (book and lyrics by Arthur Perlman), which won the 1994 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Other works include Another Midsummer Night, Once on a Summer's Day and adaptations of The Little Prince and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Theatreworks/USA.

Lunden is currently working with Perlman on an adaptation of Swift as Desire, a novel of magic realism from Like Water for Chocolate author Laura Esquivel. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Music Interviews
7:52 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Oratorio Tackles The Issue Of Leaks From 'The Source'

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 11:57 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Theater
10:29 am
Sun October 5, 2014

Seeing Neurological Patients As Characters, Not Case Studies

Kathryn Hunter, Jared McNeill and Marcello Magni star in The Valley of Astonishment.
Pascal Victor/ArtComArt

Originally published on Sun October 5, 2014 1:51 pm

Peter Brook is truly the grand old man of world theater. He became famous with his productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the early 1960s; wrote the seminal theater text The Empty Space; and started the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris, where he developed such plays as the nine-hour adaptation of the Sanskrit epic, The Mahabharata.

Now, at the age of 89, Brook has brought his company to Brooklyn with a new play all about the mysteries of the human brain.

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Music News
4:52 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

New Boston Symphony Music Director Andris Nelsons: 'It's Not A Job — It's Life'

"The music's kind of oozing out of not just his hands, but his whole body," Boston Symphony managing director Mark Volpe says of the orchestra's new music director, Andris Nelsons.
Marco Borggreve Boston Symphony Orchestra

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 8:23 pm

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Music News
6:51 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Nonesuch At 50: A Record Label Without Borders

Björk's interdisciplinary project Biophilia was released on the Nonesuch label in 2011.
Nonesuch

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 12:08 pm

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Nonesuch Records, which started as a tiny independent budget classical label in 1964, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with three weeks of concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The label became a force in the recording industry by pioneering electronic music and world music, launching the ragtime revival and becoming a place where contemporary classical composers had a home. Now an industry powerhouse, Nonesuch still operates like an independent record company.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:14 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Met Opera Tentatively Settles With 2 Major Unions

The Metropolitan Opera has settled labor contracts with two of its largest unions.
Jonathan Ticler Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 6:32 pm

A labor crisis threatening to shut down New York's Metropolitan Opera — the largest opera house in the world — appears to have been averted. Two of the major unions announced a tentative settlement this morning. While agreements with 10 additional unions need to be reached by Tuesday night, this represents a major turning point in a bitter dispute.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:07 am
Thu July 31, 2014

On The Eve Of A Possible Lockout, Met Opera Talks Remain Contentious

A worker unveils posters Tuesday for the coming season of New York's Metropolitan Opera. The Met's fall schedule could be in jeopardy if failed labor negotiations result in a lockout Friday.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

At the Metropolitan Opera, drama is usually onstage. But for the past several months, it's been in the newspapers.

Contract deadlines for 15 of the 16 unions at the Met in New York are set to expire at midnight tonight, and negotiations will likely go down to the wire. A lockout shutting down the world's largest opera house seems imminent.

Management wants concessions from the unions to offset dwindling ticket sales. Union employees think they're being asked to pay for unchecked spending.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:35 am
Sat July 26, 2014

War Of Words At Met Opera May Signal Shutdown

Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Met's production of Wagner's Ring cycle, one of the productions that has been criticized by some as too costly.
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:32 pm

When an opera company is in the midst of contentious labor negotiations, the results can be dramatic. This week, the war of words between unions and management at New York's Metropolitan Opera, the world's largest opera company, escalated. An Aug. 1 shut down now seems likely.

At the center of the debate is the ballooning Met budget, which stood at $200 million in 2006 but has since climbed to more than $325 million. Met General Manager Peter Gelb asserts that union salaries and benefits are his biggest costs, accounting for two-thirds of the operating budget.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:25 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Labor Conflict May Lock Out Met Opera Workers

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb has warned union workers of a lockout if a contract deal isn't settled by July 31.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 6:22 pm

The clock is ticking for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The world's largest opera company may be headed for a shutdown. Most of the union contracts for the Met expire in a week. Yesterday, Met General Manager Peter Gelb sent a letter to the unions, warning them to prepare for a lockout if they don't come to terms.

For months now, the company and its unions have been at an impasse. Management has proposed cutting 16 percent of union members' compensation. Otherwise, Gelb contends, the company could go bankrupt in two to three years.

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Music News
5:16 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Even Broadway Has Its B-Sides: The Lost Songs Of Sheldon Harnick

Acclaimed songwriter Sheldon Harnick turned 90 in April.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:50 pm

Sheldon Harnick has been a working lyricist for over 60 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the musical Fiorello! and a Tony Award for Fiddler On The Roof. But he says a career in the theater means writing some songs that, for whatever reason, don't make the show.

"Sometimes, the song was changed because a scene was changed and it no longer accommodated the song," Harnick says. "So, sometimes there had to be a new song."

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Deceptive Cadence
5:28 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

New York Philharmonic's Lead Fiddler Rests His Bow

Glenn Dicterow joined the New York Philharmonic as its concertmaster in 1980. He has performed as its soloist every year since.
Chris Lee Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:58 am

Most people who attend symphony performances can spot the concertmaster. That's the first chair violinist who enters before the conductor and helps tune the orchestra. But the all important position calls for much more than that — from playing tricky solos to shaping the sound of the string section.

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Music
4:21 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

State Of The Art: New York Philharmonic's Biennial

Music collective Bang on a Can All-Stars is one of the musical partners sharing a bill with the New York Philharmonic during the Biennial.
Konstantin Sergeyev Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 8:22 pm

Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic, isn't scared of new music — and he doesn't think audiences should be, either.

"Frankly, the reason I do new music is I like a lot of it," Gilbert says.

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The Record
3:56 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Well Into Spring, 'Frozen' Soundtrack Keeps The Charts Cool

Singer Idina Menzel (center) and Frozen songwriters Bobby Lopez (left) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez pose with gold records in February. Since then, the movie's soundtrack has sold over 1.5 million more copies.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images for Disney

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 3:26 pm

Disney's animated film Frozen has been racking up impressive statistics since it was released last November. Its box office earnings total $1 billion, worldwide, the movie won two Academy Awards, and on the first day the home video came out, it sold 3.2 million copies. But one stat has taken both Disney and industry analysts by surprise: The soundtrack has become a phenomenon, topping the Billboard 200 chart 13 times.

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Theater
10:49 am
Sun April 20, 2014

Daniel Radcliffe's 'Crippled' Role Reaches Out To The Remote

Daniel Radcliffe (right) plays Billy, in a scene with Pat Shortt as Johnnypateenmike, in the Broadway production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan.
Johan Persson Michael Grandage Company

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 11:53 am

Even before he finished his eight-film run as Harry Potter, actor Daniel Radcliffe spent a considerable time devoted to the stage, both in London and New York. He appeared on Broadway in Equus and spent a year playing J. Pierrepont Finch, the lead role in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old actor opens at Broadway's Cort Theatre in a production of Martin McDonagh's dark Irish comedy, The Cripple of Inishmaan.

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Music News
10:26 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Collecting Money For Songwriters, A 100-Year Tug Of War

ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento, member Katy Perry and president Paul Williams at the 2012 Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood, Calif.
Frank Micelotta PictureGroup

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 6:06 pm

A hundred years ago, the Italian operatic composer Giacomo Puccini was having lunch in New York with Victor Herbert, the leading composer of operettas in this country. Then, the band in the restaurant began playing music from Herbert's current hit, Sweethearts. Puccini became outraged, according to songwriter Paul Williams, the current president of the performing-rights organization ASCAP.

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Theater
3:30 am
Mon February 3, 2014

'After Midnight,' And The Cotton Club Is Swinging Again

Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who went on to play the lead role in Broadway's The Color Purple, was among the rotating roster of guest stars in After Midnight, a Broadway revue celebrating Harlem's legendary Cotton Club and the stars who performed there.
Matthew Murphy

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 7:43 am

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Deceptive Cadence
9:38 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Oppression To Opera: Could A Woman's Courage Change Pakistan?

Left to right: Kamala Sankaram as Mukhtar Mai, Steve Gokool, Theodora Hanslowe, Leela Subramaniam, Kannan Vasudevan, Manu Narayan.
Prototype Opera Festival

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

Mukhtar Mai is from a small tribal village in Pakistan. In 2002, her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman from a wealthy land-owning clan. What happened next was horrifying, says singer and composer Kamala Sankaram.

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Theater
3:26 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Broadway's 'Spider-Man' Musical Turns Off The Lights At Last

Reeve Carney (right) handed off the lead role in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to successor Justin Matthew Sargent in September 2013. The show closes Jan. 4, and the Smithsonian Institution announced today that it's acquiring Carney's costume.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 9:23 am

Regardless of how critics and audiences eventually responded, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was always going to be one of the most-discussed shows in Broadway history. It had songs by U2's Bono and the Edge; it was directed by The Lion King's Julie Taymor; it was based on a hit Marvel franchise; there were going to be flying stunts right over the audience's heads.

And then somehow it all went very wrong, from injured actors to huge cost overruns.

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Business
4:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Owner Promises Handmade Steinways For Years To Come

Some Steinway company representatives and employees — like Wally Boot, pictured here — have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
Craig Warga Bloomberg/Getty

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:30 am

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

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Books News & Features
5:48 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Energetic, Intimate 'Letters' Reveal Private Leonard Bernstein

Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, shown here conducting the New York Philharmonic orchestra in 1963, was a legend in American music. Letters to and from Bernstein have been compiled into The Leonard Bernstein Letters, a new book edited by Nigel Simeone.
Express Newspapers Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 2:10 pm

Leonard Bernstein was a singular American genius. One of the great orchestra conductors of the 20th Century, he was also a composer of hit musicals like West Side Story, as well as symphonies and ballets. He was a teacher and television personality — his Young People's Concerts introduced generations of children to classical music.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:45 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Chronicle Of A Death Foretold: New York City Opera Shuts Its Doors

The New York City Opera let its final curtain fall Saturday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a production of Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Stephanie Berger

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 6:16 pm

This morning the New York City Opera announced that it was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations. Dubbed "The People's Opera" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia when it was founded 70 years ago, the company was meant as an alternative to the richer Metropolitan Opera. It's the place where exciting young singers like Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo made their New York debuts and where innovative productions of new operas premiered.

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Theater
4:51 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

An American Masterpiece, And A 'Menagerie' Of Stars

In a Broadway transfer of the American Repertory Theatre's acclaimed production of The Glass Menagerie, Cherry Jones plays Amanda, mother to the very troubled Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger). The play cemented Tennessee Williams' reputation as an American original when it premiered in 1945.
Michael J. Lutch

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:19 pm

Pop-culture aficionadoes will know Zachary Quinto as Spock in the cinematic reboot of Star Trek, and Cherry Jones as President Taylor from television's 24.

But both are accomplished stage actors as well. And tonight, they're opening on Broadway, in a revival of Tennessee Williams' classic play The Glass Menagerie.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:18 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

New York City's 'People's Opera' May Face Its Final Curtain

Pamela Armstrong (left) as Alice Ford and Heather Johnson as Meg Page in New York City Opera's production of Falstaff. The so called people's opera may have to cancel its upcoming season if fundraising falls short.
Carol Rosegg New York City Opera

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 10:15 pm

There are a lot of operas that end with heroines on their deathbeds, singing one glorious aria before they die. That's what happens at the end of Anna Nicole, the controversial new work that New York City Opera is presenting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in September. But the company's artistic director and general manager, George Steel, says it could also be City Opera's last gasp.

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Theater
5:34 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

'Love's Labours,' Tuned Up And Playing In The Park

Daniel Breaker, a Juilliard-trained actor who's earned praise for roles as varied as Donkey in Shrek the Musical and the protagonist Youth in Passing Strange, gets to play a king in a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.
Tammy Shell The Public Theater

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 7:14 pm

A few years ago, after songwriter Michael Friedman and writer-director Alex Timbers had finished working on their cheeky historical musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, they decided to look for a new project to work on. Friedman says they wanted the next show to have a completely different feel.

"So we started looking at Shakespeare," Friedman says. "And then, I think, we came to sort of, 'How amazing would it be to work on a romantic comedy?' "

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Music Interviews
2:03 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Audra McDonald, A Broadway Star Gone Roaming, Comes Home

Audra McDonald's new album, Go Back Home, marks a return to her roots in musical theater.
Autumn de Wilde Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 9:24 am

In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.

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Theater
2:32 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

'Matilda' Brings Beloved Book To Broadway

The Broadway cast of Matilda the Musical, including Olivier Award-winning actor Bertie Carvel as the barbaric headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 5:49 pm

Matilda is a well-loved book by Roald Dahl, who's been called the greatest children's storyteller of the 20th century. It's about a much-put-upon little girl with tremendous gifts. Now, Matilda has been turned into a Broadway musical.

The British import, which won last year's prestigious Olivier Award and features a revolving cast of four little girls in the lead role, opens in New York tonight.

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Theater
4:33 am
Sat April 6, 2013

On Broadway, Old Shows And New Tricks

Willemjin Verkaik is the latest leading lady to play Elphaba, the misunderstood green girl who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West in Broadway's long-running Wicked. She has also played the role in Dutch and German in Europe.
Bankhoff-Mogenburg

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 11:08 am

When I was a teenager falling in love with the theater, I picked up a book called Broadway's Greatest Musicals. The sole criterion for inclusion was that a show run for at least 500 performances, which translates to about a year and a quarter.

How quaint.

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Theater
5:15 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Nora Ephron's 'Lucky Guy' And Tom Hanks Make Their Broadway Debuts

Nora Ephron's final play, Lucky Guy, tells the story of controversial New York columnist Mike McAlary, played by Tom Hanks. (Also pictured: Peter Gerety as John Cotter).
Boneau / Bryan-Brown

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 8:57 pm

Several years ago, when Nora Ephron handed Tom Hanks an early draft of Lucky Guy, her play about tabloid journalist Mike McAlary, he had a pretty strong reaction.

"I said, 'Well, that guy's sure a jerk!' I used another word besides jerk — I know what you can say on NPR," he says. "And she laughed and she said, 'Well, he kinda was. But he was kinda great, too.'"

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Deceptive Cadence
3:18 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Singing The Praises Of Pre-Dawn Walks

Jazz composer Maria Schneider (left) and soprano Dawn Upshaw collaborated on the new album Winter Morning Walks.
Jimmy & Dena Katz Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 8:50 am

Minnesota-born composer Maria Schneider has called New York home for more than 30 years, and she knows how to find nature in the middle of the city. Because her new album is called Winter Morning Walks, we walked to her favorite bird-watching spot in Central Park on a chilly February morning.

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Theater
6:20 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

For This Pair Of Clowns, 'Old Hats' Means New Laughs

Nellie McKay, David Shiner and Bill Irwin use old-time comedy, newfangled tricks and zany music to score laughs in their new theatrical revue, Old Hats.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 7:14 pm

Twenty years ago, theatrical clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner collaborated on a Broadway show called Fool Moon — a giddy mixture of slapstick, improv and audience participation that proved such a success that it came back to Broadway for two more runs and toured both the U.S. and Europe. Now Irwin and Shiner have put together a new show called Old Hats, and it's been receiving rave reviews off-Broadway.

Irwin and Shiner's rubber-faced, loose-bodied clowning hasn't gotten easier over two decades.

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History
3:40 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Grand Central, A Cathedral For Commuters, Celebrates 100

Originally published on

Friday marks the day that 100 years ago, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors for business for the very first time. The largest railroad terminal in the world, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building is in the heart of New York City on 42nd St. And while it no longer serves long-distance trains, it's still a vibrant part of the city's eco-system.

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