Arts and culture

It was 30 years ago today that a single American hostage was killed by terrorists during the hijacking of a cruise ship by pro-Palestinian terrorists in the Mediterranean Sea. Leon Klinghoffer's death was the inspiration for a controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, composed by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman and directed by Peter Sellars.

A Body, Transformed

Oct 6, 2015

The musician and multimedia artist Laurie Anderson has long made America one of her great themes; her panoptic, early '80s magnum opus was titled United States, and her work has shown enduring fascination, and disquiet, with the way our national culture conducts itself. But Habeas Corpus, a multimedia work and concert presented at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City Friday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 4, was remarkable even by her own standards.

Stephen Sondheim is widely viewed as the greatest living composer in American musical theater. "Send in the Clowns," from the show A Little Night Music, may be his most famous work — and yet you might not recognize the song as reimagined for solo piano by Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus.

The New York Philharmonic At Carnegie Hall

Oct 1, 2015

To open its 125th season, Carnegie Hall is bringing back the New York Philharmonic, an orchestra that presided there from 1891 until 1962 in more than 5,000 concerts — the most of any ensemble in the venue's storied history.

It's difficult enough to start an orchestra, but Zuhal Sultan founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (NYOI) as a teenager in the middle of a war. She brought together 40 young musicians from different Iraqi cities and sectarian backgrounds in an effort to unify a divided nation. Now, six years later, the Euphrates Institute has named her Visionary of the Year.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of Oct. 5th, 2015

Welcome to the first day of fall — at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere. There's a noticeable chill in the air, the leaves are starting to shift color and perhaps you find yourself turning a little more inward in your mood and your musical tastes.

Composers and songwriters have plenty to say about the changing seasons. To mark the Autumnal Equinox, try this fall music quiz stocked with songs of wistful introspection. Score high and revel in autumn's golden glow. Score low and feel the sadness of earlier and earlier sunsets.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of Sept.28st, 2015

When the curtain rises on the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Verdi's Otello tonight, opera fans will quickly notice what's not there. For the first time since the opera was first staged at the Met in 1891, a white singer performing the title role will not be wearing makeup to darken his complexion to play the Moor at the center of the tragedy.

Sharon Isbin On Song Travels

Sep 18, 2015

Renowned classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has released more than 25 albums, toured worldwide and premiered some of the finest new guitar works of the last century. Trained by the legendary Andrés Segovia, Isbin is the first and only female guitarist to win a classical Grammy. She's also the founder and director of the guitar department at the Juilliard School of Music.

On this episode of Song Travels, Isbin's mastery is on display as she shares notable recordings of her work and performs from her classical repertoire.

Over in London, the Independent's arts editor, David Lister, recently published a scathing commentary about the paucity of valuable or even interesting information in artist biographies. He wrote it in a fury after paying £4 to obtain the program for a Proms concert he attended, featuring the excellent German violinist Julia Fischer.

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don't expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of Sept.21st, 2015

Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things ... and maybe none of them.

When it comes to artistic partnerships, there's a lot to be said for the fireworks of musicians joining together for the first time. But there's another kind of collaboration that can yield profound pleasure: a recording with two artists who know each other deeply, in a relationship that has unfolded over years or even decades.

Even Judith LeClair, principal bassoonist in the New York Philharmonic, says there are issues with her instrument. "A lot of people call it an oboe," she once told CNN. "It's not as recognized as a flute or a trumpet." And it certainly doesn't sound like those, either.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of Sept.14th, 2015

Sleep. It's both an oasis where our physical and mental batteries get recharged and a playground for the subconscious. It's also the subject of Max Richter's latest project, SLEEP, which inspired this video by Yulia Mahr.

Trouble Sleeping? A Composer Wants To Help

Sep 3, 2015

British composer Max Richter spent about two years writing and recording a piece of music which, if it's successful, few people will hear in full. It's a composition called Sleep and it runs eight hours long — the perfect length for a good night's rest. The full version of the piece will be released as a digital album Friday.

New Orleans can proudly be called the birthplace of jazz, but the city has also been a cradle for classical music. Opera was heard there as early as 1796. And just a few decades later, in 1829, the city produced America's first musical superstar — Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of Sept.7th, 2015

The well-established soundscape at Burning Man is an audio layer cake of dubstep and techno. More than 60,000 people will gather in the Nevada desert next week for the annual arts festival — and many of them will spend their nights at post-apocalyptic raves, spinning fiery hula hoops and passing ChapStick around the dance floor.

"Eat, sleep, rave, repeat. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat," was the refrain of one song played all over the playa last year.

News about the stock market's ups and downs hardly comes as music to the ears — unless you happen to be experimental musician Jace Clayton.

Clayton, who also performs and records as DJ /rupture, is working on a new composition called Gbadu And The Moirai Index, which uses an algorithm to translate the market's movements into a piece for four voices. Each singer plays a mythological character — the Moirai are the three Greek goddesses of fate, and Gbadu is a dual-gendered West African fate deity.

Last weekend, thousands of uncommonly refined punks flooded the Estonian town of Rakvere to participate in the third Punk Song Festival (previous gatherings were held in 2008 and 2011).