Arts

Classical Sessions
8:43 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Conjuring An Opera With Ten Fingers

Pianist Louis Lortie makes Wagnerian opera come alive in NPR's Studio 1.
Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:19 pm

It's always been a treat to sit down with pianist Louis Lortie. In part because of his sound at the piano — the brightness, purity and clarity of his playing. But all the better to have a conversation with him, too. He is a sober, serious thinker, with an incisive point of view on every piece of music he chooses.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:25 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Mothers Of Intervention: The Operatic Moms Puzzler

Madama Butterfly is one of many unhappy moms in opera.
Patrick Riviere Getty Images

It's not easy being a mom, but it's even tougher for mothers in opera. So often they're completely absent while fathers have leading roles in shows like Rigoletto, La traviata, The Flying Dutchman. When depicted at all, operatic moms are usually under supreme stress. They can be murderous, manipulative or simply mad. Only rarely are they the loving moms who brought us into the world. Here your job is to identify the operas and their mothers. Score high and brag to your own sweet (or stressed) mom. Score low and go to your room without supper.

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Deceptive Cadence
10:59 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Midspring Surprise: Lost Mendelssohn Song Found

An engraving of composer Felix Mendelssohn, c. 1840.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:04 pm

Twenty-nine gentle measures by Felix Mendelssohn are creating quite a stir — after being lost for more than a century.

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Arts
9:06 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Analog A go go announces 2014 lineup

2014 Analog a go go

The 2014 Analog A go-go festival , hosted by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, celebrates the people who still prefer to listen to  the long playing 33 and 1/3 vinyl record. This year's performers include Bob Mould,

formerly of Husker Du, and the "chamber folk" band, Mutual Benefit.

The festival begins June 13th. Tickets are on sale now.

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Classics in Concert
11:08 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Spring For Music: A Rare American Oratorio At Carnegie Hall

James Conion leads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY on May 09, 2014.
Melanie Burford/Prime Melanie Burford/Prime for NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:16 pm

When NPR Music and WQXR present the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus' performance of R. Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses at Carnegie Hall Friday, there will be one significant difference from its first airing: it should be free of interruptions.

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Author Interviews
5:05 am
Sun May 4, 2014

The 'Marvelous Living' Of Soprano Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman performs late on June 6, 2008 during the 14th Sacred World Music Festival.
Abdelhak Senna AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 1:32 pm

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Music News
5:04 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Hear Hans Zimmer's Bid For The Next Great Screen Composer

Hans Zimmer.
Zoe Zimmer Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 4, 2014 1:06 pm

Crimson Tide, The Lion King, Inception, Gladiator — that's just a handful of the many movies that feature award-winning scores by Hans Zimmer. Lately, Zimmer has lent his ear to soundtracks written by a new generation of aspiring film composers.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:43 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

10 Can't-Miss Classical Music Festivals

Some performances during the Bard Music Festival in the Hudson Valley take place at the Fisher Center, designed by Frank Gehry.
Peter Aaron/Esto

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 9:32 am

In much of the country it still feels like summer is a long way off, but it's not too early to plan on hitting the road and hearing great music. From bucolic college campuses in New England to musical rafting trips down the Colorado, these are 10 of the most intriguing classical festivals. And below them is a listing, by region, of many of the best fests. Been to one we missed? Pass along your own advice in the comments section or via Facebook or Twitter.

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Classics in Concert
10:55 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Seattle Symphony, New Pulitzer Winner At Carnegie Hall

Composer John Luther Adams accepts enthusiastic applause from the Carnegie Hall audience after the New York premiere of his 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, Become Ocean, performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Melanie Burford for NPR Music

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:19 pm

The great outdoors is a perennial theme in classical music, usually expressed through bucolic or picturesque works. But the Seattle Symphony knew that to appear on Spring for Music — an annual festival of adventurous programming by North American orchestras — it required a more unusual, daring take on this theme.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:22 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Coming Soon To Colorado: Wolfgang And Weed

The Colorado Symphony's Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver last summer. If you squint, you can see a cloud of something that's probably not pot smoke.
Matt Korona Courtesy of the Colorado Symphony

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 3:34 pm

Colorado Symphony patrons — if they aren't already — are about to have the option of being Rocky Mountain high.

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Arts
8:34 am
Tue April 29, 2014

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Deceptive Cadence
4:36 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Valentina Lisitsa: Chasing Pianos And YouTube Fans

Valentina Lisitsa's new album, Chasing Pianos, features music from Michael Nyman's score to the 1993 film The Piano.
Alexei Kuznetsoff Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 7:15 pm

Born in Kiev a little more than 40 years ago, Valentina Lisitsa came to America in the early '90s to work as a concert pianist.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:14 am
Fri April 25, 2014

A Trove Of Celluloid, Primed For The Public

Maria Callas at home in her Milan Apartment, in 1958. One of 85,000 archive films British Pathé has uploaded to YouTube.
British Pathé

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 9:42 am

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Music Interviews
1:30 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Vijay Iyer On Q2 Music's 'Spaces'

Q2 Music

Pianist, composer, improviser and 2013 MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer has built a career of making musical connections. Increasingly recognized as one of the most inventive musicians working today, he received an interdisciplinary Ph.D.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:47 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Angst And Excellence In Forgotten Soviet Symphonies

Vadim Salmanov's four symphonies are reissued in live performances conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky.
Melodiya

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 2:14 pm

Soviet composer Vadim Salmanov is little more than a footnote outside Russia, but his four energetic, skillfully orchestrated symphonies are making a small comeback. Russia's venerable Melodiya label has reissued them in a handsomely packaged double-disc set of live recordings made between 1957 and 1977.

Conducted with burning intensity by Yevgeny Mravinsky, Salmanov's rarely heard music soars off these albums with a sound that is thoroughly Russian yet charged with a certain Soviet-era anxiety.

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Classics in Concert
8:27 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra At Carnegie Hall

Every inch of the immense Carnegie Hall was filled with musicians as music director Robert Spano leads his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Benjamin Britten's stunning War Requiem.
Melanie Burford For NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:27 pm

The most successful polemical art succeeds first as art. Benjamin Britten proved that with his War Requiem.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:17 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Pet Sounds: The NPR Music Critter Quiz

Animals are fun to pet. They also make great guest appearances in music.
Roberto A. Sanchez iStock.com

From as far back as we can tell, music makers have been inspired by the flora and especially the fauna around us. From tooting tunes on actual animal horns and bones, to musical portraits of creatures large and small, performers and composers of all stripes have included critters in their creations. In this puzzler, you must identify the creature depicted in the music.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Honey, Blood And Harmony: Jordi Savall's Balkan Journey

Early music specialist Jordi Savall has turned his attention to the widely varied music of the Balkans. "For me," he says, "it's one of the most exciting projects that happened in the last 20 years."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 1:42 pm

Jordi Savall has made a career of reviving ancient music. Whatever the age of the songs, though, he doesn't play them as museum-piece recreations, preserved in isolation. Savall takes great pleasure in smashing together music from different times and different cultures.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:32 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Classical Quartet Gets All Twisted

Look, Ma! Behind our backs!
Courtesy of the artists

A German quartet calling themselves the Salut Salon is surging in social media right now with a bout of one-upwomanship that mixes together music, acrobatics and some good slapstick timing.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:03 am
Thu April 17, 2014

A Visitor's Guide To Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion'

Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion was first heard on Good Friday, 1727 in Leipzig, Germany.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 10:07 am

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his St. Matthew Passion for a single purpose — to present the Passion story in music at Good Friday vesper services.

Bach's Passion continues to move audiences nearly three centuries after it was first heard in St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig, Germany. Standing as one of the pillars of Western sacred music, it is at once monumental and intimate, deeply sorrowful and powerful.

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Music Articles
3:34 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Denied A Stage, She Sang For A Nation

Contralto Marian Anderson sang at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, April 9, 1939, to an estimated crowd of 75,000 people.
University of Pennsylvania

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 2:08 pm

Seventy-five years ago, on April 9, 1939, as Hitler's troops advanced in Europe and the Depression took its toll in the U.S., one of the most important musical events of the 20th century took place on the National Mall in Washington. There, just two performers, a singer and a pianist, made musical — and social — history.

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Deceptive Cadence
10:54 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Fiddle In A Pickle: Jonathan Carney's Concertmaster Quiz

Jonathan Carney is the concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
James Bartolomeo Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

You're seated at the symphony. All the players but one are in place. You're ready for music. Then the first violinist enters to a round of applause and stands next to the conductor's podium while the oboist plays an A. The orchestra tunes up.

That ceremony is just one of many jobs for the concertmaster, Jonathan Carney says. He is the concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

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Music News
5:14 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Musicians, Take Note: Your Instrument May Be Contraband

Antique bows were often made with a small piece of ivory that clamps the bow hairs onto the wood.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 7:29 pm

New Obama administration rules aimed at protecting African elephants are causing widespread anxiety in the music world. From country to classical, working musicians say the policy will make them think twice about touring abroad.

The proposed regulations would place a near-total ban on anything made with ivory moving in and out of the U.S.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:23 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Two Leads, Two Deaths In 18 Hours

Kristine Opolais made her Madama Butterfly debut as Cio-Cio-San, only to get a last-minute call to play Mimi in La Boheme.
Marty Sohl Metropolitan Opera

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 7:29 pm

Over the weekend, soprano Kristine Opolais sang her heart out — and died twice.

Friday evening she had sung the lead in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It was her debut in that role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was a big deal. Opolais was so excited about it that she stayed up until five the next morning.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:45 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

A Time Capsule From A Soviet-Era Childhood

Music from the Suitcase: A Collection of Russian Miniatures
Corey Hayes Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 3:49 pm

Violinist Yevgeny Kutik was born in 1985 in the city of Minsk, in what is now Belarus. When he was 4 years old, his parents decided it was time to leave the country and come to America.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:14 am
Thu April 3, 2014

How Do You Sweep The Ivy League? Practice — The Viola. (Really.)

Was playing a much-maligned instrument — or writing about it beautifully — part of Kwasi Enin's secret? (Not that he is playing the 'Archinto' Stradivarius pictured here.)
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

By now, you may have heard about Kwasi Enin, the impressive young man from Long Island who has been accepted into the classes of 2018 at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale (all eight Ivy League universities) as well as Duke and three campuses of the State University of New York.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:03 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Valkyries Ride All Night To Save Opera Company

Gods, monsters and Rhinemaidens populate Richard Wagner's 16-hour epic Ring cycle.
Marco Secchi Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 5:33 pm

(Happy April Fools 2014. See you next year.)

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First Listen
11:04 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

First Listen: Valentina Lisitsa, 'Chasing Pianos'

Valentina Lisitsa's new Chasing Pianos features Michael Nyman's music for the Oscar-winning film The Piano.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:06 am

Music is an aural medium, but the two musicians represented on this album have careers defined, at least in part, by visuals. Valentina Lisitsa, the 44-year-old Ukrainian-born pianist, revived her stalled career by uploading videos of herself playing Chopin to YouTube. After millions clicked, she landed a record deal.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:01 am
Thu March 27, 2014

The Kronos Quartet: Still Daring After All These Years

The Kronos Quartet (from left): David Harrington, John Sherba, Sunny Yang and Hank Dutt.
Jay Blakesberg Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:18 pm

Kronos Quartet is celebrating 40 years of playing music together — and to mark the occasion, they're playing a celebration concert at Carnegie Hall in New York tomorrow night. Since their founding, the San Francisco-based string quartet has become one of the most visible ensembles in classical music. The players have done it by championing new and underheard music, and by coming up with a business model that was unheard of for a chamber group four decades ago.

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Music
8:03 am
Wed March 26, 2014

A Field Recording Bonus Track: The Silk Road Swings

Sandeep Das, Shane Shanahan, Mark Suter and Joseph Gramley, percussionists in the Silk Road Ensemble, perform at ACME Studio in Brooklyn, New York, for a Field Recordings video shoot.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:52 pm

We had so much fun taping cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble's Field Recording, we couldn't stop at just one selection, so we recorded the group's four talented percussionists in a deep groove.

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