Arts

Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Eliot Fisk And Paco Peña: Tiny Desk Concert

Paco Pena performs at the Tiny Desk in April 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 10:07 am

Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:50 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Join A Nationwide Performance Of The National Anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner manuscript and flag together in a gallery at the National Museum of American History.
Jaclyn Nash Jaclyn Nash/National Museum of American History

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 8:49 am

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Code Switch
4:55 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

An Opera Remembers The Tragedy Of An Asian-American Soldier

Andrew Stenson plays Pvt. Danny Chen in An American Soldier, a new opera about the hazing and death of the Chinese-American soldier from New York City.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 12:34 pm

About two years ago, playwright David Henry Hwang turned down an offer to write a play about the brief life and suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen.

But an opera? He couldn't refuse.

"This is a story with big emotions, big primary colors in a way, and big plot events," says Hwang, who wrote the libretto for An American Soldier, a new hourlong opera commissioned by Washington National Opera.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:29 am
Thu June 12, 2014

The Concerto: A 400-Year-Old Recipe That Still Cooks

American composer John Adams has written a new concerto for saxophone.
Nonesuch

The concerto. It's a musical recipe more than 400 years old but composers still cook with it. And why shouldn't they? We still seem to crave the sound of a virtuosic soloist playing with (and often against) an orchestra. As in centuries past, virtuosos still inspire, and in many cases commission, composers to write some of their best music, which can push an instrument to its creative limit.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:14 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Rafael Fruhbeck De Burgos, Versatile Spanish Conductor, Dies At 80

The versatile Spanish conductor Rafael Frübeck de Burgos.
Morten Abrahamsen

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 12:44 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
10:55 am
Wed June 11, 2014

The Composer As Sphinx: A Richard Strauss Puzzler

Composer Richard Strauss in London in 1914.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 11:12 am

Music by Richard Strauss is heard in symphony halls and opera houses across the world. He needs little help to boost his considerable fame. Yet 150 years after his birth, the German composer remains an enigma to some classical music fans and a polarizing figure for others. A perfect candidate, in other words, for a musical puzzler.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Tue June 10, 2014

I Hear Bells: The NPR Music Wedding Puzzler

If it's June, let the wedding bells, and the music, ring out.
iStockphoto.com

Can you hear the wedding bells? June has arrived. Theories vary on why this is the month for marriage. Old traditions like the timing of the harvest season (and pregnancies) might have had something to do with it, or more modern practicalities such as nicer weather and abundant fresh flowers. And then there's the name of the month itself, thought to be inspired by Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:06 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

What Weeks Of Debate Have Shown Us About Women In Classical Music

A prop maker readies a portrait of Octavian (Tara Erraught) in advance of the first performance of Der Rosenkavalier at the Glyndebourne Festival last month.
Matthew Lloyd Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 10:29 am

An astonishing conversation has emerged in the weeks since Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught began her run as Octavian at the Glyndebourne Festival in England. Erraught was excoriated by a handful of male London critics for her weight — prompting a widespread backlash on her behalf in the aftermath of those reviews.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:32 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Simone Dinnerstein: Tiny Desk Concert

Simone Dinnerstein performs a Tiny Desk Concert in April 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Almost any pianist, from a budding beginner to a pro like Simone Dinnerstein, will tell you that one of the basic techniques of keyboard playing is also the toughest to master: making your hands to do separate things simultaneously.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:31 am
Mon June 2, 2014

The Silence And Awe Of Arvo Pärt

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, creator of contemplative music, photographed in 1990 by influential patron Betty Freeman.
Betty Freeman ECM Records

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 12:54 pm

Arvo Pärt is one of the few living composers to find popularity beyond the borders of classical music. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Bjork are big fans.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:02 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Post-Apocalyptic Picnics And Hollywood Steakhouses In Gabriel Kahane's LA

Gabriel Kahane is the rare musician who travels easily between classical, musical theater and pop. His new album is The Ambassador.
Josh Goleman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 6:35 pm

Though New York City-based Gabriel Kahane wasn't raised there, The Ambassador feels like a musical tour of Los Angeles. The album makes 10 stops in the city where the composer and singer-songwriter was born and only came to appreciate later in life, each with a specific address used as the song title.

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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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Classics in Concert
4:10 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Music By Arvo Pärt, From The Met Museum's Temple Of Dendur

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's music is celebrated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a performance of his choral work Kanon Pokajanen at the Temple of Dendur.
Kristian Juul Pedersen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 3:11 pm

Arvo Pärt's devout, contemplative, seemingly timeless music speaks to modern listeners as almost no other composer's does. It has the purity and gravity of monastic chant, the clarity of minimalism and a profound spirituality. These qualities have helped it find a broad audience outside the confines of classical music.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:04 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Read Joyce DiDonato's Inspiring Juilliard Commencement Speech

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.
Simon Pauly Courtesy of the artist

Star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gave the 2014 commencement address at Juilliard Friday — and it's a memorable one, both for her words and by DiDonato's own example as someone whose own career began under low heat.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:35 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

How Do You Get Latino Kids Into Classical Music? Bring The Parents

The 85 musicians in the Santa Cecilia Orchestra are paid professionals who play with other symphonies and in Hollywood studios.
Courtesy of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:53 am

Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.

"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."

That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.

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Music Videos
12:52 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Mark Stewart On Q2 Music's 'Spaces'

Q2 Music

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 11:06 am

In his own words, Mark Stewart makes a living playing a little bit of popular music, quite a bit of semi-popular music and an enormous amount of unpopular music — the last being all the music you probably haven't heard.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

First Listen: Gabriel Kahane, 'The Ambassador'

Gabriel Kahane's new album, The Ambassador, comes out June 3.
Josh Goleman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:59 am

Composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane says that the inspiration for his new album, The Ambassador, is 10 buildings in Los Angeles — appropriate, given what a gifted musical architect he is.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:58 pm
Sat May 24, 2014

A Few Words With Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone became a fixture of global culture with his film music — but as a young composer, he was a radical.
Courtesy of Armonia AC

Originally published on Sun May 25, 2014 2:10 pm

Today at the Cannes Film Festival, attendees marked the 50th anniversary of the spaghetti western at a special screening of A Fistful of Dollars, the Sergio Leone classic that kick-started the genre. Leone's vision of the American West remains singular — and it's impossible to imagine without the iconic music of Ennio Morricone.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:33 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Marin Alsop's Guide To Mendelssohn's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Titania awakes clinging rapturously to Bottom, still wearing the donkey's head, in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mendelssohn wrote music for a production of the play in 1843.
Henry Fuseli Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Growing up as a violinist, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto ranked among my top 10 Holy Grail pieces. As I got older, I moved on to his Octet and Piano Trio in D minor, which became two of my favorite chamber works. There's almost nothing comparable to playing Mendelssohn's Octet with seven great string players. It's absolutely thrilling, energetic, virtuosic, youthful, fun and challenging. And to think that Mendelssohn wrote it when he was just 16.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:27 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Asleep In Dress Blues: Music For Memorial Day

A lone bugler plays "Taps" during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 8:52 am

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Deceptive Cadence
12:57 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

In 2014, The Classical World Still Can't Stop Fat-Shaming Women

How did the figure of Irish mezzo Tara Erraught prompt such a seething mass of contempt from a handful of London critics?
Courtesy of the artist

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Deceptive Cadence
1:23 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Does Accepting A Rose Mean Losing A Career?

The newest round of Bachelorette contestants include an aspiring popera dude.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 5:08 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat May 17, 2014

Iestyn Davies: Tiny Desk Concert

Iestyn Davies performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 11:05 am

The Bee Gees did it. So do Smokey Robinson, Prince and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. They all sing in the high register usually associated with female singers.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:36 am
Sat May 17, 2014

'The Cunning Little Vixen' Pokes Her Head Into An Animated Forest

In a scene from the Cleveland Orchestra's The Cunning Little Vixen, two actors (Julie Boulianne as Dog and Martina Jankova as Vixen) appear from behind a computer-animated backdrop.
Roger Mastroianni Cleveland Orchestra

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 11:29 am

Long before summer blockbuster films dazzled us with CGI-enhanced superheroes and villains, audiences got their dose of spectacle at the local opera house, where lavishly costumed singers have walked through monumental sets for centuries.

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Planet Money
3:15 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin?

A Stradivarius violin at the restoration and research laboratory of the Musee de la Musique, Paris, in 2009.
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 8:00 pm

The Stradivarius violin gets its name from master craftsman Antonio Stradivari. When he died in 1737, his secrets died with him: No one has ever been able to duplicate the sound of the violins or violas he made.

His instruments have taken on a mythical quality. Today they fetch millions of dollars at auctions; Sotheby's will soon auction off a viola that it expects to sell for $45 million.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:00 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Anonymous 4: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (But They're Doing It)

The vocal ensemble Anonymous 4 will disband after the 2015-16 concert season.
Dario Acosta

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 12:01 pm

In 1986, four women gathered in a casual setting to sing through a bit of medieval chant. Little did they know they were launching Anonymous 4, an a cappella ensemble that has spanned nearly 30 years, 20 albums, countless concerts and more than a millenium of music.

Today the group announced that the 2015-16 season will be its last together. But this isn't the first time Anonymous 4 has thought about calling it quits. The group bid a similar farewell in 2004.

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Deceptive Cadence
10:17 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Watch Bang On A Can Occupy 'Arthur'

Two of the Bang on a Can All-Stars immortalized on the kids' cartoon Arthur.
Courtesy of 'Arthur'

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 5:56 pm

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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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