Arts

Deceptive Cadence
2:48 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Guess Who's Singing The National Anthem At The Super Bowl?

From taffeta to tackles: Soprano Renee Fleming has been tapped to sing at Super Bowl XLVIII.
Karin Cooper Courtesy of Washington National Opera

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 4:05 pm

She's probably not among your first, or second, or 10th, or 20th-round guesses, but the NFL just announced that American soprano Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.

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Author Interviews
4:25 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

A Strange Composition: Classical Music Meets Bioterror In 'Orfeo'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Richard Powers' new novel, Orfeo, tells the story of an avant-garde classical music composer who finds himself dabbling in DNA. Like the Orpheus myth that inspired the book's name, this story takes its hero, Peter Els, on a journey. He becomes a fugitive accused of bioterror, but what follows is also a walk back into the recesses of his own memory told through the music and people he's loved and lost.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:15 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Note To 'Downton Abbey' Viewers: Nellie Melba Was A Big Deal

Opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, circa 1900.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

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Deceptive Cadence
8:02 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Marilyn Horne: Opera's Agile Advocate Turns 80

American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, circa 1965.
Erich Auerbach Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 5:44 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
5:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

The Minnesota Orchestra's Labor Dispute Is Over. What's Next?

The Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management have finally bridged their long and bitter labor dispute.
Ann Marsden Minnesota Orchestra

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:44 pm

After 15 months of acrimony, the longest labor dispute at a major American symphony orchestra has ended. The Minnesota Orchestra and its musicians reached an agreement last night and players will return to work on February 1. While all sides are relieved, most admit the hard work of rebuilding some seriously damaged bridges is just about to begin.

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The Two-Way
8:29 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Strike Up The Band! Minnesota Orchestra Lockout Ends

After more than 15 months, the bitter labor battle between the Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management has ended. Whether the orchestra's music director Osmo Vänskä (pictured here) will return, after resigning in October, remains to be seen.
Greg Helgeson Minnesota Orchestra

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 12:39 pm

"The 15-month lockout at the Minnesota Orchestra ended Tuesday after management and musicians announced an agreement," Minnesota Public Radio writes.

"Musicians will return to work on Feb. 1," the network adds. They had been locked out since October 2012.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

The 'Ode To Joy' As A Call To Action

A Chinese student at the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, where speakers playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony were rigged up to drown out government broadcasts.
Battle Hymns Productions

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:39 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
9:41 am
Tue January 14, 2014

A Gramophone And Mozart, Or How I Fell For Opera

Conductor (and flutist) Nicholas McGegan fell in love with opera as a kid.
Courtesy of the artist

British conductor Nicholas McGegan celebrates his 'Beatle' birthday today (64, that is). To mark the occasion, he recalls how he first fell in love with opera. It came by way of a newfangled record player and one heavenly Mozart recording. Remember when the operatic light bulb first sparked for you?

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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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Deceptive Cadence
12:02 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Cachet And Cash For Rafał Blechacz, Named 2014 Gilmore Artist

Rafał Blechacz has been named the 2014 Gilmore Artist. In 2005, he swept the five top prizes at the International Chopin Competition.
Felix Broede DG

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 11:19 am

Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, who at age 20 swept all five top prizes at the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, can now add another prestigious award to his collection. Early Wednesday, Blechacz was named the 2014 Gilmore Artist.

The Gilmore may not have quite the name recognition as the Chopin Competition, but it has a distinguished cachet of its own, plus a generous $300,000 cash award.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo: Tiny Desk Concert

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo performs a Tiny Desk Concert in October 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo is a veteran when it comes to taking risks, and it pays off in her compelling music. As a young girl in Vietnam, she knew she wanted to be a traditional musician, even though it was a world dominated by men. It was risky, then, when she pestered a master teacher for three years to give her lessons. He finally gave in, taking her on as an apprentice.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:58 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Destroyed By Customs? Or Stolen? Whatever Happened, Flutes Are Gone

Flutist Boujemaa Razgui and his colleagues from the ensemble Al Andalus.
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:28 pm

A case stirring intense outrage in the classical music community and starting to gain steam in the mainstream press is getting more mysterious by the day.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:39 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

High Notes And Clams: The Best And Worst Of Classical 2013

Sarah Joy Miller as Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage, the final production from the New York City Opera, which closed its doors for good this fall.
Stephanie Berger

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That could be the annual mantra for the classical music world. It has been predicted to crumble for decades, just as optimists continue to point to positive trends. This year is no different. Despite two ugly black eyes — the death of the New York City Opera and the continuing, bitter stalemate between the Minnesota Orchestra's (locked out) musicians and management — terrific music is being made by marvelous artists. Here we offer a short list of the best and worst of 2013.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:03 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

As The Year Closes, A Concert Hall Remains Empty

Because of a bitter labor dispute, the Minnesota Orchestra has not played a single performance in its concert hall this year. The orchestra's music director, Osmo Vanska (pictured here), resigned in October.
Greg Helgeson Minnesota Orchestra

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 6:54 pm

Three hundred sixty-five. That's the number of days the Minnesota Orchestra will have gone without playing in its concert hall in 2013. The orchestra became the unwitting poster child for labor strife in the classical music world — and, to some extent, an emblem of the problems facing non-profit arts institutions across the country.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:03 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Chopin's Favorite Piano Factory Plays Its Final Chord

The Pleyel piano factory, which once supplied instruments to Frederic Chopin, will close its doors at the end of the year.
Francois Guillot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 3:47 pm

One of the world's oldest and most iconic piano makers, Pleyel, will close its factory doors in Paris at the end of 2013.

The French press characterized the bankruptcy as inevitable in the face of cheaper competition from China. But many disagree: They say Pleyel could have survived by adapting better to the times.

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World Cafe
4:16 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Portland Cello Project: 'Winter' Songs On World Cafe

The Portland Cello Project.
Tarina Westlund Courtesy of the artist

For a special Christmas Eve episode of World Cafe, we welcome the Portland Cello Project to the WXPN studios for a festive live performance. This session takes place right after the collective's annual Holiday Sweater Spectacular, which has come to be a significant seasonal event in the band's hometown.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:07 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Talking Great Teachers And Students With Two Piano Masters

Pianist Lang Lang sits down with his own revered mentor Gary Graffman, to discuss what makes great teachers — and bad ones.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 12:52 pm

The relationship between a teacher and a student can be transformative. It's a particularly important relationship in classical music. A teacher is part mentor, part manager — even a parental figure.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:14 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Leaders In Early Music Face A Final Curtain, With Grace

The Hilliard Ensemble, active in the early music world since 1973, will end its long tenure in 2014 with one last world tour.
Marco Borggreve Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 9:14 am

Since 1973, the four-man vocal chamber group The Hilliard Ensemble has been breathing new life into the sounds of the Renaissance. Now that they've reached their 40-year anniversary, the members have decided to call it a day. Fresh off the new album Il Cor Tristo, the Hilliards will spend 2014 celebrating their long tenure with one last world tour. Then, a year from now, it's all over.

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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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Song Travels
2:21 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Renee Fleming On 'Song Travels'

Renee Fleming.
Andrew Eccles Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:37 pm

Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming is a regular at the world's top opera houses and concert halls around the globe. Her awards include a Fulbright Lifetime Achievement medal and the National Medal of Arts.

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Best Music Of 2013
8:03 am
Fri December 13, 2013

NPR Classical's 10 Favorite Albums Of 2013

Classical albums we loved this year.
NPR Denise DeBelius

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:42 am

The year may have suffered a couple of black eyes in the form of shuttered opera companies and orchestras in labor disputes, but as far as recordings go, don't let anyone tell you classical music is dying — the music and musicians are thriving.

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Best Music Of 2013
8:03 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Heavy Rotation: Public Radio's Songs Of 2013

British songwriter Laura Mvula was a favorite on public radio stations around the country.
Larry Hirshowitz KCRW

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 11:15 am

This audio is no longer available.

Our friends in the public radio system are some of the most open-minded listeners we know. Each month, our Heavy Rotation series brings you free downloads of what our fellow programmers and producers are experiencing on repeat.

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Deceptive Cadence
1:39 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Funk, Faust And Stone: Three Stunning Albums From 2013

Violinist Isabelle Faust.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:26 pm

Throughout this week, we at NPR Music are taking a look at the year in music with our friend Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered. I joined her to bring a closer ear to two very impressive classical albums and an international rarity that's been brought back to life. (I also provided Audie with a primer on pronouncing my last name. I hope you all pay close attention.)

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Deceptive Cadence
11:30 am
Fri December 6, 2013

A Bumper Crop Of Classical Box Sets

It was a big year for extravagant classical box sets.
Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 1:05 pm

This wound up being a spectacular year for elaborate, lavishly packaged reissues. Given all the fabulous classical box sets that appeared this year, you'd think we were in some kind of boom era for music served up on compact discs. (2013? More like 1993.)

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Music
5:13 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Classical Pranksters Don't Just Play Music: They Play With It

From left: Video director Joe Sabia, bassist Michael Thurber and recording engineer Matt McCorkle of CDZA.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:14 pm

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NPR Story
2:10 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Remembering A Congolese Rumba King

Tabu Ley Rochereau performing at a 2003 festival in Hertme, Netherlands.
Frans Schellekens Redferns

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:39 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
2:57 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Yuja Wang: Rooted In Diligence, Inspired By Improvisation

Yuja Wang at NPR's studio in Washington, D.C.
Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:56 am

Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 — "Rach 3," as fans fondly call it — is one of the most famously difficult pieces of music there is. The sheet music goes on and on, with notes so dense the pages start to look like modern art. The piece is so challenging that some noted pianists have declined to perform it — but Yuja Wang has recorded it for her newest album.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:20 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Da Vinci's String Organ Must Be Heard To Be Believed

Pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki presents the "viola organista" on Oct. 18 in Krakow, Poland. Zubrzycki spent almost four years building the instrument, which is based on a late 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci.
Tomasz Wiech AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:41 am

The man who painted the Mona Lisa, and was the first to sketch out the helicopter and the submarine, also dabbled in music. So here's the question: What musical instrument did Leonardo da Vinci design?

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Deceptive Cadence
10:08 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Confronting The Ghosts Of Classical Christmas Albums Past

Ah, the holidays: time to enjoy some great seasonal music.
Cagri Ozgur iStock

With the holidays upon us, our friends at member station WQXR invited me along with Washington Post chief classical critic Anne Midgette and Sony Masterworks producer Steven Epstein, the winner of 17 Grammy Awards, to sit down with host Naomi Lewin for a Conducting Business podcast on the topic.

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Music Reviews
11:16 am
Tue November 26, 2013

After Ailing, A Favorite Conductor Stages His Comeback

Conductor James Levine in rehearsal with Russian virtuoso Evgeny Kissin.
Cory Weaver Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 4:15 pm

An extended ovation greeted conductor James Levine last May when he returned to performing after a two-year absence. In 2011, he resigned as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and cancelled his performances at the Metropolitan Opera. He'd been plagued by health problems, injuries and operations, and it was painful for him to move. Many of his admirers, even he himself, feared he might never conduct again.

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