Arts

Arts and culture

Finding the right mix of artistic heft and party-night pizzazz is a balancing act orchestras face when planning an opening night gala concert for Carnegie Hall.

It's become a trope that artists aren't interested in being limited by genre — at least the really fascinating ones, that is. One of the most enjoyable current examples of this reach beyond stylistic divides is Almanac, the newest project from the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

When John Luther Adams' sweeping orchestral piece Become Ocean was performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time in May, it was also the first time the composer had attended a concert there.

Even if you're not a fan of classical music, you have heard of Frédéric Chopin: His music has appeared in countless movies, TV shows and commercials, even video games. But it's almost certain you haven't heard the Polish composer performed the way Chad Lawson plays him.

The votes are in. The people of Scotland have chosen to remain in the United Kingdom. To mark the historic occasion, a wee reminder of what the Scots have contributed to classical music is in order.

Flutist Yukie Ota spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about her encounter with a too-friendly insect this week; hear their conversation at the audio link and read on to learn more.

Today is Mexican Independence Day. On Sept. 16, 1810, the Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") was delivered in the town of Dolores near the city of Guanajuato, marking the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence that ended Spanish rule.

Coastal Concerts has been a long term supporter/underwriter of Delmarva Public Radio, and WSCL listeners know we have aired two  of their concerts from last season the past two Saturdays.   We are happy to share this news of MD state recognition of their work in the arts community, with special congratulations to  Denise Emery.

Shara Worden On Q2's 'Spaces'

Sep 16, 2014

My Brightest Diamond's endlessly busy and enigmatic singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist is a dizzying blur of creativity. A one-time member of The Decemberists, Shara Worden has collaborated with David Lang, Sufjan Stevens, Matthew Barney, yMusic and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. She also recently completed You Us We All, a Baroque opera, and her new album as My Brightest Diamond, This Is My Hand, came out this week.

Alas, it is déjà vu all over again for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. At midnight Saturday, the ASO musicians and management failed to meet the deadline to agree on a new contract after eight months of negotiations. That means the players, while still employees of the orchestra, are effectively locked out of the Woodruff Arts Center (the orchestra's home) and will not receive paychecks until a new agreement can be ratified.

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.

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

Throughout this month, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's signature Next Wave Festival is celebrating a record label with which it shares history and purpose: Nonesuch, marking its 50th anniversary this year.

What's going on here, I can only guess, but here's what you're about to see: In the video below, the great musician Glenn Gould, supreme interpreter of Bach, is sitting at his living room piano on a low, low chair, his nose close to the keys. He's at his Canadian country house in his bathrobe.

Musicologist and pianist Charles Rosen once quipped: "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition." But it's tough to see much gloom when faced with the diversity of premieres and provocative programming around the country in the 2014-2015 season.

Three centuries ago a man named Domenico Scarlatti churned out an enormous number of keyboard sonatas — more than 550. Pianists, harpsichordists and even accordionists still can't get enough these inventive, bite-sized pieces.

A clutch of Scarlatti albums have appeared this year and more are on the way. Albums from pianists Orion Weiss and Igor Kamez are due in the coming weeks. Here we offer a sampling of five recent releases.

Well, it's happened again. Vacations are over. Kids are returning to school. "And where," you're wondering, "did my summer go?"

You can get the same feeling in music sometimes. No matter how long a piece is, its end might sneak up on you. Try this mysterious little quiz filled with fantastical finales and enigmatic endings. Score high and take an extra week off from work. Score low and get back to the grind.

Bruce Hornsby's Modern Classical Moment

Aug 23, 2014

Bruce Hornsby cracked the music world three decades ago, making smooth, contemplative piano-pop with his band The Range. But if "The Way It Is" is how you remember him today, you've missed a lot.

Now that the embattled Metropolitan Opera has surmounted most of its labor squabbles, it's time to take a break from reading about the rancorous negotiations. See how many of these nerdworthy Met questions you can answer. Score high and bellow out your best Wagnerian "Hojotoho!" Score low and start learning the "Simpleton's aria" from Boris Godunov.

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.

With this Tiny Desk Concert by the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet, we have the opportunity to explore the world of a single composer. With the arguable exception of Béla Bartók's six string quartets, it's generally accepted that the 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich are the strongest body of quartets since Beethoven.

Italian-American lyric soprano Licia Albanese, known for her deeply felt character portrayals, died Friday at her home in New York, her son, Joseph Gimma, told NPR Music Saturday. She was 105 years old.

Inspiration can come from unlikely places. For composer Robert Kyr, the silence of a desert monastery is key to the radiant music on his new disc of recent choral works performed by the vocal ensemble Conspirare and its director Craig Hella Johnson.

Kyr travels frequently to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, in northern New Mexico, from his home in Eugene, Ore., where he teaches composition at the University of Oregon. Living among the monastery's Benedictine monks, Kyr hikes along the winding Chama River by day and composes music in a bare-walled room at night.

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