Arts

Arts and culture

Sessions from Studio A - The Sanctified Grumblers

11 hours ago

The Sanctified Grumblers perform "Nancy Jane" Dockside Live at the Prairie Street Brewing Co. in Rockford.

The Sanctified Grumblers perform "Mama's Little Sonny Boy" Dockside Live at the Prairie Street Brewing Co. in Rockford.

Vijay Gupta's life work has been to make music accessible to all.

That passion caught the attention of others and earlier this month the Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist was awarded a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship — also known as the genius grant.

Sessions from Studio A - Kraig Kenning

Oct 11, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Kraig Kenning performs "Left Chicago" Dockside Live at the Prairie St. Brewing Co.

Kraig Kenning performs "Left Chicago" Dockside Live at the Prairie St. Brewing Co.

Until recently, most classical music videos have been humdrum affairs. Musicians, in concert attire, earnestly produce their notes with eyes closed and heads tilted in a beatific expression, somewhere between a migraine and an attempt to channel Bach from the heavens.

Two additional women, violinists Emilia Mettenbrink and Raffaela Kalmar, have made allegations of sexual misconduct against violinist William Preucil, the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and a now-former instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). Their accusations were printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday.

Three years after his death, my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, made headlines all over the world when his beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years earlier, was recovered by the FBI. The story struck the hearts of so many, I think, because in such turbulent times, it was rare good, even joyful, news. And the mystery of where it had been, was finally solved.

Over two decades ago in 1997, when violinist Hilary Hahn was 17, she made a celebrated recording debut, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. That year, Hahn told NPR about her enthusiasm for Bach's music.

"There's nothing I really wanted to record more than Bach," Hahn said. "I can work on it for a long time and keep discovering more things that surprise me every time."

Sessions from Studio A - Zach Pietrini

Oct 4, 2018
Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

Zach Pietrini performs "I Don't Want to Leave" live on the docks at Prairie Street Brewing Co. in Rockford.

Zach Pietrini performs "Like the Pain" live on the docks at Prairie Street Brewing Co. in Rockford.

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the greatest cellists of all time. His relationship with the music of Bach is widely known, but he paid tribute to another artist during his set: Pablo Casals. The Spanish cellist discovered the Bach suites in a music store in 1890 and brought them to modern attention.

Magos Herrera is a jazz singer from Mexico, but she has also sung pop songs with Brazilian beats and crooned Mexican classics with a touch of rock. Herrera takes another adventuresome step on her new album, Dreamers, where she partners with a classical string quartet for an album steeped in Latin American culture. The potent mix of themes and the sound of the string quartet, plus a little percussion, are compelling.

Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

Lina Tullgren performs "Home" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Lina Tullgren performs "Glove" in WNIJ's Studio A.

For National Literacy Month, WNIJ dug into the archives for one of our more popular "Read With Me" interviews. Today's feature originally aired Oct. 16, 2017.

An episode of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched perfectly describes the author-character relationship, according to Linda H. Heuring.

Two of the country's oldest and most venerated music institutions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, are beginning their seasons with a change in artistic leadership. Both organizations are grappling with 21st century issues of bringing new audiences in and convincing them that centuries-old music forms are central to their lives today.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

The New York Philharmonic announced Sunday that it has taken action against two prominent musicians over unspecified "misconduct": the orchestra's principal oboist, Liang Wang, and its associate principal trumpeter, Matthew Muckey.

The orchestra said the decision came after a five-month internal investigation, led by a former federal judge. Both musicians dispute the Philharmonic's findings, and while the musicians' union reviews the orchestra's decision, the two have been placed on unpaid leave.

Fall 2018 Listener Book Swap

Sep 14, 2018

September is National Literacy Month and we’re celebrating with a listener book swap September 17-28. Our doors will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30.

The idea is simple. Stop by our DeKalb studios with a book – or several - for the “swap table" and peruse favorite books from staff and fellow listeners while you're here. You’re free to go home with some fresh reads, or leave the treasures behind for stocking the WNIJ/WNIU Little Free Library.

Sessions from Studio A - Dina Bach

Sep 13, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Dina Bach performs "You and Me" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Dina Bach performs "Slow Dance" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Dina Bach at dinabachmusic.com.

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

Museum curators usually build an art exhibition around a particular artist's work or on a theme. But the Rockford Art Museum's Midwestern Biennial has an outside judge, lots of different artists and no theme. So how do you curate that? 

As Museum Curator Carrie Johnson explains, the Midwestern Biennial poses particular challenges. Normally, she spends up to two years vetting artists, assembling works, and picking a theme.

Sessions from Studio A - sewingneedle

Sep 6, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

sewingneedle performs "Puppies" live in WNIJ's Studio A.

sewingneedle performs "Feel Good Music" live in WNIJ's Studio A.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Sarah Jesmer

A critically-acclaimed film created in Rockford shows skateboarding is more than a hobby for some.

Audience members walking through the doors of Rockford's Nordlof Center received pamphlets on reducing trauma. That's because the film, called Minding the Gap, highlights hard truths about trauma and abuse as seen through the lens of local skateboarders.

Filmmaker Bing Liu grew up in Rockford. He says there's a deep misconception about what happens at a skate park.

When George Li, the 23-year-old American pianist, revealed his Tiny Desk setlist, one thought came to mind: How will these powerhouse showstoppers sound on an upright piano? The music he intended to play, by Franz Liszt and Vladimir Horowitz, was designed for a real, 7-foot concert grand piano – the kind they used to call "a symphony orchestra in a box."

Sessions from Studio A - Matthew Caleb Flamm

Aug 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Matthew Caleb Flamm performs "Enemies" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Matthew Caleb Flamm performs "Crooked Mind" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Renée Fleming is becoming America's go-to singer. The celebrated soprano, who has performed at a broad range of high-profile events off the opera stage, is scheduled to sing at Senator John McCain's memorial service this Saturday at Washington's National Cathedral.

Fleming is slated to sing the Irish standard "Danny Boy" — at McCain's request — alongside tributes to the late Senator by Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and a homily by Bay Area Catholic leader Father Edward A. Reese.

A few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, composer Gabriel Kahane decided he needed to take a journey. On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the votes were counted, Kahane boarded an Amtrak train in Penn Station in New York City. He left his smartphone behind. He unplugged from the Internet. And he spent the next two weeks riding across the country, talking to people.

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