Arts

Arts and culture

Matt Marks, a young composer, musician and founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, died suddenly Friday, May 11. The group made an announcement Saturday on Twitter, with no cause of death given. Marks was 38.

Sessions from Studio A - Solar Pulse

May 10, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Solar Pulse performs "Shark in the Water" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Solar Pulse online at: solarpulse.bandcamp.com.

Aspiring orchestral musicians have long known that the road to a professional career is arduous and paved with risks. But new research from the U.K. shows that even attaining the brass ring of an orchestral job does not necessarily provide financial security. In fact, even with salaried, full-time employment, many British orchestral musicians are struggling to pay their bills.

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.

Sessions from Studio A - Jim Kanas

Apr 26, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Jim Kanas performs "Muddy Waters" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Jim Kanas at jimkanas.com.

Arvo Pärt is one of the most popular, most performed living composers. He's beloved worldwide for his signature sound – a spacious, meditative music that tends to sound timeless.

But there's a lesser-known side to the 82-year-old Estonian's career. It's a story that can be traced in a new recording of Pärt's four Symphonies. The album is a musical journey spanning 45 years in fervently detailed performances by the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, conducted by fellow Estonian Tõnu Kaljuste.

Sessions from Studio A - Althea Grace

Apr 19, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Althea Grace performs "Secrets" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Althea Grace on the web at altheagraceband.com.

Sessions from Studio A - Lever

Apr 12, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Lever performs "Ms. Lead" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Lever online at leverband.com.

RAAC

“As an artist, you don’t only create for yourself," according to Sharon Nesbit-Davis, Executive Director of the The Rockford Area Arts Council.

"You actually want to share it and let people see it," she said, "and there’s a special joy to that experience, as well.”

That experience is a primary purpose of the Council’s Spring ArtScene, which takes place Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14.

Nesbit-Davis said the free event provides a great opportunity for the area’s many artists to show their work.

Stephanie Richards' trumpet sounds like deep space wrapped around your head, a flood in the endless void.

Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil returns to Rockford this weekend with a show called "Corteo." We spoke with the artistic director about the story behind the show.

Like many of Cirque’s shows, “Corteo” features larger-than-life performances and a variety of acts. But artistic director Mark Schaub says they’re centered on the story of Mauro, a clown approaching the end of his life.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Tom Huizenga, Marissa Lorusso, Sidney Madden and Ann Powers about some of the best new albums dropping on Apr. 6, from the scorching punk of Norway's Dark Times to the mesmerizing cello drones of Clarice Jensen, rap phenom Cardi B, dance pop singer Kylie Minogue's country turn and much more.

Featured Albums

  • Dark Times: Tell Me What I Need
  • Christina Vantzou: No. 4
  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

Sessions from Studio A - The Threads

Apr 5, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The Threads perform "I Got the Time" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find The Threads online at thethreadsband.com.

Vespers, the traditional late afternoon prayer service, gets an enigmatic twist in a new video by director James Darrah, premiered here, with music from Missy Mazzoli, performed by the spirited violinist Olivia De Prato. The track is from her new album, Streya.

The experiences of black men in America today are making their way onto the classical concert stage, thanks to internationally acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Brownlee enlisted the help of two other prominent African-American artists, composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrance Hayes.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Davey Dynamite performs "Down & Up" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Sloth Hands performs "Cop Cars" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Davey Dynamite at bandcamp.com.

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.


Cellist Clarice Jensen says the music on her debut solo album solicits "meditation and disorientation" — two words that, while not mutually exclusive, seem to suggest both a remedy for, and the reality of, a complicated world.

RSYO

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra announced that the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra has been named “Youth Orchestra of the Year” for 2018 by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

The judging was based on programming, community involvement/outreach, opportunities for youth, growth of audience, fiscal responsibility, and community support.

When Johann Sebastian Bach compiled the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier in 1722, he wrote that the 24 preludes and fugues were "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study."

Emily Reed/WNIJ

For the exhibit, Reclaimed Baggage, South Asian American women artists address displacement, identity and agency. According to organizers, despite overwhelming pressure on women to be the transmitters and upholders of culture, migration is an opportunity for reinventing one’s self as one navigates a new cultural landscape. Artists include:  Fariba Alam, Nandini Chirimar, Sabba S. Elahi, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Samanta Batra Mehta, Hiba Schahbaz, Pallavi Sharma. Curated by artist and independent curator Nirmal Raja.

Public Reception for Reclaimed Baggage

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra will bring back some favorites and expand the number of its performances next year, including a new summer series. 

Rockford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Steven Larsen said there’s something for everyone on every concert of the 2018-2019 season.

Leonard Bernstein at 100

The Rockford arts community will celebrate musical icon Leonard Bernstein during the month of April.

The festival, "Leonard Bernstein at 100," is being led by the Rockford Symphony Orchestra. RSO Education and Community Engagement Director Margo Stedman said Bernstein’s many accomplishments as a composer, conductor and music educator are reason enough to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 was an industrial disaster that killed 146 garment workers in New York City. The fire became a touchstone for the labor movement of the 20th century. An opera inspired by the disaster tells the story from a different point of view and it's getting a special type of New York debut.

When it comes to heavyweight game-changers like Claude Debussy, super fans even celebrate death anniversaries. It was 100 years ago, March 25, 1918, that the visionary composer lost his battle with cancer and died in Paris at age 56.

To mark the occasion, Warner Classics has issued a handsome 33-CD box containing what the label says is "the most complete collection ever made" of Debussy's music.

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