Arts

Arts and culture

Conductors, like most music lovers, keep discovering music that is new to them. My own latest discovery is the Turangalîla-Symphonie, a mind-blowing 75-minute orchestral piece by Olivier Messiaen, written in the 1940s. It's a rare treat for me to be able to work on a piece from the middle of the 20th century that I have never even heard performed live.

How do you play an instrument you never physically touch? Watch Carolina Eyck. She's the first to bring a theremin to the Tiny Desk. The early electronic instrument with the slithery sound was invented almost 100 years ago by Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist with a penchant for espionage. It looks like a simple black metal box with a couple of protruding antennae, but to play the theremin like Eyck does, with her lyrical phrasing and precisely "fingered" articulation, takes a special kind of virtuosity.

Opera star Renée Fleming drew concern last year after a New York Times profile suggested the acclaimed soprano would be retiring. Luckily for fans, it turned out to be a false alarm.

Sessions from Studio A - Long-Shot

Dec 20, 2018
WNIJ

Long-Shot performs live in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Long-Shot online at ReverbNation or on Facebook.

Narrowing a list to just 10 is always a painful game. This year, amid a multitude of albums, I found favorite musicians (Víkingur Ólafsson), newcomers (the young Aizuri Quartet) and familiar players in compelling collaborations (Brooklyn Rider and Magos Herrera), all offering fascinating performances of music from the baroque to the freshly minted.

Karim Wasfi became famous around the world because of misfortune. The renowned performer and conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra played cello at the scenes of suicide attacks in Baghdad in 2015. He was the man who made beautiful music among the wreckage of a great city.

Sessions from Studio A - Lehto & Wright

Dec 13, 2018
Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

Lehto & Wright performs in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Lehto & Wright online.

SteuartPittman.com

People donate art to museums from time to time. But a really large donation – a whole collection – can help define a museum's very identity. 

Laura and John Fraser, both artists, have collected contemporary art together for decades. Over the years, they amassed a large set of pieces rich - if that's the right word for so subtle a collection – in abstract images and shapes, with the occasional bit of whimsy.

RSO

Rockford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Steven Larsen will be unable to conduct the orchestra's Holiday Pops concerts this weekend.

Larsen was injured in an accident last week and is recuperating in a hospital. Elgin Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor Stephen Squires will lead the programs at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in his place.

The RSO says Larsen is expected to make a full recovery, but could not say when he would be able to return to the podium. 

As a singer, arranger, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, it should come as no surprise that Jacob Collier comes from a profoundly musical family. His maternal grandparents were both professional violinists, his mother is an accomplished violinist and longtime instructor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and so, naturally, Collier taught himself to play every instrument he could find.

Sessions from Studio A - Blue Dream

Dec 7, 2018

Find Blue Dream online.

In a move that is astonishing much of the classical music world, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) announced Wednesday that it has appointed Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen as its next music director, beginning in September 2020.

Guy Stephens

Editor's note: Many performances of Handel's most famous oratorio invite audience participation. These are called Sing-Along Messiahs, Scratch Messiahs, People's Messiahs, and Do-It-Yourself-Messiahs. For this article about performances in which unrehearsed attendees serve as the chorus, we'll refer to each of them as "Messiah."

George Frideric Handel's oratorio "Messiah" shows up in concerts regularly this time of year.  But some performances call for the audience to join in.

Sessions from Studio A - Olivia Dvorak

Nov 29, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Olivia Dvorak performs "Siren's Call" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Olivia Dvorak performs "Drown it all in Whiskey" 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.


Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what's great about a culture. That's exactly what Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was when he came to the U.S. at the end of the 19th century, an immigrant thrown into a new world and new sounds.

Keeping with Morning Edition's longstanding Thanksgiving Day tradition, classical music commentator Miles Hoffman stops by to give listeners a sample of music that speak to the themes of the holiday. This year's music selection serves as a lesson on famous references to musical fowl throughout history.

Rockford Art Museum

When is a house not just a home? When it's the subject of an exhibition, called "Dwellings," at the Rockford Art Museum.   

 

Sessions from Studio A - Justin Gambino

Nov 15, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hnu_Bi7xWUU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Justin Gambino performs "Your Hands & Feet" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Justin Gambino performs "Silhouettes" in WNIJ's Studio A.

The irony couldn't have been more vivid when Maria Callas sang the words "The dead don't rise again from the grave," from Verdi's opera Macbeth, on stage Friday night at the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg, Va.

Sessions from Studio A - Emily Hurd

Nov 1, 2018
Spencer Tritt / WNIJ

Emily Hurd performs "Brush Fire" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Emily Hurd performs "Daytime Fireflies" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Thank you for voting! This competition is now closed. Stay tuned for our Top Ten artists announcement and for the winner's interview on NPR's All Things Considered.


Slingshot, VuHaus public radio stations and NPR Music's emerging artist series, spotlighted 40 artists over the course of the past 10 months. Now it's time for you to tell us your favorite.

Sessions from Studio A - Mackenzie O'Brien

Oct 25, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Mackenzie O'Brien performs "Live by the Sun" at the Prairie Street Brewing Company in Rockford.

Mackenzie O'Brien performs "High Class, Low Rent" at the Prairie Street Brewing Company in Rockford.

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