Arts

Arts and culture

Sessions from Studio A - Go Go Torpedo

Jan 25, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Go Go Torpedo performs "Golden Death Sun" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Go Go Torpedo on the web at Facebook or gogotorpedo.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.

Musician and composer Nils Frahm must feel like a chef who has finally assembled his dream kitchen. Frahm's new album, All Melody (due out Jan. 26), was crafted at Saal 3, a vintage studio space he was offered in an old East Berlin broadcast facility built in the 1950s.

In 1983, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto tried a grand experiment. While the singers performed Elektra in German onstage, simultaneous translations in English were projected above the stage. These "supertitles," as they've come to be known, were quickly adopted at opera houses and are now an expected part of the opera-going experience.

Sessions from Studio A - Goose Doctor

Jan 18, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Goose Doctor performing "Pulsating Arteries" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Goose Doctor on Facebook.

To create her wide-ranging music, New York-based artist Lea Bertucci has used a wealth of instruments and compositional techniques. But her primary creative tool is the saxophone, and on her new album, Metal Aether, she delves into it perhaps further than she ever has.

When we invited Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov to play a Tiny Desk concert, we rolled out the big guns. In place of the trusty upright, we wedged a 7-foot grand piano behind Bob Boilen's desk in preparation for the artist who The Times of London called "without question the most astounding pianist of our age."

Sessions from Studio A - Sarah Eide

Jan 11, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Sarah Eide performs "Challenge and Victory" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Sarah Eide online at saraheide.com

Updated, Jan. 11, 4:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include new allegations of sexual assault made against Dutoit.

What the world needs now is another cat video. Seriously.

Today our colleague Robert Siegel is retiring after four decades at NPR. He's covered everything from peace movements in East and West Germany to the Republican revolution of the 104th Congress, the mentally ill homeless and the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.

Over his 30-year tenure as host of All Things Considered, Robert has also chased one of his lifelong passions — classical music. He's interviewed dozens of today's most compelling musicians.

Sessions from Studio A - Things Falling Apart

Jan 5, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Things Falling Apart performing "Adama" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Things Falling Apart at Bandcamp.

Robert Mann, a violinist and one of the founders of the Juilliard String Quartet, died on Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 97 years old.

When he was a youngster in Portland, Oregon, Mann dreamed of being a forest ranger. But destiny apparently had other plans for him: instead, he became a legendary musician.

Several years ago, Claire van Kampen was composing music for a London theater production. During a break, one of the singers asked her if she knew the story of Farinelli, the famous 18th century opera singer.

"'You'd really like the bit where he goes to Spain and sings to King Phillipe who has this bipolar disorder.' And then I started to think: Now that's an interesting story that I haven't heard about, seen."

Sessions from Studio A - Celestial Motion Wagon

Dec 28, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Celestial Motion Wagon performs "Interstellar" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find the music of Celestial Motion Wagon at Bandcamp.

Classical guitarist John Williams reached millions of ears and even hit the charts when he played the main theme to the Oscar-winning 1978 film The Deer Hunter. But by then, Williams was already a classical star on a major record label who'd toured the world many times over.

He released his latest album, On The Wing, earlier this year. And although he announced a retirement from touring a few years ago, he's now 76 and still plays every day.

"But I love doing it so it's not a problem," he says.

In 1946, Nat King Cole became the first recording artist to wrap his lush vocals around what would become a standard of the holiday season, "The Christmas Song." But that song was written by a different crooner: Mel Tormé.

NPR's Noel King spoke with Mel Tormé's youngest son, James — an accomplished jazz singer himself — to get the story behind the creation of this Christmas classic.

Ben Shirley's story is one of redemption. He'd been playing bass in bars, clubs and arenas in the Los Angeles area since he was 15 when he fell down a path of drugs and alcohol. Four bottles of vodka and $360 worth of heroin a day brought him down hard on Skid Row.

It was at the non-profit The Midnight Mission where Shirley turned his life around in 2011. Now, at 53, he's an undergrad in The San Francisco Conservatory of Music's program of Technology and Applied Composition. He debuted an original piece, "We Need Darkness to See the Stars," earlier this month.

Sessions from Studio A - Make it a Double

Dec 21, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Make it a Double performs "Cold Sheets of Rain" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Make it a Double at Facebook.

Updated, Dec. 21, 10:45 p.m. ET and Dec. 22, 12:09 p.m.: The responses of various orchestras to the allegations were added to this article.

The Associated Press has reported allegations of sexual assault against the famed conductor Charles Dutoit made by four women, in incidents that span from 1985 to 2010 and that took place in five different U.S. cities.

Goran Bregović is one of the Balkans' most beloved musicians and composers. He grew up in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo and witnessed the atrocities of war in the 1990s. But he channeled his home region's pain, as well as its endless humor, into his music, and got his big break composing for films like Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies.

Collaboration. It's at the heart of many of NPR Music's finest moments. And it's in the DNA of the intrepid Kronos Quartet, which some 40 years ago began working with composers around the globe to spotlight new music.

Opening our 10th anniversary concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., Kronos, true to form, gave an appreciative audience both a world premiere and an extraordinary surprise collaboration.

When a poet writes a novel, it's natural to expect the story to include a poem or some reference to poetry. For her debut novel, poet Marydale Stewart uses a 10th Century verse, "The Wanderer," as a symbol for one of her main characters.

Stewart's book, The Wanderers, is our Read With Me selection for December.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist established their community more than 20 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. where music is a daily part of the Catholic nuns' lives in the Motherhouse.

What are the holidays without Charlie Brown?

Nowadays, the quietly elegant and celebratory recordings by pianist Vince Guaraldi have become as much a part of the holidays as the sound of unwrapping presents. And every year we are treated to at least one interpretation of that classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by one of the pianists on NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas. This year is no exception.

Sessions from Studio A - Kindoves

Dec 14, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Kindoves perform "Orange Morning" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Follow Kindoves online at Facebook.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

DeKalb’s Municipal Band will not be traveling abroad next summer to celebrate the anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, due to financial constraints. 

They originally had been selected to be the only band from Illinois to perform in D-Day celebrations.

Conductor Kirk Lundbeck says the DeKalb Municipal Band was not able to raise the needed funds. But he says there still may be other performance opportunities to come for the band, which could include playing in Washington, D.C., Mount Rushmore or Pearl Harbor in 2019.

Sessions from Studio A - CHEER-ACCIDENT

Dec 7, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

CHEER-ACCIDENT performs "Humanizing the Distance" in WNIJ's Studio A.

You can find the music of CHEER-ACCIDENT on their website, cheer-accident.com.

Classical music has never lived in a bubble. For centuries, it's always found common ground with folk music.

Enter, the Danish String Quartet.

Richard Reed Parry plays to arenas full of fans as a member of the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, but he impressed listeners in 2014 with a more intimate record. Parry's Music For Heart And Breath featured compositions that asked some of the best musicians in contemporary classical music to use their own heartbeats and breathing to guide their performances.

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