Arts

Arts and culture

Last week we asked you to do some musical soul-searching — and boy, did we get responses. In the first day, 250 people commented on the blog post "You Are What You Hear: What Your Favorite Music Says About You." Several thousand more comments have since rolled in via social media.

Poor Jules Massenet. How could the most successful French opera composer of his generation fall so far out of fashion? Perhaps the new 23-CD box set of Massenet's music, marking the 100th anniversary of his death (yesterday), holds some clues.

PROGRAM:

  • Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Bernstein, Three Dances from On the Town
  • "Over the Rainbow," "Shall We Dance" and "Old Man River" (with James Taylor)
  • Tchaikovsky, Andante cantabile for cello and strings (with Yo-Yo Ma)
  • Sarasate, Carmen Fantasy (with Anne-Sophie Mutter)
  • Two movements from Haydn's Piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major (with Emanuel Ax)
  • Ravel, La valse

Jacquilyn Stephens / WNIJ

A new exhibit opened at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford this weekend. And this time, it isn’t dinosaur bones attracting huge crowds: it’s an eccentric musician and the things he has collected during his half-century in rock.

Busking In Lansing, To Rave Reviews

Aug 11, 2012

All summer long, Weekend Edition has been sampling the sounds of America's street musicians. The latest to catch our ear is Alexis Dawdy, a young violinist who returned to her hometown of Lansing, Mich., to study at Michigan State University — and do a little busking on the side.

"I'm actually not a music major. This is really a hobby that accidentally became a profession," Dawdy says. "I'm studying linguistics, and I'm 17 credits out from graduation. My goal is to do it debt-free, and this helps a lot. This pays for books and this pays for food."

Fifty Shades Of Faure

Aug 10, 2012

Got an idea for a classical cartoon, or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

  • Broadway and film legend Marvin Hamlisch died Monday in Los Angeles at age 68. Also the pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, he began studying at Juilliard at age 7 — and at the time, he was the youngest student to be accepted at there. "My big thing at Juilliard — because I hadn't taken that many piano lessons at that point — was not that I could play Bach or Beethoven, but that I could play 'Goodnight Irene' in any key," Hamlisch told NPR's Scott Simon in 1987.

Now that pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is in his 40s, he's told himself that it's time to "grow up" and immerse himself in Beethoven. This comes at the same time that he's immersing himself in the life of his daughter Sigrid, now 2.

For Andsnes, seeing the world through Beethoven's eyes is one thing, but seeing it through the eyes of a child is something else altogether.

Is There A Lawyer In The (Opera) House?

Aug 8, 2012

Opera: the stuff of passion, fury, sorrow and ... disquisitions on jurisprudence?

Maybe, if a panel discussion at the just-finished annual meeting of the American Bar Association is to be believed. Called "Arias of Law: The Rule of Law at Work in Opera and the Supreme Court," the session, which was created and moderated by Craig Martin of Jenner & Block LLP, featured U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Anthony Freud, general director of Chicago's Lyric Opera; and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.

One of the toughest tricks for a singer to pull off is putting a fresh face on each composer in a program. All too often, the Handel starts sounding like the Mozart, which in turn takes on too much of the Verdi and it all becomes indistinguishable.

Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.

Viola da gamba players are a special breed — a tiny subset in the already small world of early classical music. They rarely meet their own kind, but once a year they come together for a week in July at an annual jam session they call a conclave. Wendy Gillespie, who just finished her term as president of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, says attending the event is the highlight of her year.

  • Why yes, that was indeed Daniel Barenboim carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies.
  • Filmmaker Danny Boyle's sprawling opening ceremonies pageant featured a cameo by the London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle and comedian Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, in the theme from Chariots of Fire.

It's Easy Being Green

Aug 3, 2012

Got an idea for a classical cartoon, or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

We all know the punchline to the old joke, right?

Even people who wouldn't know Yo-Yo Ma from Yanni know Carnegie Hall is where the world's greats play. So how do unknown students and amateurs get to perform at one of the world's most celebrated venues?

Canadian rower Michael Braithwaite is pumped and probably a little nervous. It's the day before the double sculls (two person team) competition at the London Olympics and the British Columbia native is hoping his strong arms and shoulders will bring him gold.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford Public Library’s governing board is weighing whether to accept a very large gift…a 30-thousand square foot gift. The board hosted a public open house Tuesday at the Sullivan Center in downtown Rockford.

Up until a few years ago, Italian-born, French-educated composer-pianist-conductor Alfredo Casella's greatest claim to fame in America was as the director of the Boston Pops in the late 1920s, preceding Arthur Fiedler. But that pales in comparison to the significant body of distinguished music he left behind that is receiving increased attention from record companies.

The grumbling of Londoners and the off-putting remarks of Mitt Romney are all but forgotten now as the 2012 Summer Olympics are in spectacular full swing. From here on out the race for the gold continues.

  • Russian bass-baritone Yevgeny Nikitin was tossed from his upcoming engagement singing Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival. It was discovered that he has had an enormous swastika tattoo on the right side of his chest and a Nazi "life rune" on his arm.

Faster, Higher, Louder

Jul 27, 2012

Got an idea for a classical cartoon, or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

Throughout history, beer has been the drink of the populace. Traditionally, wine was reserved for the upper classes, due at least in part to the limited area in which grapes would grow, the subtlety of the flavors, the sheer price of production. Barley, on the other hand, grows much more plentifully than grapes do, in a much broader climate. It can be made much more inexpensively and in much greater volume, so beer supplied a vast peasantry with something safe, sustaining — and delicious — to drink.

Petra Anderson is a gifted 22-year-old composer and violinist who was critically injured in the movie theater shootings last Friday in Aurora, Colo. She was shot four times. Three shotgun pellets landed in her arm and a fourth nearly killed her.

With the sesquicentennial of Claude Debussy's birth coming up fast on Aug. 22, you'd think there would be a small blizzard of new Debussy releases. This year, not so much; maybe it's a sign of the economic times and industry reality that there's no great rush to add the zillionth recording of such incredibly loved repertoire to the catalog. But every so often, a project comes along that demands a revisiting of music you think you know inside and out. This two-disc set of Debussy headed by Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is just such a release.

Rockford Magazine

Rockford artist and craftsman Jim Julin died Sunday night after a short illness. 

A Musician And The Audition Of His Life

Jul 21, 2012

Earlier this year, classical percussionist Mike Tetreault walked onstage at Symphony Hall in Boston for the audition of a lifetime: The Boston Symphony Orchestra was looking for not just one but two new percussionists.

A Grand Soviet Symphony, By Way Of Brazil

Jul 21, 2012

People keep asking me why I recorded Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony for my first CD release in my new post leading the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The simple answer is that it just felt right. But in thinking about it, I can now see many parallels — at least for me — between Prokofiev's music, the city of Sao Paulo and the country of Brazil.

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