Arts

Arts and culture

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

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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.

  • Remember the interview with "sonochromatic artist cyborg" Neil Harbisson? He was born without the ability to see any colors at all, but his prosthetic eyepiece translates color into sound — and he has started reinterpreting music visually through his new perceptions of color, as in his painting based on Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria.

Next On CBS — 'Survivor: Tanglewood'

Jul 20, 2012

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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.

Misha Dichter is a man of many talents, though you probably know him as the gifted pianist who won the silver medal at 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition, spurring an international career that has lasted more than 40 years.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Who needs them, who's going to get them and who might lose them? It's a hot topic on the campaign trail. With the addition of only about 80,000 jobs last month, the June unemployment rate remained at a stubborn 8.2 percent.

Robin Ticciati is the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany. He's conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and just finished a run of Britten's Peter Grimes at La Scala. Ticciati has also been tapped to take over England's storied Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014. And did I mention he's under 30?

Beethoven — For A Buck

Jul 16, 2012

To own all the piano sonatas Beethoven wrote, you used to have to buy at least 10 CDs and spend $50, $75, $100 — or more.

What if I told you that you could get them for less than $10? That's about $1 per hour of music.

That's right — the "Moonlight," "Appassionata," "Waldstein" and all your other favorites, for just $9.99!

It now seems like a natural rite of summer — open-air classical music festivals where audiences can hear great music while picnicking under the stars. But 75 years ago, when the Boston Symphony first performed on a former estate called Tanglewood in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, it was a novel idea.

  • So we did this thing in Times Square, and some people have seen the video.

On July 20, 1958, at Tanglewood — the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra — pianist Leon Fleisher played an electrifying Brahms First Piano Concerto with the orchestra under its former music director, Pierre Monteux. This remarkable teaming has not been heard since then.

Sweatin' To The (Really) Oldies

Jul 13, 2012

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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.

With the July Fourth holiday behind us, now is the time to map out a musical adventure. Below is a sampling of just a few of the dozens of summer classical music festivals around the country, grouped by region. From outdoor extravaganzas and picturesque locales to intimate indoor settings, live music thrives in the summertime. Been to a good summer fest not listed here? Tell us all about it.

EAST

The reviews rolling in have been dreadful, but it seems that audiences will probably pour into theaters this Valentine's Day weekend to see Fifty Shades of Grey on the big screen.

Girl Scouts combat bullying in rock opera

Jul 11, 2012
Jacquilyn Stephens / WNIJ

Set in the halls of a fictional high school, I Am the Music: A Rock Operetta tackles the subject of cyber bullying, cliques and mean girls.

The production included 35 Girl Scouts from 23 cities around northern Illinois. Each girl auditioned and was chosen for the musical.  Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is partnering with the  filmmakers at Comtech Corporation to generate a video that raises awareness of how to stop bullying.

Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.

To honor Philip Glass' 75th birthday this year, we here at NPR Music commissioned Glass to create a short work that would be great fun for amateur and professional singers alike. A big part of what we do is to try to make all kinds of music engaging and accessible — and wouldn't it be great to invite anyone who wanted to come and sing in a world premiere by one of the most celebrated composers of our time?

Avi Avital is one of the world's leading classical mandolinists, gracing concert halls from Tel Aviv to Munich to New York. But the young Israeli says he discovered the mandolin only by coincidence.

"When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who played the mandolin — the neighbor from upstairs," Avital tells NPR's Guy Raz. "It was one of those buildings where all the doors are open and all the neighbors are friends and more close than relatives. It was like one big family.

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