Arts

Arts and culture

Fifty years ago, a group of six guys walked on a London stage to perform for the first time as The King's Singers. They were choral scholars and graduates from King's College, part of England's venerable Cambridge University.

Sessions from Studio A - Oblio & Arrow

Jul 19, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Matthew Kopecky of Oblio & Arrow performing "By Design" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Matthew Kopecky of Oblio & Arrow performing "Canteen" in WNIJ's Studio A.

It's as if the pianos were haunted. Somewhere about midway through this Tiny Desk, as Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds performed on his electronic keyboard, two upright pianos were playing lilting melodies behind him, absent any performer at the keys. And yet these "ghosts," along with Ólafur's band of strings and percussion, put together some of the most beautiful music I've heard at the Tiny Desk, made all the more mysterious through its presentation.

Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds was in a hotel lobby somewhere in Asia when he first saw a modern version of a player piano. This particular one was tapping out The Beatles' "Yesterday."

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.

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the nation is focused, once again, on the make-up of the Supreme Court. And yet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the best-known member of the current court; at 85 she continues to be a cultural phenomenon.

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

Putting up a mural is often a community event. The art can be a point of pride for residents. But what happens when the paint peels? One city is trying to figure that out.

Editor's note: Our original interview with Marnie Mamminga was published in June, 2013. The author returned to the WNIJ studios in July, 2018, to add the video excerpt below.

450 miles. That's the distance Marnie Mamminga's family traveled every summer from suburban Chicago to their cabin in northwest Wisconsin.

Mamminga recalls the cabin, and the long journey it took to get there, in her memoir Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts.

It's a rare pleasure to find music that gives me pause, slows me down from the daily deluge and gives me a moment to think. That's exactly what happened when I first heard "Caravan" from Opium Moon's self-titled, debut album. This music with violin, santur (a hammered dulcimer,) ancient percussion and bass is spacious and timeless.

Composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, one of Britain's most influential contemporary classical figures, died Sunday, July 8, at the age of 66. His passing was announced by his publisher, Faber Music, but no cause of death was given.

Knussen was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and grew up in London, where his father was principal double bass for the London Symphony Orchestra. Knussen conducted his first symphony with the ensemble when he was just 15.

Boston Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Elizabeth Rowe has filed a lawsuit against the orchestra, claiming that she is making substantially less each year than her closest peer — a man.

Sessions from Studio A - Purple Hell

Jun 29, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Purple Hell performs "Gold" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find Purple Hell online at purplehell.bandcamp.com.

Photo provided by RACVB

A baker's dozen of monumental sculptures will be coming to Rockford later in June. 

John Groh, President and CEO of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said a public display of sculptures in 2015 proved to be very popular, and there seems to be an appetite for more. Groh said the Bureau and its partners had hoped to bring ten sculptures to the city – up from nine by two artists that were on display a couple of years ago. But Groh says fundraising exceeded expectations, and thirteen works by nine artists will make Rockford their home for the next two years.

Whenever a symphony orchestra or opera house loses its financial footing, a chorus of classical music "coroners" quickly steps up to pronounce the imminent demise of an entire genre. The pianist and scholar Charles Rosen put it best when he said, "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition."

Sessions from Studio A - MahaRa

Jun 21, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

MahaRa performs "Upgrade" in WNIJ's Studio A.

MahaRa performs in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find MahaRa online at MahaRaMusic.com.

Max Richter's music seems ready-made for movies – and that's not in any way a put down. The music is powerful on its own, but certain pieces take on new depth when paired with well-designed visuals.

Here is a music video in which the things you don't see or hear are almost as important as the things you do.

The Mission to the Stars series about faster-than-light (FTL) travel begins with a family tragedy. Married couple Jeff and Jennifer Bindl are killed while testing the first spaceship designed for FTL speed. When news of the ship's demise reaches Earth, the Bindls' four sons are left to carry on the mission started by their parents through their company Space Tech.

The Science Of Cicada Songs

Jun 15, 2018

It’s that time of year again: when cicada songs flood our warm summer nights, announcing their presence as they attract mates. As a kid I was told they only came out every 7 years. I was confused because I heard them every year. It turns out whomever told me they emerge every 7 years was wrong on two counts: some species of cicadas emerge every year, and some emerge every 13 or 17 years.

Rock River Ride Day 5: The Mighty Mississippi

Jun 15, 2018

I woke up in P-town and found radio’s Carl Nelson in my tent. Apparently his new hammock had not been up to snuff and he was unable to get into a horizontal position. He had earlier told me things would work out and I should not worry, and he was right. He had found a tent to sleep in after all.

Sessions from Studio A - V.V. Lightbody

Jun 14, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

V.V. Lightbody performs "Gaze" in WNIJ's Studio A.

V.V. Lightbody performs "Fig Leaves" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find V.V. Lightbody online at vvlightbody.bandcamp.com.

Rock River Ride Day 4: Oregon To Prophetstown

Jun 14, 2018
Carl Nelson

A strange night for me last night: camped at home with my own warm shower (I’d give me a positive review), but also still on the ride with Carl, who slept in our basement and ate fresh eggs from our chickens and tortillas from a grocery store.

Rock River Ride Day 3: Rockford

Jun 13, 2018
Carl Nelson

The day started in high style: woke up from a relaxing sleep in my tent to find Carl Nelson already up and walking around the Finks' lawn. We listened with much delight to that day's Rock River Ride, which aired that morning on WNIJ.

Soon our group assembled for breakfast: Professor Fink and his wife and young daughter, Carl and me, and this morning we were joined by bicyclist and Rock River frequenter and enjoyer, Dom Cozzi. We biked into Beloit, the six of us, on a bracing and hilly route into Beloit, which Carl and I found somewhat challenging before breakfast.

Crawford Gates, Former RSO Music Director, Dies At 96

Jun 12, 2018
http://crawfordgates.com/

Crawford Gates, longtime music director for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra and professor emeritus at Beloit College, died at the age of 96 in the early hours of Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Rock River Ride Day 2: Watertown to Beloit

Jun 12, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

We started the day in Watertown, where Carl Nelson and I were pleased to discover the weather had improved considerably.  Instead of cold, it was pleasant and, instead of rain, it was no rain. We had breakfast at a cafe and were met by Chris Fink, Professor of Literature and Wisconsin Awesomeness at Beloit College.

 Carl Nelson and I have spent our first day riding the Rock River Trail. We started in Theresa, Wisconsin— which is not locally pronounced “Ter-ree-sah,” like the saint, but “the Riza,” like the Wu-Tang Clan fellow. Though it was raining hard, Carl and I headed out in good spirits. 

We met up with Greg Farnham, who coordinated the Rock River Initiative, and George Marsh, the president of the Village of Theresa. They gave us good advice about the ride, and Greg even chaperoned us several miles in his car.

The sun's season became official this past weekend — so what do you want to hear? Rooftop bops? Windows-down coasters? Sweated-through squall?

Back at the beginning of time, the human voice was the very first instrument. Probably close in second place were folks banging on stuff – in other words, percussionists. The quartet of gentlemen who form the Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion takes primordial pounding into a completely distinctive new league. To be sure, in this Tiny Desk performance, they'll play their sophisticated, modern marimbas and vibraphones, but be on the lookout for the subtleties of tuned cowbells and 3/4" galvanized steel pipes, like those found at the local hardware store.

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