Music + Culture

 

Women's History Month Specials

Mar 7, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

All through March, you’ll hear stories, features and music recognizing the history and contributions of women. Among the programs we’re offering:

Wikimedia Commons

How do you celebrate Women’s History Month in classical music, when the genre's history names few women composers? At NWPR over the past year, one answer has been: find what music you can, and play it. Inspired by Women’s History Month 2015, we took on a challenge to program at least one piece by a woman composer each day.  Yes, it’s a token, but this month, we trade in those tokens for a reward.

Seattle Symphony

Congratulations, Seattle Symphony! Another Grammy! The 2016 Grammy award for best classical instrumental solo went to violinist Augustin Hadelich, for Dutilleux: Violin Concerto, L’Arbre Des Songes, with the Seattle Symphony conducted by Ludovic Morlot, a release on the orchestra's own label.

Seattle Symphony earned its first Grammy last year -- Best Contemporary Classical Composition -- for its recording of John Luther Adams's Become Ocean, a work SSO commissioned.

Observing Black History Month: Special Programs

Feb 2, 2016
Carl Van Vechten / Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

All through February, you’ll hear stories, features and music recognizing the history and contributions of African Americans. Among the programs we’re offering:

Tuesday, February 16: Pike County, Ohio: As Black as We Wish to Be

In a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American - despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage. (NPR News service, 10-11 PM)

Olivier Strecker / Creative Commons

As the annual Academy Awards presentation approaches, we have a special interest in the five nominees for Best Original Score, a category recognized by the Oscars since 1934. Three of this year's composers are no strangers to this process - between them, they have 69 previous nominations. 

John Williams was awarded his 50th nomination for his score to the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. He claimed the Academy Award back in 1977 for the first Star Wars movie.

Wikimedia Commons

Music history refreshes itself every time you enjoy a favorite piece, or discover a new one, here on Northwest Public Radio.  Sometimes there's an especially noteworthy day in music history, like February 2.  

This was the day of the premieres of Haydn's Symphony No. 102, in 1795; of Rossini's Semiramide, in 1823; of Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in 1890. Plus, amazingly enough, February 2 is the birthday of two of the greatest violinists of the 20th Century: Jascha Heifetz (1901, Vilnius) and Fritz Kreisler (1875, Vienna).

Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival

Chamber music festivals fill the northwest throughout the year – intimate performances in cozy venues creating a unique connection between the few musicians on stage and the audience. The 2015 summer season saw unforgettable performances across the northwest– and you don’t have to wait until summer  for even more. That's because January brings ensembles of all shapes, sizes and instrumentations to some big Northwest festivals.

It may be dark outside with falling snowflakes of theatrical proportions, and tiny patches of fog escaping from our mouths, but after the Winter Solstice, there comes a gentle wake of increasing daylight. Even with the promise of more daylight, however, the warmth of spring is still a long way off.  January and February can feel equally, if not more, bleak than the days when light is decreasing. Part of the lingering sense of winter and darkness after the Winter solstice is caused by the angle of the sun to our position on Earth.

Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor whose career spanned from the avant-garde post-World War II era to the computer age, has died, according to the French culture ministry. He was 90. Boulez famously challenged his peers and his audience to rethink their ideas of sound and harmony.

NWPR STAFF BEST READS OF 2015

Dec 16, 2015

With upwards of one million books published each year in the U.S., it can be difficult even for bibliophiles to know the good reads.  So this year, we asked our erudite colleagues at 

Northwest Public Radio for their suggestions. Check out their top 10 (in no particular order):

Clemens Pfeiffer / Wikimedia Commons

Traditional carols, heartwarming and hilarious stories, and new ways to think about the holidays! Here’s the list of special programs coming your way throughout December.

New Year's Day From Vienna 2016: Ring in the New Year with the Vienna Philharmonic’s beloved annual concert of waltzes and polkas from the Johann Strauss family and its contemporaries, brought to you from the Musikverein in Vienna Philharmonic. Radetsky March, anyone? 2 – 4 PM, Friday January 1, 2016, NPR and Classical Music Service.

Special Programs For Thanksgiving

Nov 16, 2015
Dion Hinchcliffe / / Flickr

From culinary and hosting help to poetry, music and a scientific consideration of gratitude, Northwest Public Radio has a lineup of special programs to enhance your Thanksgiving!

SNEAK PREVIEW: Latino USA Yakima Valley Special

Nov 15, 2015
Michael Paras / NPR

The next episode of Latino USA is devoted entirely to stories from the Yakima Valley - but you can get a sneak preview! Come to a Listening Party at The Seasons Performance Hall, Friday November  20th at 6 PM.

FARE

In the United States, 8% of children have a nut allergy. Halloween can be tricky to navigate. Consider this; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was the top candy for Halloween in 2013. I love those. And I’m sure my son would too if it weren’t for the asthma attack and hives.    But after 2 reactions and one expensive E.R. visit, “Are there nuts in this?” seems less annoying. 

Feast of Music / Flickr

Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra is known for her energetic, animated conducting. Take a look at the her joyous body language in this rehearsal video:

Why is classical music so hard to enjoy on streaming services? In one word, it's metadata. Metadata is the information that coexists with every digital music file: each and every piece of information about a selection of music that a listener might find useful to know, and what makes the information in one file discernible from the next. In the case of classical music, relevant and important metadata includes the name of the piece of music, the composer, the album it's from, the performers, the label that released the recording and the year it was recorded.

When the curtain rises on the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Verdi's Otello tonight, opera fans will quickly notice what's not there. For the first time since the opera was first staged at the Met in 1891, a white singer performing the title role will not be wearing makeup to darken his complexion to play the Moor at the center of the tragedy.

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don't expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

NWPR

September marks the beginning of the 2015/2016 Symphony season for many ensembles in the Northwest – mark your calendar for these concerts:

September 15: Explore guitar music from Baroque-era Spain and Mexico with The Early Music Guild of Seattle. The first concert of their season features the Tembembe Ensemble Continuo and a celebration of Mexico’s independence. 7:15 PM, Town Hall Seattle.

Rich History And Rich Soil Makes For Rich Beer

Aug 10, 2015
Sparkfly / Fremont Brewing

You can’t talk about brewing in Washington State without mentioning Rainier and Olympia beer. According to its website, Rainier Beer traces its beginnings back to the mid-1800s, when Seattle was a pioneering city for lumberjacks and fishermen – after all, hard workers need refreshment. Rainier was officially launched in 1878 and quickly found popularity.  

A member of the All Things Considered family has died. Alan Cheuse, who reviewed books on our air nearly every week since the early 1980s, passed away today after a car accident in California two weeks ago. He was 75 years old.

In two minutes every week, Alan paid his respects to good writing in his soft, intense, passionate voice.

Concierto, WDAV Classical Public Radio

Frank Dominguez has been part of classical music on public radio for more than 20 years – experience he mixes with his Hispanic heritage to produce and host Concierto, the nation's first bilingual classical show which you now hear Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4 on your NPR and Classical Music Service.

Every week, Concierto takes a look at the deep roots Hispanic culture has in the classical genre and includes a roster of composers and musicians from all over the world.

The denouement of a 35-year drama takes place Thursday at the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. And I trust that my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago, will be watching from somewhere.

For decades he played his beloved Stradivarius violin all over the world. And then one day, he turned around and it was gone. Stolen.

While he was greeting well-wishers after a concert, it was snatched from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

ALL CLASSICAL PUBLIC MEDIA

A classically trained Shakespearean actor and the BBC’s former Hollywood correspondent,  Edmund Stone is host of one a new program on the NPR and Classical music service. The Score is a weekly celebration of music in film.  

Digging into information for the tidbits you hear next to the classical music on NWPR, we run across some interesting phenomena. Like the use of a composer’s name as an adjective. What makes a piece Brahmsian? Or Beethovenian? Writers about music often take this shortcut to describe a sound. Steve Reeder discovered that the French are fond of the word “Ravelian.” And Mahlerian, but we have that one too.

You've been put on notice, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

John Moore of Decatur, Ga., wrote to NPR: "Everyone is allowed one mulligan, and you just had yours."

Moore, who admits he might be an "NPR snob," was referring to the show's "Not My Job" guest appearance this past weekend of—gasp!!!—Kim Kardashian, where she was invited to promote her new book, Selfish, 448 pages of photographs of herself.

Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni / Mozart Museum

You read about music for mom earlier this year - now it's time to celebrate dad in the classical music world. Throughout music history, famous fathers have come in all forms - composers, conductors, musicians and, of course, superfans. This Father's Day, Northwest Public Radio celebrates with a look at all varieties of fathers.

Children’s Corner, Claude Debussy

Kennewick’s Mike Rinker won Grand Champion of WineMaker Magazine’s International Amateur 2015 Wine Competition. Rinker brought home the gold with a red – a 100 percent Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013.

Rinker, who is the father of Northwest Public Radio’s former operations manager Kevin Rinker, told Great Northwest Wine the Northwest’s wine making abilities are  growing.

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