Music + Culture

 

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The rich tradition of Irish music is celebrated every Saturday afternoon on The Thistle and Shamrock (2-3 PM, NPR & Classical music service). This St. Patrick’s Day, find out how Celtic traditions have found their way into classical music and film scores with these special programs:

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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