Music + Culture

 

Oleg Berg, an engineer and musician in the Ukraine, had a dream as a kid. He wanted to be able to take popular songs, the recordings of which were instantly recognizable, and invert their sound: making major keys minor and vice versa.

Musical Treasures in Central Washington

Mar 6, 2013

 Nic Caoille  is the Music Director of the Wenatchee Valley Symphony and Director of Orchestras at Central Washington University.  I had the pleasure of working with him in October 2011 as host of that evening's  Wenatchee Valley Symphony concert.

Margaret Bonds, who died in 1972, is perhaps near the top of the very short list of African-American female composers. Thanks to her partnerships with Langston Hughes and soprano Leontyne Price and others, she's remembered in some circles as an important figure in American composition. But, mostly, she's been forgotten.

"It's amazing that people don't know who she was, although she was quite well known in her time," says Louise Toppin, an opera singer and a voice professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It's Marches Madness! Throughout this month, we're posting some of our favorite marches — from the concert hall, opera stage and parade ground. Got one we should hear? Played any yourself? Let us know in the comments section.

To stand out as an acoustic-guitar-wielding folk-rock singer-songwriter, you'd better have an awful lot of charisma at your disposal — and it helps if, like Josh Ritter, you're able to infuse your songs with a sense that stakes are high and words ring true. A prolific singer-songwriter who's appropriately delved into a side career as a novelist, Ritter crafts his words carefully, but never loses sight of what makes them relate to the experiences of those who hear him.

The American concert pianist Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn has died, according to the Associated Press, who is quoting a representative.

Cliburn achieved worldwide recognition when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow as a 23-year-old. What's more he did so in 1958, at the height of the Cold War.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Cliburn died in his mansion in Fort Worth, Texas. He had been diagnosed with bone cancer.

Has there ever been an age that was so grudging about suspending its disbelief? The groundlings at the Globe Theatre didn't giggle when Shakespeare had a clock chime in Julius Caesar. The Victorians didn't take Dickens to task for having the characters in A Tale of Two Cities ride the Dover mail coach 10 years before it was established. But Shakespeare and Dickens weren't writing in the age of the Internet, when every historical detail is scrutinized for chronological correctness, and when no "Gotcha!" remains unposted for long.

By the time the curtains rise on the Academy Awards ceremony each year, Oscar-watching prognosticators are already reasonably sure which films are going to take home top prizes.

What is Nordic cool?

Right now, it's a massive festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with artists and designers displaying art and culture from their very top sliver of the globe.

The festival arrives at what seems like just the right moment for Americans.

From the Danish modern furniture of the 1950s to the omnipresence of Ikea, Americans have long been attracted to the austere design of Nordic countries.

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s inspired several black artists to explore their African heritage and the black experience in America, from enslavement to life after emancipation and migration to cities in the north. In the musical world, pianist James P. Johnson composed Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody, a 12-minute portrait of a black community in Savannah, Ga. Yamekraw was orchestrated for a 1928 performance at Carnegie Hall by black composer William Grant Still, who would write his own Afro American Symphony in 1930.

Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln has earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director. Another Spielberg film — the multi-Oscar winning Schindler's List — will be celebrating 20 years since its release. These films have at least two important things in common: Spielberg and publicist Marvin Levy.

If you're not counting the days until the release of Iron Man 3, if you're not sure who Kristen Stewart is, and if the last romantic comedy you saw starred Meryl Streep, you just may be over 50.

That's a segment of the moviegoing audience that may have been neglected once — but no more. A number of films appealing to older audiences, or films that have themes closely related to aging, have been scooping up nominations for Oscars and other awards.

Republished from WSUNews 

When Forbes magazine writer Connie Guglielmo received iTunes' list on the top 10 "must-own classical music” recordings of all time, it brought out the skeptic in her. So, she turned to Robin Rilette, Northwest Public Radio's music director, to review the list and give her professional opinion.  

Continue reading...

Programming Note: Sunday night, we'll be live-blogging the Academy Awards here at NPR.org, and the Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! team will be covering the red-carpet fashions, so be sure to join us to share your thoughts and see whether Affleck, Argo, and Daniel Day-Lewis have the big nights predicted for them.

Picture Rick's smoky cafe in Casablanca, Lincoln's office at the White House of the 1860s, or the Mos Eisley cantina on the desert planet of Tatooine: A production designer came up with the overall look of those movie sets. But the booze on Rick's bar or the pens on Lincoln's desk — it took a set decorator and a crew to make them look authentic and believable.

Violinist Joshua Bell has followed the lead of symphony orchestra conductors since he turned 7 and made his orchestra debut. But now he's the one waving the baton — or at least waving his violin bow. Bell recently took over the music directorship of the venerable Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

This year is the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth. The man widely called the greatest living Wagnerian tenor is marking the occasion in style — and asking listeners who may have turned away from the German composer to give his music another chance.

Can You Learn To Like Music You Hate?

Feb 15, 2013

You hear some music you hate. That's fair. We all do on occasion. But can you learn to love — or at least not loathe — that music? Can you intentionally transform the visceral response you have to certain pieces and styles, or does that happen at some more incalculable, subtle level?

Researchers at Australia's University of Melbourne say that the more dissonance (which they describe as "perceived roughness, harshness, unpleasantness, or difficulty in listening to the sound") that we hear in music, the less we enjoy said music. Seems obvious enough, right?

Jailhouse Bach

Feb 15, 2013

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. His new book is Helguera's Artunes. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

Ah, the joys of Monday morning quarterbacking, classical style.

All programs on the NPR and Classical Music service unless otherwise noted

Sunday 12/30

A Season’s Griot                                                                   

6-7 PM

A Seasons’ Griot captures the flavor of Kwanzaa with tales and traditions of African-American and African peoples. 

Tuesday, 1/1/2013

New Year’s Day From Vienna

A New Season Of Classical Concerts

Sep 6, 2012

Northwest symphonies and chamber groups are gearing up for an exciting 2012/2013 season! Here are just a few of the great classical music performances you can enjoy in coming months around the region:

Moscow: Chanticleer, the American male vocal ensemble dubbed an "Orchestra of Voices," (pictured left) is coming to Moscow, in October as part of the Auditorium Chamber Music Series.

Yesterday was the first day of the Television Critics Association press tour, when TV reporters and critics descend upon Beverly Hills to hear about what's to come in the next six or eight months. We'll hear from all the big broadcast networks and most of the big (and not-so-big) cable outlets, but we're starting this year with PBS.

Candidly, not all the critics are showing up for PBS — not all of them write about it very much. It's a shame, though, because yesterday may have been, on the whole, the liveliest day I've ever had at press tour.

Travel With Garrison Keillor: The Gig Of A Lifetime

Jul 18, 2012

Republished from WSUNews

Band members were grinning as their raucous beer medley swung its way around the audience seated in the St. Louis Fox Theatre. Polka music flirted and twirled. Fiddle player Richard Kriehn raised his violin to take a solo, but in that moment, his bow slipped and snagged itself on the violin microphone. With four million listeners also tuned in via National Public Radio, crunching and screeching filled the air as Kriehn struggled to pry the bow loose.

Photo courtesy Washington State University

Republished from WSUNews

 

PULLMAN, Wash. - I swim laps at noon several times a week. I enjoy the water, and the gentle exercise is good for my aging joints.

We hold this truth to be self-evident: America loves pie. We, the people, a nation of bakers and eaters, value the art of creating that crispy, gooey, fluffy, fruity dessert — and each region reserves the right to bake the treat in its own individual style.

Summer is Pie Time!

Jun 27, 2012
USDA

With fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance, and the convenience of taking a pie along for a picnic, summer is definitely pie time! Staff at Northwest Public Radio took a few minutes out of their work to share with us pies both savory and sweet.

Grab your picnic basket, blanket and chair and get ready for a great season of summer music festivals around the Northwest! Events range from indoor concerts in theaters and concert halls, to alfresco events set amid the region's breathtaking natural beauty. With a multitude of festivals to choose from, you'll need a scorecard to keep track! Here are some to check out:

Olympic Music Festival  Performances in June, July & August 

Sharing Our Summer Recipes

Jun 3, 2012
Agricultural Research Services, Norsk Power, Paul J. Dauenhauer, Cameron Nordholm

Ah, summer time... when you can smell barbecue cooking and see picnic baskets on blankets in the grass.  These are the times in the northwest when we gather with friends and family to enjoy the great outdoors, good company, and good food.  With this in mind we asked the diligent folks at Northwest Public Radio to let you in on some of their favorite delicacies they like to take to a bbq or picnic:

____________________________

Beer Can Chicken

By Sandi Billings, Major Gifts Officer

1 whole chicken

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