Music + Culture

 

The Seattle Symphony / http://www.seattlesymphony.org/

The Seattle Symphony's recording of Become Ocean by John Luther Adams won "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" at the 2015 Grammy Awards on Sunday. This marks a historic moment in the Symphony’s 111-year history as their first recording to win a Grammy after a total of 18 nominations.

http://www.visitidaho.org/

Welcome to the second installment of the “How Do You Say That?” series. We started with Washington and a list of the state’s most confusing town names—the ones even Washingtonians sometimes say wrong. Next up is Idaho.

Pend Oreille

Probably one of the hardest Idaho names to say if you’re not already familiar with it is Pend Oreille. If it makes you feel any better, it’s a French name. PAWN-doh-RAY.

Factoid:

www.kevindemon.com

A while back, we asked our Twitter followers how they pronounce Boise, the capital of Idaho. Turns out Idahoans say Boise different than most people. 

They're celebrating Down Under. Today is Australia Day, a holiday marking the arrival of British ships at Sydney Harbour in 1788. A perfect day then to salute something truly Australian, something that speaks of national pride, austere landscapes and even the darker side of Australian history — the music of Peter Sculthorpe, who died last year at age 85.

Jeremy Kramer / Cincinnati Magazine

For more than 20 years, Sunday Baroque has explored the worlds of Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, and more. You can hear it on NWPR Sundays (of course) from 10 a.m to noon. It started at a station in Fairfield, Connecticut, grew to be carried nationwide, and in 2005 it went independent - parting ways with NPR to distribute and produce the show on its own.

Seattle Seahawks / http://www.seahawks.com/

Seattle was home to what many are calling NFL history last Sunday when the Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 and secured their place in Super Bowl XLIX. Fans and news agencies alike bombarded social media with live updates, reactions, and the best of Photoshop. Even we got into the action:

The version of Swan Lake most often performed today premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, 120 years ago this month. The ballet had been staged before, but it wasn't a hit until choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov revised it.

Pill popping, pot smoking, back-stabbing, bed hopping and tantrum throwing — now we're talking classical music! At least that's what the new Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle would have us believe is all in a day's work for orchestra musicians. The 10-part series is based on a tell-all book of the same name published a decade ago by oboist Blair Tindall.

Farewells are never easy, especially when you're saying goodbye to a favorite musician. From conductors and composers to pianists, singers and critics, the classical music world lost many masterful musicians in 2014.

Peter Schickele / http://www.schickele.com/index.htm

What’s your favorite P.D.Q. Bach bit? How about two sports announcers doing a play-by-play “broadcast” of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Or the “Fanfare for the Common Cold?” How about wondering what kind of person can create such comedy mayhem, and then turn around and compose a sublime string quartet?

Molina Visuals

She’s played in person at the Orcas Island and Seattle Chamber Music Society festivals, but it’s the audiences beyond the concert hall who put violinist Anne Akiko

The Sound of Hanukkah

Dec 15, 2014
Gigi Yellen

Christmas carols, they’re not. But for Hanukkah, the music and storytelling on the NWPR special programs for that holiday have become public radio traditions, even as concert music for Hanukkah remains, in a way, a chestnut still on the tree.

Firmly fixed on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (so its Gregorian calendar dates vary) Hanukkah shares the season of joy with classical-music-rich Christmas, but its traditional music remains closer to folk than to classical. Why?

Boston's Handel and Haydn Society is one of the oldest continuously running performing arts organizations in the country. To celebrate its bicentennial this season, the group made a new recording of a holiday perennial, Handel's Messiah, which also happens to be one of the first works it staged nearly 200 years ago. Still, the Handel and Haydn Society is very different from what it was when it started.

Jeff Goldberg / Esto

Share a good laugh when you read this New York Times review of a cheeky little piece of musical-insider comedy, “The Classical Style,” that played last week at Carnegie Hall. In heaven, Beethoven grumbles, Haydn complains, Mozart rages about the movie Amadeus and demands a cut of the box office. And, of course, Dominant is always followed around by Tonic, a joke for the music theorists in the audience.

Antonio Stradivari, the master violin maker whose instruments sell for millions of dollars today, has been dead for nearly three centuries. Only 650 of his instruments are estimated to survive.

But the forest where the luthier got his lumber is alive and well. And thanks to the surprising teamwork of modern instrument makers and forest rangers, Stradivari's trees are doing better than ever.

From the Top

Videos like this are why we love From the Top so much.

From the Top, the show highlighting extraordinary young people in music, this week will feature two sisters from Bellevue.

String duo "Sempre Sisters," 12-year-old Charlotte Marckx and her 15-year-old sister Olivia, perform and talk about writing and playing music together.

Wikimedia Commons

Get in the holiday spirit with these special programs throughout December.

All programs on the NPR and Classical Music Service unless otherwise specified.

December 16, 8 PM: Celebrate the first day of Hanukkah on NWPR with stories of all sorts on Hanukkah Lights, hosted by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz.

December 17, 8 PM: The Western Wind and narrator Leonard Nimoy will once again bring you Chanukah in Story and Song, filled with everything from Eastern European Yiddish melodies to modern Israeli tunes.

The words of the Stabat Mater come from an ancient Latin text describing Mary weeping at the cross over her son, Jesus. While the Catholic poem has been set to music by many — from Vivaldi to Arvo Pärt — three contemporary composers have put their own spin on the old verses.

Alissa Firsova was born in Moscow, but has lived in England since she was 4.

For all those who just can't bear to hear "Jingle Bell Rock" or any of the other Yuletide earworms that will invade shopping malls and radio waves in the coming months, Norway's Trio Mediaeval has some new old music for the holiday season.

Stuart Monk /iStockphoto.com

  Let Northwest Public Radio be part of your Thanksgiving celebration with these special programs this Thursday:

Lynne Rossetto-Kasper and a wonderful lineup of special guests take listener calls and provide some dinner-saving cooking tips on the live call-in show The Splendid Table’s Turkey Confidential, which you can hear Thanksgiving morning from 8-10 on NWPR’s NPR News service. 

A Flurry Of Premieres For American Orchestras

Nov 20, 2014

How about some good — even great — news from American orchestras? Today and tomorrow, four of the country's biggest ensembles are playing world premieres by prominent composers.

If you're a parent, the sound of a small child sawing away at the strains of the "Twinkle Variations" may be all too familiar.

It's Song One, of Book One, of the Suzuki method, a musical pedagogy developed by Shin'ichi Suzuki in the 1960s.

But lately there has been discord among music educators, a feud over methods and credentials and accusations of fraud.

Robert Lee Watt fell in love with the French horn at an early age. He met a lot of resistance from people who thought his background and his race made a career with the instrument unlikely — but he went on to become the first African-American French hornist hired by a major symphony in the United States.

He became the assistant first French horn for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1970, and stayed with the orchestra for 37 years. His memoir, The Black Horn, tells how he got there.

Ted Tremper

After graduating and becoming a successful up-and-coming comedian, why would you return to your old college? To teach, of course!  

A Bit Of The Best Saxophone You'll Ever Hear

Nov 6, 2014
The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images

Thursday marks the 200th birthday of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. And yes, that's his real name. A bit about him and his instrument, from NPR:

As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

Are You A Saxpert? Find Out Here

Nov 6, 2014
Lexington Herald-Leader / Getty Images

It's the 200th birthday of the saxophone's inventor, Adolphe Sax - really, that was his name. To celebrate, NPR invites you to try and identify some great sax solos. How well do you know your saxophone?

Find out with this interactive audio quiz.

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