Arts and Culture

Todd Bookman/NHPR

An unassuming brick building in Concord now carries the name of one of the most tireless promoters of the state’s arts and cultural assets.

On Tuesday afternoon, friends, relatives and lawmakers gathered in the shade of a large tree for a bill signing and dedication ceremony of the Van McLeod Building, the new formal name for the offices of the state’s Department of Cultural Resources on Pillsbury Street. McLeod, who died last summer at the age of 70, served as Commissioner of the Department for 24 years.

To the uninitiated, it's the French horn — though that's a bit of a misnomer. To its players and students, it's simply a horn, an instrument that has featured in orchestras for centuries.

The horn's sound is easily recognizable thanks to the prominent role it's played in some of the most epic classical songs and movie themes. But it's still an uncommon instrument, and not the easiest one to build community around. To that end, dozens of horn players head into the woods in the White Mountains every summer to celebrate and learn more about their instrument.

It’s a weekend of unusual events in New Hampshire.

4.18.17: Vetoes & Kinan Azmeh

Apr 18, 2017
Tim Evanson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/cVHCid

On today's show:

  • Civics 101: Veto
  • "Crazy Bet" from producer Nate DiMeo and The Memory Palace. Listen again at PRX.org. 
  • Clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh was born in Damascus, but now lives in New York, where he wakes up to bad news each day. He’s going to be performing with the Kinan Azmeh CityBand at Phillips Academy Exeter tonight at 7:00pm and at the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts tomorrow, April 19th at 6:30pm to celebrate the band's 10th season together. This is our previous conversation with Kinan and composer Kareem Roustom, recorded in 2013.
  • "The Gift of Music" from Masumi Hayashi-Smith and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Listen again at PRX.org. 

NH DRED

The Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism is hoping out-of-state experts can help in-state businesses attract more visitors.

Virginia Prescott

Sweeney Todd, the 1979 Sondheim revenge tragedy musical set in Victorian London, is a challenging and musically complex play to stage even for professional companies with big budgets - even more so for the Vermont based non-profit, Main Street Arts.  Sweeney Todd is part of a larger strategy to build community and coordination between a number of small arts organizations on either side of the Connecticut River - a collaboration that defies the sinister nature of the plot. 

nhia.edu

The New Year brings many resolutions, most involving food and exercise.  Another way to renew one’s self is through art. 

1.03.17: Exploring Cahokia & Layla and Majnun

Jan 3, 2017
Dayna Bateman via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/2hGD6G

Asked to imagine a "medieval city", you probably think of Europe or the Middle East - walled fiefdoms, bustling market stalls, maybe a castle, cathedral or dome of a mosque - not the American plains. Today, we'll learn about the Native American mega city that was bigger than contemporary London and Paris.

Plus: a boy. A girl. A forbidden love. The tragic storyline transcends time and place. The folktale of "Layla and Majnun" inspired the first Middle Eastern opera, the classic rock song "Layla", and now, a multi-media collaboration between the Silk Road Ensemble and choreographer Mark Morris - and now you can see it close to home. 

Prescott Farm

Good news for those of you who detest the early darkness—the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice will occur on Wednesday, December 21, at 5:44 a.m. EST. If you can’t make it to Stonehenge, there are plenty of places in New Hampshire to celebrate like a Druid.

Malmark Handbells

If you need a break from baking, wrapping and card-writing, you can immerse yourself in one of the many seasonal performances on offer this weekend.

Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Musical, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.  An adaptation of the children’s book by Barbara Robinson, this “bad kids crash local Christmas pageant and chaos ensues” is high energy and madcap.

Fake Plastic Alice via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5L2wa8

Today, voices of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp used to divert attention from the final solution. We'll hear about how prisoners held under brutal conditions created art and music amid the horrors of the holocaust

Plus, what happens when a protest movement professing all-or-nothing absolutism splits in two? We'll find out how a splinter group of vegan activists toned down their goals and built a powerful machine for change.

"Birds of America," by John James Audubon / Wikipedia

Although it is only, technically, the middle of the month, Thanksgiving is quickly bearing down upon us.  If you have been too caught up in the news to make a grocery list or crack a cookbook, here are some ways to get your head in the game this weekend.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Theater groups around the world are honoring the Bard’s work with traditional and updated stagings of his plays.

That includes a new performance of "Macbeth" at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. There, students are re-imagining the centuries-old tragedy, setting the work in the one of today’s most pressing humanitarian disasters — Syria.

UNH Art Department

Climate change is by and large an issue discussed by scientists, but a current show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth is devoted to the topic. 

“Rise: Climate Change in Our World” is an exhibition featuring work by current students, alumni, technical staff and faculty from UNH.  The UNH art department collaborated with NextGen Climate NH, an environmental advocacy organization and 3S Artspace. 

Holly McCabe

For a small state, New Hampshire has a plethora of private schools, each with a rich academic and cultural heritage.  Although the schools are private, many have art galleries that are open to the public.  Student and faculty art shows are on regular offer, but there is also compelling and unique work from both national and international artists.

Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce

All around New Hampshire the leaves are glowing red, yellow and orange, but in Berlin on Saturday, October 15th, the Androscoggin River will be aflame.  Literally.

The annual RiverFire event, based at Heritage Park on Main Street, will bring a full day of activities to “the city that trees built.” 

cowhampshireblog.com

A long weekend calls for a road trip, and rumor has it the foliage in the western part of the state is glowing. 

Library of Congress / Rare Book & Special Collection Division

With frost on the ground your thoughts may be running to the other Frost, the poet whom we claim as a “resident,” although he was actually born in San Francisco and grew up in Massachusetts. 

There are two former Frost homes in New Hampshire—one in Derry and one in Franconia.  The Robert Frost Farm is a National Historic Landmark, and a remnant of New Hampshire’s agricultural past in now-suburban Derry. 

Feel like singing a forebitter?  Portsmouth is hosting its 17th Annual Folk Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 23rd through 25th. 

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is opening a new gallery space on Main Street in Hanover on September 16th.  The museum itself is closed until 2019 while it undergoes a major expansion project, but Director John Stomberg and his staff came up with a way to keep the Hood engaged in the community. 

Trigger Warnings, Born In Between, & Miranda July

Sep 9, 2016
Thomas Hawk via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/dSuxV1

Demanding trigger warnings? Canceling speakers? Shutting down comedians? College students today make the political correctness of the past seem tame. Today, is oversensitivity ruining education? We’ll also look at the roots of extreme protectiveness in a nation where police officers are stationed at more and more high schools…a story about what happens when school discipline meets law enforcement. And while the trans-gender movement gains ground, we’ll explore the shockingly common occurrence of doctors assigning gender to intersex babies. 

Plan to head north this weekend? Take a side trip to Plymouth and check out the current exhibit at the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University. 

Karen Kenney

Andre Dubus III's memoir Townie told the story of his violent childhood on the wrong side of the tracks. Writing was his way out, and he's made more than good, with multiple NYT bestsellers, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, and an Oscar-nominated film adaptation (for his novel The House of Sand and Fog). And he gets out there, as a public speaker and writing instructor for graduate programs, seminars and retreats. We caught up with him at New Hampshire Writers’ Project's annual Writers’ Day.

Monika O'Clair Photography

When Caroline Nesbitt decided to start a theater company in Sandwich in 1999 she was met with a little resistance.  People in town knew her as the woman who raised Connemara Ponies and gave riding lessons.  What they didn’t know was that Nesbitt was also a professional actress. 

Alex Eylar via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6VbpUm

Mugshots are considered to be public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers. Today on the show, an investigation of extortionist websites that hold people's images, and reputations for ransom.

Plus, the chancellor of a very unusual school talks about the growing business of cannabis, and a troupe of Muslim women form a B-Girl dance group and show the western world that just because you wear a hijab, doesn't mean you can't bust a move.  

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Click photos for slideshow.

For the last few months, Laura McCarthy has been preparing to put a lifetime of training on display before an international audience in Rio de Janeiro—home of this year’s summer Olympics.  No, McCarthy is not an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. And today – a collaboration she’s been working on for months will be draped on a Brazilian model, and strutted down a runway in Rio.

Van McLeod, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, died Monday morning.

He was commissioner for 24 years. McLeod oversaw the Council of the Arts, the Television and Film Office, the State Library, and the Division of Historical Resources. He was instrumental in developing New Hampshire’s cultural community.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

It’s not such a surprise anymore to see towns set up pianos on downtown sidewalks with the hope of getting people to stop and play and chat with each other. More than 50 cities around the world do it and in Littleton, New Hampshire, pianos have been on the streets for the past five years.

This spring, Nashua is setting up its own project with two painted pianos on Main Street. But is anyone playing?

Janet Chaney from Hollis is. There’s not much of a crowd here on the corner of Main Street and Pearl, so she tries to draw people closer to the bench.

Word of Mouth Presents: The Song of the Day

May 3, 2016
Jacob Meltzer via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/am519D

Looking for something new to listen to today? Check out our Song of the Day, a new music feature designed to help you broaden your music horizons.

The Song of the Day features unique video or live stream performance content of emerging and established artists produced by a public media station.

Bookmark this page and check it daily to discover something new, hear what's trending, and find what just might become your next favorite earworm.

I first noticed it in a neighborhood of Boston aptly called the "Innovation District." On a crumbling corner of an old brick building, there was a gaping hole created by about 15 missing clay bricks, filled in with about 500 Lego blocks.

I was determined to find out who the artist was.

"I don't know!" I was told by folks working in the building. Their property manager had no clue, nor did the people at Lego. "If you hear, let us know," said brand relations manager Amanda Santoro.

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