Music

Zydeco Nation

Feb 9, 2012
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/clotee_allochuku/5873152796/sizes/m/in/photostream/"> Clotee Pridgen Allochuku </a> / Flickr / Creative Commons

Zydeco Nation is an hour-long, music-rich documentary that tells the story about an epic chapter in modern American history. Starting during World War II, French-speaking Louisiana Creoles began moving across the country to Northern California in search of both jobs and freedom.

Super Bass: Can You Hit This Note?

Feb 7, 2012

Calling all basses: Decca Records is on the hunt for someone who can sing a low E, nearly three octaves below middle C. The note is featured in a new piece called De Profundis (Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord — Psalm) by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor.

I'm really attracted to the depths of the human spectrum," Mealor tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "We're seeking to find the person that can sing the lowest note ever written in choral music — and not just that note, but the solo in this piece for bass solo and choir. So we're looking for someone very special."

This Sunday the annual Grammy Award winners will be announced. One of the biggest categories is Song of the Year, which goes to a songwriter. Every day this week, we'll give you a little intel on one of the nominees. Today, Bruno Mars' "Grenade."

For any Ani DiFranco fan amazed by her one fine album a year between 1995 and 1999, the many albums she put out in the '00s just weren't up to par. So her new record, Which Side Are You On?, comes as a surprise and a tremendous relief.

The first words out of her mouth are the most striking she's uttered on record in over a decade. The opening track, "Life Boat," is sung in the voice of a homeless woman who's pretty jaunty, considering:

'Soul Train' Creator Don Cornelius Dies At 75

Feb 1, 2012

The host and executive producer of Soul Train has died. The Los Angeles police department is reporting that Don Cornelius was found dead at his home in Los Angeles this morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Photo by mae noelle, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Composer Philip Glass turns 75 today. His birthday is being celebrated with festivals and performances around the globe and the premiere of his 9th symphony at Carnegie hall tonight. Glass is easily the most famous composer of his generation.  How many other composers have received commissions from the Metropolitan Opera and inspired a knock-knock joke? Philip Glass began playing works to tiny, often hostile audiences back in the 1960’s.

Photo by urbanmkr, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Part 1: "Ready for Liftoff: 3...2...None?"

 To the average American, Chinese music might evoke a stereotype, the atonal, plucky sounds of soundtracks to martial arts films, or the ambience in Chinese restaurants. But like Chinese culture, the traditions of Chinese music reach back thousands of years and pull from myriad styles that reflect the diverse landscape of the worlds most populous nation. And weaving through much of it is the distinctive strain on the pipa, the ancient, four stringed instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese Lute.

Musical Change

Jan 23, 2012
Photo by cjggbella, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

This segment begins with a recording of a 26-year-old Gustavo Dudamel conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in Leonard Bernstein’s Arrangement of Mambo. Dudamel is the most energetic young thing on the podium. Before being named music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, he was a violinist in the Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela.

Photo by Leo Reynolds, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

                                                         

 

Part 1: Revenge of the Web-nerds

Darlingside

Jan 19, 2012
Photo by Abby McBride

The “string-rock” quintet Darlingside is based in New England, but its lineage includes California pop harmonies, Appalachian root riffs, and classical arrangements all shadowing that full-on American mongrel we call rock music.  After earning high praise and an eager following for a self-produced EP, Darlingside is rolling out a new subscription album, called Pilot Machines, throughout 2012. Darlinsgide

Every year, thousands of video-game fans flock to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for a unique music festival called MAGFest. It's short for "Music and Gaming Festival," and it's designed to celebrate the music of video games.

When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin — the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.

All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.

"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.

Kate hosts Peter Yarrow at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, Vermont.

The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.  In the years that followed, many of the Steps ignored the conventional wisdom ("Don't quit your day job!"), and although not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience.  Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded 27 albums and have been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, an

A Carolina Christmas from Biltmore Estate, with Kathy Mattea is a festive celebration of holiday music -- from one of the most magnificent acoustic venues in the country! A Carolina Christmas features soloists and large ensembles performing a rich variety of songs, including sacred music of the season, African-American spirituals, Celtic jigs and folk favorites.

Echoes of Christmas

Dec 25, 2011

This program features moving selections of choral classics celebrating Christmas. The Dale Warland Singers provided magical performances to listeners across the country for over 30 years and were acclaimed as America's premier choir. Their signature holiday concert—beloved by public radio listeners nationwide—was the annual Echoes of Christmas program. Drawing upon the archive of their live performances, Dale Warland and host Brian Newhouse create a very special Christmas musical treat.

A Chanticleer Christmas

Dec 25, 2011

A Chanticleer Christmas is American Public Media's one-hour celebration of the season as told through the glorious voices of Chanticleer, the 12-voice San Francisco-based men's choir. The program spans the globe and the centuries — from England in the 1300s to new arrangements of classic and contemporary carols.  Information is available at http://americanpublicmedia.publicradio.org/programs/chanticleer_xmas/

One of the great holiday traditions in America, the choirs of Morehouse and Spelman Colleges -- two of the most prestigious historically black institutions in the nation -- get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. This encore presentation features the best works of the last several years. It's a joyous celebration of the schools' tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols.

Christmas Daybreak

Dec 25, 2011

Christmas Daybreak brings together two of the finest groups of singers and actors at the cutting edge of live performance in America today, the singers of The Crossing and actors from the Pig Iron Theatre company.  Specializing in work of the finest contemporary composers, The Crossing has commissioned many beautiful new carols for Christmas by composers such as Andrew Gant and Benjamin Boyle and sung many new works by British composers Gabriel Jackson, Jonathan Varcoe, and James MacMillan.

The towering walls of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine reverberate with sounds of celebration in this NPR holiday tradition. Paul Winter welcomes gospel singer Theresa Thomason, multi-instrumentalist/singer Arto Tunçboyaciyan, double reed wizard Paul McCandless, and the Paul Winter Consort in live performances from their recent Grammy-winning album MIHO and their timeless solstice songs.  Give your listeners an affirming and celebratory holiday season. Pass the longest night of the year with Paul Winter's Solstice Celebration.

A service in song and word that has become one of the nation's most cherished holiday celebrations. Tickets to the event, which takes place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, are always gone months in advance. The festival includes hymns, carols, choral works, and orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity and featuring more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St.

The National Cathedral bring you their signature broadcast from the Cathedral's service of lessons and carols as heard at 6pm on Christmas Eve from Washington DC.  Each Christmas-tide the Cathedral hosts a number of special services, including a quietly spectacular Lesson and Carols on Christmas Eve at 6pm, combining biblical readings that mark out the story of the birth of Christ with much-loved, as well as new, carols, from folk to ethereal polyphony, from the splendor of all the voices and organ together, to the hush of Silent Night, as the service draws to a close.  Washington National

Welcome Christmas

Dec 24, 2011

This year's VocalEssence Welcome Christmas concert celebrates the holidays with the warmth of traditional carols and the exhilaration of new songs for the season. The concert features a garland of carols from Sweden, and the world premiere of this year's Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest-winning carols, composed for chorus and bell choir. Other carols were chosen by VocalEssence fans in an online audience favorite poll.  Join us for holiday classics new and old, when Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence Welcome Christmas!

Third time's a charm, or maybe not. It's the third edition of the not so new, wonky holiday tradition from NPR Music.  Join host Bob Boilen and his friends as they trade holiday cheer and snarky barbs while bringing you the best holiday songs from new and emerging breakout bands. This show is filled with fun and fresh renditions of great holiday music.  Listener information at http://www.npr.org

(Photo by zizagou76 via Flickr Creative Commons)

                                                                            

Part 1:

Why Music Writing Matters in 2011

In his introduction to an anthology of The Best Music Writing 2011, Alex Ross shares a selection of tweets reacting to bassist and singer Esperanza Spaulding’s upset over teen star Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy.

Photo by: missgeok

Whether you’re listening to a Glee Christmas, or you’re stuck on Perry Como, whatever paints your peppermint, Christmas music is in the ear – or maybe memory – of the beholder. We spoke to a man who’s Christmas spirit springs not from a specific era, genre, or artist – but from an instrument…the tuba or a euphonium…your pick. A

Naperville Illinois Tuba Christmas

(Photo by Nicole Abalde via Flickr Creative Commons)

In his introduction to an anthology of The Best Music Writing 2011Alex Ross shares a selection of tweets reacting to bassist and singer Esperanza Spaulding’s upset over teen star Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy.

Kate hosts Martin Sexton at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, Vermont.

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