Arts & Culture

• Check out our list of New Hampshire museums, galleries, performance venues & independent bookstores, sorted by region.

• You can also find art exhibits, book readings, live music and more on our Public Events Calendar.

Historian Simon Schama calls it another example of British television’s “cultural necrophilia”. Well then, bring out your dead…the Downton Abbey miniseries now airing Sunday nights on PBS has invigorated public television, revved up sales of cloche hats and maxi skirts, and has publishers scrambling to appeal to readers who devour period dramas.

 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


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.


Jan 12, 2012
Photo by Sp!ros via Flickr Creative Commons

How many times have we heard that studying the classics is no longer useful, an anachronism? Then out come movies like Clash of the Titans, or Troy, and suddenly everyone is hungry for more. From Star Wars to Harry Potter, references to ancient myths are inescapable.

Hope: A Tragedy

Jan 11, 2012

 There are strange noises and a rotten smell  coming from the attic of Solomon Kugel’s old farmhouse in upstate New York. His wife resents him, his kid is sickly and his mother, who grew up in the United States, imagines herself a Holocaust survivor with PTSD. Yet, Kugel remains an optimist, which his shrink declares is the problem: the more hell bent one is on life, the more terrified of death.

Karen and Casey Jordan via Flickr

Statistics from the Pew Research Center show that single women over 35 now account for around fifteen percent of the birthrate in the united states. One reason may be that there are so many more options for women who have delayed motherhood -- from adoption to using donor sperm to freezing their own eggs. Journalists Pamela Ferdinand, Carey Goldberg, and Beth Jones all had fulfilling careers, rich friendships, and hapless relationship histories.

According to our guest today, Colin Woodard, America's political divisions aren't between red states and blue states, right and left, Republicans and Democrats but between 11 distinct North American cultural regions.  They are regions the he names "Yankeedom", "Greater Appalachia", "The Deep South" and "The Far West" and they have been created by centuries of Americans who settled there, each with their own unique cultures, religions, political traditions and ethnographic characteristics.  Woodard suggests that only by truly understanding these regions can we begin to see beyond these deep 

Photo by Spychick via Flickr Creative Commons

With the first in the nation primary swirling around us, we turn to the spread of the Tea Party…circa 1774. We’re talking about the Annapolis Tea Party…the New York Tea Party, and other protests that boiled over in the colonies from Maine to North Carolina. These copycat protests were buried by the 92,000 pounds shoved overboard in Boston.

News of the spectacular break-up between actress Adah Issacs Menken and bareknuckle boxing champ John Heenan splashed across the papers that year. Heenan accused his wife of bigamy. That was just one charge against the woman who was best known for bounding across the stage strapped to a horse in a skin-tight flesh colored costume.

Photo by Mr.T in DC, courtesy of Flickr creative commons

Winter is a bountiful time for booklovers…the choices are abundant, and publishers and retailers are tripping over themselves to get people buying books - in any format.  The e-book has breathed some life into the publishing industry, but traditional books are still selling at independent bookstores. As part of Word of Mouth’s 2012 Nostradamus Edition, Jason boog, blogger and editor of the publishing website Galley Cat, makes his predictions for what the publishing industry will face in the coming year.  

1493 (Rebroadcast)

Jan 2, 2012

In a new book, author Charles Mann explores what happened in the years after Columbus’s famed voyage to the Americas.  He says it altered everything:  sparking a new era of globalization and not just in commerce:  but radical changes in crops, cultures, and politics.  We’ll talk with Mann about this expansive look at this new era and how the world changed after Columbus.  


  • Charles C. Mann - Author of 1493:Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

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

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

(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: hashmil

The publishing industry stayed afloat this year by designing and selling books for e-reader; those devices jumped from novelty items to the mainstream. Brick and mortar booksellers had a rougher time. Biblio behemoth Borders closed stores across the country. Closer to home, RiverRun Books in Portsmouth nearly closed its doors, but was saved by a swarm of Locavestors. The indie bookstore is one place where unsung gems can shine. We’re ticking through some of the year’s books that didn’t have big names, big budgets, and big promoters to sell them.