Music News

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Alas, it is déjà vu all over again for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. At midnight Saturday, the ASO musicians and management failed to meet the deadline to agree on a new contract after eight months of negotiations. That means the players, while still employees of the orchestra, are effectively locked out of the Woodruff Arts Center (the orchestra's home) and will not receive paychecks until a new agreement can be ratified.

Jazz Arranger Gerald Wilson Dies At 96

Sep 11, 2014
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Nonesuch Records, which started as a tiny independent budget classical label in 1964, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with three weeks of concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The label became a force in the recording industry by pioneering electronic music and world music, launching the ragtime revival and becoming a place where contemporary classical composers had a home. Now an industry powerhouse, Nonesuch still operates like an independent record company.

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

At the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, N.C., you're just as likely to see a line out the door for a homegrown act as you would for an out-of-towner. It speaks to the idea that, even as the Internet allows an infinite amount of ideas, a central group of artists can still foster community, competition, and a creative spark.

By now, three-fourths of the way through The Beatles' sort-of-official 50th-anniversary year, Fab Four fatigue is understandable.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Barbra Streisand, one of the most loved singers of all time and the best-selling female recording artist ever (according to RIAA statistics) has teamed up with the ever soulful, gospel-inspired singer John Legend on a song she originally recorded with Bee Gees singer and songwriter Barry Gibb in 1980.

When he sits down to do an interview, jazz pianist Stefano Bollani wants you to know who he is and what he's about.

The Hopscotch 5

Sep 4, 2014

Life is full of choices. If you happen to be at the fifth annual Hopscotch Music Festival, taking place Sept. 4-6 in Raleigh, N.C., those choices would include the Dallas thrash-metal band Power Trip, supreme bummer (in the best way) Sun Kil Moon, L.A. electronic duo NGUZUNGUZU and the hooky-as-hell punk group Potty Mouth — and that's just on Friday past midnight.

Latin Indie Groups Cover Ricky Martin Hits

Aug 31, 2014
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On a hot, humid afternoon, Bob Stewart has called a rehearsal at his Harlem apartment. Six musicians are in a circle in the living room — on one side, trumpet and trombone; on the other, cello, viola and violin; and in the middle, the elephant in the room — Stewart's tuba.

At this summer's Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, thousands turned up for readings by big-name authors: Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, Zadie Smith and Albert Johnson. Odds are the name Albert Johnson doesn't ring a bell. But if you're a hip-hop fan, you might recognize the author by another name: Prodigy. Off and on for the past 20 years, he's been one half of the acclaimed Queens, N.Y., duo Mobb Deep.

Sunday night, women gave the most memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Stephen Thompson and I got together to chat about the provocations of Nicki Minaj, the royal Beyonce and more.

You can check out the video of all the performances for yourself, from the triple threat of Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj to the 16-minute Beyonce-stravaganza that closed the show.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Tomorrow, MTV will continue a 30-year tradition when it presents the annual "Video Music Awards."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS")

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: And the winner is - Michael Jackson.

"A Rational Conversation" is a column by writer Eric Ducker in which he gets on instant messenger or the phone with a special guest to examine a music-related subject that's entered the pop culture consciousness.

To hear Ann Powers talk with NPR's Audie Cornish about some of the songs that might define the troubling summer of 2014, click the audio link on this page.

Ebola has been responsible for many hundreds of deaths, for fear, for panic, for disbelief and anger.

And for a catchy dance song: "Ebola in Town."

The producers behind this unlikely music are Samuel "Shadow" Morgan and Edwin "D-12" Tweh, who grew up in the shadow of war. They both spent time as kids in refugee camps in Ghana after fleeing the civil war back home in Liberia.

A labor crisis threatening to shut down New York's Metropolitan Opera — the largest opera house in the world — appears to have been averted. Two of the major unions announced a tentative settlement this morning. While agreements with 10 additional unions need to be reached by Tuesday night, this represents a major turning point in a bitter dispute.

Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo grew up in New Hope, Pa., and quickly became friends, bonding over their love of music one day in the eighth grade.

"I remember going to his house and he was writing, you know, these punk-rock riffs," Freeman says. "I just started screaming into the mic onto a cheap tape recorder cassette, and that was it."

Italian-American lyric soprano Licia Albanese, known for her deeply felt character portrayals, died Friday at her home in New York, her son, Joseph Gimma, told NPR Music Saturday. She was 105 years old.

Part of a series on the past, present and future of America's malls

I'm outside a strip mall in Stockton, Calif. It's got a big Asian grocery store, a pet shop and a secondhand store called D. Thrift. There are about 50 kids my age — all in their late teens and early 20s — talking and smoking in front of an empty storefront. It used to be a cellphone shop and before that a place that sold diet pills, but tonight it's the best underground rock show in town, headlining Stockton's own Satan Wriders.

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