Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:08 am
Lincoln Center and the New York Phil have confirmed plans for a (long, long overdue) major overhaul of 50-year-old Avery Fisher Hall that "aims to redefine what it means to be a concert hall at a time of challenging orchestra economics and changing audience habits." This will be the third attempt at addressing the venue's acoustical challenges.
The Peony Pavilion is one of China's most famous operas, but uncut performances of this romantic 16th century work can take more than 22 hours. Chinese composer Tan Dun, who's best known for his Academy Award-winning score for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has adapted the work into a compact 75 minutes.
Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 8:02 am
In an episode from the fifth season of Mad Men the show's main character, advertising executive Don Draper, is asked by his client, the cologne company Chevalier Blanc, to supply a Beatles song for a television commercial. The year is 1966, and the 40-year-old Draper doesn't have his finger on the rapidly rising pulse of popular music. So he calls in a team of younger, hipper copy writers, including his wife Megan.
"When did music become so important?" he asks her.
There's really been nothing like Trapped in the Closet ever before.
R&B star R. Kelly has been making (and remaking) a series of short music videos that tell a flamboyant narrative in less-than-five-minute installments. The first batch of several dozen appeared online in 2005. Now, there's a total of 40 "chapters" that aired last Friday on IFC, with the latest ones being released online one at a time for the next week.
It was almost spooky. Each night after 11 p.m., when nothing was stirring in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, two men would enter. One would sit at the organ, playing a key or series of keys, and the other would crawl around inside the organ pipes, 40 feet off the floor. The process went on for months.
It was the all but final phase of installing a new organ for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. And on Nov. 27, the organ makes its formal debut.
Have you ever wondered whether music conductors actually influence their orchestras?
They seem important. After all, they're standing in the middle of the stage and waving their hands. But the musicians all have scores before them that tell them what to play. If you took the conductor away, could the orchestra manage on its own?
Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 9:07 am
It's beginning to look a lot like craziness — end-of-the-year craziness, to be precise. Now that Gray Thursday has officially reduced Thanksgiving to carbo-loading for the holiday shopping marathon, many people's winter holidays have become little more than a massive spinout.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 3:29 pm
Andrew W.K., whom NPR Music described as the "long-haired, wild-eyed, keyboard-pounding, sublimely over-the-top party-rocker," won't be taking his party to Bahrain.
At least not on the government's dime.The State Department has rescinded its invitation, stopped the music if you will, just as word started to spread that the U.S. Embassy in Manama had invited W.K. to perform.
Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 11:29 am
In the New York Times this week, Anthony Tommasini has a series in both print and video about those microcosmic musical moments like "a fleeting passage, a short series of chords, some unexpected shift in a melodic line — when something occurs that just grabs us." What links these diverse bits from Chopin to Puccini to Mahler together?
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 3:16 pm
The drummer Pete La Roca, a top freelance drummer during New York's post-bop heyday in the 1950s and '60s, died early this morning in New York. The cause was lung cancer, according to Randa Kirshbaum, a former girlfriend. He was 74 years old.
One hundred fifty years ago today, Giuseppe Verdi first mounted his opera La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") on a stage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Today, La Forza is considered one of Verdi's masterpieces, but it wasn't always that way. The story of Don Alvaro, whose love for the aristocratic Leonora incurs the wrath of her family, is violent and chaotic, and it flopped on its first run.
Nickelback. The name itself is musical shorthand for everything music aficionados love to hate about modern rock.
But with more than 50 million record sales worldwide and a lead singer who earns $10 million a year, the band is laughing all the way to the bank — as reporter Ben Paynter describes in Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine.
When you reach a certain age, big life surprises tend to come few and far between, unless you're Harold Van Heuvelen. Van, as everyone calls him, has had a blockbuster week full of dreams fulfilled. The story of his dream starts more than 70 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Van Heuvelen enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. He was posted to a base in New Orleans as an instructor for recruits. He spent the war stateside, training men who were being shipped out to Europe and the South Pacific.
Taylor Swift's new album, Red, sold more 1.2 million copies in its first week — the highest first-week sales total for an album in over a decade. She did it partly by answering a surprisingly complicated question: What's the best way to sell an album?
There are so many ways to release your music these days. You can sell it at Amazon, iTunes, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks. You can release it to streaming sites like Spotify. You can go on tour.
As we near the end of another year, the music industry has a few reasons to be optimistic. Digital music sales are expected to reach record highs this year, and legal streaming services continue to gain in popularity. But unauthorized music file sharing is still going strong.
Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:25 pm
This week tour dates and flights and meetings were rescheduled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and music writers in the Northeast have been preoccupied. And even though the mood is darker, the show did go on; here are three stories to divert and edify you while we all try to get back to normal.
This past week has been filled with some truly tragic stories of loss and devastation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. There are also a few stories of near misses and disasters averted. Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, fortunately has one of the latter.
At the archives of Radio Tanzania, more than 15,000 reel-to-reel tapes are stacked in floor-to-ceiling shelves. Each band, musician and recording date is painstakingly notated. The tapes reside inside three musty rooms of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corp., which occupies the old brick-and-concrete BBC building in Dar es Salaam.
Radio Tanzania was the country's only station from its birth in 1951 until the mid-1990s, when competing stations came on the air and state-controlled radio became irrelevant.