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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh8IvVM7NgQ Operas take on the grandest themes: love, violence, betrayal and battles. That's why Andreas Mitisek, the director of Long Beach Opera , became interested in staging a new opera set during the most recent Iraq war and its aftermath. This small, innovative company is known for site-specific work, so Mitisek decided to mount the world premiere of Fallujah at a National Guard Armory. A Humvee dominates the stage. The ushers wear military uniforms. ...

Now in its 30th year, Austin, Texas' South By Southwest music festival has grown from a sparsely attended local showcase to an internationally known juggernaut. These days, more than 2,000 acts — not to mention many thousand more fans — travel from around the world to convert Austin into one clamorous five-day concert experience. NPR's Audie Cornish recently dropped into the festival for the first time, and for guidance called on a colleague who hasn't missed SXSW in 20 straight years: NPR...

The most meme-able moment of Michelle Obama's keynote even t at yesterday's South by Southwest conference and festival came when she responded to a question from her friend Queen Latifah by crooning a few bars of the Motown weeper "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." The novelty of a first lady singing (and doing so well enough that Latifah suggested she make a single soon) was charming, if not entirely fresh; after all, Obama has rapped with Jay Pharoah, danced to Beyonce and lip...

SXSW 2016 Late-Night Dispatches: Wednesday

Mar 17, 2016

It was opening night of SXSW Music, and the NPR Music team had a show to put on. And not just a show where we stand outside and talk (though we did that, too), but a show show, a concert on the big stage at Stubb's BBQ featuring Vince Staples, Margo Price (whose debut album just went up as a First Listen ), Mitski, Anderson .Paak, Chicano Batman and Charles Bradley (of whom Stephen Thompson says, "I just felt like you're only doled out so much awesomeness in this life, and to be called 'The...

Over the last week, Barack and Michelle Obama have been spending plenty of time mixing it up in the pop culture and music sphere. Last week, the President spoke at SXSW Interactive , giving a keynote that touched on the uses of technology in government, from Apple's conflict with the Dept. of Justice over security to what the government would need to do to attract tech workers. On Monday, the White House hosted the cast of the blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton , with the President...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8jjhHmbmkU This election season there's been a lot of talk about who and what are American. On Tuesday's edition of Stephen Colbert's Late Show, music replaced rhetoric in the form of Aaron Copland 's Fanfare for the Common Man , performed by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Copland wrote the piece in 1942 as a patriotic gesture during World War II. It was part of a larger commissioning project by Cincinnati Symphony...

If you drive down any interstate in the South, you can't miss the giant black-and-yellow signs beckoning: Waffle House. These ubiquitous, yellow-roofed chain restaurants have been serving up not just waffles but all manner of Southern comfort foods 'round the clock for more than 60 years. And for the past 30 years or so, Waffle House has also been working on a side project: making music. Like this peppy number:
"There Are Raisins in My Toast" is one of about 40 songs that Waffle House...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3bNmhbvU2o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNFf7nMIGnE Yesterday, Lin-Manuel Miranda and some of the cast of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton visited the White House for a day of performances, student workshops, a Q&A session, and a lightning round freestyling in the Rose Garden — with the prompts supplied by President Obama. "We wanted to share this incredible musical with folks who might otherwise not get the experience," said the president in his...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCeh6amXyYE Prolific and multifaceted British composer and conductor Peter Maxwell Davies died Monday at age 81 at his home in the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland. His death, from leukemia, was reported on the websites of both his publisher and his management company . Called the "harlequin of British music" for more than five decades in a tribute by author Paul Griffiths , Maxwell Davies leaves a trove of varied works. Within some 300 pieces,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG6ROHmgc80 Hordes of twenty-somethings living in their parents' house dream of becoming rap superstars. What sets Brandon Perry, aka K.A.A.N. , apart: he's really good. Jezebel's Jia Tolentino has described the Maryland rapper's "technical virtuosity," likening Perry to Kendrick Lamar and calling his best moments "so directly vulnerable and commanding that they feel channeled." In the 10 months since, Perry has only gotten crisper. If you don't believe me,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouWQ25O-Mcg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY6cMMtLCcQ When Blake Shelton hosted Saturday Night Live last January, the writers cooked up a burlesque of a country music video . Judging from the wig and wardrobe choices, he and cast members Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant were meant to be facsimiles of Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire and Wynonna Judd, three veteran country stars teaming up on an inspirational ballad. For comedic effect, the actors brought hammy over...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFCniNYZoFg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89g1P_J40JA English keyboardist and composer Keith Emerson — the artist who defined the sound of Emerson, Lake & Palmer — died yesterday in Santa Monica, California; he was 71 years old. His death was confirmed by the band's manager. Update, March 11: the Santa Monica Police Department has confirmed to NPR that Emerson's death is being investigated as a suicide. According to the police, he died of a gunshot wound to the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlcUwUwjLrs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok5HiYKee0I Composer Bear McCreary — yes, that's his real name — has been obsessed with film music since he was 6 years old, when he snuck a tape recorder into Back to the Future just to record the soundtrack. "When I grew up, I loved movie music," he says. "I liked TV, too — The A-Team and Magnum, P.I. were awesome. But it wasn't the thing that made me say, 'I want to dedicate my life to this.'" His first major studio...

I'd already been thinking a lot about George Martin. I've spent the last year writing a book about the songs that changed the lives of musicians, and in the introductory chapter I offer my own selection. "A Day in the Life," by The Beatles, changed the way I think about music. It's a song George Martin, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, had a clear hand in. George Martin was 36 when he began working with The Beatles in 1962, a decade and a half older than Paul and John. When you think of...

Beatles fans around the world are paying tribute to the group's longtime producer, Sir George Martin, who died Tuesday at age 90. Paul McCartney said in a statement, "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music." George Martin also left a lasting mark on the art of record production. Whether horns or harpsichord, so many of the embellishments you hear on the Beatles' songs came from Martin. He wasn't just a good producer, says...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We are remembering Sir George Martin, who died yesterday at the age of 90. In 1962, while working for a British record label, he signed an unknown band called The Beatles. We're going to talk now with author and filmmaker Ray Connolly, who interviewed The Beatles many times and also made a documentary series with George Martin about music called "The Rhythm Of Life." Welcome to the program, sir. RAY...

Sir George Martin, the music producer who signed the Beatles to a recording contract in 1962 and was their intimate collaborator as they together transformed popular music, died Tuesday at the age of 90. Martin's death was confirmed by Adam Sharp, his manager in the U.K. In a statement, Sharp said: Sir George Martin passed away peacefully at home yesterday evening, Tuesday March 8th. The family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and messages of support. Martin was often...

George Martin who was often referred to as the "Fifth Beatle" has died. He was 90. Martin was the group's record producer and collaborator, and served as a mentor to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Martin's death was confirmed by Adam Sharp, his manager in the United Kingdom. He signed The Beatles in 1962 and, with the band, helped revolutionize the art of popular music recording. In a career that spanned seven decades, a statement from the production company...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFXZNt4oLkE Some people in the line were not sure what to do with their phones. A man in his mid-50s, who'd traveled all the way from Kansas with his sister, thought it would be fine to keep his hidden away in his pocket. He had no intention of using it, he said. But he's been diagnosed with cancer and, understandably, was a little anxious about being uncontactable for several hours, so far away from home in the depths of Minnesota. "You use it, you lose it!"...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb1oCjiIu9M There were 6,100 entries in this year's Tiny Desk Contest , representing every state in the nation. We asked you to send us a video of an original song, behind a desk of your choosing. We didn't care much about the quality of the video or even the sound. We wanted something singular, a song and a sound that felt original and a performance that felt inspired. We at NPR Music watched all of those 6,100 entries and in the end our six judges — Dan...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLRie13QTGs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj5tfuS3vJ8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMp55KH_3wo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUsoVlDFqZg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiNejMMGc94 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IJZkarC5tM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7s7sbS5hiMo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZrCqr-L5n0 On Tuesday The Rolling Stones announced the band's upcoming performance in Havana, hailing it as a landmark occasion. The concert is slated for March 25...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ABk7TmjnVk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAp0F9xD1u0 I walk up to greet Allan Kingdom at the back room door of Saint Paul's Golden's Deli, but he gets to me first. Kingdom is very good at being first: He asks me how I'm doing before I ask him; he asks me what my name is before I say it. Maybe he's just more polite and less anxious than me, maybe it's a mix of youthful exuberance and masculine hubris. M ore likely , it's part of his smooth, sticky, Peanut...

Havana will meet the Rolling Stones later this month. The band has announced they'll play a free open-air concert in the Cuban capital on March 25. That will make them "the most famous act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution," the Associated Press reports. "We have performed in many special places during our long career but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too," the Rolling Stones said in a statement. They're currently on...

The technology of the day has everything to do with how you get your music — and the music business is pushing more and more toward streaming. With services like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Apple Music, there are a bunch of companies that want your ears — and your money. And a lot of those companies are trying to get exclusives from artists. Two albums that are very popular right now were released on Tidal, a streaming service owned by a group of artists headed by Jay-Z . One of those albums...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1JiJhWkM9M What was behind the decision not to invite the artists behind two tunes nominated for Best Original Song to perform on Sunday night's Academy Awards broadcast? One of the snubbed musicians is singer and lyricist Anohni, whose song "Manta Ray," with music by J. Ralph appears in the documentary Racing Extinction. Yesterday, she published a heartfelt essay on why she feels she was left out — and why she has decided not to attend the ceremony at all....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzy3PT3uzJg This story was inspired by a question at an insanely hard Oscars trivia night in Los Angeles last year: Which family has the most Oscar nominations? At the time, I had no idea, but the extremely smart people I was playing with knew immediately. Alfred, Lionel, Emil, Thomas, David and Randy Newman have more than 80 nominations between them for music direction, scoring, song, composition and score. They're part of a musical dynasty that began almost a...

If your memory of virtual reality still includes climbing on a platform at the mall and strapping on a clunky headset , know that the '90s are long over and the future is in your hands ... literally. Recently VR has evolved into a medium where anybody with a computer or smartphone can experience it. So if you just weren't paying attention (like me), maybe you're not quite sure how to watch our behind-the-scenes video of Wilco's Tiny Desk , filmed with 360-degree cameras right in front of the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP6XpLQM2Cs The Twitter hashtag " #FreeKesha " has gone viral. The pop singer is not actually imprisoned, but she is trapped in a recording contract with Sony. It's not an unheard of battle in the history of music. But the reason Kesha wants out is different: She says she was sexually abused by her producer for years. Kesha wants to record new music. Specifically, she wants to record it while the lawsuit against her producer, Dr. Luke, is going on. And, she...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: The attacks in Paris left 130 people dead. Most died in a concert hall, the Bataclan, listening to an American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal. DAVID GREENE, HOST: In Paris a few days later, I sat down with a survivor - a young woman named Naomi Carrera (ph) who was at the concert when attackers stormed in. NAOMI CARRERA: I called my mom. I said, mom, something weird is happening right now. There's...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1I0fbs554A The classical music community has marked two sad passings of major composers this month: first the death of 93-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Leslie Bassett on Feb. 4 , and now the untimely death of another Pulitzer winner, Steven Stucky , one of the most widely admired and collegial figures in modern music. The composer's wife, Kristen Stucky, said in a statement that he had been diagnosed with a fast-moving brain cancer in November, and that he...

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