Two eminent avant-garde elders, a chameleonic vocal improviser, and a pioneering community organizer and presenter will make up the 2020 class of NEA Jazz Masters, according to an announcement this morning by the National Endowment for the Arts.
This year, I was blown away by the Tiny Desk Contest entries I saw. We received over 6,000 entries from all across the country. We saw tiny desks up on rooftops and down on a subway platform; tucked into treetops, pickup trucks and laundromats. We heard songs about the situations that make life difficult and the people that make life worth living.
No composition seems too difficult for pianist Lang Lang. But on his latest solo record, Piano Book, the 36-year-old known for his finger-twisting virtuosity is exploring something simpler: Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and other pieces that accompanied him in the first few years of a lifelong love-affair with the instrument.
André Previn, a celebrated musical polymath, died Thursday morning; he was a composer of Oscar-winning film music, conductor, pianist and music director of major orchestras. His manager, Linda Petrikova, confirmed to NPR that he died at his home in Manhattan.
Fifty years after the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair promised “three days of peace and music,” one of its original organizers announced Wednesday that he is putting together Woodstock 50 for this summer. The event will be held over three days — Aug. 16-18 — on a 1,000-acre green space in Watkins Glen in upstate New York, near the Finger Lakes.
Growing up in Chicago, Rachel Barton Pine took it for granted that there was a great body of classical music by black composers. She heard it on the radio. She played it in local orchestras as a student. The Center for Black Music Research is in Chicago. So, when the violinist recorded her first concerto album in 1997, she naturally included music by Afro-Caribbean and Afro-European composers.
While conducting research deep in the archives at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland last summer, Patricia Hall, a music theory professor at the University of Michigan, unearthed manuscripts of music arranged and performed by prisoners in the Nazi death camps. A buoyant foxtrot titled “The Most Beautiful Time Of Life” stood out to Hall, and has now been recorded by Michigan’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble.
Researchers thought the rounded stones found in the desert — clearly shaped by human hands — were used to grind nuts or seeds. But archaeologist Marilyn Martorano says they are actually lithophones.