Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

Patton Oswalt On Being Funny In Tough Times

Jun 25, 2018

Comedy is tough, but Patton Oswalt makes it look easy.

The Emmy and Grammy-winning comedian has released eight comedy albums and six stand-up specials. He’s also appeared in more than 50 movies.

By 2016, Oswalt had planned to take a break from stand-up when his wife — true-crime author Michelle McNamara — died unexpectedly.

Suddenly, comedy got much, much harder.

Oswalt eventually returned to the stage, finding a way to talk about grief that was moving and funny. He released his latest comedy special, “Annihilation,” last year.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Max Richter's music seems ready-made for movies – and that's not in any way a put down. The music is powerful on its own, but certain pieces take on new depth when paired with well-designed visuals.


Here is a music video in which the things you don't see or hear are almost as important as the things you do.

Rider University this past week announced that it had signed a purchase and sale agreement to sell Westminster Choir College to a group of three entities affiliated with Beijing-based Kaiwen Education. This Saturday (6/23 at 7 pm) A Tempo looks at what the new agreement adds to ongoing discussions over the possible sale of the school and its future. Westminster this week was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. 

The Women's March and #MeToo movement have helped raise the volume for women's voices across the country. But one place where women still struggle to be heard is in America's symphony halls. Take a look at which composers the top U.S. orchestras are performing in the upcoming season, and you will find some surprising disparities.

PJ Morton, the keyboardist for Maroon Five, has a lot to say. At a moment when music and pop culture have become hyper-politicized, Morton has released a solo album. He says he wants it to do what other artists’ songs did during the civil rights era, and help push a movement forward.

You can hear an unplugged version of Morton’s new album here:

How does Morton work as both an artist and entrepreneur?

Playwright Arthur Miller was a giant of American theater and a champion of social justice. On stage, his iconic plays Death of a Salesman and All My Sons portrayed the American family with tight bonds and searing discord. Much of the tension he wrote about was between fathers and sons.

As it turns out, Arthur Miller was wracked by family turmoil of his own: He had a son with Down syndrome, and he and his wife kept the boy's existence a secret. That story is now a play, called Fall, that's having its world premiere at Boston's Huntington Theatre.

Fred Stucker

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra announced Sunday that Music Director Xian Zhang has extended her contract by four years, which will enable her to lead the Newark, NJ-based orchestra through its 100th anniversary and beyond. This Saturday on A Tempo (6/16 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz will speak with Zhang about her decision to commit through the 2023-2024 season, as well as with NJSO President and CEO Gabriel van Aalst. The program will also feature a conversation with José Luis Dominguez, who was named Artistic Director of the NJSO Youth Orchestras.

Auditions Begin For 'Hamilton' In Puerto Rico

Jun 13, 2018

Composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda begins his search Wednesday for the Puerto Rican cast of his Hamilton production that will take the stage on the storm-battered island in January 2019.

His father, Luis Miranda, Jr., flew to Puerto Rico to help with logistics and tweeted the call for actors: "Seeking men and women, ages 20s-30s, for the non-white characters as written and conceived for the currently running and upcoming Broadway, Chicago and touring productions HAMILTON."

The Tony Awards felt a little different this year than they have recently. It was a year without a Hamilton or a Dear Evan Hansen; there was no one original, out-of-nowhere show that came into the Tony Awards as a pop phenomenon. In fact, all four of the four nominated musicals were adaptations of existing properties: SpongeBob SquarePants, Disney's Frozen and the non-musical films Mean Girls and The Band's Visit.

Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

The largest actors' union in the U.S. has reached a tentative agreement with four television networks to try to eliminate the so-called casting couch, and prevent sexual harassment and assault. SAG-AFTRA struck a new deal with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, which limits private meetings in off-site locations, including hotel rooms and private residences.

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