Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

Last year, band and choir classes were a far cry from normal, with students practicing outside or over Zoom. But with students back in school this fall, many are overjoyed to take part in almost-normal music classes. That includes senior tenor sax player Frank Papetti.

"Oh my God, I'm super excited," he says. "I love playing my instrument," Papetti is a member of the wind ensemble at Westwood High School, about 24 miles south of Boston.

LOS ANGELES — Peter Scolari, a versatile character actor whose television roles included a yuppie producer on Newhart and a closeted dad on Girls and who was on Broadway with longtime friend Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, has died. He was 66.

Scolari died Friday morning in New York after fighting cancer for two years, according to Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, his manager.

It's easy to miss the poems carved into the walls of the immigration station on Angel Island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. But if you look carefully, thousands of Chinese characters start to emerge from the dingy layers of green and yellow paint. The roughly hundred-year-old verses tell a little-known story of what happened to many Chinese immigrants when they tried to get into the country at a time when they were not welcome here.

Renowned Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink died Thursday at age 92. The range of his work gives a glimpse of how much he was admired and beloved both in Europe and the U.S., particularly by orchestras and soloists who hailed him as a musician's musician, prizing the work itself over showboating and glamor.

The new Broadway comedy Chicken and Biscuits takes place at a funeral in an African-American church. It turns out to be not the sort of funeral you'd expect. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review of the play this week on In a Broadway Minute, Friday (10/22) at 8 am and Saturday (10/23) at 10 am.

Princeton University Concerts reached out to musicians, writers, scholars and other creative professionals in an effort to explore how creative people respond to music. The result is "Ways of Hearing," an anthology published by Princeton University Press that includes submissions from Jamie Barton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frank Gehry, Gustavo Dudamel and C.K. Williams, among others.

Today, concert pianist and Amplify co-host Lara Downes continues her transformative Rising Sun Music series, an ongoing investigation into the work of Black American composers overlooked both in their time and in our collective memory. Downes' latest entry is Migration Music, a three-part series focused on music about the Great Migration of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Actor Billy Porter grew up in Pittsburgh, immersed in the Pentecostal church and convinced that he would be damned for being gay. It wasn't until he was introduced to the world of theater in sixth grade that Porter began to imagine a different future.

Theater, he says, "cracked open a space for me to dream beyond my circumstance."

Most orchestras emphasize music by composers we're all familiar with: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and so on. But a small organization received a big honor this month at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards for its extraordinary service to overlooked American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The story begins in a New Jersey elementary school, where four young girls of color — Aline Vasques, Alexis Carter, Tiahna Sterling and Arlene Acevedo — were all best friends. In middle school they began studying percussion together with Joe Bergen, a member of the Mantra Percussion ensemble. They continued through high school and graduated from Mantra's Youth Percussion Program.

Guitarist Tony Morris has brought performances to patients and others in hospitals and hospices for nearly 20 years through his Music in Medicine community outreach program. A Tempo this week wraps up its series on music and wellness with an interview with Morris, who hosts Classical Guitar Alive. Listen Saturday (10/16) at 7 pm.

For decades, Nashville's tourism has drawn in mostly white tourists for its country music, bachelorette parties and honky-tonks on lower Broadway. But with the opening earlier this year of the National Museum of African American Music, the city hopes to serenade more diverse tourists.

By 2017, Tina Satter's New York downtown theater company Half Straddle — which she had founded nine years earlier — had toured the European theater circuit and mounted productions at esteemed off-off Broadway theaters. But to pay the bills, Satter still needed to take temp jobs on occasion.

Most of us have snapshots of ourselves as infants. But pianist Simone Dinnerstein has a different kind of baby picture. Her father, Simon, included her, sitting on her mother's lap, in The Fulbright Triptych, an enormous 14-foot-wide painting.

Updated October 7, 2021 at 5:58 PM ET

Stagehands at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. have voted unanimously to strike if the performing arts center's management imposes what the workers call "draconian cuts and changes to working conditions." According to a statement from the stagehands' union IATSE Local 22, which is part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, those changes include wage cuts of 40% and the elimination of jobs.

Among the works that expand the diversity of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra's programming this season are a pair of compositions by Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an 18th-century violinist and swordsman of French and African descent. Conductor Nicholas McGegan will lead the orchestra in the works, and two by his near contemporary, Beethoven, next weekend. A Tempo this Saturday (10/9 at 7 pm) features a conversation with McGegan about his interest in de Saint-Georges' musical output, which included symphonies, concertos and operas, as well as a conversation with NJSO President and CEO Gabriel van Aalst.

Updated October 5, 2021 at 5:09 PM ET

The White House has announced who it would like to lead the arts and humanities endowments.

To Chair the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), President Biden's nominee is Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, a longtime arts and humanities administrator and professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA) at Arizona State University.

Broadway's comeback brings back business

Oct 3, 2021

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit


After what we've all been through the last 18 months, we desperately need a laugh. But there hasn't been much to laugh about. Josh Johnson was one of the few brave comics who tried to hold up a funhouse mirror to the pandemic.

Composer Carlisle Floyd, widely viewed as a founding father of American opera, died Thursday at age 95 in Tallahassee, Fla. His death was announced by his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, which did not share the cause of his death.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced its Creative Forces Community Engagement Grant to support programs that offer arts and music programs for veterans, members of the military and their families. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (10/2 at 7 pm) looks at the program and some existing initiatives in a conversation with Bill O'Brien, Project Director for Creative Forces, Christine Bial, Director of Arts and Humanities Grant-Making at Mid-America Arts Alliance, which is partnering with NEA on the grant program, and Dr.

Again and again in Fire Shut Up in My Bones, the magnetically powerful new opera by Terence Blanchard, the focus returns to the torturous weight of a burden carried alone. That weight, shouldered by the opera's central character, stems from his sexual and emotional abuse as a child, and the resulting pain and alienation of his young adulthood.

Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt admits to being anxious. He frequently worries about the past and also about what's to come, but there's one place where his anxiety tends to subside.

"Being on stage, for me, is kind of the antidote to that," Platt says. "That's the place where my mind is the most quiet."

Updated September 27, 2021 at 12:30 PM ET

Broadway's biggest stars paired lavish gowns with face masks for an extravagant and pandemic-altered Tony Awards.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards went on ahead Sunday after a more than 15 month delay. Moulin Rouge! The Musical took home 10 awards, including the night's biggest: Best musical. The Inheritance won for best play, and A Soldier's Play for best revival.

History is being made tonight at New York's Metropolitan Opera: For the first time in 138 years, the eminent company will present an opera by a Black composer. After 18 months of pandemic-canceled performances, the nation's premier opera house will open its new season with Fire Shut Up in My Bones, composed by Terence Blanchard.

NEW YORK — "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's hyperactive 2001 movie, won the best new musical crown at the Tony Awards on a Sunday night when Broadway looked back to honor shows shuttered by COVID-19, mourn its fallen and also look forward to welcoming audiences again.

The show about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like "Single Ladies" and "Firework" alongside the big hit "Lady Marmalade," won 10 Tonys. The record is 12, won by "The Producers."

There's a sigh of relief on Broadway, these days – shows are reopening, and bars and restaurants in Times Square are filling up. And tonight, more than 15 months after they were originally scheduled, the 74th Annual Tony Awards will be presented. Previous winners Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald will host, with appearances from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chita Rivera and Kristin Chenoweth, among others. But these pandemic Tonys are by no means business as usual.