Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

Leslie Odom Jr. originated the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton, and we were curious to know: How much does he know about founding fathers who weren't in the hit Broadway musical? We'll ask him three questions about Benjamin Franklin. Click the audio link above to hear him take our quiz.

Among pop culture's great mysteries: How exactly did David Hasselhoff become a rock 'n' roll God in Germany?

The 67-year-old star of decades-old television series Knight Rider and Baywatch doesn't skip a beat when asked the question.

"It all started with a girl named Nikki," Hasselhoff said during a recent interview with NPR in Berlin, where he was on a concert tour of Germany.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Caroline Shaw sings her own song, "And So," with the Attacca Quartet.

Each year The American Prize recognizes ensembles and conductors for their commitment to American music of all eras, based on performance programming and recordings. This year its Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music in the community orchestra division was given to the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra for its recording, American Romantics, conducted by its Music Director Reuben Blundell.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Meet Lionel. He’s a private eye with Tourette’s syndrome. His boss is shot dead in mysterious circumstances, and Lionel is on the case.

That’s the premise of Motherless Brooklyn, the new film that Edward Norton wrote, directed and in which he stars.

Photo by Evan Zimmerman

Ensembles and concert venues have struggled over what to do with audiences attached to their mobile phones, with some choosing to ban the devices outright, while others have introduced apps that allow the audience to interact with the performance during the show. Lincoln Center is the latest venue to explore its options, bringing in the company Yondr to offer concert goers the option of locking their phones in a pouch during four of the classical performances in Lincoln Center's White Light Festival.

Actor and comedian John Witherspoon, whose first roles were on 1970s TV shows such as Barnaby Jones and The Richard Pryor Show but who was best known for his role as the crotchety dad in the Friday films, has died at 77.

Witherspoon's family confirmed his death in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Dave Chappelle grew up near Washington, D.C. So when he received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, it was a family affair.

Chappelle's wife and kids were there. A selection of his favorite musicians — people like Yasiin Bey, Common, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Frederic Yonnet and John Legend — performed throughout the evening. And his fellow comedians talked about him like he was kin.

Photo by Joan Marcus

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will host its Inaugural Women in Classical Music Symposium November 6 - 9, which will include panel discussions and networking opportunities to address issues relevant to women in classical music. This Saturday A Tempo (10/26 at 7 pm) will get a preview of the event.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit


When Mark Morris was a 6-year-old in Seattle, he'd stuff his feet into Tupperware juice cups so he could walk en pointe. In essence, it worked.

(*Please note - this week's episode runs a full hour) When Rider University’s plans to sell Westminster Choir College to a Chinese company fell through earlier this year, Rider’s administration found itself back where it started nearly three years ago, when it first announced that it wanted to sell the choir college’s Princeton campus, its home for 87 years, and move its programs to the main campus in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


Photo by Marc Brenner


Lost In The World Of Audio Fiction

Oct 10, 2019

Audio fiction is to podcasts as broadcast dramas are to live radio. As audio has gone on-demand, so has its own brand of storytelling.

At the beginning, fiction podcasts seemed to be the refuge of sci-fi nerds and horror enthusiasts. Shows like “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Hello From the Magic Tavern” spooked and delighted listeners.

Photo by Matt Pilsner

As her final season as Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of Princeton's McCarter Theatre gets underway, playwright and director Emily Mann is looking ahead to what she calls her "third act." This Saturday (10/12 at 7 pm) on A Tempo, host Rachel Katz speaks with Mann about her 30 years at McCarter, how the theater landscape has changed, and Mann's plans for her own future. 

On November 8, singer Anthony Roth Costanzo will take center stage at the Metropolitan Opera, debuting as the star of a new production of Philip Glass' opera Akhnaten. It's a remarkable turn for a celebrated singer who nearly lost his voice to thyroid cancer.

When a joke would bomb — or rather, when an audience would fail to join him in laughing uproariously at a joke he'd just finished — Rip Taylor would switch off.

For just a second, he'd drop the merry mirthful maniac bit: He'd stop laughing and frown, his handlebar mustache would droop, his woolly-caterpillar eyebrows would knit. He'd look out at the audience, mock-annoyed.

"Folks, I don't dance," he'd say. "This is it. This is the act."


"You'll get these when you get home and laaaaaugh."


At the age of 94, director and author Peter Brook can genuinely be called a living legend. His career has stretched for over seven decades, from ground-breaking productions of Shakespeare to his nine-hour adaptation of the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabarata. His latest work is on stage now in Brooklyn. It's called Why? and it asks that question about the very profession Brook has spent his life exploring.

Photo by Joan Marcus

A partnership of Philadelphia cultural organizations will launch the city's first Philadelphia Music Week later this month, and A Tempo this Saturday (10/5 at pm) will preview what's in store. Host Rachel Katz will speak with Patricia Johnson, senior director of communications and marketing at The Curtis Institute of Music, Roberta Johnson, vice president of audience engagement for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and William Toms, co-founder and chief creative officer of REC Philly, about the initiative's goals and some of the events and groups that will be participating.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit


It's a story fit for Hollywood.

An unidentified woman, her hair pulled up in pigtails and arms loaded with bags, sings a hauntingly beautiful rendition of a Puccini aria seemingly spontaneously on the platform of a Los Angeles Metro stop.

A video of the woman was posted to Twitter by the Los Angeles Police Department late Thursday evening.

Photo by Michael Murphy


Students, alumni and others concerned by Rider University's plans to move Westminster Choir College to Rider's Lawrenceville campus gathered at Rider earlier this week, hoping to pass on their letters of concern to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who was speaking at the University. A Tempo this week covers the protest and students' efforts to tour Rider's Fine Arts Building, where some of their courses would likely meet should the campuses merge.