Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

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And finally today, we'd like to tell you about the new revival of "West Side Story" on Broadway.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, singing) Skyscrapers bloom in America.

Photo: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Photo by David Perlman

American Lyric Theater, whose Composer Librettist Development Program provides training and mentoring for composers and librettists, this weekend is giving the public a look at three of its new works in development at its annual InsightALT Festival. This Saturday (2/22 at 7 pm), A Tempo host Rachel Katz speaks with ALT founder Larry Edelson about ALT, its mission and the festival's readings, and librettist E.M. (Ellen) Lewis, who worked with composer Evan Meier on "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant", one of the operas that will be featured in the festival. 

In 1981, Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play premiered in New York City, featuring actors who would go on to become household names, like Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington. The following year, Fuller became the second African American in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But, at the time, the play did not transfer to Broadway. Fuller, who is now 80, wasn't surprised.

"I never thought it would be on Broadway," he says from his home in Toronto.

For the past six months, NPR's Audie Cornish has held a series of conversations with women navigating the male-dominated world of comedy. Here are some highlights.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


This August will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate, the New York Philharmonic has commissioned compositions by 19 women for an initiative it calls Project 19, which had its first concert earlier this month.

Photo: Catherine Wessel

Photo by Bob Finkelstein

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts opens its #GLASSFEST Feb. 21, a series of performances highlighting the works of composer Philip Glass. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (2/15 at 7 pm) features conversations with Annenberg Center Executive and Artistic Director Christopher Gruits, and Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, which will perform Glass' Knee Plays as part of the festival.

It's Mardi Gras season and in North America, no celebration is more famous than the one put on by the people of New Orleans. For two weeks, local groups called Krewes organize balls, parades and dance parties. Colorful plastic beads are everywhere.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Courtesy NY Public Radio

Pianist Orli Shaham 10 years ago launched her Baby Got Bach interactive children's concert series to introduce children to music. After a decade of inspring children, she recently rebranded it as "Orli Shaham's Bach Yard" to appeal to a broader range of kids through the series and other events. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (2/8 at 7 pm) chats with Shaham about the series and some of the other ways she inspires young musicians, such as her recent appointment as a co-host on NPR's From the Top.

Peter Serkin, a pianist who navigated a distinctive course through classical music with thoughtful interpretations of both standard repertoire and bracing new compositions, died Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y. at age 72.

The cause of death, announced by his family, was pancreatic cancer.

Serkin came from a prestigious family of musicians. His father, the celebrated pianist Rudolf Serkin, and his maternal grandfather, the violinist and conductor Adolf Busch, embodied old-world traditions — to reverential acclaim.

There aren't many people who can say they started the decade at the Pro Bowl and ended it on Broadway — but Nnamdi Asomugha can. The four-time All-Pro NFL cornerback is making his Broadway debut in a revival of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, A Soldier's Play.

It's been "a pretty surreal journey," Asomugha says.

Chris Duggan

A Tempo looks ahead to the next decade in dance in a conversation with Dance Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Stahl, whose predictions include increased diversity and a possible Renaissance for tap. Listen Saturday (2/1) at 7 pm. 

For the past six months, NPR's Audie Cornish has held a series of conversations with women navigating the male-dominated world of comedy. Here are some highlights.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


Photo by Matthew Murphy

We've been starting this new year off with genres of music you might not listen to, or that you say you're not a fan of — so far, we've covered jazz, country and deep house.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Fred Stucker

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra this past week announced its plans for the 2020-2021 season, and this Saturday (1/25 at 7 pm), A Tempo host Rachel Katz speaks with Music Director Xian Zhang about the orchestra's plans for the season and Beethoven's 250th anniversary.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Frank Stewart

Orchestras and Concert Halls around the country are hosting concerts and other tributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, and this Saturday (1/18 at 7 pm) A Tempo will highlight two of them. Host Rachel Katz will speak with multi-genre musician Damien Sneed, who is bringing his production of "We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr." to Philadelphia's Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Friday Jan. 17 as part of its North American tour, and also with composer and drummer Dr.

Theater is a team sport — just ask Broadway theater director Bartlett Sher. "I don't believe in individual genius, I believe in collective genius," he says.

That approach has earned Sher a Tony Award — and nine Tony Award nominations. As resident director of New York's Lincoln Center Theater, Sher digs deep into American classics — To Kill a Mockingbird, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof — and makes them feel relevant to today's audiences.

Photo courtesy of OSESP

As part of its celebration of Beethoven's 250th birthday anniversary, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute is working with conductor Marin Alsop this year to create a "Global Ode to Joy" - a series of concert performances across six continents, each interpreting the work through a local lens and incorporating the local language and culture.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The movie "The Song of Names" follows the mysterious disappearance of a violin prodigy after World War II and the search to find him by his childhood friend. The movie, directed by Francois Girard, is based on a novel by music commentator and author Norman Lebrecht and opened in select theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Christmas Day.

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Comedian Gina Yashere has toured the world with her standup, filmed specials for Netflix and made regular appearances on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah."


After “Saturday Night Live” parodied the president in December 2018, Donald Trump tweeted that the show “should be tested in courts, can’t be legal?”

In fact, the right to mock presidents, preachers and other public figures already had been tested in the courts.

In 1983, Hustler Magazine published a joke so offensive that it made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Moni Yakim Knows How To Move You

Dec 31, 2019

Moni Yakim has taught movement at the Juilliard School for more than half a century. His students include Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver, Anthony Mackie and Kevin Kline. In the documentary Creating a Character, all of those actors describe Yakim as one of their formative influences.


Standard caveats (really standard — same as last year and the year before): I don't watch everything. I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.