Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.


Joan of Arc is an emblem: a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the inspiration of so many novels and films and George Bernard Shaw's iconic play Saint Joan.

She was also once a real teenage girl. She did farm work. And she had parents, who loved her and were with her until her end — when she was burned at the stake in 1431.

Yucel Moran


Nathan Yan

Silicon Valley, with its array of technology companies, has become synonymous with creativity, and given the correlation between science nerds and music geeks, it was almost inevitable that someone would find a way to combine these two interests into a fun-filled and fulfilling venture. The result is Techapella, an annual concert showcasing the variety of a cappella ensembles that have sprung up at the region's tech companies, including Twitter's Songbirds, Facebook's The Vocal Network, and the Pintunes at Pinterest, just to name a few.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, HOST:

Vijay Gupta's life work has been to make music accessible to all.

That passion caught the attention of others and earlier this month the Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist was awarded a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship — also known as the genius grant.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, HOST:

In a one-woman play set in the future, a British sociology professor lectures her students about the sex industry.

(SOUNDBITE OF PERFORMANCE OF PLAY, "SELL/BUY/DATE")

Joan Marcus


Until recently, most classical music videos have been humdrum affairs. Musicians, in concert attire, earnestly produce their notes with eyes closed and heads tilted in a beatific expression, somewhere between a migraine and an attempt to channel Bach from the heavens.

Antonia Terrizzano

A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (10/13 at 7 pm) speaks with Wall Street Journal opera critic Heidi Waleson about her new book Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera. The book traces the history of the opera company, which declared bankruptcy in 2013 (and has since been revived in its latest incarnation under a new management structure), its artistic triumphs and fundamental challenges, and how these experiences are informing the direction of opera companies today.

Three years after his death, my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, made headlines all over the world when his beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years earlier, was recovered by the FBI. The story struck the hearts of so many, I think, because in such turbulent times, it was rare good, even joyful, news. And the mystery of where it had been, was finally solved.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's yearlong centennial celebration kicked off at the end of September, with a day-long street festival that spanned eight miles across the city.

Over two decades ago in 1997, when violinist Hilary Hahn was 17, she made a celebrated recording debut, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. That year, Hahn told NPR about her enthusiasm for Bach's music.

"There's nothing I really wanted to record more than Bach," Hahn said. "I can work on it for a long time and keep discovering more things that surprise me every time."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Joan Marcus


A promising violinist in her teens, Jessica Stuart put aside her instrument in college as she struggled with a cascade of mental illness challenges. She never expected to play it again, let alone perform, until about 15 years later, when a doctor suggested she look into the Me2/Orchestra in Burlington, Vt., which was launched in 2011 to create a safe, warm and welcoming environment for musicians facing various forms of mental illness (and not to be confused with the more recent #MeToo movement protesting sexual assault and harrassment).

Before Mike Nussbaum started acting professionally in his 40s, he was trying to make a living as an exterminator.

"I was acting since I was 9 years old ... but I was doing community theater for many years before I went ahead with it as a professional," Nussbaum says.

These days Nussbaum is earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Rudy, a grandfather who is confronting loss and decline, in Rachel Bond's play Curve of Departure at the Northlight Theatre near Chicago.

Magos Herrera is a jazz singer from Mexico, but she has also sung pop songs with Brazilian beats and crooned Mexican classics with a touch of rock. Herrera takes another adventuresome step on her new album, Dreamers, where she partners with a classical string quartet for an album steeped in Latin American culture. The potent mix of themes and the sound of the string quartet, plus a little percussion, are compelling.

Joan Marcus

"Bernhardt/Hamlet" is a Broadway world premiere about actress Sarah Bernhardt's decision at the end of the 1800s to take on the role of Hamlet. Hear theater critic Howard Shapiro's review of this play on In a Broadway Minute, Friday (9/28 at 8 am) and Saturday (9/29 at 10 am).

Daniel Gonzalez

Even after her marriage to Robert Schumann, Clara (Wieck) Schumann continued composing and performing. While her income from performing was crucial to her family's financial stability, she also continued because of the important role music played in her life.

Music came naturally to Jon Batiste, the leader of Stay Human, the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Growing up outside of New Orleans as part of a large musical family, he says, "I picked up on all of these things that are integral to who I am as a musician without necessarily studying them."

Two of the country's oldest and most venerated music institutions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, are beginning their seasons with a change in artistic leadership. Both organizations are grappling with 21st century issues of bringing new audiences in and convincing them that centuries-old music forms are central to their lives today.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

Photo by Joan Marcus


Pages