Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

Mark Garvin

When the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania opened in 1971, its goal was to serve the diverse and changing audiences of Philadelphia and the region. Executive and Artistic Director Christopher Gruits, who took the helm in September 2016, has kept that mission front and center in planning the center's programming.

Washington, D.C. was the first majority-black city in the U.S. and it stayed that way for decades, from 1970 to 2015. Now the African-American population in the nation’s capital is somewhere around 48 percent, according to the latest Census data.

The following text was originally published alongside the live web stream of the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters, which took place on April 16. A recording of the event can now be viewed by clicking on the video above.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Take the everyday sounds of a city - traffic, people's voices - give them to composer and MIT professor Tod Machover and out comes a symphony.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOD MACHOVER'S "A TORONTO SYMPHONY")

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups.

About Sarah Kay's TED Talk

Spoken word poet Sarah Kay imagines what it would like to raise a child in a world of happiness, heartache, and everything in between.

About Sarah Kay

For a lot of people, when they hear "fetch" and "Is butter a carb?" one thing comes to mind: Mean Girls. The 2004 movie was so influential that screenwriter Tina Fey and producer Lorne Michaels figured, why not a musical? Fourteen years later, it's opening on Broadway.

The two-play powerhouse Angels in America has opened on Broadway with Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield and others. Join theater critic Howard Shapiro this week on In a Broadway Minute for his review of Tony Kushner’s masterwork Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

Penn Libraries

The voice of Marian Anderson resonates not just with beauty, but also with a proud and historic legacy. She made history as the first African American woman to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955, and about 16 years earlier, a refusal by the Daughters of the American Revolution to allow her to perform before an integrated audience at Constitution Hall in Washington DC led to an outdoor concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, supported by then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. 

Vespers, the traditional late afternoon prayer service, gets an enigmatic twist in a new video by director James Darrah, premiered here, with music from Missy Mazzoli, performed by the spirited violinist Olivia De Prato. The track is from her new album, Streya.

This Easter Sunday, NBC will debut its latest one-night live musical event, Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert. The event's source material is the 1970s rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, an interpretation of the final days of the life of Jesus Christ. But it's not your old school Sunday morning gospel.

Heinz Weissenstein / Whitestone Photos

Tanglewood, home to one of the most iconic U.S. summer music festivals, is undergoing an expansion project that will add new performance, rehearsal and educational venues and enhance the landscaping on its bucolic campus. This Saturday, A Tempo (3/31) explores some of these plans, as well as this summer's tribute to Leonard Bernstein, with Mark Volpe, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The program can be heard at 7 pm. 

A generation after it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Edward Albee's Three Tall Women makes its Broadway debut this week.

Three women of different generations — one in her 90s, one in her 50s, one in her 20s — are brought together around a deathbed. They bark, joke, bicker and compare their different vantages in life.

The experiences of black men in America today are making their way onto the classical concert stage, thanks to internationally acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Brownlee enlisted the help of two other prominent African-American artists, composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrance Hayes.

Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill play the title roles in Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women," now on Broadway. Join Theater Critic Howard Shapiro for his review of the production this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

When Johann Sebastian Bach compiled the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier in 1722, he wrote that the 24 preludes and fugues were "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study."

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A great maestro has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIMON BOLIVAR YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF VENEZUELA PERFORMANCE OF EVENCIO CASTELLANOS' "SANTA CRUZ DE PACAIRIGUA")

SHAPIRO: Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of Venezuela's El Sistema Youth Orchestra.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 was an industrial disaster that killed 146 garment workers in New York City. The fire became a touchstone for the labor movement of the 20th century. An opera inspired by the disaster tells the story from a different point of view and it's getting a special type of New York debut.

Since the Disney animated musical Frozen premiered five years ago, the song "Let It Go" has been inescapable. Even the daughters of its songwriters were a bit tired of it.

"Like many people in our culture, there was a feeling of Frozen fatigue, if you will," says co-songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

If you want to know how much the Bolshoi Theatre means to Russia, pull out a 100 ruble note, and there it is: the grand facade of the building.

Go inside, and it's an imperial wonderland. Gilded balconies ring the stage, and more than 100 crystal chandeliers shimmer above rows of crimson velvet seats.

It's impressive, but not quite as impressive as what's happening onstage. Dancers in toe shoes and tights are rehearsing Anna Karenina, a ballet based on the Tolstoy epic.

When it comes to heavyweight game-changers like Claude Debussy, super fans even celebrate death anniversaries. It was 100 years ago, March 25, 1918, that the visionary composer lost his battle with cancer and died in Paris at age 56.

To mark the occasion, Warner Classics has issued a handsome 33-CD box containing what the label says is "the most complete collection ever made" of Debussy's music.

Disney's latest movie-turned-Broadway show is Frozen, and this week, theater critic Howard Shapiro reviews the musical. Tune in Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

Opera Philadelphia

With the successful launch of its new Fall festival format under with its belt, Opera Philadelphia this week announced its plans for its O18 Festival. The festival will run September 20-30, 2018, bringing two world premieres, two new productions and some other treats to opera audiences at a variety of venues.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 11: 30 p.m. on March 19, 2018

A Cirque du Soleil performer died after falling at a Tampa, Fla., show over the weekend when his hand slipped off the double rings, the theatrical company announced Sunday.

"While he was performing the aerial straps number, longtime aerialist, Yann Arnaud, fell onto the stage," Cirque du Soleil's VOLTA said in a statement on Twitter.

Sing Sing Correctional Facility is not the sort of place you'd expect to find a flourishing music community, but a workshop run by Carnegie Hall offers inmates the ability to learn in harmony. Twice a month, artists from New York City travel to Sing Sing and spend a day giving 30 inmates enrolled in the Musical Connections program formal training.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Consequences of Racism.

About Clint Smith's TED Talk

How do you raise a child in a world taught to fear the color of their skin? Poet and writer Clint Smith explains the difficulty of black parenting, and the implications of being black in America.

About Clint Smith

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