Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A good magician never reveals his secrets. Well, one of the world's most famous magicians has just broken that rule.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Arvo Pärt is one of the most popular, most performed living composers. He's beloved worldwide for his signature sound – a spacious, meditative music that tends to sound timeless.

But there's a lesser-known side to the 82-year-old Estonian's career. It's a story that can be traced in a new recording of Pärt's four Symphonies. The album is a musical journey spanning 45 years in fervently detailed performances by the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, conducted by fellow Estonian Tõnu Kaljuste.

In the annals of American culture, Kendrick Lamar's unprecedented Pulitzer win in music for DAMN. will stand alongside a recent influx of hip-hop firsts: Jay-Z's 2017 induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, LL Cool J's 2017 Kennedy Center Honors and the entire slew of artists who — to paraphrase a George Clinton classic — helped paint the White House rap during Obama's presidency.


Since (at least) the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city in 2012, the singularity of Kendrick Lamar has been plainly evident. But with the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 2018 being given to the Compton rapper for his 2017 album DAMN., his exceptionalism is now officially historic: It's the first time in the prize's history that it has been given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz community.

Orquesta Akokán takes its name from the Yoruba word meaning "from the heart." The group's self-titled debut album, released in March, draws deep from the soul and history of Cuba, reviving the spirit of the big-band orquestas of decades past like Buena Vista Social Club and Orquesta Aragón.

Laurie Metcalf is currently co-starring in the Broadway production of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women ... so we've invited her to play a game called "Three Short Men" — questions about Tom Cruise, Charlie Chaplin and a guy named Pete Conrad.

Metcalf also appears in the ABC sitcom Roseanne and was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Lady Bird.

Click the audio link above to see how she does.

Imagine what it would be like to grow up in a library. For much of the 20th century, public libraries built by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie included apartments for the families of custodians — people like Sharon Washington's dad. Back in the 1960s, she and her family lived above the St. Agnes branch of the New York Public Library, on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

SAG-AFTRA is calling for an end to auditions in private hotel rooms or residences, after a spate of sexual harassment allegations against powerful Hollywood figures.

"We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting," the union's president, Gabrielle Carteris, said in a statement.

Kenneth Lonergan's play "Lobby Hero" is making its Broadway debut, starring Michael Cera as a security guard in an upscale New York apartment house. Hear theater critic Howard Shapiro's review of the play at the Helen Hayes Theater this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

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.

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

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")

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

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."

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

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.

Pages