When it comes to reliable lightning rods in classical music, it's hard to top Richard Wagner. The latest controversies center on the Metropolitan Opera's current staging of the composer's gargantuan Ring cycle, the set of four epic and mythical operas first mounted at Bayreuth in 1876, and now seen live at the Met together in a series.
Okemah, Okla. — the birthplace of Woody Guthrie — has another musical native son to call its own. John Fullbright's recordings mix folk, country and blues, and his lyrics often tackle big-picture topics.
"I grew up with a lot of questions that couldn't really seem to be answered," Fullbright tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "Why are we here? Did some higher power make all of this? Did he make me? And songwriting is kind of your own voice, your strongest voice, that you can use to ask yourself those questions."
Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:02 pm
From the first downbeat of the first Center City Jazz Festival in Philadelphia, you could hear history in the air — and maybe history being made.
The Wade Dean Enspiration, a gutsy young quintet, led off the festival with "Gingerbread Boy" by Jimmy Heath, one of Philly's many homegrown jazz legends. It was 1 p.m. last Saturday, and the dim carpeted room upstairs at Fergie's Pub was starting to fill up.
The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is in full swing until Sunday. The event draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world — and also working musicians playing the festival.
Many of the performers don't have health insurance, so when they need a tuneup, they get care from the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. It's one of a few health centers in the country that provide care exclusively to artists.
I'm not sure how the Daily Mail arrived at the unfortunate headline "An Unlikely Fan: Why Opera's Biggest Star, Domingo Placido Is Crazy For Lady Gaga." The obvious hed goof aside, it's not like Domingo gives La Gaga effusive praise: "I think Lady Gaga has a very good voice. Absolutely. She has a wonderful voice.