Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot.
Ahmed Janka Nabay was one of the first musicians to take 500-year-old bubu music outside of his homeland of Sierra Leone, where he'd been a rock star. Nabay was forced to flee the country in the midst of that country's civil war, and eventually wound up in Philadelphia in 2003. Nine years later, Nabay's band has released its first album, En Yay Sah, which blends bubu and electronic dance music.
A lot can happen in six years. For Milwaukee-bred trumpeter Philip Dizack, it marked the passage of an era worth documenting in his own artistic chronology.
"End of an Era represents a moment when what you had is gone," he says about his new album during this session from WBGO's The Checkout. "For me, it's specific things like family relationships that ended. Both of my grandparents passed away. All those things were very personal, but I saw that everyone goes through something. And it's all the same."
The Budapest String Quartet has always been my standard-bearer for chamber music. I grew up listening to their recordings, and especially admired not only their gorgeous sound, but also the uncanny interaction among all four players, even when there were changes in personnel. They had a way of playing as if they were speaking to each other, expressing deep and sometimes complicated feelings.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 9:35 am
Rosanne Cash started out working with her father, the late Johnny Cash, then released her own self-titled debut in 1978. She's since made 11 more records and topped various Billboard charts with 11 singles. Refusing to be held by genre limitations, Cash is known variously as a rock, pop, folk and country performer.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:42 am
After 17 years molding the Los Angeles Philharmonic into one of the smartest and most adventurous U.S. orchestras, music director Esa-Pekka Salonen called it quits in 2009. Among his reasons for leaving the ensemble was to devote more time to composing.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 9:34 am
Ever since shortly after her famed performance at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, Joan Baez has been an internationally known star, famous for classic albums and a career marked by social and political activism.
Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 1:41 pm
If you're one of the few viewers still confused about what Treme is saying about art, do note this episode's "play-within-a-play" staging of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The existentialist play revolves around two characters, Vladimir (nicknamed Didi) and Estragon (called Gogo), who wait interminably for a mysterious "Godot" by a desolate country road. It's clearly meant to parallel New Orleans residents' wait for essential social services, complete with the barren backdrop of the city post-Katrina.