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Immersive classical performances.

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After months of lockdown, on a glorious sunny day, I got to watch the Los Angeles Philharmonic rehearse at the famous, near-empty Hollywood Bowl. A year into the pandemic, live concerts are still a rarity in this country, but the LA Phil has been recording concerts here for its online Sound/Stage series.

There were only about seven others scattered in the audience of the vast amphitheater; in sneakers and jeans, conductor Gustavo Dudamel led the orchestra in a piece by composer John Adams, Grand Pianola Music.

Kris Bowers' film-scoring career started, strangely enough, with a word of praise from the Queen of Soul — Aretha Franklin.

The 31-year-old composer has been tickling the ivories since he was a little kid, growing up in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles. He always loved film scores (E.T. was a heavy favorite), and he was one of the few Black students at his arts high school. He studied at Juilliard, and in 2011 he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

Updated at 9:46 p.m. ET

A union representing 800 backstage workers at New York's Metropolitan Opera began a publicity campaign today urging donors and government entities to withdraw support for the company because of a labor dispute.

Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste — two artists from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — met 25 years ago, in a high school orchestra class. Growing up, neither one had had much exposure to classical music; both said their parents were more likely to listen to reggae or calypso. Classical music felt like it was supposed to be for other people, which had the effect of drawing them even closer to it. Today, they play as a duo, with Marcus on violin and Baptiste on viola.

In the 1920s, the Russian physicist Leon Theremin debuted an electronic instrument that could be played without any physical contact. Players stood in front of a box and waved their hands over antennas, summoning otherworldly sounds seemingly from thin air.

Will Liverman is a young baritone and a new, exciting voice in the opera world. He is also on something of a mission.

In school, the artist was rarely introduced to Black composers. It was a cumulative interest, patched together by YouTube clips and introductions from colleagues. Now, he wants to expose listeners to music that he feels doesn't get programmed enough in concert halls or receive enough airplay on classical radio stations.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


There's a distinct dissonance between the bucolic setting of this lovely Max Richter Tiny Desk (home) concert and the reality he references after his performance.

Osvaldo Golijov is a MacArthur "genius" composer who's written for Yo-Yo Ma, Kronos Quartet and soprano Dawn Upshaw. But in 2012, he was accused of plagiarism, and he disappeared from the scene. Only now, nearly a decade later, is Golijov reemerging — with a work that could not have a more timely subject: it's a meditation on grieving and loss.

For members of Luminous Voices, a professional choir ensemble in Alberta, Canada, rehearsing and performing safely during the pandemic has meant getting into their cars, driving to an empty parking lot and singing with each other's voices broadcast through their car radios.

This "car choir" solution is one that college music professor David Newman — an accomplished baritone himself in Virginia — came up with so that ensembles could sing and "be" together.

In 2021, I'm looking forward to, fingers crossed, live music. I really miss the roar of a symphony orchestra in concert or a soaring soprano on the opera stage. But artists are still making albums, even in lockdown, like British composer Max Richter. His upcoming album is a follow-up to last year's Voices. This new one is Voices, Part 2 which will be released in April.

Meet internationally-acclaimed author Alexander McCall Smith (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and award-winning composer James Ross, who collaborated on song cycle These Are The Hands. Host Fiona Ritchie chatted with them about the process of bringing together the lyrics (McCall Smith) and the piano arrangements (Ross).

A few months ago I was scrolling through my phone and found that Jon Batiste had shared my new single with his Instagram followers. I DM'd him my thanks and we chatted about the music and its composer, a Black woman named Florence Price who was a brilliant musical pioneer in the 1930s. We talked about the trailblazers who've come before us and about the work we do to honor their legacy.

The year 2020 was, in so many ways, divided. In terms of live performances, musicians were forced to reinvent, reflect and respond from a distance and in turn I watched their concerts from the remove of my laptop screen.

Two-hundred-fifty years ago, a musical maverick was born. Ludwig van Beethoven charted a powerful new course in music. His ideas may have been rooted in the work of European predecessors Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn, but the iconic German composer became who he was with the help of some familiar American values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Davóne Tines' instagram handle is @alsoanoperasinger. It's apt because he is many things: scholar, composer, writer, producer, entrepreneur, activist. He's also one of the most fascinating opera singers of his generation. His taste runs towards uncharted territory; he creates new roles with an expressive intensity of voice and body to reveal the complex humanity of each character he inhabits.

2020 Was The Year Of *Trying* To Chill

Dec 11, 2020

In 2020, there were many ways to understand the year in music; this week, we're considering four. Even more than "mindfulness" or "self-care," "chill" has morphed into a context-flattening buzzword, not quite a genre of music but certainly a tool used to categorize it, especially as a beacon of calm in your streaming app of choice. Still, it might be just the right term for the palliative care so many of us have spent the months indoors desperately self-administering, by way of whatever meditative media we could find.

Harold Budd's Music Was Heaven On Earth

Dec 10, 2020

Some artists veer wildly between styles from record to record. And then there are those who discover their sonic identity and stick with it, hardly straying from their one true path. Their life's work is the patient art of inflecting and perfecting.

This has been a booming year for composer John Luther Adams. His 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning orchestral work Become Ocean has been re-released as part of a trilogy. Recordings of new string quartets have just come out. And he's just published a memoir, Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska. The title was inspired by a line in "Listening in October," a poem from the late John Haines:

In the new concert film Tripping with Nils Frahm, directed by Benoit Toulemonde, a small figure in a t-shirt and flat cap bounces around a Berlin stage — playing pianos and towering analog synthesizers, flipping switches, turning knobs and massaging keyboards in front of rapt audiences.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


Soprano Julia Bullock prefers to be called a "classical singer." It's a rather humble, even vague, appellation for one of today's smartest, most arresting vocalists in any genre.

Julia Bullock is an artist who dares you to find new adjectives. The soprano is often described as "radiant," an overused word that actually describes her surprisingly well. Onstage, she's a shapeshifter, ranging from elegant and commanding to bewitching, provocative and dangerous – but consistently intelligent and nuanced. Offstage, she can be goofy.

In the mid-1970s, more than 40 years before he won the Pulitzer Prize for music, pianist and composer Anthony Davis was driving with his wife to Boston for a concert when a police officer pulled them over .

The first time I saw Helga Davis, she was wearing a column of white satin, standing in a pool of white light, shining. She was singing Judy Collins' "Wings of Angels," a song about grief and loss, but also about the power of love to transcend time and place, life and death. She was magnetic. You could have heard the softest whisper of an angel's wing in the spellbound silence.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

YouTube

A touching video showing a former ballet dancer afflicted with memory loss gracefully dancing as she hears the music from Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake has

Anthony McGill is a musician's musician. You might remember his performance with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero at President Obama's inauguration in 2009. You might have seen him leading the clarinet section at the New York Philharmonic, or as a soloist on stages around the world.

How can a moment of protest and isolation inspire creative rebirth? That's the question renowned pianist Lara Downes is exploring as the host of a new video series for NPR Music, simply titled Amplify With Lara Downes.

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