Dudamel at halftime!

LA Times reporter Mark Swed writes “…in this divided country of ours, one of the big divides is the phony distinction between pop culture and, for want of a better word, classical.”

 

 

Dudamel is conducting his Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) tonight during the Super Bowl halftime show, a move that will hopefully help bridge the gap between “high” and “low art,” and that will shine a light on the need for more music education in this country. Read the article here.

 

 

Formation

You know that little flutter your heart makes when Beyoncé drops a new song? It just happened again!!

‘Formation,’ her latest song is catchy, feminist, political, and full of southern black pride. Watch the video here. Beyoncé will perform the new single at the Super Bowl tomorrow night!

 

 

You know what else is amazing? She’s offering a free download on Jay Z’s streaming platform Tidal.

 

 

The story behind Bernie Sanders’ folk album

In 1987, Todd Lockwood, a music producer based in Burlington, had the idea of bringing Vermonters together to make an album featuring the voice of the one and only Bernie Sanders, then the popular mayor of Burlington.

 

 

Apparently Lockwood didn’t check if Sanders had a good singing voice until it was too late, so Sanders ended up speaking the words of some of the greatest folk songs.

Listen to whole story behind We Shall Overcome here.

 

A new dose of global music

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino from southern Italy and Bombino from Niger start out NPR’s global music recommendations. Hearing songs from different cultures alongside each other teaches us that there is beauty in difference, and also that music is an activity that links the entire world together. Learn tidbits of history while discovering some great new music in this Latitude blog post on NPR.

 

 

 

Ellen or Jimmy?

Justin Timberlake decides whether Jimmy Fallon or Ellen DeGeneres should win this round of the lip sync battle:

 

 

The best part is at the end, when Ellen introduces Rihanna’s B**** Better Have My Money and then proceeds to kill it with the choreography.

Hamilton the musical goes on tour!

Can’t get the songs from Hamilton out of your head? You’re in luck! Hamilton, the production by Lin-Manuel Miranda that’s taking the musical world by storm, is going on tour. The musical will open in Chicago next September, and the following March San Francisco and LA will be graced with its presence!

 

Make sure to keep your eye out for tickets!

 

Spotify Playlists from the Stars

Ever wondered what Rihanna, Kacey Musgraves, and Snoop Dogg listen to on Spotify? Here are some famous musicians’ playlists!

 

 

Wait for it!

Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, discusses being cast in a life-changing role.

 

 

” ‘When he finished that song,’ Odom says, voice ringing with the moment’s impact, ‘I said, ‘Wow — I’ve never heard a song quite like that on Broadway.’ I just knew that whoever was going to get to sing ‘Wait for It’ eight shows a week was going to be a lucky actor. I knew that.’ ”

In talking about the fact that all of the founding fathers and their families are played by people of color, Odom says that what this situation creates is empathy, the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. This is true for the actors and the audience members.

 

Read the article here.

 

Recognize that voice?

Garrison Keiller, the host of the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion, talks about his love for Minneapolis, MN on NPR’s World Cafe.

 

 

The music featured on A Prairie Home Companion aligns perfectly with Keillor’s own personal taste in music. In fact, the show started out as a music show! Listen to the whole interview here.

 

 

So what happened in 2015?

From surprise albums to protest songs to comebacks to local club turnovers, 2015 was a year of many exciting changes in the music world.

“In Boston and beyond, the music world was a scene of dramatic contrasts in 2015: both superlative highs and shattering lows. Here’s a look back at the topics that sparked buzz in the last 12 months.” Read the full article in the Boston Globe here.

 

Pete Seeger Was Followed by the FBI

In 1942, while in a the army, Pete Seeger, the renowned folk musician who died only last year, wrote a letter to protest the Japanese interment camps during World War II. Ever since that letter was reported to the FBI by the California American Legion, Seeger was closely watched and followed. In a time when communists were feared and targeted by the US government, Seeger was a likely target, given his liberal political opinions and evocative lyrics.

 

 

Read about the Seeger investigation here. The documents were recently released at the request of Mother Jones.

 

The Beatles Are Finally Streaming!

For the Beatles fans out there (so basically….everyone?): the band’s music is now available on all streaming services! All of their albums became available worldwide at midnight on Christmas Eve.

 

 

“The Beatles, the biggest-selling group of all time, waited more than seven years before coming to iTunes in 2010. Until now, the group was one of most high-profile artists not available to stream, The Guardian reported.” Read the full article Buzzfeed here.

 

Best Boston Bands

The Boston Globe has compiled a list of the Best Local Albums of 2015. These artists perform locally in Boston, so if you get hooked, you’re in luck!

 

Mariah Carey’s “Christmas Empire”

Over time, Mariah Carey has built a “Christmas empire” out of her music and image. She has built herself a lasting legacy in American musical history as the pop star of Christmas. The New York Times’ Wesley Morris discusses Carey’s fame in his article “Mariah Carey’s List is Short: All She Wants is Immortality”…read the full article here!

 

 

Kurt Masur’s Legacy at the New York Philharmonic

Kurt Masur, music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002, died on Saturday at the age of 88.

 

 

NPR wrote a beautiful tribute to Masur, detailing the way he “rebuilt” the New York Phil in the 90s into one of America’s leading orchestras after a period of bad reviews and lackluster performances.

The article quotes Alan Gilbert, the current music director and son of musicians who played under Masur:

” ‘Masur’s years at the New York Philharmonic represent one of its golden eras, in which music-making was infused with commitment and devotion — with the belief in the power of music to bring humanity closer together,” Gilbert said in a statement provided by the orchestra. “The ethical and moral dimensions that he brought to his conducting are still palpable in the musicians’ playing, and I, along with the Philharmonic’s audiences, have much to thank him for. I will always be grateful for the support he gave me starting long ago when I was a student. I will miss him deeply.’ ”

 

Read the full article here.

Celebrate the Holidays in Providence!

The Providence Journal has compiled a list of arts events for this week!

 

 

The MET has a concert coming up tonight, and on Wednesday the Trans-Siberan Orchestra is coming to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to play some “Christmas rock.”

Check out full listings here.

Appalachian Spring

In 1944 Aaron Copland, the quintessential American composer, and Martha Graham, one of the most famous American dancers and choreographers of all time, came together to create Appalachian Spring, a joyous ballet about Shaker pioneers in the Pennsylvania hills. The choreography is entertaining and innovative, and Martha Graham plays the role of a young bride so gracefully. The music is classic Copland, and quotes the Shaker hymn “Tis the Gift to be Simple.”

 

 

Watch some of the choreography here:

 

Playlist for 2015

Hooked on the music from Hamilton? Can’t stop listening to Adele’s new album? This is NPR’s year 2015 in music!

Musical Christmas Gift Guide!

The New York Times has reviewed some of this year’s best Christmas CDs in case you need some gift-giving advice! From Soul to Swing to hymns, these tunes will put you in the christmas spirit.

 

In light of last weekend’s attacks in Paris and Beirut, and of all the violence that occurs every day on this earth, music can heal and make life bearable. Listen to All Songs Considered’s playlist to celebrate global music and the appreciation of cultures other than our own.

 

Oumou Sangare

Oumou Sangare, Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou singer

 

Blackstone River Theatre Homecoming Concert!

On Saturday, November 28 at 7:30pm, the Blackstone River Theatre will be presenting their 16th annual homecoming concert and silent auction fundraiser!

Enjoy music from the Eastern Medicine Singers, John Fuzek, Robbie O’Connell, Pendragon, Grant Maloy Smith, Ed Sweeney, and The Vox Hunters (featuring the shop’s own Armand Aromin!).

The show will take place at the Blackstone River Theatre: 549 Broad St., Cumberland, RI (Across from Ann & Hope).

$20. Get your tickets now! More info at (401)725-9272 or www.riverfolk.org

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Dom Flemons, The American Songster

Dom Flemons, a talented roots singer and multi-instrumentalist, known to the public as the “American Songster,” performed a lively set @ The Burren in Somerville last night.

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Dom Flemons

 

In the second half of the show, Flemons spoke to the intimate audience about the making of his new album Prospect Hill, which features both original and traditional blues and old-time tunes. Watch one of his most popular songs, “Polly Put the Kettle On,” here:

 

 

Flemons is an intelligent and thoughtful musician. He makes a point of highlighting the undocumented narratives of black music in the US. Flemons is working to reclaim the meaning of minstrel songs, which were performed by traveling musicians in the 19th and early 20th centuries wearing blackface, by performing them in his own style. The following video is his interpretation of the minstrel tune “Can You Blame The Colored Man?”:

 

 

As a scholar of roots music, Flemons presents the nuances of the history of blackface minstrelsy. In his article “Can You Blame Gus Cannon?” he discusses the reasons why a black musician such as Gus Cannon would choose to wear blackface and participate in a tradition that blatantly mocked black musicians. Flemons writes, “In his music I heard minstrelsy, but I could also hear a novel, legitimate black art form developed from minstrel roots.”

 

 

Pharrell Williams speaks @ NYU

Pharrell sat down with NPR’s Jason King at NYU last month for over an hour to talk about his new song “Freedom”, politics, childhood, and even tapas!

King’s bio of Pharrell is fascinating, and this interview is a really intimate look at a huge pop star’s surprisingly humble perspective. Watch and read here.

Drake misses Billboard #1 again

Drake was hoping for his new single Hotline Bling to reach #1 on the Billboard charts. However, he originally released the song’s video only on Apple Music, a company that doesn’t report viewership data to Billboard. The New York Time’s Anastasia Tsioulucas writes, “Maybe Drake’s disappointment serves as a little bit of a cautionary tale for other artists: The streaming platform you choose just might decide your chart fate.”

Here’s the video:

Impromptu Bach

It’s always interesting to see how people react to impromptu music….

While cellist Matt Haimovitz was in residence at Columbia’s Miller Theatre, he performed several pop-up concerts at the university unsuspecting crowds. Haimovitz played at the bookstore, the café, and even the gym. See for yourself.

 

Misty Copeland’s Story

Misty Copeland has made history through her career in ballet. This past summer Copeland was named a principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, becoming the first African-American to be promoted to this position in the company’s 75 years of existence.

Watch Copeland perform with Yo-Yo Ma:

 

The ballerina is developing a TV show about the world of ballet….and the world can’t wait!

The Ballets Russes Reinvented!

On October 23-25, 2015, The Vets is bringing three ballet masterpieces of the Ballets Russes to Providence! Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun, Weber’s Le Spectre de la Rose, and Stravinsky’s The Firebird. With the contemporary choreography of Dominic Walsh and under the direction of Mihailo Djuric, these shows are a must see! Read more here.

Style and stories to tell

Andra Day is shockingly talented. She throws her head back just like Billie Holiday as she belts a combination of jazz, R&B, and soul. Read about her song “Gold” here, and watch her Tiny Desk Concert here!

David Wax Museum @ Columbus Theatre this Saturday!

David Wax Museum blends American and Mexican folk music to create a sound unlike any other. The New York Times describes their style as “lonesome Appalachian harmonies over mariachi horn lines and rhythms.”

The band will be performing at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI this Saturday. columbustheatre.com

 

The Suitcase Junket

A found guitar, 1950s amps, and an oversized suitcase: Matt Lorenz plays “junk folk” at NPR’s Folk Alley.

 

Matt Lorenz

Matt Lorenz

Watch him perform his song “Earth Apple”.

 

Happy Birthday Yo Yo Ma!

What is your proudest accomplishment? Do you practice a lot? Those are some of the questions Strings Magazine recently asked Yo Yo Ma. The Magazine honored the 60 year old cellist with an extensive interview, including additional commentary from his sister, and a member of the Silk Road Project who was only a little girl when Ma first performed in China.

Ma comments on his relationship with music, his views on music in society, children, education, and many other topics. His views regarding musical education, or rather the questions he asks about the way our society values, or does not value, art, are very thought provoking.

“And what are educational systems based on? Where did our high school subjects come from? Our studies are from 1910, so [do] we need to reboot that? How does art fit into that, how does that fit into arts funding and science funding? What are we educating our children for? Is it a transactional thing? Do you pay that money in order to get better jobs or is there something about education that is different?”

Read the whole article here.

This is how you play like Mozart…

Maxim Vengerov shows a young student how to play like Mozart. Apparently it’s all in the smile…

 

Can you choose between a Stradivarius and a del Gesù in 20 minutes?

“It’s like the NBA draft crossed with The Bachelor, but for classical music.”

The sixteen winners of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank competition got to choose from sixteen million-dollar instruments. The violinists will play their chosen partners for three years, at which point the violins will move on to their next musicians.

The catch: the winners have to choose their “perfect match” in just 20 minutes! Watch the video and read about the process here.

 

Vellumsound @MFA

Interested in the intersection of painting and music? The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is presenting a concert of works that evoke the power of the ocean, featuring works of art that complement the music. Read more and get tickets here.

MFA

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Ship and Cutter – MFA

Need some music recommendations?

Here’s a list of 34 popular musicians from all over the world.

The Carter Family hits!

Interested in an hour and forty minutes of early country? Then this is the thing for you! Check out The Carter Family’s 33 Country Hit’s:

 

The Carter Family was the first vocal group to become country music stars. They sing with close harmonies, and are famous for songs like “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” and “Keep on the Sunny Side.” Wiki article here. Enjoy!