WNPR Arts and culture reporting focuses on the world of ideas in fine art, crafts, writing, music, theater, performance, design and creative activities that make us unique and make us human

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Al Capone told everyone who asked him what he did for a living that he was a "property owner and taxpayer in Chicago." He was really a powerful multimillionaire in 1920's Chicago who made money from the illegal sale of alcohol during Prohibition and the vices that usually accompanied it: gambling and prostitution.

Carl Van Vechten / U.S. Library of Congress

As narrator, bandleader, trumpeter and composer, Ron McCurdy is the central dynamic force powering his acclaimed, multimedia presentation of a Langston Hughes trailblazing magnum opus, Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.

haru__q / flickr creative commons

Everybody loves a bulldozer. In fact, we all grew up loving bulldozers, didn't we? From Benny the Bulldozer to Katy and her big snow, from all the Tonka toys to all the die cast model Caterpillars, the bulldozer is more of an icon in American popular culture than we maybe realize.

Betsy Kaplan / WNPR

Against Everything is a book about self-improvement. Before you tune out, I ask you to challenge your notion of 'self-improvement.' 

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When was the last time you changed your address? Well, if you're like most Americans, it probably wasn't that long ago. According to the Census Bureau, the average U.S. resident will move 11.7 times in his or her lifetime. This hour, we take a closer look at why we're on the move so much. What does it take to truly feel at home where you live? It's something journalist Melody Warnick writes about in her new book called This Is Where You Belong

When scientists recently announced that they had discovered a new planet orbiting our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centuri, they also released an artist's conception of the planet.

The picture of a craggy canyon, illuminated by a reddish-orange sunset, looked like an image that could have been taken on Mars by one of NASA's rovers. But the alien scene was actually completely made-up.

Ray Hardman / WNPR

When the famous Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm in World War I, composers lined up to write works for the pianist featuring the left hand only. One of those works, Maurice Ravel's "Piano Concerto for the Left Hand," will be performed this Sunday by the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The soloist for that performance lost the use of his right hand in an unthinkable family tragedy.

Long Wharf Theater

Long Wharf Theater in New Haven is participating in a unique national collaboration that looks at the issue of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter Movement.


It's just by happenstance that we ran into three short films this week that are both remarkable and newly available online. One of them is really something, and because of that, you have to figure, it won this year's Oscar for Best Live Action Short. One of them is merely clever and well done. And the last is an animated short that will utterly defy your expectations of an animated short.

And the best part is: You can watch all three of them in just 27 minutes.

It's tough to find a more bubbly, positive person than Lacie Pound.

She always has a kind word for the baristas and café workers who serve her morning coffee. She drinks a smoothie offered by a co-worker even when it doesn't taste so good. And she's determined to give an award-winning toast as the Maid of Honor at her oldest friend's wedding.

Lacie, played by Jurassic World co-star Bryce Dallas Howard, is the central character in "Nosedive" — a new episode in the third season of the British anthology drama, Black Mirror, which debuts on Netflix today.

Julie Jordan Scott / Creative Commons

A lot of you reading this are familiar with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder because you watched the popular "Little House on the Prairie" television show that ran from 1974-1983.

But the television show came long after Laura Ingalls Wilder began sharing the story of her family's journey through the open frontier. She shared her memories in a series of beloved Little House books that spanned a life of pioneering both before and after the government declared the frontier closed. She speaks in simple and intimate prose of everyday life that fascinated millions of young readers who wanted to live like Laura. Fans today still want to believe in the absolute truth of every word. 

Courtesy Ed Fast

With the release of his fine new CD, Do or Die, and the launching of weekly appearances in the new Wine and Jazz Series at the posh Brignole Vineyards in East Granby, Ed Fast, the celebrated Latin jazz percussionist, composer, arranger, educator, and bandleader is celebrating full speed ahead in the fast lane with no detours in sight.

Vladimir Agafonkin / Creative Commons

August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Piano Lesson opens this Friday at Hartford Stage. This hour, we preview the production. We also find out how it's inspiring some Connecticut residents to open up about the importance of family legacy. 

Michaek Kerswill / Flickr

History and literature are filled with their antics. From the Renaissance's Triboulet to Shakespeare's Feste from "Twelfth Night," jesters and fools have delighted us for centuries with their subversive humor and quick wit. But while comedy was their brand, there existed hardships for these characters as well.

Xavier Badosa / Creative Commons

Bob Dylan's own reaction to winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature isn't known yet. In his first public appearance following the news, a couple of days after the announcement, he took the stage for a concert Las Vegas. He said nothing about the award.

T. Charles Erickson

We've never sent a Nose panel to a play before. So this week, we figured we'd try it out. So we've all gone to see Steve Martin's world premiere at the Long Wharf in New Haven: Meteor Shower.

Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. The prolific musician is the first Nobel winner to have forged a career primarily as a singer-songwriter. What's more, he's also the first American to have won the prize in more than two decades. Not since novelist Toni Morrison won in 1993 has an American claimed the prize.

Crtystal Emery

According to a 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, black Americans make up less than six percent of the nation's physicians and surgeons. A new documentary shines a light on the topic, specifically focusing on women in the field.

Eduardo Rawdriguez

Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa’s new, celebratory album, El Viaje (The Voyage) surges with an abundance of inspiring exuberance, pyrotechnical brilliance, fiery passion, luminous lyricism, and rhythmic propulsion. 

Home Box Office, Inc.

A Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple in Farmington, Connecticut, opened this weekend. It’s the second Mormon temple in New England. The temple would normally be off limits to non-Mormons, but it’s offering public tours this month.

Courtesy of LA Phil

Fred Tinsley, a celebrated double bassist and Hartford native who was every bit as much at home in the symphonic world as he was when powering a jazz combo, died unexpectedly September 19, 2016, in California, his home for many years. He was 76.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

The new arts season is upon us, and two of the area’s premier music institutions get started this week.

Kristian Bjornard / flickr creative commons
Keith Allison / flickr creative commons

So here's what happened. Lucy Nalpathanchil got a pitch from some PR person about covering David Ortiz's retirement at the end of this baseball season. And she forwarded it to Colin and me and said it sounded like our kind of show.

And Colin (a Red Sox fan) said that I (a Yankees fan) "would [expletive] hate that." And he's right. I would [expletive] hate that.

And so here we are doing that show.