Arts/Culture

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

Ryuichi Sakamoto has been a film composer for more than 30 years. His résumé includes Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Wuthering Heights, and three films by Bernardo Bertolucci, including The Last Emperor, which won Sakamoto an Oscar. But he hasn't done an American studio film since 1992 — until now.

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Last week, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra said it may have to close its doors for good if HSO musicians won't come to the negotiating table to hammer out a new contract. Now, the union that represents the musicians has responded to those claims.

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It's a yearly tradition: Jazz critic Gene Seymour releases his list of the best jazz albums of the year, and musicians Jen Allen and Noah Baerman gather 'round the table with their own picks. If you're buying a last-minute gift for a finger-poppin' hep cat, this episode will solve your problem.

Chion Wolf

For the second year, we welcome singer/songwriter extraordinaire "Big Al" Anderson and Emmy Award-winning producer and musician Jim Chapdelaine in studio for songs and stories.

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Sheet music written by Ludwig van Beethoven and found in a Greenwich home has fetched $100,000 at auction.

If you typed "Lamar Odom" into the Google search bar this year, you're certainly not alone.

The former NBA player and reality TV star was the most popular search item of the year, Google says.

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So it’s down to this: the Hartford Symphony Orchestra -- which was born in the 1930s in the depths of the depression, which has weathered repeated fiscal crises and work stoppages, but which, in the end, has been our community’s shining flagship musical organization for three generations -- is declaring it will shut down if management and the musicians can’t agree on a contract in the next few weeks.

It’s lunchtime, and Salah Asfoura walks into Bahnan’s International Marketplace with the ease and familiarity of a regular.

“I shop here all the time,” he says. “I mean, not just here, but when we’re looking for Middle Eastern stuff, they have great pastry here, very fresh.”

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Fans are flocking to J.J. Abrams's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in droves. The film is set to break box office records. It drew $14.1 million in Europe when it opened this week, and is expected to post world record sales of $600 million this opening weekend.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't love "Star Wars"? You might be surprised

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The board that oversees the Hartford Symphony Orchestra said it could be forced to shut down unless a union that represents musicians is willing to make concessions.

Former NBA Player Vin Baker: From Big Bucks to Starbucks

Dec 17, 2015
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Vin Baker, who grew up in Old Saybrook, was a four-time NBA All-Star player. He attended the University of Hartford and eventually became an Olympian. He went from relative obscurity to the big time in a flash. 

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A documentary airing Thursday night on CPTV tells the story of American soldiers stationed in Luxembourg during World War II who, without realizing it, helped to create a new holiday tradition. 

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If you're looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift for either a devout jazz fan or even a jazz skeptic, your best bet is the impassioned, madly inventive yet readily accessible The Complete Concert by the Sea, a splendid, Grammy-nominated, three-CD boxed set reissue of Erroll Garner's classic, live 1955 performance that became one of the best-selling jazz albums ever.

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For most shows, I’d use these first paragraphs to explain why we’ve chosen to spend an hour on its particular topic. I’d remind you of events in the news. I’d site a publication date. I’d point out a trend that we’ve maybe noticed that you maybe haven’t.

For today’s show, for instance, I could type a list of towns here — international towns, domestic towns, Connecticut towns — and you’d recognize them all as spots on a map that share a wound, as place names that represent a raw, unhealed sore in our shared memory.

There was something about finally sitting in front of the new Star Wars movie that felt like enthusiasm, but there was also something that felt like dread. I'm not a Star Wars-head, particularly, but I have enormous fondness for the original three movies, which I've seen a decent number of times and own on DVD (Regular DVD! Not even Blu-ray! Like I'm a pioneer seeing movies in a covered wagon!).

Author Neil Gaiman has always been fascinated by dreams. As he sees it, dreams are what differentiate people from one another.

"None of us exist in a world that is the same world that any of the rest of us live in," Gaiman explains to Fresh Air's Sam Briger. "The world that's important is the world behind each of our eyes, which is something that none of the rest of us can access."

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Two musicians-turned web developers have created a product inspired by an online dating app, but filled with pictures of cats.

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Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the University of Texas at Austin can consider race when deciding who can come to their school. It's the second time the high court will decide this case. But like the rest of the country, the court is having a hard time talking about race without shouting at each other. Justice Scalia is making what some say are racist comments.

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The New York Times  and Washington Post are adding new forms of address and pronouns for people who haven't chosen a single gender. Research indicates that ending a text with a period seems insincere. Dictionaries are throwing open their doors and letting in all kinds of slangy words that have been living on the internet. 

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Tourism and the arts took a hit in the budget adjustment agreed on by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature in special session earlier this week. The adjustment was needed to fill a $350 million hole in the state budget.

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When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, but a real, tangible piece of mail? If your answer is "not recently," you’re not alone.

Except for the occasional birthday or holiday card, most of us haven’t sent -- or received -- good, old-fashioned snail mail in a very long time. 

A rare collection of photos of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama are now on display at the Providence Public Library.

On Wednesday the photographer, Steven Somerstein, will deliver a talk about his experience taking the photos, witnessing the march, and interacting with influential black leaders of the time including, Martin Luther King Jr, James Baldwin, and Rosa Parks.

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Before Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, before Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, before "The Simpsons," before David Letterman, before "Saturday Night Live," before The National Lampoon… before all the great subversive American satirists that we’ve all grown… used to — before all that, there was MAD magazine.

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Last year at this time, I foolishly offered my choices for the ten best pop Christmas songs. I say foolishly because these list things are always a bad idea for so many reasons. In fact I’m working on a piece that will list the ten biggest reasons why list stories are a bad idea.

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It’s been three years since saxophonist Jimmy Greene lost his six-year-old daughter, Ana, in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On his album, Beautiful Life, Greene memorializes his little girl. It was recently nominated for two Grammy Awards.

City of Milford Adaptive Recreation / Facebook

Adaptive arts link those with disabilities to artistic expression. This Friday, the city of Milford’s Recreation Department partners with the New England Ballet Company for the sixth annual production of "The Nutcracker Suite."

Jimmy Katz

Inspired by the age-old Delta blues, Noah Preminger and his delta force quartet create a 21st century re-imagining of two soul-drenched songs by legendary blues singer Bukka White on the young tenor saxophonist's dynamic, new album, Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar, a jazz bistro in Greenwich Village.

Walking With Dante

Dec 9, 2015
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"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of "The Divine Comedy," poet Dante Aligheri's, 14,000 line epic poem. It's where Dante must face his sins before moving beyond an eternity in hell, where the doomed can still find redemption in the acceptance of their humanity. 

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Dante's painful journey through the nine circles of hell in "Dante’s Inferno" defies description: "If I had verses harsh and grating enough to describe this wretched hole…"

Yet this is the most alluring section of the "The Divine Comedy," in the most enduring poem of all time. Dante Alighieri was a 14th century poet and politician who wrote his epic poem about sin and redemption upon his permanent exile from his beloved city of Florence.

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