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

Chion Wolf

In a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks contrasted E.L. James, who wrote "50 Shades of Grey," with Haruki Murakami, a more critically-acclaimed literary novelist. Parks wrote that  both addressed "the individuals need to negotiate the most intimate relationships in order to get the most from life without losing independence and selfhood." Wow.

Lee Everett / Fine Line

Packed with top regional instrumentalist/composers, The New England Jazz Ensemble has long been a band for all seasons, a non-profit collective of devoted modern jazz practitioners who are also right at home celebrating traditional Christmas fare in the bright, bona fide spirit of jazz.

Nathan Turner / Litchfield Jazz Festival

Several performing arts and literary publications in Connecticut have been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, totaling $290,000.

Want to play a Tiny Desk Concert? Now's your chance: NPR Music and Lagunitas are holding a contest, and the winner gets to perform at my desk here at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For centuries, female composers have often found themselves overshadowed by their male counterparts. Take Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Anna Magdalena Bach, and Alma Mahler, for example. Their names don't roll off the tongue quite as easily as Felix Mendelssohn, J.S. Bach, and Gustav Mahler's do. 

But why?

Soggydan Benenovitch/flickr creative commons

It's an ingenious recipe collection from a longtime dog lover and legendary cookbook editor, Judith Jones. Combing her two passions, Jones has written Love Me, Feed Me, her new book of tasty meals humans can make for themselves and share with their dogs.

b1ue5ky/flickr creative commons

Barking, fleas, Lyme disease, pet food, biting, housebreaking, shyness, pet insurance, animal rescue. Top flight advice from vet Dr. Todd Friedland. Don't miss his adventures with animals of all kinds.

Steve Metcalf's provocative list of top pop Christmas songs no doubt shattered the calm of many a holiday gathering.  One of his indisputable assertions was that "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is "the most recent pop specimen to become a true, authentic, undisputed, genre-crossing, multi-generational, stand-around-a-piano-and-sing-and-know-at-least-most-of-the-lyrics Christmas hit standard. "

The Interstate Highway System Comes to Hartford

Nov 28, 2014
Connecticut Historical Society, 2003.191.4

Beginning in the mid-1930s, state and federal governments examined ways to improve road transportation around the country. While some federal roads linked major population centers, most areas still struggled with a variety of state, county and town roads, ranging in condition from decent to abominable. With the run-up to World War II the federal government looked for ways to improve transportation that would be needed if the U.S. went to war. 

Marta Crowe / Creative Commons

Last week, while discussing some of classical music’s great Christmas works, I casually mentioned that I might want to extend the conversation to the pop music side.

Allen/flickr creative commons

On the menu... our craziest holiday kitchen disasters; misery loves company. Kitchen disasters occur among the most experienced cooks, so no need to get stressed.

Deneka Peniston

With a new CD just released and herself ensconced in the middle of an extended, plum engagement at Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel, Allegra Levy has many triumphant thoughts to savor. The savvy 24-year-old singer/songwriter from West Hartford flies home more than 8,000 miles for a quick stateside visit to promote her debut album in two performances, one in New York City, the other in Hartford.

The Internet radio service Pandora made its name by creating personalized stations using tools such as "like" and "dislike" buttons for listeners. But a deal between Pandora and a group of record labels has raised concerns that the company is favoring certain songs over others because it's paying the musicians behind those songs a smaller royalty.

When Pandora emerged a decade ago, its big selling point over traditional radio was that it created a station just for you, as the company's Eric Bieschke told NPR last year.

It's like the start of a bad joke: a vegan, a gluten-free and a paleo walk into a bar — except it's your house, and they're gathered around your Thanksgiving table.

More and more Americans are passing on gluten — some for medical reasons, most by choice. Others are adopting diets that exclude meat, or insisting on the kinds of unprocessed foods that early man would have hunted and gathered.

All of this is a challenge to the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Chion Wolf

Food is so personal. You put it in your mouth. You probably even have very specific ways of putting it in your mouth.

One of our guests today, Dan Pashman, would want to know for example, whether when you get your movie popcorn you maybe eat a piece or two just dipping your head down to the container popcorn while you're walking from the snack bar to the screening room and if so, do you snare it bullfrog style, sticking it to your tongue as you lift it away.

Manfred Werner / Creative Commons

On the Monday Scramble, we're all about helping you survive the holidays. 

Let's say you've got a long -- maybe eight hours! -- drive ahead of you. God forbid you should talk. So what will you listen to? Audiobook? Podcast? Music? We know this married couple, Amanda and Neil. She's mostly a musician. He's mostly a writer. This hour, we imagine that eight-hour drive and let each of them program four hours of it.

The Most Modern Room in the House

Nov 21, 2014

In a November 1934 article, Agnes Heisler Barton recognized the kitchen as the most modern room in the house.  Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, kitchens changed more radically than other rooms.  The styles of chairs and other furnishings might change, but a new appliance for cooking might easily be a brand new invention.

Institute for Community Research

The patchwork of Connecticut is one of incredible intricacy and texture, stitched together by the stories of the people that have come to call our small state home. The Hudson family of Bristol has one such story.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

When Laura and Joe Hudson moved to Bristol, Connecticut, they brought with them some of their Southern traditions. 

For Laura, that tradition was quilt-making. For Joe, it was singing gospel music. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

You've probably heard, seen and read a lot about Bill Cosby this week, but I think today's Nose panel tears into the topic in some interesting ways. I hope you'll listen and maybe even comment down below. Later in this show, you'll hear us talk about Mike Nichols, a disagreement about how many people can live as a family in a one-family house, and whether Allison Williams can forbid us from live tweeting her live NBC appearance as Peter Pan.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We're talking about cowardice today and it makes me think of two people - Hector and Dr. Bones McCoy.

We claim to despise cowardice and to exalt bravery but in real life, I think we value balance a little bit more.

Hector, in the Iliad, is a much debated figure. He seems on occasion to lose his nerve. He also on occasion seems to do something brave mainly because he could not live down the dishonor of not being brave. I've always liked Hector.

Jedediah Laub-Klein/flickr creative commons

Faith's motto on The Book Show is: Life is short, but it can be ever so wide.

Join Faith and her book buddies for a call-in show recommending terrific books to read in all categories. If you're in a book club, please tell us what you've read and enjoyed.

Hartford Chorale

Merry Christmas!

Oh, sorry – too soon?

Updated at 8:40 a.m.

Award-winning director Mike Nichols has died at the age of 83, ABC News announced in a statement.

"He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime," ABC News President James Goldston said in the statement.

James Yu/flickr creative commons

We have more great recipes for our Thanksgiving and holiday recipe kit... fantastic homemade brandied cranberry sauce from a mom who knows the real deal...an easy and oh so good pumpkin tart... pumpkin bread for the morning after... paleo vegetable stuffing that tastes like the real thing... cranberry-Brussels sprout slaw... Dorie Greenspan's chocolate roses made with cereal... and another perfect Thanksgiving Pinot Noir from Willamette Vineyard; it goes with everything on the table!

John Rogers

A rare artistic species, the great pianist/composer Fred Hersch is a true original, as independent a voice and as rugged and self-reliant an individual creating in the American grain as, say, Henry David Thoreau or Walt Whitman, Bill Evans or Thelonious Monk.

In what will most likely be his last official visit to the Berkshires, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took time Monday to celebrate state investments in the region.

Nomadic Lass/flickr creative commons

The day after Thanksgiving is not only the biggest leftover eating spree of the year; movie theaters are as packed as our stomachs are. To catch our list of what's playing now and what's coming for the holidays, listen to our conversation with Arnold Gorlick, founder of Madison Art Cinemas in Madison, Conn.

Creative Commons

What if you had the ability to read the emotions, the thoughts, the concerns of your city in real time, at any time? What if you could then use that information to help your community -- to build stronger policies, and foster better relationships with those around you? 

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