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

The era of the real-life whodunit series is upon us. The podcast Serial first attracted legions of listeners drawn to the question of whether a young man should have been put in prison for the murder of his former high school girlfriend. HBO's documentary The Jinx focused on a trail of murdered and missing intimates of a troubled scion of a wealthy family.

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Natalie Cole struggled to step out of the shadows of R&B icon Aretha Franklin and the longer shadow of her father, singer Nat King Cole. But she did it with her stellar voice and lasting, if under-appreciated, contributions to R&B, soul, and jazz. 

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I assembled seven Nose panelists and asked them to pick a topic we used during 2015 from my list of twelve.  

Of the five left over, four of them were connected to the modern cycle of internet shame: Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official who was pretending to be black, the drunk profane kid demanding jalapeno bacon mac and cheese at UConn, the aunt who sued her nephew for jumping on her, and the dentist who sued Cecil the lion.

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Many of our ideas about history are drawn from historical fiction. 

Who, for example, is Thomas More? Is he the tragic hero of the play and movie, "A Man For All Seasons"?

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The Hartford Public Library's free Baby Grand Jazz has morphed from years of obscurity to become one of the hottest, most popular jazz events in town. 

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As part of an annual tradition, the "Internet's Busiest Music Nerd" Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop got back to his roots at WNPR where he used to intern and shared some of his favorite music of the year on Where We Live.

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There was a whole lot of music released in 2015 and there never seems to be enough time to listen to it all. That’s where the "Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd" comes in. Anthony Fantano's YouTube channel for "The Needle Drop" has over half a million subscribers and he released more than 200 video reviews just this year alone! He stopped by our studios to share some of his favorite songs of the year from hip-hop to Björk and everything in between.

This fall, Secretary of State John Kerry stood at a lectern with a speech and an apple. He wasn't planning to snack, although the red, round fruit looked as he noted, "beautiful." It was a souvenir from Kazakhstan, made from local wool by artisans in Almaty, and just the right prop to introduce the idea that the world is hungry for crafts.

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Coincidences happen to everyon, wwhether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio, or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

On Christmas day, director Quentin Tarantino rolls out an ambitious experiment in 100 movie theaters across the country, including three in Boston and one in Providence.

His new feature, “The Hateful Eight,” was shot and will be screened in the old school, all-but-dead format of 70 mm film.

A local company, Boston Light & Sound in Brighton, was hired to resurrect the only rare, hulking machines capable of splashing it onto the big screen.

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The New England Jazz Ensemble ushers in the New Year with pianist/arranger Walter Gwardyak's acclaimed jazz band adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev's classic "Peter and the Wolf."

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. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

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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