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

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In "A Knight's Tale," Heath Ledger is invited to a dance among the nobles. He is a peasant, impersonating a noble and is anxious because he doesn't really know how to dance. His rival sneeringly asks him to show everybody a dance from Heath's homeland. What happens next is a breath-taking dance sequence in which pre-Renaissance music morphs into Golden Years by David Bowie .

Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Rock Icon David Bowie Dies At 69

Jan 11, 2016

Iconic rock musician David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69. The news was announced in a statement on Bowie's social media sites:

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," it read.

Bowie's death was confirmed by his son, Duncan Jones, who tweeted, "Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all."

Vermont musician Jamie Masefield has been improvising on the jazz mandolin for decades. He's recorded six albums, including one with Blue Note Records, and brings everything from folk and funk to the literature of Leo Tolstoy to the stage. But some years back, his eclectic creativity brought him to an unexpected second career.

When I meet Masefield at work, he's chipping away at some pinkish stone with a small hammer. "In the industry we call it 'rainbow stone,'" he offers. "It's very nice to work with."

Netflix

People can't get enough of the new Netflix story "Making a Murderer," a depressing story about Steven Avery, the son of troublesome auto-salvage dealers in the heart of an eastern Wisconsin farming community. He was erroneously sent to prison for 18 years for a crime he didn't commit. Upon his release after a long legal battle, he was put back in jail for a murder --  you guessed it -- he may not have commit. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

In a preliminary vote Thursday night, musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra rejected — by secret ballot — a labor offer and wage cuts proposed by HSO management.  

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

After a year of contentious negotiations, protests, and the threat of a shutdown, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and its musicians may be edging closer to an agreement on a new contract.

Metcalf's Musical Wish List for 2016

Jan 7, 2016
University of Illinois Library

The page turns, and I offer herewith my annual New Year’s musical wish list.

Photonesta

Okay, this show comes with a trigger warning.

We're going to talk about things people eat, and some of those things are not for the squeamish. This is a conversation about disgust, and specifically, how our reflexive response of disgust may get in the way of things we probably need to think about doing.

Joseph A. Rosen

Classy offerings for the winter/spring season of 2016 burst out of the claustrophobic confines of any top ten category. 

Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor whose career spanned from the avant-garde post-World War II era to the computer age, has died, according to the French culture ministry. He was 90. Boulez famously challenged his peers and his audience to rethink their ideas of sound and harmony.

That's Shocking!!

Jan 6, 2016
David Gohring / Creative Commons

When the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe were exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford in 1989, there were protesters on the street and lines around the block as thousands queued up to pay an extra fee to look at these pictures, which lay at the heart of a heated debate about public funding for the arts.

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.

Maxppp / Creative Commons

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. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

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.

CircaSassy / Creative Commons

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"?

Hartford Public Library

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. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

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.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

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.

Willle Stark / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

sipesphoto.com

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.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

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.

Pedro Ribeiro Simões / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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

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