Photo courtesy of Concora / concora.org

On Saturday night Christopher Shepard will, at long last, make his debut as the new conductor and artistic director of Concora.

President Obama named 17 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday, one of whom calls western Massachusetts home.

Jimmy Katz

With lush string accompaniment, saxophonist/composer Jimmy Greene later this month presents music from his acclaimed 2014 album, Beautiful Life, his deeply moving, eloquent homage to the life of his beloved daughter, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.


Bassist/composer Joe Fonda, long an irrepressible, dynamic force in the world of cutting-edge music, outdoes himself as a bold impresario/producer with his Tenth Annual Connecticut Composers Festival, a combustible mix whose catalytic elements start crackling on Saturday, November 14 at 7:30 pm at Middletown's Buttonwood Tree.

Peter Hapak / anagasteyer.com

You may best remember Ana Gasteyer eating Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls as Margaret Jo, the NPR co-host of The Delicious Dish on "Saturday Night Live." She was also a real-life Broadway actor and cabaret singer, and she just released her new album of jazz standards, I'm Hip. We talk about her upcoming appearance at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center on November 24, part of CPTV's new national music series, The Kate.

Wiki Erudito / Creative Commons

Star Wars fans are anxiously awaiting the release of "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens," the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise, and first one without George Lucas at the helm. Will J.J. Abrams live up to the challenge? And where is Luke Skywalker?

Winston Vargas

A few days ago, quietly and with an irritating minimum of details, we learned that Martin Scorsese has committed to directing a full-length biopic about Leonard Bernstein.


Colum McCann was assaulted in New Haven last summer while attending a conference on empathy. He was knocked unconscious and suffered physical and emotional injuries that lingered long after the attack.

Logan Grendel

An alchemist/anarchist who blends jazz with gritty grunge rock, classical chops, turbo-powered passages, funky backbeats and sweet, salon-like moods, Michael Gallant and his trio celebrate his new release with a surprise-packed performance on Friday, November 6, at 8:00 pm at Middletown's The Buttonwood Tree.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Caroline Jacobs is a grown woman with children of her own. But by all accounts, she's a wimp. She would prefer to suffer in silence than stand up for herself or anyone else -- until she couldn't stand it anymore.  

One night, while at a public meeting and in a crowded room, she stood up, pointed her finger at the one she loathed, and shouted "F%$# You" to her nemesis. With that one phrase, she was ready to face her past. 


When I see a press release about a guy who started off being drafted into the NFL as a defensive end and then decided to become a professional opera singer instead, I reflexively think headlines:

"Former Gridiron Star Tackles Verdi."

"Defensive End Calls an Audible, With Vibrato."

"Now He's Holding High Cs Instead of Wide Receivers."

Please, somebody stop me.


Josh Evans, the Hartford-born trumpet phenomenon, launches the Hartford Jazz Society's fall Concert and Workshop Series with a compelling, powerful jolt as he leads his electrifying big band on Friday, October 30, at 8:00 pm at the Polish National Home at 60 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.

If you play today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games — World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy, for example — you have a 1970s tabletop game to thank, says author Michael Witwer.

Witwer has just written a biography of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

"Even first-person shooters like Call of Duty have some of the roots at least in tabletop role-playing games," he tells NPR's Ari Shapiro.

B Mauro / Creative Commons

This week, movie trailers lost their way when someone advocated boycotting Star Wars VII because they believe the trailer advocated white genocide. Why? Because a black man, a woman and a Latino were prominently featured in the trailer to the detriment of you guessed it, white men. What does this say about the level of diversity in science fiction fans?

Carol Rosegg / Yale Repertory Theater

Yale Repertory Theater is currently presenting the world premiere of the play "Indecent."

Fresh off his celebrated comeback to comedy as guest host of Saturday Night Live over the weekend, comedian Tracy Morgan announced he's hitting the road on a stand-up tour.

We often think of marketing as being about either awareness or persuasion. It seems impossible that Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which opens December 18) needs either one, given its astronomically high profile and the fact that curiosity alone will drive plenty of ticket sales, even for those who will take pleasure in being recreationally disappointed.

Tracy Morgan made his return to comedy official Saturday as he returned to host Saturday Night Live, some 16 months after being seriously injured in a deadly car crash.

Josh Haner, The New York Times / European Pressphoto Agency

This past week brought us the long-awaited first of six Democratic candidate debates, held at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The tone was substantive, exposing a few stark differences between the candidates and their Republican opponents. They offered nuanced and complex views -- overall, a good night for voters who want to know the candidates. 

Actor Randall Park takes the responsibility of portraying an Asian-American character on television very seriously. When he accepted the role of Louis Huang on the ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat, Park wanted to make sure his portrayal avoided stereotypes and clichés.

Tonight, as you plop down on the couch to watch the Democratic presidential debate or the baseball playoffs, consider for a moment what you're waving your remote at. If you're like millions of Americans, your cable box sits on a shelf under your flat screen, gathering dust, easy to overlook.

It's also easy to overlook the rent you're paying for that box month after month.

The Huntington / Creative Commons

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,

for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin, waiting,

ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,

primed to be played,

mobilized by all my busy genes

to become music –

when first I felt the quiver

of its stirring sound,

I became, imparadised,

the most priceless stringed instrument

on the face of the earth. 

It's Oct. 1, two days before the season's first Saturday Night Live goes on air. Guest host Miley Cyrus is rehearsing, rumors are flying that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going to be on the show — and executive producer Lorne Michaels is in his office overlooking studio 8H, worrying.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new work premieres in Hartford this weekend that has a fresh and inspiring take on traditional opera. The performance even takes on a science fiction feel. 

What's In a Title?

Oct 6, 2015
Eon Productions, MGM

The opening credits of your favorite movies and television shows set the mood, tone, and characters for what's to come, and allow you to relax and get ready for the show. Some fast-forward through the opening credits to avoid distraction from the main performance. Others say title sequences are supposed to be more like a score: felt, but not noticed. 

The film industry first fell in love with titles in the 1950s, when iconic opening sequences from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" were etched deep in our memories. The opening notes are still recognizable half a century later. The same can be said for the well-known HBO series "Game of Thrones." 

DonkeyHotey flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Courtesy Atla DeChamplain

Atla and Matt DeChamplain, former high school sweethearts who have become one of Connecticut’s premier jazz power couples, debut their first album done together at a festive CD release concert on Friday, October 2, with shows at 7:00 and 9:00 pm at the Palace Theater Poli Club at 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.

So far, the Southern New England arts season has been a place for serious theater. Trinity Rep opened with Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar.” And now, Pawtucket's Gamm Theatre has presented Tennessee Williams' deep and driving “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Michael Crommett / Courtesy of Amir ElSaffar

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “an exquisite alchemist” for his magical blend of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with free-wheeling jazz elements, the Iraqi-American, Chicago-born trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has made a breakthrough discovery with his latest album, Crisis (Pi Recordings).

Rhode Island’s Viola Davis made history last night, as the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a TV drama. In a rousing speech, Davis quoted 19th century abolitionist Harriet Tubman, then spoke to the barriers women of color continue to face today.

“And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” said Davis.