For Terje Isungset, the cold weather in Washington, D.C., this week is no problem. The Norwegian musician was in town to perform as part of the Kennedy Center's "Nordic Cool" series, and he needed low temperatures to keep his instruments in good shape.
He has chimes, drums, a marimba and a "tube-ice" (like a tuba). They're all carved out of shimmering ice, harvested from the frozen lakes of Ottawa, Canada, and shipped to the Kennedy Center for an hour of melting music.
It's worth the effort, Isungset says, to get the perfect sound.
A new album by bluesman Corey Harris pays tribute to one Southern neighborhood with a particularly haunted past.
Fulton Blues is named for a district in Richmond, Va., that was once home to a large number of the city's middle class African-American families. But by the 1960s, Fulton had fallen on hard times. Its scenic views of the James River and easy access to downtown made it a target for "urban renewal," as it was euphemistically called in the Virginia Statehouse. The residents of Fulton were evicted and the neighborhood was razed.
Esperanza Spalding has often said that she hopes to use the fame from her 2011 Best New Artist Grammy to help give her friends and mentors in the jazz world the recognition they deserve. She got her chance earlier this month, when Spalding and her longtime teacher and mentor, trumpeter Thara Memory, accepted the Grammy for their arrangement of "City of Roses" from Spalding's 2012 album Radio Music Society.
Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 11:31 am
Film scores are, by and large, manipulative. They do their work at the periphery of the senses, signaling danger, heralding victory, prodding us toward fear and joy in time with the unfolding story. Crucially, they are also empathic, letting us in on what the actors' words or faces may not convey. And when things get unpleasant, the score can step in as an emotional buffer — a layer of unreality between us and the action that lets us know we're safe. Sunday night at the Oscars, Hollywood will honor a film whose music manages to get all these things right.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:26 pm
Writer and critic Stephen Holden has covered everything from film to cabaret for The New York Times, as well as for TV programs such as 60 Minutes and 20/20. While he'd hoped to become a pop singer in his adolescence, Holden later embraced poetry and was published in The New Yorker.
Music remained a passion for Holden and became a key subject of his writing. He covered the singer-songwriter explosion of the 1970s, and his 1980 satirical novel Triple Platinum was based on his experiences as a journalist and executive with RCA.