Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:55 am
In 2012, writers who tackled musical topics dove deep, got weird, burrowed into a niche; we joyfully followed them to depths we never would have expected when the year began. We devoured works of criticism, history, biography and the Zen of John Cage and Tony Bennett.
This year saw two releases from prolific Chicago indie-pop singer-songwriter Andrew Bird. Released in March, his new album Break It Yourself turned out to be one of All Songs Considered listeners' favorite albums of 2012 — another showcase for Bird's clever songwriting, eclectic musicianship and inventive loop-based approach to playing and recording.
Discovering Brazil has been a series of wonderful revelations for me. As principal conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra for the past year, I have been deeply moved and even changed by my exposure to this culture of passion and positivity.
Brazil's inherent societal belief that music improves quality of life, contributes to improved social behavior, and is an important vehicle to establish a peaceful society filled with tolerance and respect is a philosophy I once thought existed only in my utopian dreams.
British musician, composer and producer Brian Eno is commonly recognized as one of the most important innovators in ambient music. Though he now mainly composes using computers, Eno was one of the early pioneers of tape-loop music.
This year marks the 10th anniversary for The Polyphonic Spree's annual holiday music show — an extravaganza the group has held in Dallas each December — and it's celebrating with a live tour and a new CD called Holidaydream, on which the band reworks versions of classics such as "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "White Christmas."
Piano Jazz swings in the holiday season, as Marian McPartland and her guests from seasons past, present and future share favorite memories and unique musical performances of Christmas classics and original holiday tunes.