At first glance, our top picks for 2012 may seem to range far and wide, from a fresh take on an epic late Beethoven string quartet to cellist Maya Beiser playing spaciously layered new music by Michael Harrison. What unites this diverse bunch is a spirit of discovery — not just in new music that we'll return to again and again but in the artistic energy that animates each of these projects.
Having the courage to break away from alt-pop cult favorite Stereolab seems to have given Laetitia Sadier a personal charge and social conviction that's on full display throughout her second solo album, Silencio. She casts a spell in this live performance, which places her gorgeous voice in the spotlight where it belongs.
As of this year, the vocal group Anonymous 4 has been introducing modern audiences to medieval music for a quarter century. When the all-female quartet asked David Lang to help mark the occasion by writing them some music, he didn't need any convincing. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer was already a big fan.
We call them "buttons" and "deadrolls" — and, less cryptically, "breaks" — but most NPR listeners know them as the interstitial music spots that pepper NPR's newsmagazines. They add shading, mood, energy and other nonverbal context to our stories.
Dave Brubeck, the jazz musician best known for "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" died Dec. 5, 2012, a day short of his 92nd birthday. In 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quartet's album Time Out became the first jazz album to sell a million copies.
To listen to Neda Ulaby's appreciation of Dave Brubeck's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.
For millions of Americans who came of age in the 1950s, Dave Brubeck was jazz. His performances on college campuses, Top 40 radio play, his role as a jazz ambassador for the U.S., his picture on the cover of Time magazine — all made him one of the most recognized and recognizable musicians of the era.
He died Wednesday morning, the day before his 92nd birthday, in Norwalk, Conn. The cause was heart failure.
Lorenzo Cherubini, better known by his stage name Jovanotti, occupies a curious position on the pop landscape — that of the hugely successful international star who remains largely unknown to U.S. audiences. More than two decades have passed since he first broke out in his native Italy, though, and now he's making moves to do the same in the States.
Singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson makes her sixth appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. She's backed by the Mountain Stage band throughout most of her set, which includes songs from her latest album, Roses at the End of Time. Politically aware, with a poet's lyrical gifts, Gilkyson is enormously respected in roots-music, folk and Americana circles.
Rosie Castro was a Mexican-American civil rights activist in the Chicano Movement during the 1970s. She passed down her passion for change to her children, Texas State Representative Joaquin Castro and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. For Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, Castro talks about her favorite songs.