Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Scherzo 2

22 hours ago

Beethoven replaced the minuet in his four-movement pieces with the scherzo. Scherzo means “joke,” in Italian, but in Beethoven’s scherzos you won’t usually find anything that qualifies as out-‘n-out funny. What you usually will find is a certain playfulness, with lots of fast notes, abrupt accents, surprises, and quick changes of musical direction. 


Scherzo 1

Jan 17, 2017

During the time of Haydn and Mozart, the third movement of a four-movement piece such as a symphony or string quartet was invariably a stylized dance movement called a minuet. By the end of the 1700's, though, Beethoven, in one of his many innovations, had largely replaced the minuet with a movement he called a “scherzo.” 


Lily Frost
Ivan Otis

In the ’90s, Canadian singer-songwriter Lily Frost got her start with the cabaret-inspired band The Colorifics. She’s since made the jump to solo artist and songwriter. Her musical mentor, the late Ray Condo, inspired her album Lily Swings, which recalls Regina Spektor and Feist. On this Song Travels, she performs her original song "Enchantment," as well as a few old favorites.

Lalo Schifrin
Price Rubin and Partners

Composer, arranger, and pianist Lalo Schifrin trained classically as a young man in Argentina. He went on to study at the Paris Conservatory as he developed a career as a jazz musician, playing and recording in Europe. He has written more than 100 film and television scores and has won multiple Grammys and Academy Award nominations. On this 1997 Piano Jazz, Schifrin treats listeners to a solo version of his composition “Down Here on the Ground” from the hit movie Cool Hand Luke.

News Stations: Sat, Jan 21 , 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Jan 22, 7 pm

Already during their lifetimes, Antonin Dvorák and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky were among the most famous composers in the world. Their music is extremely sophisticated, the product of highly skilled composers, and their beautiful melodies have always been especially beloved.

It’s Martin Luther King Day.   While many state and federal workers have the day off, I hope you’ll take the time today to celebrate the life and ideals of the influential civil rights leader.  Today is a great time to start donating your time and working with a volunteer or community action group in your area.

Bobby McFerrin
Courtesy of the artist

Vocalist Bobby McFerrin is best known for his 1988 hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which was the first a capella song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year. McFerrin also has five Grammy wins for Best Male Jazz Vocal and has created a concert version of Porgy and Bess. This week McFerrin stops by Song Travels’ studio to talk about his endless creativity and the enduring appeal of the Gershwins.

News Stations: Sun, Jan 15, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 15, 6 pm

Jeannie Cheatham with her late husband, Jimmy Cheatham.
Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and vocalist Jeannie Cheatham began piano lessons at the tender age of five and at 13 became intoxicated with the sounds of jazz. Cheatham toured with such blues artists as Jimmy Witherspoon, T-Bone Walker, Odetta, and Big Mama Thornton.

In the 1950s she met her husband, bass trombonist Jimmy Cheatham, and the pair formed the Sweet Baby Blues Band. On this 1989 Piano Jazz, Cheatham performs “Midnight Mam.” McPartland and Cheatham join forces for a swinging duet on “Perdido.”

News Stations: Sat, Jan 014, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Jan 15, 7 pm

Bruch's Birthday

Jan 6, 2017

Some great composers have been pioneers and musical radicals, and some have been fundamentally conservative. Max Bruch was a conservative to his bones, and it served him well. He established his musical principles early and stuck to them his whole life, regardless of whatever fads, fashions, or new developments were swirling around him.


    

Atonality and dissonance are often linked in listeners’ minds, but they’re not the same thing. Dissonance, from the Latin words for “sounding” and “apart,” is the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes to produce a clashing, or unpleasant effect. Its opposite is consonance, a pleasing sound, a “sounding together.”

Chamber music rehearsals are very different from orchestra rehearsals. In an orchestra rehearsal, it’s the conductor’s job to make the overall musical decisions and to ensure that the members of the orchestra carry them out.


Women's Voices

Jan 3, 2017

In operatic singing, there are three principal voice types for women. From high to low, they are soprano, mezzo-soprano—mezzo meaning “middle” in Italian—and contralto.


Toots Thielemans

Jan 2, 2017
Toots Thielemans
Jos Knaepen

This week Piano Jazz remembers Jean-Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans (1922 – 2016), unrivaled master of the jazz harmonica. He was recognized the world over for his trademark style and tender sound, and he worked with greats such as Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and Quincy Jones. With a list of recording credits including the theme for Sesame Street, alongside film scores and commercials, Thielemans was a legend. In this session from 2005, he exchanges stories with McPartland and joins her for “Giant Steps” and “Georgia.”

Today is the second of January, and on this date in 1881, the Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate was in Paris to play the premiere of the Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint-Saëns.


Ann Hampton Callaway
Courtesy of the artist

Tony Award-nominated actress, vocalist and songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway has sung with top orchestras and big bands the world over. As a songwriter, she penned tunes for Barbara Streisand and wrote and sang the theme to the hit sitcom The Nanny. On this Song Travels, she performs a set of standards, including “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

News Stations: Sun, Jan 08, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 08, 6 pm

Brahms Premiere

Dec 30, 2016

Johannes Brahms had worked on and off for fifteen years to complete his first symphony, but the second took him only four months. He wrote it in a small village by a beautiful lake, and he was apparently inspired by the setting.


Casals' Birthday

Dec 29, 2016

Today we celebrate the birthday of Pablo Casals. Casals, called Pau Casals in his native Catalan language, was born on December 29, 1876, and he lived for almost a century, dying in 1973.


Old-Timey Piano Music

Dec 28, 2016
Courtesy of Artist

Ethan Uslan is a Charlotte based pianist who composes and improvises ragtime and jazz.  On this piano podcast a special edition of Your Compositions. Ethan talks about and performs two of his original compositions. Scroll down for audio. 

Have you ever wondered how the violin came to play such an important role in the history of classical music? Well, it starts with singing. The invention of opera, in late 16th century Florence, marks the beginning of the Baroque period in music, and with it the rise to supremacy of the musical style known as “melody and accompaniment.”


The Violin Family

Dec 27, 2016

The members of the modern violin family are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. These instruments are descendants of various kinds of medieval fiddles—fiddle, by the way, being an older word than violin—and the medieval fiddles themselves were bowed stringed instruments that were originally imported to Europe from the Middle East.


The Oboe

Dec 26, 2016

The modern oboe most likely originated in France in the 1600's. The word oboe, which is the instrument’s name in both English and Italian, comes from the French name, hautbois, meaning “high wood,” or “loud wood.” Oboes are usually made of African blackwood, which is sometimes called grenadilla.


Stephen Holden

Dec 26, 2016
Stephen Holden
Courtesy of the artist

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. He covered the singer-songwriter explosion of the ’70s, and his 1980 satirical novel Triple Platinum was based on his experiences as a journalist and executive with RCA. This week Holden brings his wealth of knowledge to a discussion with host Michael Feinstein about music, lyrics and songwriting.

News Stations: Sun, Jan 01, 2 pm | Classical Stations: Sun, Jan 01, 6 pm

Loston Harris
Courtesy of the artist

For more than a decade, Loston Harris has headlined at Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan, delighting audiences with his smooth, soulful voice and piano style. Harris began his jazz career as a drummer but was encouraged by mentor Ellis Marsalis to switch to the piano. Hence, he discovered a new instrument and a new musical world. On this 1999 Piano Jazz, Harris performs “I Just Can’t See for Looking.” McPartland joins him for a rousing duet of Ellington’s “Do Nothing ‘til You Hear from Me.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 31, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Jan 01, 7 pm

A word of advice today for non-musicians reading program notes in concert programs: If the program notes are heavy on technical analysis and are loaded with terms like modulation, inversion, augmentation, diatonic intervals, chromatic progression, modified sonata form, what have you… ignore them.


Puccini's Birthday

Dec 22, 2016

Today is December 22, and on this day in 1858 Giacomo Puccini was born. Even a partial list of Puccini’s works reads like an “Opera’s Greatest Hits” list: La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Turandot.


Vibrato Part 3

Dec 21, 2016

I’ve been talking this week about vibrato, the vibrato that string players use to warm up their sounds, and the vocal vibrato that’s the natural product of healthy singing. All vibrato consists of small oscillations in pitch, but not all vibrato is a blessing.

Vibrato Part 2

Dec 20, 2016

Yesterday I talked about vibrato, the technique that string players use—rocking the fingers of their left hands back and forth to create small oscillations in pitch that result in a warmer, more resonant sound.

Vibrato Part 1

Dec 19, 2016

When violinists play, their left hands always seem to shake. But it’s not because they’re nervous. Violinists, violists, cellists, and double bass players all use a technique called vibrato.


Wayne Brady
facebook.com/WayneBrady

Wayne Brady became a star improvising on the popular TV show Whose Line is it Anyway? A singer, actor, dancer, and comedian, Brady has also appeared on stage in Rent and Chicago, and hosts the TV game show Let’s Make a Deal. On this Song Travels, Brady discusses the musical influence of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sam Cooke. With musical director Cat Gray at the piano, Brady performs the Cooke classic “You Send Me” and host Feinstein joins him in a duet of “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

André Previn
Lillian Birnbaum/DG

Conductor, composer, and pianist André Previn has received multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards, including honors from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Grammy Awards. Previn achieved an exceptional reputation as a jazz pianist in a series of recordings he made in the 1950s and 1960s. On this 1990 Piano Jazz, Previn plays a special treatment of “Stormy Weather” and then joins McPartland for an improvisation of “Stars Fell on Alabama.”

News Stations: Sat, Dec 24, 8 pm | Classical Station: Sun, Dec 25, 7 pm

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