With the July Fourth holiday behind us, now is the time to map out a musical adventure. Below is a sampling of just a few of the dozens of summer classical music festivals around the country, grouped by region. From outdoor extravaganzas and picturesque locales to intimate indoor settings, live music thrives in the summertime. Been to a good summer fest not listed here? Tell us all about it.
When Tom Jones performed at the NPR Music offices in 2009, it felt like an exercise in cruelty: His Tiny Desk Concert took a larger-than-life icon, a superstar for whom intimacy is implied but impossible on a huge stage, and shrunk him to where every bead of sweat could be seen. Young English folksinger Laura Marling, on the other hand, lives for that sort of intimacy.
Lots of people know Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 ballad "This Land Is Your Land," but the story behind the tune may not be as familiar.
Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this week, wrote "This Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," a song he felt was overly patriotic and not directed at ordinary Americans like himself.
Sory Kandia Kouyaté was one of the most celebrated singers in West Africa when he died suddenly in 1977. He was just 44, and given his spectacular voice, it's a safe bet that Kouyaté would have been an international star had he lived just a few years longer. Now, some of his finest recordings have been collected on a two-disc retrospective called La Voix de la Révolution.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:22 pm
File this under Strange Bedfellows. The crazy-huge success of E L James' Fifty Shades erotic trilogy — which as of late May stood at more than 10 million sales in all formats and 60 physical printings, according to publisher Vintage Books — has made quite the impact in ... classical music, of all things.
Originally from Memphis but a resident of New York City for the past decade or so, singer-songwriter Megan Reilly has a fan in Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who helped her get her original record deal. Ever since, Reilly's country-inflected soft rock has evolved further into pop territory since her 2002 debut Arc of Tessa and 2006's Let Your Ghost Go.
Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 11:25 am
Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.