Arts & Culture

The 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors last night (Dec. 3) recognized those in the arts who've made lifetime achievements in American pop culture and ushered in some new traditions in the process.

The Resilience Of Victoria Williams

Dec 2, 2017

At a meeting in Geneva today, the treaty organization that shook the music industry with new trade regulations on rosewood took formal action to clarify and potentially ease some of the regulations.

Rosewood is a prized "tonewood" used for musical instruments from guitars to clarinets and oboes.

The treaty cracked down on the material's international movements late last year to combat worldwide depletion of rosewood trees, driven by China's burgeoning demand for rosewood furniture.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The latest powerful man to be accused of sexual misconduct is the hip-hop mogul who introduced us to sounds like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I NEED A BEAT (REMIX)")

In a cheerful rehearsal room at Temple University, a few dozen professional musicians inspect the instruments that they'll be playing to debut an audacious piece of music by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer.

The composition is called "Symphony For a Broken Orchestra" and, fittingly, these instruments are all broken.

Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons announced Thursday that he would relinquish his leadership roles in "all the companies I founded," after a second woman accused him of sexual assault.

What do you hear when someone strums a guitar? You might describe the sound as bright, or full, or warm. Maybe it's metallic or trebly, or maybe it's something else.

All of that is, of course, pretty subjective. In more objective terms, we can talk about the sonic signature of the instrument.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Dan Katz has two cellos. The better one — the one he prefers to play with the orchestra — is 200 years old and has rosewood tuning pegs. When the orchestra went on an 11-concert European tour in January, he purposefully left it home.

"I worry with that instrument about international travel now, because of those pegs," Katz said after rehearsing for a performance of Schubert's Ninth Symphony earlier this month.

The "Despacito" phenomenon continues with this morning's announcement of the 2018 Grammy nominations. However, while it was the original Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee version that won big at the Latin Grammys, it was the Justin Bieber remix that got nods this morning for record of the year, song of the year and best pop duo/group performance.

Hailed as music's biggest night, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards will return to New York City, taking place at Madison Square Garden Jan. 28.

Steely Dan, the artistic partnership of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (with a revolving cast of players), lasted nearly 50 years before Becker's death in early September. Now, a dispute between Fagen and Becker's estate, which is owned by his widow, Delia Cioffi, has put a bitter spin on the legacy of a warm, winking, coolly funky corner of pop.

It is an important moment in the life of a symphony orchestra when a new conductor is selected — not just to lead the orchestra, but to create the programs, hire the artists and more. In short, to be the music director.

In Washington, D.C., the choice was made with astonishing harmony.

Late one Thursday night, the hippest cafe-bar in the village of Majdal Shams pulses with strobe lights. The dance floor is packed. Beloved hometown band Hawa Dafi — Arabic for "warm breeze" — is playing a live concert.

Early the next morning, another soundtrack rocks the village.

John Adams might be called the "documentarian" among American composers. His works have traced the birth of the atomic bomb, President Nixon's trip to China and the 9-11 attacks. Now, Adams turns to the California Gold Rush.

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