Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

Tom Stoppard's wild intellectual ride of a play, "Travesties," is making its revival on Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre production. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review of the show this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am.

The myriad stories about Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson usually fall into two groups: the ones about her enormous, laser-focused voice and those about her rapier-sharp wit.

David Swanson

A Tempo wraps up its commencement series this Saturday (5/19 at 7 pm) with a conversation with Joseph W. Polisi, who is stepping down this year after 34 years as President of The Juilliard School. The Curtis Institute of Music presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award "in recognition of his extraordinary influence on the lives and development of actors, dancers, and musicians as performers, creators, and artist-citizens," and he was invited to deliver the Commencement address.

Call it a percussionist's answer to Flight of the Bumblebee — with a twist. "Filigree," by composer Robert Honstein, is a rapid-fire workout for solo vibraphone. The instrument's bars, however, are partly covered in tinfoil, which adds a unique layer of color to the music.

Matt Marks, a young composer, musician and founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, died suddenly Friday, May 11. The group made an announcement Saturday on Twitter, with no cause of death given. Marks was 38.

The list of accolades is long for Rita Moreno. The 86-year-old is the only Latina — and one of just 12 artists overall — to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony for her work. This weekend, she received a different kind of award — for her advocacy. The Ellis Island Honors Society is giving her a medal of honor for her work with immigrant communities.

Michael Balogun might say he's alive today because he's an actor.

Growing up in South London, Balogun stole, he mugged and dealt drugs to survive. He spent much of his younger years in and out of prison and was beginning to think his life would end behind bars.

"The last time I got quite a lengthy sentence, and halfway through that sentence, I was probably misbehaving — getting into a lot of fights, and then I had a moment where I realized that if I carried on living in that way, I'd either end up dead or doing a life sentence," Balogun says.

George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan" is revived on Broadway with Condola Rashad as Joan of Arc. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am.  

A Tempo this week continues its focus on accomplished musicians who are sharing their experiences and advice with the next generation of musicians. Host Rachel Katz will speak with two of the artists being honored this year by the Cleveland Institute of Music - harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, who became the first African American woman to hold a principal position in a major U.S.

As Bill Cosby awaits sentencing on his conviction for aggravated indecent assault, prestigious institutions continue to strip the comedian of the accolades bestowed on him throughout his 50-year career.

The latest is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, whose board voted Monday to rescind the Honors award and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor that Cosby received in 1998 and 2009, respectively.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts crowned four new NEA Jazz Masters, including Todd Barkan, a jazz advocate whose early interest in Latin jazz piano turned into a successful five-decade career as a prominent impresario, club owner and record producer. Guitarist Pat Metheny continues to redefine the parameters of his instrument through innovative technique and signature sound. Pianist Joanne Brackeen's unique style commands attention, and Dianne Reeves has become one of the world's preeminent jazz vocalists, whose genius in retrospect seems ceaseless.

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