Arts and Culture News

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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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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.

In 1943, two 25 year olds — Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein — were about to rock the ballet world. The dance they collaborated on was Fancy Free — about three sailors in a bar, trying to meet women before they ship out to World War II.

"It's such a wonderful little sweet picture of that time ..." says Christine Redpath, one of four ballet masters Robbins chose to stage his work. "It's playful, and they're just fun and innocent. They don't know what's going to happen when they go off to war."

Aspiring orchestral musicians have long known that the road to a professional career is arduous and paved with risks. But new research from the U.K. shows that even attaining the brass ring of an orchestral job does not necessarily provide financial security. In fact, even with salaried, full-time employment, many British orchestral musicians are struggling to pay their bills.

Tina Fey's popular high-school movie "Mean Girls" is now a Broadway musical. Hear Theater Critic Howard Shapiro's review this week on In a Broadway Minute. Tune in Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am.

With graduation season underway, A Tempo this week begins a short series of conversations with accomplished musicians who are giving back to young artists or imparting their wisdom at Commencement ceremonies. This Saturday (4/5 at 7 pm) host Rachel Katz chats with Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim, who frequently performs with youth and community orchestras and will be the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with West Windsor, NJ-based Sinfonietta Nova on Sunday May 6.

There's a well-known Russian folktale, "Snegurochka," that tells the story of an elderly couple who yearn to have a child; they create a little girl out of snow, and she comes to life. In her novel The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey reimagined that story and set it in her home state of Alaska — and now the story has made one more leap, to the theatre at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage.

On a balmy Thursday evening, dozens of young Saudis stream into the AlComedy Club in the western port city of Jeddah. It's the start of the weekend, and the crowd snacks on popcorn and ice cream before grabbing some of the sagging seats in the theater. Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" blares from speakers hanging above a tiny stage.

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