Anastasia Tsioulcas

The Amsterdam quintet KiT twists Afro-Caribbean tradition into an accessible, club-ready style. KiT, or Kuenta i Tambu — "Stories and Drums" — takes music from the Caribbean island of Curaçao, merges it with European dance-floor music and kicks it all into high, sweaty gear.

The prime minister of Ireland showed up for The Gloaming's first gig; that's how big the supergroup's formation has been for fans of Irish music. Here at NPR Music, Bob Boilen and I have been waiting anxiously for the band's first album ever since The Gloaming made its U.S. debut at globalFEST in January 2012.

A case stirring intense outrage in the classical music community and starting to gain steam in the mainstream press is getting more mysterious by the day.

The relationship between a teacher and a student can be transformative. It's a particularly important relationship in classical music. A teacher is part mentor, part manager — even a parental figure.

"World music" can mean pretty much anything. French club tracks. Field recordings captured on remote Pacific islands. Bollywood soundtracks. Argentine tangos. Or, for that matter, pop, traditional, classical or religious music from anywhere on the globe — as long as the lyrics aren't sung in English and the instruments aren't "Western" (unless they are).

The year may have suffered a couple of black eyes in the form of shuttered opera companies and orchestras in labor disputes, but as far as recordings go, don't let anyone tell you classical music is dying — the music and musicians are thriving.

This wound up being a spectacular year for elaborate, lavishly packaged reissues. Given all the fabulous classical box sets that appeared this year, you'd think we were in some kind of boom era for music served up on compact discs. (2013? More like 1993.)

With the holidays upon us, our friends at member station WQXR invited me along with Washington Post chief classical critic Anne Midgette and Sony Masterworks producer Steven Epstein, the winner of 17 Grammy Awards, to sit down with host Naomi Lewin for a Conducting Business podcast on the topic.

Composer Benjamin Britten, whose 100th birth anniversary falls on Nov. 22nd, is so deeply associated with his native England that he's on a new 50-pence coin issued by the Royal Mint.

British composer Benjamin Britten was born 100 years ago this Friday, Nov. 22. Before you ask "Benja-who?" consider this: Did you see Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom last summer, or Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her back a decade or so ago? (Well, maybe you have to be an art-house denizen for those.

An old video is suddenly making the internet rounds, because living vicariously through a performance nightmare is an ever-popular sport, I guess. (And we've collected plenty ourselves.)

After what seems like a bit of a dry spell in the world music scene, Fall 2013 is hitting hard. A raft of great albums from emerging artists and some very deep groove reissues are on the way.

Due to a strike by Carnegie Hall's stagehands, represented by IATSE/Local One (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), tonight's performance has been cancelled.



PROGRAM:

  • Tchaikovsky: Slavonic March, Op. 31
  • Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28
  • Ravel: Tzigane

After nearly a decade spent living in the city, Cristina Pato is a full-fledged New Yorker. But her first home is the place where Spain meets the Celtic world: Galicia.

As this summer lopes towards its inevitable close, we're still hankering for one last dose of a day at the beach: bright, sunny, full of daytime languor and the tantalizing promise of a fabulous night. And what sates that desire perfectly is the totally charming tune "Ce Soir" ("Tonight"), from the New York-based group Banda Magda.

The British classical magazine Gramophone announced today the latest round of winners of its annual awards, now in their 90th year. With an expansive roll call of noteworthy albums ranging from early music to opera, the Gramophone Award honorees represent a tantalizing range of musical achievement — but it's a smaller array than in years past.

It's been six years since Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective brought the beautifully rich music of the Garifuna people to international consciousness. Their 2007 album Watina became an instant classic, and probably did more than anything else to bring this culture and language to an international audience. But less than a year after Watina's release, Palacio, a vocalist and guitarist, was suddenly gone: dead of a heart attack and stroke at age 47.

PROGRAM:

Kronos Quartet & Superhuman Happiness: Suite from How to Survive a Plague (world premiere)

Kronos Quartet, Abena Koomson & Sahr Ngaujah: Fela Kuti, "Sorrow, Tears and Blood"

There is magic in pure sound. And few know that truth as well as the quartet called So Percussion and the installation artist and drummer Eli Keszler — artists who, before this spring, had never met. We thought that they might find kindred spirits in each other.

We taped this Field Recording shortly after Hurricane Sandy devastated communities in and around New York and New Jersey. One of those affected was drummer Nasheet Waits, who had lost his kit in the storm's waters. Luckily, the Steve Maxwell drum store in midtown Manhattan was willing to lend a hand — and one gray morning, we found ourselves in a gem of a space, surrounded by an incredible array of instruments, including Elvin Jones' setup.

Every Tiny Desk Concert provides its own particular thrill, but it's not every day that we get to welcome one of NPR's 50 Great Voices to our offices. With the visit of the incredible, honey-voiced Mohammad Reza Shajarian from Iran, we lucked out by having him sing on not just any day, but on the biggest holiday of the Persian calendar: Nowruz, the New Year.

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