Music

This post was updated on Sunday, June 25 at 3:50 PM.

When you're a group that's performed together for more than seven decades, it might be a daunting task to keep crafting music that feels fresh. No doubt that hill is even harder to climb when you're working within a tradition like gospel, with its well-loved, and well-worn, harmonic and lyrical conventions. Yet the singers who make up Blind Boys of Alabama have always risen to the challenge with utter grace — and the group's forthcoming album, Almost Home, places a capstone on that history.

It's now officially summer, which means it's time to kick back, pour out a glass of rosé and listen to the ever-timeless Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, by composer Felix Mendelssohn. The German composer wrote the Overture (Op. 21) when he was only 17, but by then he was a seasoned composer with numerous operas and string symphonies under his belt.

Earlier this month, the New York Philharmonic's outgoing music director Alan Gilbert said goodbye to his orchestra in a series of concerts. Today, he is saying hello to a brand new job in Hamburg, Germany.

Margaret Moser, Queen Of Austin, Is Dancing In The Light

Jun 22, 2017

June 18 was the beginning of a weeklong Open House at Tex Pop, the South Texas Museum of Popular Culture — a storefront wedged between a head shop and convenience store in an aging strip center at the corner of Margaret and Mulberry in San Antonio. Inside, in the largest of three rooms, museum founder and director Margaret Moser is seeing her first visitor of the day, Kathy Valentine. In an adjacent room, Moser's mother Phyllis Stegall and a niece greet arrivals as they wait their turns.

Mozart And 'The Peanut Vendor' In Havana

Jun 22, 2017

Last month, American pianist Simone Dinnerstein was in Cuba preparing for her current North American tour with an orchestra of young musicians from Havana. She fondly recalls one very hot rehearsal.

Anita Pallenberg Was No Simple Muse

Jun 20, 2017

Arguably, no single rock musician has had a greater ripple effect on both men's and women's fashion than Keith Richards. Things that shouldn't have made sense — from Nudie suits and scarves as belts, to cheetah-prints and graphic striped trousers mixed with polka dots — always looked effortless on him. Unbeknownst to many at the time, it was Anita Pallenberg's closet from which Richard was pulling.

Now here's a creative way to promote your upcoming symphony season and up your brand: Strap your conductor in a motion capture suit, switch on a dozen high-tech cameras, and get an artist to translate the data into kaleidoscopic shapes and colors.

Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

The Slants' frontman, Simon Tam, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office kept the band from registering its name and rejected its appeal, citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits any trademark that could "disparage ... or bring ... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," as the court states.

On the heels of his historic induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (and amid unconfirmed rumors of new arrivals to his family), Jay Z has announced his thirteenth solo studio album, 4:44, to be released on June 30.

After releasing two new songs, playing them on Saturday Night Live, and not being totally stoked on a set of vinyl reissues, LCD Soundsystem has annou

A Band Apart

Jun 19, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

How does a scientist become a principal timpanist at the Met?

Jason Haaheim gets that question all the time. The 38-year-old is a former nanotechnology researcher, with a master's degree in electrical engineering. But four years ago, he made a major life pivot: to play professionally with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And now to music news. For the past 48 hours, one topic has dominated social media. And I mean, it's not technically news. It's kind of about waiting for news. NPR music senior editor Jacob Ganz is here to bring us up to speed. What's going on, Jacob?

"[Bob] Seger's absence from digital services, combined with the gradual disappearance of even physical copies of half his catalog, suggest a rare level of indifference to his legacy," Tim Quirk wrote for NPR Music in late March in his feature, "Where Have All The Bob Seger Albums Gone?"

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So 30 years ago this summer, video games made their orchestral debut. It was a performance in Tokyo. It was the first time that music from a videogame was performed live, was from the Japanese game "Dragon Quest." And this trend has carried on ever since.

A Look Back At Monterey Pop, 50 Years Later

Jun 15, 2017

In the 21st century, destination music festivals seem like a dime a dozen. But just 50 years ago, there was only one: the Monterey International Pop Festival, which featured more than 30 artists and bands playing over the course of three days in the summer of 1967.

Monterey Pop set the template for all the huge rock festivals that would follow — Woodstock, Coachella, Bonnaroo and all the rest — and its influence would spread even further via a documentary, Monterey Pop, that was helmed by D.A. Pennebaker and would set a gold standard for concert films.

For more than half a decade Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have been an inseparable creative duo, racking up record sales and Grammy awards. But the premiere of "Glorious" — the first single from Macklemore's new, unnamed album — comes today with news that the Seattle rapper's next release will be a solo effort.

Around the NPR Music office we all swear like a twee version of Veep — but on-air and on-website we receive a tiny electric shock every time we try to spell out our favorite dirty words. (That's not true, but it's funny to think about.)

Maybe contemporary country music will make sense again, now that Shania Twain is back to set the record straight.

Pages