Live and Local
Béla Fleck does far more than play the banjo. He has extended the banjo far beyond folk and bluegrass, insinuating the instrument into jazz, African, classical music and much more. He’ll play his own Banjo Concerto with the Peoria Symphony on Saturday, and he’ll be my guest on the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local.” Also, live in our studio, we’ll have a preview of Sunday’s recital in Urbana by violist Lydia Tang.
Chinese-born virtuoso musician Wu Man plays the pipa, a lute-like instrument with a history of more than two thousand years. While preserving its musical traditions, she works to develop a place for her instrument in all art forms. She’ll solo with the Illinois Symphony next weekend, and she’ll be my guest on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll talk also with Southern Illinois singer-songwriter Wil Maring, who will play in Urbana next Sunday.
You could be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the tiny Central Asian republic of Tuva. There’s a slightly better possibility that you’ve heard of something called Tuvan throat singing, in which the singer can produce two, three, even sometimes four pitches at the same time. The Alash Ensemble, a band of master Tuvan throat singers and instrumentalists, will play in Urbana Sunday and Monday, and we’ll learn more on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.”
The Black Chorus at the University of Illinois performs the music of Black Americans, from the Negro spiritual, anthems and formal music to gospel, jazz and rhythm and blues. Members of the Black Chorus and conductor Ollie Watts Davis will join us live on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local,” in advance of Saturday’s Mom’s Day Concert. Also live, we’ll hear folksinger and autoharpist Adam Miller, who will play in Clinton and Chatsworth this week.
The music world is full of fine violinists: those who have made it, those who almost made it, those who really made it, and a relative few who stand at the pinnacle of their profession. Pinchas Zukerman has stood at the pinnacle for more than forty years. He’ll play in Urbana Thursday, and he’ll be my guest on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll also talk with two of the many composers and instrumentalists involved in this week’s Red Note New Music Festival at Illinois State University.
Now in its seventh season, Red Note New Music Festival at Illinois State University is a week-long event which features outstanding performances of contemporary concert music from throughout the world. The festival began on Sunday and will have public concerts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On the Tuesday edition of the show, we'll have an overview from festival co-director Carl Schimmel, and I'll talk with Paul Frucht, one of the young composers whose works will be premiered Tuesday night.
Last Monday I had a short chat with the cellist of the Real Vocal String Quartet and shared a few of their tunes. I’m delighted to say that we’ll have the whole quartet live in our studio on the Monday edition of the show, in advance of their performance in Charleston Tuesday night. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, they’re unusual among string quartets for their genre-busting sensibilities, their improvisation—and yes, their singing.
Robert Bonfiglio has been called “the Paganini of the harmonica,” playing with major orchestras throughout the world and commissioning numerous works for his instrument. He’ll appear with the Danville Symphony Saturday, and he’ll play for us live on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” I’ll also talk with bassist Matt Penman of the SFJAZZ Collective, whose Tenth Anniversary Tour will take them to Springfield on Sunday.
Michael Lasser is a writer, critic, teacher and host of the nationally syndicated radio program Fascinatin’ Rhythm. He grew up in New Jersey in the shadow of Broadway, and the theater and its songs have been in his blood ever since. Lasser has written a new book called America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890s to the Post-War Years, and on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local,” we’ll visit for part two of a conversation sharing more great stories about more great songs.
Several years ago, Philip Furia and Michael Lasser published a book called America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley. As you might expect, there were far too many songs to choose from. So Michael Lasser wrote a sequel, America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890s to the Post-War Years. Michael will be my guest on the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of “Live and Local,” sharing wonderful stories about some great songs.
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