Arts and culture

Last weekend, thousands of uncommonly refined punks flooded the Estonian town of Rakvere to participate in the third Punk Song Festival (previous gatherings were held in 2008 and 2011).

Psychedelic Rockford

Aug 28, 2015
James Clucas


The first Rockford Psych Fest took place Friday, August 21st.  The event was organized by local musician, Josh Weidman.

The Young Minds perform at Rockford Psych Fest `15.

(Video credit: James Clucas)

Tundras performs at Rockford Psych Fest `15.

(Video credit: James Clucas)

What's With Things Telling Us What To Do?

Aug 21, 2015

Surely I’m not the only Midwesterner made uncomfortable by ordering “video on demand.” On demand: it just seems so pushy and impolite.

I never demand anything. Even in restaurants, I’m sure to preface any request with, “When you get a chance.” Likewise I can’t demand a video. I’d be happy to get a “Video when you get a moment,” or “if you guys have the time to stream one for me.”

Putting It All Together ...

Aug 19, 2015

A little groan rumbles out of me when I unwrap gifts that require assembly. 

There are always instructions, that I tend to call "destructions."

My poor wife knows she cannot be in the house (or the neighborhood) when I force myself to spread out a project and begin to decipher the "instructions."

I am a guy. I am supposed to be good at putting things together. I should enjoy doing things with my hands. But usually what I want to do with my hands involves someone else's throat.

After I begin the simple task of assembly, here is what will happen:

The list of its faculty and students is a who's who of 20th-century music: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas.

'Summertime' In Hanoi

Aug 11, 2015

Summer might be winding down, but you couldn't tell by the steamy temperatures, not only in much of the U.S. but also in Hanoi, where Vietnamese performer and composer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ grew up — and where it should top out around 92 degrees today.

The denouement of a 35-year drama takes place Thursday at the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. And I trust that my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago, will be watching from somewhere.

For decades he played his beloved Stradivarius violin all over the world. And then one day, he turned around and it was gone. Stolen.

While he was greeting well-wishers after a concert, it was snatched from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

It's a story that could have been taken from a breaking news report: A soldier, gravely wounded in a brutal battle, flees the fighting to try and make his way home. Only this story is set during the Civil War.

When Gustav Mahler said a symphony "must be like the world. It must embrace everything," I suppose he meant embracing accordions, too.

Gustav Mahler's sprawling Ninth Symphony is a 90-minute journey brimming with the joys of life, haunted by death and with a lot happening along the way. Accordionist William Schimmel has squeezed this immense musical canvas down to just 6 1/2 minutes. That takes some guts.