Arts and culture

Maria Volonte: Tiny Desk Concert

Dec 27, 2011

The folk music of Azerbaijan pervades the very rarely heard symphonic works on this album. A winning synthesis of East and West, these pieces — mostly for piano — feature five of the country's most celebrated composers, including Farhad Badalbeyli, who's also the principal piano soloist.

'Messiah': A Holiday Tradition Transcending Time

Dec 26, 2011

This Christmas season, musicians around the country are continuing a centuries-old holiday tradition: performing George Frideric Handel's Baroque masterpiece, Messiah.

In Washington, D.C., the National Symphony Orchestra has finished its 58th annual performance of the work. This year, guest conductor Matthew Halls led the orchestra, which was accompanied by four soloists and the University of Maryland Concert Choir.

Though the performance marked Halls' debut with the NSO, he is not a newcomer to Messiah.

Tinsel Tales 2: NPR Christmas Stories

Dec 24, 2011

Christmas is a time of traditions, and over the years, NPR has created a few traditions of its own. In this hourlong special, wistfulness, joy, doubt, hope — all the emotions we feel at this time of year — are summoned up in memorable stories from the NPR broadcast archives.

NPR voices, past and present, tell stories of the season. Perhaps you remember these tales fondly. Or maybe you'll fall in love with them for the first time.

Santa Claus, Private Eye
by the Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre of San Francisco

Five Tastes Of Classical Holiday Cheer

Dec 19, 2011

He's made his list and checked it twice: Critic Alan Cheuse recommends the best books to give as gifts in 2011. This year, it's mostly fiction — books that will light up dark winter nights with warm stories, large characters and beautiful language.

As snowstorms hit the country today, All Things Considered revisits a vivid story that choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones shared about one winter song. It originally aired Dec. 13, 2011.

Shiver-Inducing 'Winter Words'

Dec 13, 2011

Winter Words, the debut solo album by American tenor Nicholas Phan, is a total pleasure on all fronts. The nearly 33-year-old Phan's career has been heating up on the opera stage — he'll be spending much of this coming spring touring Handel's Ariodante across Europe with Joyce DiDonato, Il Complesso Barocco and conductor Alan Curtis. This program, with sensitive and lyrical accompaniment provided by Myra Huang, proves Phan to be a powerful force in recital as well.