Arts and culture

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.

Elliott Carter, Still Composing At 103

Dec 13, 2011

Elliott Carter turns 103 today. Amazingly, he's still composing, still doing fine. At the end of the birthday concert given in his honor last Thursday, the composer trundled up to the stage of Manhattan's 92nd Street Y to receive a resounding rendition of "Happy Birthday," which, in Carter-like fashion, devolved into clusters of wild sounds.