Arts

Arts and culture

Jean Sibelius, born 150 years ago on Dec. 8, 1865, was the first Finnish composer to reach an international audience, but his popularity began at home. In the late 1890s, Finland was a part of the Russian empire and its people were striving for independence.

Two writers meet in a bar called The Jesuit in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The older one is struggling to finish the final book in his contract. The younger one hopes to repeat his one publishing success.

They only met the day before; but the older man, Nigel Moon, proposes a deal:

"What Moon would like the other writer to do is ghost-write this final book for him," says Craig Hart, author of the novel Becoming Moon, our first Winter Book Series selection for this season.

Cameron Carpenter plays the organ in a way you'll rarely hear in church. He travels with his instrument on a huge truck, and it takes a small team to set it up in concert halls around the world. A virtuoso composer and performer who plays everything from Bach to pop, not to mention the first organist ever to be Grammy-nominated for a solo album, Carpenter says his connection to the instrument goes back even further than his interest in music.

In the new movie Youth, an elderly, retired composer-conductor is called upon to conduct for the first time in years. He's an Englishman named Fred Ballinger — and the request is from Queen Elizabeth II. It seems Ballinger's composition Simple Songs, written when he was a much younger man, is the only thing the Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, will listen to.

NIU School of Theatre & Dance

The NIU School of Theatre & Dance presents a work that didn’t exist a few months ago.  And it doesn’t have an author in the traditional sense.   “Women In To the Light”* is what is called a ‘devised’ play. 

A “devised” theater piece is defined as one without an author, or script, as usually understood.  Instead, it is the result of a process of collaboration and improvisation by the performers.

If we're relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.

WNIJ fans know this is the place to learn about literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. And you know we maintain a growing archive of author interviews and readings.

But if you're a hard-core listener, a true WNIJ nerd, you'll want even more information to satisfy your craving for content.

This post is for you.

This week, WNIJ begins airing promos for the Winter Book Series. You can take a sneak "listen" by clicking the three audio links below:

Why do Beethoven's symphonies remain so appealing? It's a question we put to Simon Rattle a few years ago after he had finished conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in all nine of them.

"There's nothing harder," Rattle said, "and at the end of it all, nothing more rewarding. This is one of the great monuments of Western art." Those performances were recorded for a set released in 2003.

On a long drive, Itzhak Perlman will sometimes listen to classical music on the radio and try to guess who's playing.

"There is always a question mark," he says. "If it's good, boy, I hope it's me. If it's bad, I hope it's not me."

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