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Music of the Month!

Back in January, we explored the instruments of the orchestra! Here is a beautifully imagined performance of Peter and the Wolf that merges the visual art world with the music of Prokofiev! Get comfy and settle in for an amazing artistic storytelling of a classic piece of orchestral music! For more amazing artistic creations, check out more from a cool website called The Kids Should See This! Share your reaction to the video on the Arts & Humanities Google Form!



April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Below are a few songs that are styles that helped influence the music we know and love today!

The origins of Jazz come from a variety of styles of music. Take a moment to learn about the history from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Academy!

Learn more about the BLUES in the video below!


Boogie Woogie is most commonly played on the piano with a strong, fast beat! Check out this fun tune by Hazel Scott!


Ragtime was characterized by melodies that dance with syncopation and accents. The style developed in the 1890's and played especially on the piano.  Check out this fun rag below from Charles Johnson!


Big Bands were a big deal in the world of jazz! Here is one of the most entertaining band leaders of his time, Cab Calloway!


Can't wait until next week for more? Here is a performance by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble


And here's the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's featured artist, jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, in a live performance from 1958!




March Music Features


Bridget Kibbey: Tiny Desk Concert



After the ferociously talented harpist Bridget Kibbey unpacked her 47-stringed instrument at our NPR Music offices, she proceeded to crush the stereotype of the genteel harp, plucked by angels. She proved that the instrument can be as tempestuous as a tango, as complex as a Bach fugue and sing as serenely as a church choir.

Kibbey is crazy for the harp. She first heard one at a country church amid the Northwest Ohio cornfields where she grew up. Now she's the go-to harpist for contemporary composers, some of whom who are writing pieces especially for her.

For this Tiny Desk set, she deploys her arresting technique to rework music both old and new. Her blistering arrangement of J.S. Bach's familiar Toccata and Fugue in D minor offers tightly interwoven voices, like gears in a clock, with melodies and rhythms that sparkle. Her steamy rendition of jazz great Paquito D'Rivera's Bandoneon, the Argentine tango, struts proudly. And, finally, she returns to Bach, to let the instrument sing variations on the aching chorale "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded," from the St. Matthew Passion.

Kirill Gerstein: Tiny Desk Concert

"The last time pianist Kirill Gerstein was at NPR we gave him a full-size, grand piano to play in a big recording studio. But for this Tiny Desk performance, we scaled him down to our trusty upright. "What will you ask me to play the next time," he quipped, "a toy piano?"

Even if we had handed him a pint-sized instrument, I'm sure Gerstein could make it sing. Just listen to how Chopin's lyrical melodies, built from rippling notes and flamboyant runs, flow like a song without words in Gerstein's agile hands.

The Chopin Waltz, Op. 42 is one of the composer's hits, but the next two pieces Gerstein offers are rarities. The Berceuse for solo piano was written for Gerstein by Thomas Adès, adapted from his 2016 opera The Exterminating Angel. The work, both brooding and beautiful, receives its premiere recording at the Tiny Desk. Gerstein follows by dusting off a truly neglected – and quirky – Hungarian March by Franz Liszt. To my knowledge it's been recorded only once.

The 40-year-old pianist, born in Voronezh, Russia, taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents' record collection. A chance meeting with vibraphonist Gary Burton landed him a scholarship to study jazz at Boston's Berklee College of Music. At age 14, Gerstein was the youngest to enroll at the institution.

Although he is among the elite pianists of the classical world (he won the coveted Gilmore Award in 2010), Gerstein's jazz background is still close to his heart. Which brings us to his lovely-rendered closer: Gershwin's "Embraceable You," arranged by the American pianist Earl Wild." - TOM HUIZENGA


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