Arts and Music


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Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky describes himself as a "composer" who considers poetry to be first and foremost a vocal art, and his work seeks to blur the distinctions between language and music by emphasizing the rhythms and innate physicality of recited verse in a jazz context. In this performance for the 22nd Writer's Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University, Pinsky's reading is accompanied by a talented trio of PLNU students. The music - a blend of rehearsed and improvised - employs a variety of jazz styles, sometimes sympathetic and sometimes in playful counterpoint, but always responsive to the poet's distinctive voice.

For more than a half century, John Lithgow has been delighting audiences on stage, in movies and on television. In a lively discussion with Peter Gourevitch, distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UC San Diego, Lithgow reflects on his preparations for the wide diversity of roles that have shaped his career and influenced the larger culture, from his star turn in "The World According to Garp" to his SAG-award-winning role as Winston Churchill in the Netflix original series "The Crown." Recorded on 10/11/2017.

The Quintet in E-flat Major amply supports the contention that Mozart wrote superbly for wind instruments. Composing for an unusual combination of instruments, Mozart speaks directly to the character of each; the short and often rapid phrases for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, & horn are beautifully supported by the piano's rippling, fluid lines. This piece is not about virtuosity, but about musicians putting themselves at the service of the music. Recorded on 11/22/2017.

An American in Paris has always been one of Gershwin's most popular scores, and deservedly so. It offers great tunes, a breezy charm that evokes both the City of Light and the Jazz Age, and Gershwin's obvious affection for the French capital. Gershwin argued that this piece is structured in sonata form and is not just a series of episodes & impressions strung together with great skill; perhaps so, but no matter. Above all else, this is fun music. Recorded on 11/5/2017.

Emmanuel Jal, an internationally recognized hip-hop musician, former child soldier turned activist and entrepreneur, shares his story and music. Jal was born into the life of a child solider in the early 1980s in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan. He calls upon all of us to engage with our world and become global citizens through scholarship, leadership and service. Recorded on 04/12/2018.

After meeting Laurie San Martin, one this country's most important ebullient composers, we experience the lightness of a classical great the seldom-heard 8th Symphony of Beethoven and conclude with Leonard Bernstein's extraordinary and poignant Symphony No. 3 (Kaddish), with chorus, soprano soloist and narrator. The Bernstein piece, named for the Jewish prayer for the dead, was dedicated to the late President John F. Kennedy and premiered in the days after of his assassination in 1963. It is a reflection simultaneously on the loss of a president and the loss of a generation of European Jews. It is powerful music, but also hopeful. Recorded on 03/17/2019.

Shake On It, the musical, is a collaborative piece by students in UC Santa Barbara's College of Creative Studies. Over the course of two quarters students from a variety of majors worked together to bring this concept to life. Collectively creating the music, script, and the set, undergraduates from across the UCSB campus gained valuable experience of the workshopping and play production process. Recorded on 04/08/2018.

After her debut record, new music trumpeter Stephanie Richards follows up with a premiere of works from her latest project. Using New York City as a backdrop, Richards selected poems from icons including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Allen Ginsberg to name a few, and has crafted music for quartet that explores a spontaneous prose of grit and brilliance; the ugly beauty of the city. Presented by Fresh Sound In conjunction with Hearing the Future, the San Diego Symphony's fourth annual January Festival, and the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) West. Recorded on 01/25/2019.

The Beatles' final concert, their late-era conflicts, and the complicated history of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg's Let It Be documentary all arise in this discussion between musician Alan Parsons and Music Professor David Novak (UC Santa Barbara). Parsons was a teenage sound engineer at Abbey Road studios when he was assigned to record audio for the Beatles as they worked through this iconic album. Novak draws Parsons into dialogue about recording equipment, studio layouts, and the musical personalities of each member of the band. Recorded on 01/25/2019.

Anton Bruckner's much-revised Symphony No. 3 in D Minor is full of the composer's gloroius writing for brass instruments, coupled with large-scale thematic shifts. Recorded on 02/10/2019.
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