Music

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra ended their strike Wednesday.

After months of tense negotiations, musicians and management agreed to a new five-year contract, which calls for a 10.5 percent salary cut in the first year. 

Classical music observers say we're living in a golden age of string quartets. It's hard to disagree when you hear the vibrant young players in New York's Attacca Quartet.

I wasn't alone in patiently waiting for new music from John Paul White. His singing and songwriting as half of The Civil Wars was heartfelt and beautiful. This summer, a new album finally came, and Beulah was a quietly understated gem. This is tender Southern music without drawl or pretense, and I love it.

Adam Torres' voice makes Pearls To Swine a constant listen for me. It's high and lonesome, but more frail than the voices of the bluegrass pioneers who defined that sound, like Ralph Stanley. Besides, Torres isn't a country singer or a folksinger so much as an atmospheric storyteller.

Ta-ku & Wafia: Tiny Desk Concert

Nov 7, 2016

The chemistry between Australian singer-producer Ta-ku and his fellow Aussie singer-songwriter Wafia becomes apparent the instant you hear their voices intertwined in song. On their first collaborative EP, (m)edian, they draw on their individual experiences to touch on subjects like compromise in relationships as they trade verses and harmonize over hollow melodies.

Calling themselves "an accidental brass quartet," the members of The Westerlies, like the prevailing winds, blew east to New York from their hometown of Seattle, where they were childhood friends.

My first experience seeing Joseph was in 2014 as an opening act in New York City. It was just the twins Meegan and Allison Closner and their older sister, Natalie Closner, and it was clear then they had something special. Over these two years, Joseph's sound has grown beyond the Closners' harmonies. Now, you're likely to see them with a band or hear songs from their latest record, which is filled with sounds far beyond voice and acoustic guitar.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's management and musicians union have agreed to let an independent expert assess the organization's finances in hopes of ending a musician's strike that began Sept. 30.

Management is seeking a 15-percent wage cut, plus pension concessions saying that's necessary to keep the symphony solvent in the face of more than $20 million in debt over the next five years.

The musicians' union says management is overstating the orchestra's financial problems.

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

Janet Vukotich began her involvement with the South Hills Junior Orchestra simply as an “orchestra mom.”

Steven Senne / AP

 

Elvis Costello is canceling his upcoming show in Pittsburgh in solidarity with striking Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians

In a statement, he says his Nov. 1 show at the Heinz Hall cannot go on because he is unwilling to cross the picket line. 

He asks his fans for their understanding and to "support live music wherever it is heard.'' 

Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has canceled all concerts through Nov. 18, including the Light Up Night Community Concert that evening that is part of the city's traditional holiday shopping season kickoff.

The orchestra had previously canceled concerts through Oct. 27 after the musicians went on strike Sept. 30. Both parties ended mediation when the musicians called the strike.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

It has been one week since the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra laid down their instruments and took up picket signs.

Michael Sahaida / Wikipedia

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are on strike after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15 percent pay cut, changes to their pension plan and staffing cuts they say management is proposing.

Management says the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is more than $20 million in debt, leading them to ask musicians to take the pay cut that prompted a strike. Union members also are balking at pension changes and unspecified staffing cuts they say management proposed.

How One Composer's Hearing Damage Inspired A Concert Series

Sep 29, 2016
Ben Tran

  In 2008, composer Daniel Fishkin's ears started ringing, and they never stopped. Doctors offered no solace besides, "You get used to it." In the absence of a medical cure, Fishkin vowed to find a creative solution. 

"I do not want to get used to my hearing damage — I want to use it."

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Composer Julia Wolfe, a Pennsylvania native, is among the 23 recipients of the 2016 MacArthur awards.

Wolfe has been a fixture on New York's downtown contemporary music scene since her days as a co-founder of the Bang on a Can collective. Last year she won the Pulitzer Prize for music for "Anthracite Fields," commissioned by Philadelphia's Mendelssohn Club.

Wolfe spoke with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller.

 

1Hood Media / Facebook

Celeste Smith wants people to know hip-hop has always been alive in Pittsburgh, whether people have seen it or not.

betaylor.com

 

B.E. Taylor, a musician whose annual Christmas concerts and recordings made him well known in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, is dead of complications from brain cancer at age 65.

The general manager of a funeral home where Taylor lived in Wheeling, West Virginia, confirmed that he died Sunday. Funeral arrangements will be private.

The Aliquippa native's series of popular Christmas recordings began in 1991 and led to seasonal shows that drew thousands.

A family spokesman says he was working on "B.E. Taylor Christmas 4" at the time of his death.

Welcome to our sand box.

For months now, the NPR Ed Team has been playing with what we like to call "long listen" ideas — worthy stories that we can't tell in three or four minutes.

The Tamburitzans

Friday is a monumental day for one of Pittsburgh's longest running coed dance and music ensembles as Duquesne University's Tamburitzans officially split from the school to become their own nonprofit organization.  

Executive Director and former “Tammie” Robert Vukic said the move will secure the group’s financial future and preserve the Tamburitzan legacy as both an educational and cultural institution.

It was an economic choice, Vukic said, adding, “We’re the first 80-year-old start-up.”

Eddie Palmieri

Pittsburgh Jazz Live International, the city’s annual summer jazz festival begins this Friday with international artists scheduled to perform. For members of the region's fast growing Hispanic community, the chance to see their musical culture represented can be a powerful experience.

Ron Alvarado, chairman of the Pittsburgh Metro Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said, “it galvanizes us as a community.”

What do Van Morrison's "Domino," the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" have in common? All of them were recorded or became hits in 1971 — the year music journalist David Hepworth insists is the best year in rock 'n' roll history.

At first it seems like a typical music video.

A big, calm-looking bearded man sits in a posh armchair and sings in an emotion-choked baritone, "I'm running, I'm running, I'm running."

He's Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter.

A little bit into the song, a rapper joins in: "I fight through the night just to find a stronger day."

nasaengerbund.org

About 1,000 singers from 70 choruses across the country have come to Pittsburgh for a celebration of German choral music.

This weekend’s festival marks the 62nd Nationales Sängerfest, which the Nord-Amerikanischer Sängerbund, or the North American Singers Association, holds every three years.

But it’s just the fourth time ever that Pittsburgh has hosted a Sängerfest since German immigrants first began arriving in the Bloomfield and Deutschtown neighborhoods in the mid-1800s.

John Marino / Flickr

Most of the people running the Pittsburgh Marathon this weekend don’t know who Jimi Miller is. But for some, he provides a much-needed boost of energy along the route.

Erica Dilcer / heatherkropf.com

When talking about working on the album “Chrysalis,” producer Jeff Berman sounds like he’s describing a painting.

“Sculpting out the motion of the piece,” Berman said. “The overtones of that piano. The way that interacted with the rhythm section and helped us sculpt the landscape, we created a musical environment for that tune. The guitars add another part that would add a certain internal motion.”

Prince's sister says that when the musician died suddenly last week, he left no known will. On Tuesday, she asked a Minnesota court to appoint a special administrator to oversee the estate, which may be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But no matter who the heirs turn out to be, they will be facing some tough choices.

Prince always had an aura of mystery. His death at 57 has only added to the puzzle.

Guster / Facebook

It was love at first tweet.

At the request of the band, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto joined 91.3 WYEP's Brian Siewiorek on Wednesday to announce the headlining act for this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Guster will take the stage Friday, June 10. 

The band, which hails from Boston, Mass. requested an introduction by the mayor after Guster played a short acoustic set in front of dumpster on the North Side earlier this year.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Ellen Gozion of Pittsburgh folk band The Early Mays saw her first crankie at a music festival in West Virginia.

“As soon as I saw them, I fell in love with them and I decided I would make one,” she said. “I knew that there had been scattered crankie (festivals) throughout the country, so I immediately thought we’re going to do that in Pittsburgh.”

It took several years, but the first ever Pittsburgh Crankie Fest is this weekend at the Wilkins School Community Center in Regent Square.

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