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Call it a percussionist's answer to Flight of the Bumblebee — with a twist. "Filigree," by composer Robert Honstein, is a rapid-fire workout for solo vibraphone. The instrument's bars, however, are partly covered in tinfoil, which adds a unique layer of color to the music.

Matt Marks, a young composer, musician and founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound, died suddenly Friday, May 11. The group made an announcement Saturday on Twitter, with no cause of death given. Marks was 38.

Candace diCarlo

American orchestras have come under fire recently for not playing enough music by women composers.  But this week the Rochester Philharmonic presented an important voice. On Thursday night, Ward Stare conducted the world premiere of a new harp concerto by American composer Jennifer Higdon.

Here's how it came to be. 

Fifteen years ago, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis was backstage getting ready to play a concerto with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra.  She was trying to focus when she heard “Blue Cathedral” by Jennifer Higdon.

To hear a concert by pianist Tony Caramia is to hear beautiful and unexpected music. He follows his intuition, chance, a ravenous curiosity and a good ear into some wonderful musical discoveries, that open up new worlds for listeners – as well as for the students he teaches at Eastman. 

On Live from Hochstein this afternoon, Caramia is playing music that stands out for its lovely harmonies – and playful energy -  in a program called “Syncopated Sounds from Germany.” Listen above to hear him introduce you to Ernest Fischer, Erwin Schulhoff, Lothar Perl, and others.  

Aspiring orchestral musicians have long known that the road to a professional career is arduous and paved with risks. But new research from the U.K. shows that even attaining the brass ring of an orchestral job does not necessarily provide financial security. In fact, even with salaried, full-time employment, many British orchestral musicians are struggling to pay their bills.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Bus driving guitarist looks back on career with many turns

Apr 30, 2018

  

Guitarist Lawrence Johnson recorded the complete works of early-nineteenth century composer Fernando Sor – using equipment that the guitarist got in a trade for a Volkswagen.  He recalls, "I found out this guy and this girl, they were married – and he decided he didn’t like her anymore and he left her and took her car. But he was also a recording nut, and so he had this Revox 77.  So I said: I got a car if you want it, but I need that Revox 77. So, I got it." 

The most expensive play in Broadway history opened Sunday night. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child cost $33.5 million, runs five and a half hours long (in two parts), and has gotten rave reviews. But while it has plenty of special effects, it's actually designed for audiences to use their imagination.

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