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music

Over the weekend, soprano Kristine Opolais sang her heart out — and died twice.

Friday evening she had sung the lead in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It was her debut in that role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was a big deal. Opolais was so excited about it that she stayed up until five the next morning.

New Obama administration rules aimed at protecting African elephants are causing widespread anxiety in the music world. From country to classical, working musicians say the policy will make them think twice about touring abroad.

The proposed regulations would place a near-total ban on anything made with ivory moving in and out of the U.S.

KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

William Crawford had a passion. During his lifetime, he collected rare, first edition vocal musical scores. By the time he died in 2013, he had amassed more than 700 scores by such famous composers as Beethoven, Bach and Wagner. Now those scores have found a home in Seattle.

Terry Teachout's book "Duke."

Ross Reynolds talks with Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout about his book, "Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington."

Ellington is regarded as perhaps the greatest jazz composer of the 20th century. The conductor Andre Previn once compared him to Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev.

This interview originally aired on October 16, 2013.

One of the hottest new bands out of Birmingham, Ala., doesn't sound new at all. On the new album, Half the City, St. Paul and The Broken Bones hits all the marks of a classic Southern soul band, complete with a fiery lead singer. Speaking with NPR's David Greene, bassist Jesse Phillips recalls the first time he experienced the voice of frontman Paul Janeway.

Flickr Photo/kmaschke (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The Seattle Symphony is joining the ranks of other major orchestras across the country with the creation of an in-house production company called Seattle Symphony Media.

The venture launches with the release of three new recordings, one of which was made during a live performance.

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Revelry turned to horror early Thursday "after a car plowed through South by Southwest crowds in Downtown Austin," KUT reports.

Seattle Band Ravenna Woods Plays Live At KUOW

Mar 5, 2014
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Steve Scher talks with guitarist Chris Cunningham and drummer Matt Badger of the Northwest indie band, Ravenna Woods. The band performed a few songs from its new album, "The Jackals," in the KUOW studios.

How One Winner Changed The Academy Awards

Feb 27, 2014
Flickr Photo/Davidlohr Bueso (CC BY-NC-ND)

In anticipation for the Oscars this weekend, Steve Scher sat down with Swing Years host Amanda Wilde to discuss the history of the Best Original Song category.

A Belated Valentine From RadioActive

Feb 27, 2014
KUOW Photo/Jenny Asarnow and Sophie Ding

In honor of Valentine’s Day, RadioActive hosts Ann Kane and Sophie Ding bring you stories of young love. We find out what love means to preschoolers and retired folks, hear what the Greeks had to say about love and enjoy a love poem written to the world. Plus, Nina Tran plays a love song for her wisdom teeth on the banjo.

Are you streaming music right now? If you're in America's Pacific region, there's a much better chance you're nodding along with Cat Power rather than grooving to Fantasia, which you'd be more likely to be doing if you were across the country in the South Atlantic. Those observations come from a map titled "Regionalisms in U.S. Listening Preferences."

Screenshot from Animal Planet video.

If you’re walking outside this weekend in Woodinville, Wash., that’s not just birdsong coming from the trees.

Bear Creek Studio was featured on an episode of Animal Planet’s show Treehouse Masters. The crew from the reality show built a recording space for the music studio 18 feet up in the cedar trees.

The episode airs Friday at 10 p.m. and has brought in a couple of musical guests. CeeLo Green drops in to play and is joined by the treehouse’s Fall City designer Pete Nelson, who takes a turn at the microphone – for better or worse.

Flickr Photo/Arild Nybø (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Matt Wenman, director of Mount Si High School's band program in Snoqualmie, about winning one of 15 spots in Jazz at Lincoln Center's prestigious Essentially Ellington competition. Roosevelt and Garfield high schools are also headed to compete in New York.

In a mobile classroom — basically a trailer outfitted with a desk and some chairs — music teacher Chris Miller works with a group of active kindergartners dressed in green and khaki school uniforms. He teaches them the basics: musical concepts, artists and styles of music.

"Everybody repeat after me," he says. "Wade in the water." Kids sing back, "Wade in the water."

File photo.
Flickr Photo/Lis Ferla (CC-BY-NC-ND)

There are a lot of songs about love, but perhaps there are even more songs about loss. That raises a serious scientific question: Why are so many songs written about heartbreak, and what happens to the brains of people who are experiencing a really bad break-up?

Biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher studies what happens in our brains when we are in love and when we are heart broken. She says that Tylenol is helpful, but staring at pictures of your ex and listening to a sad song when your brain is going through massive dopamine withdrawal is not.

It's hard to tell on TV, but in person, the Olympics are loud.

Every competition has its own DJ, and for the snowboarding, Russia has brought in a little help from the USA: Mike Nakagawa, better known as DJ Naka G.

The men's snowboarding team is hitting the halfpipe Tuesday in Sochi, and it's Naka G's job to pick the song for each rider.

"We're really providing the soundtrack for a story," he says. "We're making it dramatic. We're making it exciting. We're making it just pure fun."

Flickr Photo/Elen Nivrae

Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton about the shake up at City of Seattle's Office of Film and Music.

Courtesy of Rafe Pearlman

Rafe Pearlman came into his music career 20 years ago, right when grunge was capturing the world's attention. He didn’t have a meteoric rise to the top, but the singer-songwriter is still moving forward, selling out local shows where he mixes rock music with the chanting of many faiths.

Dave Brubeck Was The Macklemore Of 1954

Jan 30, 2014

Grammys 2014: Big Night For Seattle Musicians

Jan 28, 2014
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

David Hyde checks in with NPR pop music correspondent Ann Powers on what Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' big Grammy sweep means for the Northwest music scene.

French dance music producers Daft Punk won Album of the Year for Random Access Memories and Record of the Year for their hit "Get Lucky" at the 56th annual Grammy awards on Sunday night. In a ceremony heavy on collaborative performances (Robin Thicke with Chicago, Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons and Metallica with Lang Lang were a few of the more random pairings) and light on surprise, no single artist dominated.

Read The Complete List Of Winners

YouTube Photo/Patricia O'Brien & Gabriel Miller

In 1985, KUOW’s Marcia Alvar interviewed Norman Durkee, the longtime music director of Teatro Zinzanni, the over-the-top musical theater production held in a tent on lower Queen Anne. Durkee died on Sunday at the age of 65.

Durkee, a soft-spoken man with a long white beard, had a long career in jazz, classical and rock music, including playing the piano part on Bachman Turner Overdrive’s song, “Takin’ Care of Business.” He also did a stint making ads in Los Angeles, where his creative impulses didn’t always meet the approval of the businesses that hired him.

Deep Dark Secrets Of The (Orchestra) Pit

Jan 8, 2014
KUOW Photo / Sophie Ding

Tuning her violin for a performance, Maeve McIver-Sheridan knows that she's preparing for a forgotten and thankless task. "You get to the end of a show and no one acknowledges us," McIver-Sheridan said, "unless my parents are there."

McIver-Sheridan, a senior at Shorecrest High School, plays in a pit orchestra underneath the stage, invisible to the audience. It's a different story from the glamor on stage.

How Jewish Composers Created Iconic Christmas Music

Dec 23, 2013
'White Christmas' composer Irving Berlin.
Wikimedia Commons

Steve Scher talks with Amanda Wilde, host and producer of KUOW's The Swing Years,  about how immigrant Jewish popular music composers shaped America’s perceptions of Christmas through music.

The remaining members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been released from prison in Russia, a few months short of serving their full two-year sentences for "hooliganism" — a charge that the band's supporters say was just a trumped-up effort to quash free speech.

The Poetry Of Rock And Roll

Dec 18, 2013
AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price

Not every rock song is poetry, but Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon argues that some are. Ross Reynolds talks with the New Yorker poetry editor and professor at Princeton about poetry, songs, his band Wayward Shrines, and his new book, "Word On The Street: Rock Lyrics."

Ben Fong-Torres' book "Willin'"

Ross Reynolds talks with author Ben Fong-Torres about his new band biography, "Willin': The Story of Little Feat."

Flickr Photo/Courtney Johnston

Marcie Sillman talks with music journalist and author Charles R. Cross about Nirvana's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

courtesy of Radio Raheem

Seattle is a town full of music. From indie rock to folk to rap, the city boasts a bevy of thriving scenes. These days, those scenes tend to cross-pollinate. And that can result in something powerful, especially when a traditional gospel singer is part of the mix.

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