Category: Classical/Traditional

Kendrick Lamar Will Perform ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ Songs At the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (photo via

A live band rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly is in high demand, and you’d have to look no further than Kendrick Lamar‘s performances on Stephen Colbert‘s shows to know why.

Lamar has been performing cuts live with a backing track, but that changes for one day later in October. The star will perform To Pimp A Butterfly songs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on October 20, according to the Washington Post. Nas performed with the orchestra last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.

article by bjosephsny via

Siblings Lauren Conner, 11, Ashleigh Conner, 10, & Christian Conner, 9, Play Classical Music in Subway to Raise Money for Homeless

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories
(From left) Lauren, 11, Ashleigh, 10 and Christian Conner, 9  (Photo via

Lauren, Ashleigh and Christian Conner have been studying music since they were toddlers. Violinists and a cellist, the trio of siblings has long had a heart for music.  But when they moved to New York from New Jersey last year and saw the number of homeless people in the city’s streets, they realized they had a heart for much more.

“I saw [the homeless people] on the street and I felt sad for them,” Christian, 9, tells PEOPLE.

The three moved from Sussex County in October with their parents, Zenobia and Keith Conner. Zenobia says that from the moment the family got to the city, Christian wanted to help.

She tells PEOPLE that the young cellist would repeatedly ask her for money to give to the less fortunate and, after awhile, she said, “If you want to give some money to the homeless, then go out there and play your cello.”

And play he did. Christian and his sisters, 10-year-old Ashleigh and 11-year-old Lauren (both violinists), decided to take to the Fulton Street subway station to play music with hopes of raising enough money to give to the less fortunate.  To see video of these amazing siblings busking, click here.

Meet the Seriously Talented Young Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless| Music, Good Deeds, Music News, Real People Stories
Talented Young Conner Siblings Who Play Classical Music in the Subway to Raise Money for the Homeless (photo via

Last week, the three siblings set up their music stands in a corner of the bustling station. Ashleigh tells PEOPLE that on their first day, they played for two hours and raised a little more than $240. The three play works by composers like Beethoven, Bach and Karl Jenkins as onlookers in the station watch in amazement.

Continue reading “Siblings Lauren Conner, 11, Ashleigh Conner, 10, & Christian Conner, 9, Play Classical Music in Subway to Raise Money for Homeless”

Cicely Tyson and Rita Moreno Among 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees

George Lucas Cicely Tyson Rita Moreno
George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno (GETTY IMAGES)

Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King, conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Eagles have been selected to receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, the center said Wednesday.

The artists will be celebrated Dec. 6 at a gala to be broadcast Dec. 29 on CBS.  President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend along with other notables from the worlds of showbiz, politics and business.

The Honors gala, now in its 38th year, will again cap a weekend of celebrations to include a private dinner at the U.S. State Department the preceding evening hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. Honorees receive their colorful medallions at that event. In addition, the Obamas will host honorees and others at the White House prior to the gala performance.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein saluted this year’s selections, which were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center’s Special Honors Advisory Committee. Other input is offered by the center’s board of trustees, its artists committee and the public.

Rubenstein praised Tyson for her range of strong female roles on stage and screen that “have broken boundaries for women of color,” and said Moreno’s “iconic spitfire roles” are embedded in the heart of American culture, while Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has “set a new standard for orchestras around the world.” He

Rubenstein said the music of the Eagles “has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations.” The core band members to be feted are Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh.

King, another pop hitmaker, has a canon of “heartfelt lyrics and tunes (that) are woven throughout the tapestry of American music.” Films from Lucas have “enriched our world with stories of epic adventure,” said the KenCen chieftain.

Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said the latest slate of honorees shares a powerful common theme — artists as history-makers and artists who defy both convention and category. “Each honoree and their career-spanning achievements exemplify a rare quality of artistic bravery,” she said. “They have pushed the limits of their gifts as musicians, actors, and storytellers to inspire generations of Americans and those around the world.”

article by Paul Harris via

Condoleezza Rice Performs “Amazing Grace” to Benefit the Troops (VIDEO)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice  (Photo: Curtis Compton)
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Photo: Curtis Compton)

Condoleezza Rice is a woman of many talents, but among the most impressive is her piano playing. The former Secretary of State, who is a classically-trained musician, put her skills on the ivories to use for a good cause recently, collaborating with violinist Jenny Oates Baker for a rendition of “Amazing Grace” that is sure to cause the shedding of a few tears.

The duo recorded their version of the 236-year-old Christian hymn to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and the single was released on iTunes. “Amazing Grace has always held a special place in my heart,” Rice wrote on her Facebook page. “It seemed only appropriate to release the video in conjunction with the 4th of July weekend as we recognize the blessings we have in this country and the sacrifices of our servicemen and women for our freedom.”

Rice’s single comes on the heels of President Barack Obama performing the timeless hymn at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the victims of the Charleston Massacre.

As it has for more than two centuries, “Amazing Grace” continues to offer comfort in times of need.

Watch the beautiful rendition in the video below:

article by Evelyn Diaz via

Grammy Awards 2015 Winners List (So Far): Beyoncé and Pharrell Win Early!

Beyonce Pyramids 4-22

Before the show even started, a handful of winners have been announced for this year’s 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Beyonce, who has had a record-breaking 52 nominations, took home an early award in the Best Surround Sound Album category for her self-titled 2013 release. Beyonce has now won 18 Grammy’s but has yet to take home the Album of the Year title, an award she’s up for later tonight.

Meanwhile, Pharrell won another Grammy for himself in the form of Best Music Video with his wildly popular “Happy” visuals.

Ahead of the ceremony and performances, check out an early list of the winners and nominees below:

Album of the Year

Beck, Morning Phase
Beyonce, Beyonce
Ed Sheeran, x
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
Pharrell Williams, G I R L

Best New Artist

Iggy Azalea
Brandy Clark
Sam Smith

Record of the Year

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
“Chandelier,” Sia
“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Song of the Year

“Chandelier,” Sia
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
“Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith
“Take Me to Church,” Hozier

Best Rap Album

The New Classic, Iggy Azalea
Because the Internet, Childish Gambino
Nobody’s Smiling, Common
The Marshall Mathers LP2, Eminem
Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q
Blacc Hollywood, Wiz Khalifa

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
“A Sky Full of Stars,” Coldplay
“Say Something,” A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera
“Bang Bang,” Ariana Grande, Jessie J & Nicki Minaj
“Dark Horse,” Katy Perry ft. Juicy J

Best Rap Performance

“3005,” Childish Gambino
“0 to 100/The Catch Up,” Drake
“Rap God,” Eminem
“i,” Kendrick Lamar
“All I Need Is You,” Lecrae

Best Alternative Music Album

This Is All Yours, alt-J
Reflektor, Arcade Fire
Melophobia, Cage the Elephant
St. Vincent, St. Vincent
Lazaretto, Jack White

Continue reading “Grammy Awards 2015 Winners List (So Far): Beyoncé and Pharrell Win Early!”

7 Year-Old Violinist Leah Flynn on Mission to Share Her Music & Inspire Other Children (VIDEO)

Listen Up: 7-Year-Old Violinist on a Mission


Like the late, great Whitney Houston so beautifully sang: We believe the children are our future.  To that end, JET introduces you to Leah Flynn…a sweet, caring young violinist who wants to use her talents to improve the world around her.

Taking a break from her evening routine of violin lessons taught by her dad, seven-year-old, Leah Flynn energetically tells JET, “I want to go on national shows and play for millions of people so lots of children can see me play, then maybe they want to play an instrument!”

She’s ambitious and determined on her musical mission.

Practicing violin since she was five, Leah has performed in front of various audiences ranging from senior centers to churches located around her family’s Florida home.  Her biggest audience thus far: during an appearance on the TV show, Good Day Orlando.

If you wonder what gives her the strength to show off her skills at a young age, her approach  to overcoming nerves is simple, “All I do is take a deep breath and just focus on my violin while I’m playing.”

Leah’s  music is more than a hobby, it’s a way of providing inspiration and a healing mechanism for the soul.

Growing up near the area where the devastating killing of Trayvon Martin took place and, most recently, watching from afar the unrest unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, Leah confided something in her parents, Paula and Lennox Flynn.

She told them she wanted to offer those who suffered the soothing sound of violin strings.  “Leah said, ‘Mommy, people are so sad and it’s not a good thing,” Paula Flynn recalls.

That conversation led to her father, a musician himself who started Leah on the piano, to teach her “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” so she could play for local residents.  The pint-sized player hopes to perform for the Governor of Missouri and the people of Ferguson.

But while she waits for that opportunity, nothing is holding the energetic violinist back. She’s currently practicing Christmas carols to share with listening ears throughout the holiday season.

And JET wants to do our part to get her a national audience. Watch her performance of favorite song,”Let It Go” from the popular movie, “Frozen”.  Enjoy and be sure to keep Miss Leah on your radar!

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OPERA: South African Isango Ensemble Reimagines Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at New Victory Theater

Pauline Malefane, foreground, of the Isango Ensemble in a reimagining of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” at the New Victory Theater. (EMON HASSAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Less glockenspiel, more drumming! A very different sort of “The Magic Flute” took the stage at the New Victory Theater on Sunday afternoon in front of an attentive and appreciative family audience. This two-hour adaptation of Mozart’s fairy tale opera was presented under the Xhosa title “Impempe Yomlingo” by the South African Isango Ensemble, a company that recruits performers from townships in the Cape Town area and presents classics from the Western canon in an updated, African context.

But perhaps “updated” isn’t quite the right word: In the program notes, the show’s director, Mark Dornford-May, relates a myth from the Tsonga tradition about the andlati birds that live high in the mountains and cause terrifying storms and lightning. Only a hero brave enough to seek them out with a magic flute can appease them and avert destruction.

“The story may never have reached Mozart, but the similarities are fascinating nonetheless,” Mr. Dornford-May writes. “Who knows? Maybe one of the greatest pieces of European opera had its roots and inspiration in a South African folk tale.”

Certainly, few productions can match the colorful exuberance and pulsating energy of this “Flute,” or field as versatile a cast as this, in which every member sings, dances and drums. The bare set evokes a township square. The traditional orchestra is replaced by eight marimbas, supplemented by an array of percussion, including djembes, oil barrels, hand clapping and — standing in for Papageno’s glockenspiel — suspended water bottles of graduated pitches. Tamino’s flute is a trumpet, played with jazzy vigor by Mandisi Dyantyis, the ensemble’s co-music director and conductor.

The vocal performances were a testament to South Africa’s deep pool of singing talent. The notes were all there — Pauline Malefane courageously scaled the heights of the Queen of the Night’s arias; Mhlekazi Mosiea was a dignified Tamino; Ayanda Eleki, a proud, patriarchal Sarastro — even if there were times when they audibly strained the limits of the singers’ technique. But the cast offered portrayals with ample personality and charisma, among them Zolina Ngejane’s superfeisty Pamina and Zamile Gantana’s bon-vivant Papageno.

But this African “Flute” is, above all, a story of community, and the music, too, is at its most convincing where it draws on South Africa’s glorious choral tradition. If that means taking liberties with Mozart’s score, fine: Tamino’s taming of Monostatos and his posse of slaves suffers no injury by the infusion of a bit of calypso rhythm. The celebrations that greet Sarastro’s first appearance — complete with ululating women — are a jubilant riot.

The communal aspect also raises the stakes for the lovers’ trials, which are presented as a series of tribal initiation rites, with Tamino’s face painted white, like that of a tribal youngster embarking on a circumcision ritual. In traditional productions, this is often the part of the opera where the tension slackens, but in this post-apartheid setting, the young people’s quest for dignity, wisdom and reconciliation is shown to be of vital importance to everyone.

Michael Brown Supporters Interrupt St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Performance with Song and Banners (VIDEO)

Protestors at a performance of the St. Louis Orchestra display a banner of officer shooting victim, Mike Brown.
Protestors at a performance of the St. Louis Orchestra display a banner of officer shooting victim, Mike Brown. (YouTube)

Supporters of slain Missouri teen Michael Brown launched a peaceful protest during a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performance at Powell Symphony Hall.

The October 4 performance was interrupted suddenly when protestors located in the upper balcony unveiled banners—three in total—with written messages and artwork drawn in remembrance of the Ferguson youth fatally shot by a St. Louis police officer. The protest, launched during a performance of “Requiem” by Brahms, caused a minor delay in the orchestra’s performance. Some members of the protest also stood up in the lower seating sections, singing a tribute—set to the original Brahms’ piece—called “A Requiem for Mike Brown,” according to the title of one YouTube video of the event.

“Justice for Mike Brown,” the protestors can be heard singing in the video taken by one of the audience members, as the video pans towards the balcony, revealing two of the banners. The first is shown saying “Racism Lives Here,” with an arrow pointing to what appears to be a sketch of a city skyline; the second is a sketch of Michael Brown’s face, with “Requiem for Mike Brown” written, along with the dates 1996 – 2014, the years of the 18-year old Brown’s birth and death. The refrain of the protestors’ song was “which side are you on?”

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Steve Giegerich)

The video later pans to the third banner, which also features a drawing of the young man’s face, as well as the dates.

A significant portion of the audience can be heard clapping, with some even cheering as the protestors sing the song for approximately a minute and a half. Some audience members however, can be seen with looks of shock and confusion at the sudden and surprising interruption.

After finishing their song, the protestors can be heard chanting “Black lives matter,” before many of them head towards the exits. No arrests were made in the protest, as the demonstrators left of their own accord in peaceful fashion.

The protest follows the continued national controversy surrounding the death of Michael Brown on August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.

article via

Sisters with Strings: Jasmin “Char” Charles and Margaux Whitney are Brooklyn-based Classical Duo Chargaux


If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “classical music” is stuffy older folks politely clapping for elevator music, you may want to reconsider. Chargaux, a Brooklyn-based duo that play the violin and viola, are using classical string arrangements in bold, soulful ways, and incorporating stunning visuals to help you see their sounds. (Think neon-colored box braids moving furiously over a classical orchestration of a Beyoncé cover.) Chargaux produces sounds that would have kept you focused in your high school music class.

Jasmin “Char” Charles and Margaux Whitney met on a street in Boston and immediately connected over their love for music. Both classically trained, it wasn’t long before the two started jamming in New York City train stations, drawing diverse crowds of strap-hangers from across the world–and it took off from there. The beautiful chords at the end of Kendrick Lamar’s “B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” is also Chargaux’s work. This year, they performed at Opening Ceremony’s fashion show and their latest EP, Broke and Baroque was released this month. EBONY chatted with the duo on their creative process, what it’s like to be Black classical musicians in the industry and why there is really no one quite like them.

EBONY:  What kind of stories do your music and visual art pieces tell? What kind of people do they speak to or do you hope they reach?

MARGAUX:  I love my generation despite our flaws, so I want our music to reach them. The Internet has made us a little impatient. Everyone wants what they want right away and likes what they like. Our art is a way of changing that, of giving people something they didn’t know they wanted, a new experience. On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to reach, well, basically everyone. If somebody’s grandma is jammin’ to my song, I’d be ecstatic. As girls from Detroit and Atlanta braving New York and experiencing some of the best and challenging moments in our lives thus far, I think the music tells a beautiful story. We want you to have fun and enjoy what you hear but also feel the passion and drive behind it. Continue reading “Sisters with Strings: Jasmin “Char” Charles and Margaux Whitney are Brooklyn-based Classical Duo Chargaux”

Thomas Wilkins Named Principal Conductor of Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

Conductor Thomas Wilkins has been a familiar face to classical music fans in Los Angeles since at least 2008, when he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

On Thursday, Wilkins officially took on a new title with the orchestra — principal conductor — signaling a more permanent role in the institution. Wilkins made his Bowl debut in 2007 and has held a series of two-year appointments in his role as principal guest conductor.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, which made the announcement on Thursday, said that Wilkins has led the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at 50 concerts during his periods as principal guest conductor.

The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was led for many years by conductor John Mauceri, who stepped down in 2006.

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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