Studio SessionsMusicians perform and discuss their work in the studios of NPR and NPR Music station partners. Live music sessions, interviews, and the best new songs in rock, pop, folk, classical, jazz, blues, urban, and world music. Watch video sessions.
Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, recently returned to the world of popular music with An Other Cup, his first secular studio album in 28 years. The disc contains old songs that were never recorded, songs he wrote in the last couple of years, and songs that he came up with once he reached the studio.
The band's music is generally classified as indie-rock, but its songs incorporate old and new elements of punk, hip-hop, techno and pop. The recent The Return to Cookie Mountain stands as one of 2006's most enthusiastically reviewed albums.
Eighteen-year-old composer Stephen Feigenbaum wants to better integrate classical and pop music. "My goal is to compose music that is compositionally sound, but that draws an enormous audience of all types of people." Stephen's Serenade for Strings won him first place in the Senior Category of the MTNA Student Composition Competition in Massachusetts. This segment originally aired on Mar. 21, 2007
Daquise Montgomery got hooked on the flute after hearing his teacher play one in at school. Then the teacher got hooked on Daquise's fine cooking. To help his family save money, Daquise prepared meals for his teacher in exchange for flute lessons. He performs the Poem by Charles Tomlinson Griffes. This segment originally aired on Mar. 21, 2007
When Kerensa Gimre, 15, isn't practicing her piano, she has her nose deep inside college textbooks on chemistry, math and physics. "It's definitely a challenge to find time to practice at the moment," she says, "but it's something I love to do." Kerensa plays two Etudes by Alexander Scriabin (Op. 2, No. 1 and Op. 8, No. 2). This segment originally aired on Mar. 21, 2007
Hyper-literate as ever, The Decemberists' newest album is loosely based on an old Japanese folk tale, which songwriter Colin Meloy first encountered in a children's book. Though it's the band's most ambitious work to date, The Crane Wife maintains an air of weird accessibility.
The Decemberists in Studio on World Cafe - 03/28/2007
Seventeen-year-old Natalie Ballenger sings the role of Susanna, the chambermaid, to Angela Brown's Countess in a scene from Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro. With Susanna's help the Countess tries to regain her husband's love by setting up a secret meeting in the garden. Their duet is called "Che soave zeffiretto."
Seventeen-year-old Natalie Ballenger says that at birth she screamed so loudly the doctor remarked, "Wow, she sure has a set of lungs!" Ballenger says of her mother, "she knew then and there that I would be a singer." Ballenger performs the song "Miranda" by Richard Hageman.
Soprano Angela Brown made her Met debut in the fall of 2004, but she got there one step at a time. After taking on understudy roles, her big break finally came when she sang the title role in Verdi's Aida. Brown joins 13-year-old guitarist Travis Johnson to sing "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit."
Thirteen-year-old Travis Johnson comes from a big musical family. He's the youngest of four kids, all of whom are musicians. "My brother, Ben, plays electric and standup bass, my sister, Andrea, plays piano, and my brother, Tanner, plays violin," he explains. Travis takes after his grandfather who played guitar. Travis performs "Boppin'" a piece he commissioned from composer Bryan Johanson.
Recent high school graduate Carter Pelham, 18, aced his ACT test with a perfect score. He also happens to be an outstanding pianist, but he didn't grow up with musicians around him. He's the first member of his family to play an instrument. "I think when I was around four my mom enrolled me in group lessons and my interest just progressed from there." Pelham plays "Un Sospiro" by Franz Liszt.
Kian Andersen discovered her passion for music while indulging in another interest--competitive swimming. "I'd listen to rock songs while swimming and the driving melodies gave me the energy I needed," she says. "That's when I discovered the power of music, my desire to play it, and the rich tone of the bassoon." Andersen plays music from Telemann's Sonata in F minor.
At once spare and elegant, with an equal flair for whisper-quiet simplicity and orchestral bombast, Rice's music conveys emotional intensity and straightforward beauty at the same time. His latest album, the lovely 9, was released in November.