Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. Arguably the most influential movie composer who ever lived, his music is familiar to audiences around the world. Morricone passed away on Monday in Rome, city of his birth, where he'd lived all his life. Cause of death is reported as complications arising from a fall and broken femur. His collaborations with some of the true greats of cinema echo through the ages. Rising to prominence with Sergio Leone – with whom he went to school – he added the iconic twangs, whistles and harmonicas to the director's "Dollars trilogy" (1964-66).
"Added" is probably the wrong word – for Leone, his friend's compositions were an essential part of creating the film. The Guardian notes, "he once remarked that part of the reason Sergio Leone's westerns were so slow was that certain scenes were extended in order to accommodate his soundtrack, a luxury that seems almost unthinkable in today's film industry." In some cases the music was finished before a frame was shot.
Morricone disliked the term "spaghetti western", feeling there was more to his career. No arguing about that – his work moved viewers from the Old West to classic gangster battles in the big cities. His final collaboration with Leone was 1984 crime saga Once Upon A Time In America, which he regarded as his best. Three years later his score accompanied Eliot Ness's pursuit of Al Capone in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987). Robert De Niro starred in both movies, as well Morricone-scored historical drama The Mission (1986), directed by Roland Joffé.
Ennio Morricone in 2012 (Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Redferns via Getty Images)
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On March 13, 2020 Shabaka & The Ancestors made their Impulse! debut with the band's sophomore album 'We Are Sent Here By History.' Their breakout 2016 album, Wisdom of Elders, established Shabaka & The Ancestors as a sudden force in spiritual jazz. But where that record warned of impending societal collapse, this one unfolds within it. Shabaka refers to the album as a "meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning." On the lead single "Go My Heart, Go To Heaven," Siyabonga pays homage to his father's favorite church song. The word "hamba" (or "go") is repeated, and within the context of this track, it's "about the point where one gives in and wants out of this world," Siyabonga says. "But in times of darkness is a call to the light and the heart."
"We Are Sent Here by History" melds saxophone, trumpet, drums, percussion, bass, and piano notes to evoke images of South Africa's traditions and culture.
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Spike Lee's very new joint is an anguished, more funny, violent argument with and about the whole American history, also with an unforgettable performance from Delroy Lindo at its heart. Spike Lee's career can also be described as a lover's quarrel with American movies and with America, too. As he has demonstrated his mastery of established genres, he has also now reinvented them, pointing out the blind spots and filling the gap.
His all critiques of Hollywood's long history of ignoring and distorting, the black lives have altered the way we look at the movies. His all attempts to expand the frame and also correct the record have now changed the course of the cultural mainstream.
He said ‘I am tempted to say that with ‘Da Bloods', which debuts on Friday, Lee has done it again. But, when as he ever repeated himself? This whole long, anguished, funny, violent excursion into a hidden chamber of the nation's heart of the darkness is not like anything else, even if it all may put you in mind of a lot of other things. In all its anger, its humour and its exuberance in the emotional richness of the central performances and also of Terence Blanchard's score'.
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Sally Potter's The Roads Not Taken premiered at this year's Berlin Film Festival and stars Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek and Laura Linney. The film now has got a release date and opens in UK and Ireland cinemas from 11th September. It was released in the US in April through Bleeker Street through on-demand services. Universal will release in the UK. You can watch a trailer for the film below.
THE ROADS NOT TAKEN follows 24 turbulent hours in the life of father and daughter Leo (Bardem) and Molly (Fanning) as she grapples with the challenges of dealing with her father's chaotic mental state. But as they weave their way around New York City, their ordinary but stressful day takes on a hallucinatory and epic quality, for Leo is seamlessly flowing in and out of two other parallel lives – a passionate marriage with his childhood sweetheart Dolores (Hayek) in Mexico a life of solitude on a remote Greek island, where a chance encounter with two young tourists unmasks some uncomfortable truths….
The film weaves a rich, cinematic tapestry as Leo's parallel lives – visible only to him – gradually unravel in moments of tragedy, happiness, regret and humour. It is only Molly who eventually begins to understand his secret selves.
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Violinist Niv Ashkenazi plays one of a handful of restored violins that survived the Holocaust, and his debut recording, "Violins of Hope" (Albany Records) is a document of the perseverance of the instruments' original owners. Mr. Ashkenazi, along with pianist and fellow Juillard student, pianist Matthew Graybil, breathe life into music that, in some cases, was written and played in the camps on these very violins. The styles and moods of the music is of wonderful variety: heartfelt, melodious, modern, and sometimes humorous. The recording ensures that the story, the very lives of these human beings, will never be forgotten.
Niv Ashkenazi' discusses 'Violins of Hope' with All Classical Portland. LISTEN
Cellist Inbal Segev recorded music by Lucas Richman with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Now she has a new cd on the Avie label with the London Philharmonic conducted by Marin Alsop with Anna Clyne's Dance and the Elgar Cello Concerto. She talks about Anna Clyne and creating the new music and her work with other women composers and the great classic by Elgar. Topics include what she is doing during the pandemic in New York, a commissioning project and much more in this interview with 89.3WQED: Pittsburgh -Jim Cunningham.
With artists stuck at home these days struggling to make sense of a radically new normal, many are turning to the one thing you can do when everything else is on hold: create. We've had a wonderful smorgasbord of new songs and videos coming out over the past three months – but so far, few artists have tried to create work about the pandemic, and some of the efforts I've seen to date have felt a bit forced.
Let's face it, it's very hard to process something when you're still wildly in the thick of it. But Sultans of String strike just the right chord with this video for their song "I'm Free" featuring Waleed Abdulhamid from their latest album Refuge. The concept is simple and the format well-broken-in: they asked friends and fans all over the world to hold up signs showing what they miss most during lockdown.
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Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
However, it was words from Sir Bryn Terfel that really filled him with excitement. "I did not know a great deal about Llangollen and the festival but my great friend Bryn Terfel has told me what to expect and that makes me very excited," Villazón shared. "I have performed in Wales before, twice at the Bryn Terfel festival. I remember how the Welsh audience completely connects to what we, as performers, sing on the stage and that is so important . . . I see my role as a performer to give my audience the best interpretation I can of the music and words that I sing, and to establish a unique bond with the audience every single time. I treasure this very much." Conductor James Hendry, making his Welsh debut, will lead the British Sinfonietta.
Mozartissimo is a personal retrospective including Rolando Villazón's favorite tracks, with famous arias from his recordings of Mozart operas Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte and presenting them in a new tailor-made selection curated by Rolando Villazón himself.
Rolando Villazón follows the footsteps of leading tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo by releasing his first Christmas album on Deutsche Grammophon, Feliz Navidad. The album features seasonal classics such as "What Child Is This" and "Stille Nacht" as well as the modern favorites "Feliz Navidad" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."
The fifth installment in DG's Grammy-nominated series of Mozart operas conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, La Clemenza di Tito is Mozart's last opera about the benevolent Emperor Titus who pardons an attempt on his own life. Rolando Villazón in the title role is supported by a stellar cast, including mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Sesto.
Italian music in the 19th century is most often summed up in a single word: opera. Yet, for all its importance, opera was only the magnificent tip of the iceberg of Italian musical life. Instrumental, orchestral and, in particular, sacred music all abounded in Ottocento Italy. The fours composers featured in this all-new recital are all known mostly for their operatic output, yet each was also an accomplished writer of songs, a fact that Rolando Villazón has chosen to highlight.
Rolando Villazón calls the songs simply "these little treasures". The Mexican-born tenor has sung several 19th-century Italian art songs over the years in his many recitals with piano, just as other great tenors have done down the ages. But in 2012 Villazón decided that they could be the building blocks of something rather bigger. "I saw there was a project for me here, of songs that are well-known and songs that I didn't know at the time, and that are not well-known at all except to specialist scholars. I just started searching."
It has been a triumphant year for Rolando Villazón, appropriately crowned at Berlin's Konzerthaus on October 6, 2013 with the "Best Solo Recording/Voice (arias/recitals)" award for his highly-praised Villazón Verdi tribute at Germany's 20th ECHO Klassik ceremony. The star tenor not only collected the prestigious solo artist prize, but also performed and co-hosted the annual event, for the second time. Now the singer is putting the focus squarely on his most beloved of composers: the coming year will be "all Mozart, all the time," Villazón proclaims, and presents his new album, Mozart Concert Arias – a collection of rarely recorded concert arias for tenor written by the genius composer, recorded with Sir Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. The album will be released January 21, 2014 in the US.
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