Jeff Lunden

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.

Lunden contributed several segments to the Peabody Award-winning series The NPR 100, and was producer of the NPR Music series Discoveries at Walt Disney Concert Hall, hosted by Renee Montagne. He has produced more than a dozen documentaries on musical theater and Tin Pan Alley for NPR — most recently A Place for Us: Fifty Years of West Side Story.

Other documentaries have profiled George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen and Jule Styne. Lunden has won several awards, including the Gold Medal from the New York Festival International Radio Broadcasting Awards and a CPB Award.

Lunden is also a theater composer. He wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Arthur Kopit's Wings (book and lyrics by Arthur Perlman), which won the 1994 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Other works include Another Midsummer Night, Once on a Summer's Day and adaptations of The Little Prince and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Theatreworks/USA.

Lunden is currently working with Perlman on an adaptation of Swift as Desire, a novel of magic realism from Like Water for Chocolate author Laura Esquivel. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mukhtar Mai is from a small tribal village in Pakistan. In 2002, her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman from a wealthy land-owning clan. What happened next was horrifying, says singer and composer Kamala Sankaram. "For retribution, the village council decided that Mukhtar should be gang-raped by four of the men of this clan," Sankaram says. "And what is supposed to happen for a woman after this has taken place is that, not only has she shamed herself, she's brought dishonor to...

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change. Great pianists need great pianos. Vladimir Horowitz , the famous Russian pianist, used to travel with his own personal Steinway when he...

Leonard Bernstein was a singular American genius. One of the great orchestra conductors of the 20th Century, he was also a composer of hit musicals like West Side Story , as well as symphonies and ballets. He was a teacher and television personality — his Young People's Concerts introduced generations of children to classical music. But that was the public man. A new collection of letters written both by and to Bernstein is being published this week. It's an eye-opening volume: a glimpse into...

This morning the New York City Opera announced that it was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations. Dubbed "The People's Opera" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia when it was founded 70 years ago, the company was meant as an alternative to the richer Metropolitan Opera. It's the place where exciting young singers like Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo made their New York debuts and where innovative productions of new operas premiered. In a tersely worded statement, the New York City Opera's...

There are a lot of operas that end with heroines on their deathbeds, singing one glorious aria before they die. That's what happens at the end of Anna Nicole, the controversial new work that New York City Opera is presenting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in September. But the company's artistic director and general manager, George Steel, says it could also be City Opera's last gasp. "The issue is this: We don't have any credit, we don't have any working capital, and so we are managing our...

Minnesota-born composer Maria Schneider has called New York home for more than 30 years, and she knows how to find nature in the middle of the city. Because her new album is called Winter Morning Walks , we walked to her favorite bird-watching spot in Central Park on a chilly February morning. "This part right here in the Ramble and this Azalea Pond area is just teeming with warblers," Schneider says. "On a good day, you can see 18 warbler species in the morning, maybe even more. And I love...

As of this year, the vocal group Anonymous 4 has been introducing modern audiences to medieval music for a quarter century. When the all-female quartet asked David Lang to help mark the occasion by writing them some music, he didn't need any convincing. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer was already a big fan. "I really like the fact that they had dedicated themselves to keeping alive this music from 800 years ago," Lang says. "This music is really at the core of a lot of things that we...

The Peony Pavilion is one of China's most famous operas, but uncut performances of this romantic 16th century work can take more than 22 hours. Chinese composer Tan Dun , who's best known for his Academy Award-winning score for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , has adapted the work into a compact 75 minutes. His version will be performed in the Astor Court — a replica of a Chinese garden — in New York's Metropolitan Museum, beginning tonight . When The Peony Pavilion was written in...

For more than 50 years, John Williams ' music has taken us to galaxies far, far away through adventures here on earth , made us feel giddy joy and occasionally scared us to death . He might be the most recognized contemporary composer in the world, but Williams says writing music wasn't what he first set out to do. He wanted to be a concert pianist and studied at Juilliard with renowned teacher Rosina Lhevinne. "I played pretty well," Williams says. "I did hear players like John Browning and...

Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra , which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot. The Philadelphia Orchestra has been one of the world's greatest orchestras since it was founded in 1900. Thanks in part to famed...

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