WRTI Picks from NPR Music

music articles from NPR Music

It was 30 years ago today that a single American hostage was killed by terrorists during the hijacking of a cruise ship by pro-Palestinian terrorists in the Mediterranean Sea. Leon Klinghoffer's death was the inspiration for a controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, composed by John Adams, with a libretto by Alice Goodman and directed by Peter Sellars.

Stephen Sondheim is widely viewed as the greatest living composer in American musical theater. "Send in the Clowns," from the show A Little Night Music, may be his most famous work — and yet you might not recognize the song as reimagined for solo piano by Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus.

Alto saxophonist Phil Woods, a leading jazz performer since the 1950s, died Tuesday afternoon. The cause was related to emphysema, his longtime agent, Joel Chriss, confirmed. Woods was 83.

It's difficult enough to start an orchestra, but Zuhal Sultan founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (NYOI) as a teenager in the middle of a war. She brought together 40 young musicians from different Iraqi cities and sectarian backgrounds in an effort to unify a divided nation. Now, six years later, the Euphrates Institute has named her Visionary of the Year.

Guitarist and composer John Scofield's 2015 album is called Past Present. And that's what it is: four jazz musicians very much in the moment, looking back at events that informed the music they're playing—and listening back to a sound three of them created some 20 years ago.

Over in London, the Independent's arts editor, David Lister, recently published a scathing commentary about the paucity of valuable or even interesting information in artist biographies. He wrote it in a fury after paying £4 to obtain the program for a Proms concert he attended, featuring the excellent German violinist Julia Fischer.

British composer Max Richter spent about two years writing and recording a piece of music which, if it's successful, few people will hear in full. It's a composition called Sleep and it runs eight hours long — the perfect length for a good night's rest. The full version of the piece will be released as a digital album Friday.