Tom Huizenga

The story begins in a New Jersey elementary school, where four young girls of color — Aline Vasques, Alexis Carter, Tiahna Sterling and Arlene Acevedo — were all best friends. In middle school they began studying percussion together with Joe Bergen, a member of the Mantra Percussion ensemble. They continued through high school and graduated from Mantra's Youth Percussion Program.

Composer Carlisle Floyd, widely viewed as a founding father of American opera, died Thursday at age 95 in Tallahassee, Fla. His death was announced by his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, which did not share the cause of his death.

When Víkingur Ólafsson was 8 years old, he threw a tantrum over Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As he tried to play the runs in the deceptive little Sonata facile in C major, the so-called "Easy Sonata," he grew so frustrated that he literally scratched out the notes with a pencil.

Louis Andriessen, the most widely acclaimed Dutch composer of his generation, died on Thursday, July 1, in a care home in Weesp, North Holland. His death was confirmed by Boosey & Hawkes, his publisher. He was 82 years old.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


It's been said that our young people are the hope of our future. If that's true, the future of classical music looks blazingly bright, judging from these extraordinary performances by the young musicians in this triple-play Tiny Desk (home) concert.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Editor's note: This story includes multiple uses of offensive language.

There have been many misfits in classical music, but Julius Eastman stands tall among them.

Tania León, the 78-year-old Cuban-born composer, won the Pulitzer Prize in Music on Friday for her orchestral work Stride. The Pulitzer jury described the 15-minute piece as a "musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the U.S. and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric." The two other finalists were Place, by Ted Hearne and Data Lords by Maria Schneider, both recordings.

Classical music fans are mourning the loss of Christa Ludwig, the beloved German mezzo-soprano celebrated both for her versatility and the warmth of her voice. She died at her home in Austria on April 24 at age 93.

Ludwig embraced a broad range of opera roles, with her silken tones, from the battered mistress Marie in Alban Berg's modernist Wozzeck, to the cheeky pageboy Cherubino in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

A young, mild-mannered soprano from Norway with a huge voice has been turning heads in the opera world.

Lise Davidsen is an emerging star whose voice has been called one-in-a-million. It can soar like a rocket over enormous orchestras. And yet on her new album, in the Verdi aria, "Pace, pace mio Dio!" it can dial down to a single gleaming strand of polished silver.

James Levine, the immensely accomplished conductor who wielded power and influence in the classical world, and whose singular tenure at the Metropolitan Opera ended in a flurry of accusations of sexual abuse, died on March 9 in Palm Springs, Calif. His physician of 17 years, Dr. Len Horovitz, confirmed his death to NPR, saying that Levine died of natural causes. He was 77 years old.

As pianist Mahani Teave was poised to launch her international career, she remembered the moment when the first piano arrived on her remote island. It was 1992, she was nine years old and the instrument landed on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island as it was named by Europeans. Best known for its mysterious, sentinel-like stone statues, the island lies some 2000 miles off the coast of Chile.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


There's a distinct dissonance between the bucolic setting of this lovely Max Richter Tiny Desk (home) concert and the reality he references after his performance.

In 2021, I'm looking forward to, fingers crossed, live music. I really miss the roar of a symphony orchestra in concert or a soaring soprano on the opera stage. But artists are still making albums, even in lockdown, like British composer Max Richter. His upcoming album is a follow-up to last year's Voices. This new one is Voices, Part 2 which will be released in April.

The year 2020 was, in so many ways, divided. In terms of live performances, musicians were forced to reinvent, reflect and respond from a distance and in turn I watched their concerts from the remove of my laptop screen.

Two-hundred-fifty years ago, a musical maverick was born. Ludwig van Beethoven charted a powerful new course in music. His ideas may have been rooted in the work of European predecessors Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn, but the iconic German composer became who he was with the help of some familiar American values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


Soprano Julia Bullock prefers to be called a "classical singer." It's a rather humble, even vague, appellation for one of today's smartest, most arresting vocalists in any genre.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Heroes never fade from memory. Last year, on Sept. 30, 2019, the great American soprano Jessye Norman died suddenly. She was just 74.

When young composers reboot old musical formulas, exciting things can happen. Sarah Kirkland Snider's arresting Mass for the Endangered — released Sept. 25 — is a 21st century twist on the Catholic mass, which has been sung in churches for more than 1300 years.

Have you ever strummed a cactus? What about plucking the Vietnamese đàn bâu or waving your arms to get music from a theremin? Over the years, the Tiny Desk has hosted more than a few distinctive instruments and their virtuosic performers. These fascinating performances underscore the idea that humankind cannot live by guitars, drums and bass alone!

Sō Percussion

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


"I hope everybody stays safe and is good to each other," Víkingur Ólafsson says at the end of this beautiful four-song set.

New York's Metropolitan Opera, armed with technology, today's top singers and a captive, home-bound audience is, in spite of them, struggling to make opera relevant. The company's new streaming series, Met Stars Live in Concert, while a valiant endeavor, can't seem to shake off opera's fusty, aristocratic trappings.

One of America's most beloved and resourceful pianists has died. Leon Fleisher was 92 years old. He died of cancer in Baltimore Sunday morning, according to his son, Julian.

The pianist's roller coaster career began with fame, moved to despair and ended in fulfillment.

When the story of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police began making news last week, Anthony McGill felt something roiling up inside him.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. NPR Music's Tom Huizenga recently spoke with Pulitzer-winning composer Steve Reich, who has been keeping busy with the solitary act of writing a new piece from his winter getaway in Los Angeles.

Who: Steve Reich
Where: Los Angeles, Calif.
Recommendation: Keep on working

Pages