On Oct. 24, 2006, the fledgling Big Machine Records in Nashville released what may have looked like on paper as a 15-minutes-of-fame kind of album. The work was from a then-unknown 16-year-old singer/songwriter. Her songs dealt in themes country music didn't pay much attention to: teen romance, high school dramas and youthful dreams. Slowly but surely, however, that album, "Taylor Swift," began creeping up the country album chart, and the curly headed artist from whom it took its name began popping up more and more, especially once Big Machine issued her single that name-checked one of country's biggest stars at the time, Tim McGraw. By the end of the year, the album had moved 200,000 copies, and prompted The Times to spotlight Swift as one of the faces to watch in the coming year, praising the album for "[touching] on themes such as the fragile self-esteem of teen girls and the magic of first love."
Until recent weeks, the rancor of this year's contest between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republicans' Donald Trump had left many pop artists relatively muted. But in the final days of the campaign, a wave of acts have at long last found their voices -- many in favor of the Democrats' candidate. Bruce Springsteen, a liberal stalwart who performed at the inauguration for President Obama, sang this past weekend in support of Clinton. Pop heavyweights Beyoncé and Jay Z joined Clinton in Cleveland, and on the eve of the election, artists such as Lady Gaga and Jon Bon Jovi had Monday evening rallies planned to support the Democratic nominee . Even some not known for being politically active have begun speaking out.
Corporate sponsorship at music events took an intriguing turn Friday at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival, when singer Sam Hunt, whose music incorporates elements of hip-hop along with his country foundation, was joined on stage by rappers Snoop Dogg and G-Eazy and singer Bebe Rexha. Surprise guests, of course, are not unusual at music festivals like Stagecoach. But this one was coordinated by one of the sponsoring beer companies. It was promoted as one of a series of "Bud Light Music'Stage Moments' " and described as part of Budweiser's "quest to bring the people of America together." While they were sharing the stage to sing Hunt's hit "House Party" -- which followed G-Eazy and Rexha's performance of "Me, Myself and I" and then Snoop joining the pair for "Next Episode" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" -- the performers hoisted bottles of beer and encouraged fans to take and post selfies doing the same.
A prodigious builder of musical bridges, Jennifer Koh is a violinist with a number of ongoing projects meant to connect people, disciplines and eras. To gain insight into a musician's mind, for instance, she recently allowed doctors at Duke University to scan her brain while she played Paganini. To help pay for her violin, she has found assistance from a who's who of 24 mostly American composers pleased to write short caprices for her. Director Robert Wilson, stunned by her playing and presence in his latest revival of "Einstein on the Beach," has begun formulating a theater piece with her about the life of Bach. "Bridge to Beethoven" is yet another Koh conduit.
Johann Sebastian Bach is widely considered one of the great composers of baroque music. Bach lived and worked in Germany during the 18th century and is revered for the beauty of his compositions and his technical mastery of harmony and counterpoint. One form of music that Bach excelled in was a type of polyphonic hymn known as a chorale cantata. These are based on Lutheran texts and sung by four voices. The composer starts with a well-known tune which is sung by the soprano and then composes three harmonies sung by the alto, tenor, and bass voices.