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Playlist: Brian Bovenizer's Portfolio

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The Voice of the Casals Cello

From David Schulman | 59:00

Time machine? Try this cello: The stories swirling around Pablo Casals's instrument — now almost 300 years old — are full of time-warp coincidence, and breathtaking music. Casals evaded Fascist warplanes with this cello to record Dvorak's Cello Concerto. At the height of Camelot, Casals played the cello at the Kennedy White House. Vivid new interviews from the cellist's widow, Marta Casals Istomin, and the younger cellist playing the instrument today, Amit Peled.

Amit_5_small The stories that swirl around Pablo Casals's cello — now almost 300-years-old — ring with strange coincidence, doubletake cameos, and breathtaking music.

During the Spanish Civil War, Casals and his cello evaded Hitler's warplanes to record the Dvorak cello concerto. Today, the instrument is having a revival in the hands of Amit Peled — a cellist born 100 years after Casals.

Long before Pete Seeger or Bono, Pablo Casals used the power of music and celebrity to advocate for freedom and peace. In 1939, the Fascists won the Spanish Civil War. And for decades, Casals refused  to perform with his cello in any country that recognized  Generalissimo Francisco Franco's Fascist dictatorship. But in 1961, John F. Kennedy issued a request that made the 84-year-old Casals reconsider his decades-long vow.Casals' widow, 60 years younger than he, recounts tales of the historic White House concert as if it had happened yesterday.

Eighty-six at the time of that concert on Nov. 13, 1961, Casals played remarkably that evening. Yet his most compelling recordings came decades earlier, as he re-introduced the Bach Cello Suites to the world, and made a legendary early recording of the signature Dvorak Cello Concerto.

“The Voice of the Casals Cello” is a music-rich, evergreen special, with musical selections woven around personal storytelling. We hear vivid memories from Marta Casals Istomin (named a "living legend" by the Library of Congress for her work at The Kennedy Center and at the Manhattan School of Music) and from Amit Peled, who has his own remarkable connections to Casals. Interviewed in his studio at the Peabody Conservatory, Peled punctuates his storytelling with demonstrations played on the Casals Cello. And we hear selections from a special concert Peled gave at Peabody, which replicated a program Casals had given there exactly a century earlier.

This special is ideal for any station that airs classical music, or a hybrid of music and talk programming, and will work well as a holiday special.  In a season of political change, “The Voice of the Casals Cello” has deeper resonance, reconnecting us to a time of optimism once embodied by the Kennedy White House.

Produced and hosted by David Schulman, the Third Coast and PRX award-winning creator of NPR's long-running "Musicians in their own words" series and of 2015's "TALOA" series, distributed by the WFMT Radio Network.

JULIA CHILD Presents "Lunch with M.F.K. Fisher"

From Leet and Litwin | Part of the HUNGRY: The Literary Julia Child series | 28:23

A gift from the Julia Child Foundation. We hear Julia introducing her late friend, M.F.K. Fisher, who takes us out for a staggeringly gluttonous meal at a French roadside inn.


An unknown side of Julia Child is that she was a reader. The series, HUNGRY, will include delicious readings from stories by Charles Dickens, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, Cormack McCarthy, Edna O'Brien, and others. All the programs are, in Julia's words, "about eating, a little cooking, and most of all, people." In this program she introduces us to her late friend, MFK Fisher, describing her house in a meadow with cows poking their noses to the window -- and giving a wonderfully funny, spontaneous character sketch of the author's personality, including her "wicked" streak. The story you'll hear centers on a meal at a French roadside inn. It was written in 1937, recorded in 1985 -- the only recording ever made of MFK Fisher reading a story.  

Fugitive Waves (Series)

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters

Most recent piece in this series:


From The Kitchen Sisters | Part of the Fugitive Waves series | 32:00

Ks_fugitivewavessm_small Folklorist and Professor Bill Ferris, a Grammy nominee this year for his "Voices of Mississippi" 3 CD Box set, has committed his life to documenting and expanding the study of the American South. His recordings, photos and films of preachers, quilt makers, blues musicians and more are now online as part of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina. Bill Ferris grew up on a farm in Warren County, Mississippi along the Black River. His family, the only white family on the farm, worked side by side with the African Americans in the fields. When he was five, a woman named Mary Gordon would take him every first Sunday to Rose Hill Church, the small African American church on the farm. When Bill was a teenager he got a reel-to-reel tape recorder and started recording the hymns and services. “ I realized that the beautiful hymns were sung from memory—there were no hymnals in the church—and that when those families were no longer there, the hymns would simply disappear.” These recordings led Bill to a lifetime of documenting the world around him—preachers, workers, storytellers, men in prison, quilt makers, the blues musicians living near his home (including the soon-to-be well known Mississippi Fred McDowell). Bill became a prolific author, folklorist, filmmaker, professor, and served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a professor of history at UNC–Chapel Hill and an adjunct professor in the Curriculum in Folklore. He served as the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he was a faculty member for 18 years. He is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South. Bill’s has written and edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films, most dealing with African-American music and other folklore representing the Mississippi Delta. His thousands of photographs, films, audio interviews, and recordings of musicians are now online in the William R. Ferris Collection, part of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina. This story was produced by Barrett Golding with The Kitchen Sisters for The Keepers series.