A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.
Just one day after rocking out in front of thousands of fans at Webster Hall for MTV's Artist to Watch LIVE concert, Hunter Hayes is heading right back to the stage for the O Music Awards — this time as a presenter.
"It's going to be fun," Hayes told MTV News backstage at Tuesday night's show. The singer is an OMAs veteran, having performed at last year's show for an early-morning set. "We got to do some stuff last year with the 24-hour thing like at 5 in the morning, so it's going to be a little easier on this one, but I love that whole thing, it's so different."
So what advice does Hayes have for those performers slotted in the wee hours? "Coffee, I don't know how I can help, just don't sleep," Hayes said.
"It's the best kind of award in my opinion because it's all fan-voted," Justin Davis of Striking Matches told MTV News. "We got our fans busy and they got to show their support, and so playing there is going to be really cool."
Bandmate Sarah Zimmermann added, "I think we are the only country band out of the five nominated, so it's cool to represent country music in that way."
Striking Matches, along with fellow nominees Chill Moody, Darling Parade, The So So Glos and Syd Arthur, will all be performing during the live show. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite artist, with the winning act getting the opportunity for a coveted spot as a performer during VMA weekend in August.
Since the announcement Wednesday afternoon of , the entertainment industry has started reflecting on his influence on acting throughout his vast and eclectic career.
Gandolfini won three Emmys for his role as Tony Soprano on the acclaimed HBO series, which ran for six seasons, from 1999 to 2007. But his influence reached far beyond the mob, through his more recent roles in "Zero Dark Thirty," "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Welcome to the Rileys."
While she had yet to make a public statement on his death at press time, Gandolfini's "Welcome to the Rileys" co-star Kristen Stewart spoke to MTV News in 2010 about working with an actor of his caliber.
Gandolfini was well-known for playing characters that are intimidating, which suggests he was himself an imposing presence on set. But Stewart insisted that sharing the screen with him offered her much more reassurance than insecurity.
"It's actually really oddly comforting," she told MTV News' Josh Horowitz. "Like, if you're working with someone who's an unknown, it's always like, 'Oh, I hope they're [OK].' But going into a movie with James and Melissa [Leo], the nerves come from 'I hope I'm going to be OK' rather than 'I hope they're not going to let me down'."
And he didn't seem to let her down one bit. In the film, Stewart plays an underage stripper who allows Gandolfini's character, a grieving father, to stay with her, only to find herself becoming part of an unconventional family after his estranged wife shows up as well. Stewart said that his contributions were essential to her being able to play the role as effectively as possible.
"You can't do it alone," she observed. "So yeah, it was intimidating, but at the same time, like it always is with actors like that, it really pushes you hard."
The Jonas Brothers kicked off the O Music Awards on Wednesday night (June 19), with a special unplugged set for fans watching live at home — and in the audience. Screaming fans welcomed the trio to the Times Square stage for their three-song set, which sparked the start of the MTV, VH1, CMT and LOGO-hosted "Live Music Day." That is 24 consecutive hours of great music from 50 great bands.
The Jonases sprinkled their show with an oldie-but-goodie and shared their excitement for the trio's upcoming summer tour. Their position on the lineup was a "huge honor," Kevin told MTV News just hours before they took the stage playing "Pom Poms" as their opener. The single sounded even more bluesy as Kevin and Nick slowed it down on acoustic guitars.
And although their next single, "First Time," isn't out officially until June 25, their loyal fans sang along to every word and got especially loud during the "ohh" part of the tune. That could help explain why "Team Jonas" is nominated in the O Music Awards' Best Fan Army category. "Our fans are the best," Nick, the youngest JoBro, said between songs. The brothers also shared they were "happy to be here at this amazing award show" and to be nominated.
Middle brother Joe, rocking his short new haircut, got fans even more excited when he mentioned the tour. "It's about freakin' time. We can't wait," he said. Rehearsals begin in three to four weeks, and Joe jokingly said he would let everyone know the location so they could come hang out.
The Best Instagram Artist winner then went on to make a special dedication to someone in the room — though it wasn't who you might have guessed. It turns out "Lovebug," off their third studio album, A Little Bit Longer, was dedicated to Pearl ... a goat. Still, during the final moments of the song, fans seemed to have butterflies as they giggled and clapped for the brothers.
Stay tuned for another brother/band trio, Hanson, who are set to perform at the O Music Awards tonight. Who knows, the Jonas Brothers may even cross paths with the Hanson brothers! Kevin told MTV News earlier,"I have not personally met all three of them. I would love to take a picture with the three of us and the three of them finally. We've never been able to do that. I think it'd be cool."
James Gandolfini, the beloved actor made famous for his role as Tony Soprano on "The Sopranos," died in Italy on Wednesday (June 19), according to reports.
Deadline is reporting that the actor suffered a massive heart attack earlier today. He was 51.
Gandolfini's breakthrough came in Tony Scott's 1991 film True Romance", where his portrayal of a ruthless hit man won him initial recognition. Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the New Jersey mob boss on the acclaimed HBO series, which ran for six seasons, from 1999 to 2007.
Gandolfini's influence was felt far beyond television and into the world of music. Tony Soprano was forever immortalized on Jay-Z's verse on Beyonce's 2003 smash "Crazy In Love": "Stick bony, but the pockets is fat like Tony Soprano."
Apart from his iconic mob boss role, New Jersey-born Gandolfini recently appeared in as the director of the C.I.A., lent his voice to "Where the Wild Things Are" and also appeared in
According to TMZ, the actor was in Italy for the Taormina Film Festival, where he was supposed to participate in an even with director Gabriele Muccino.
The actor is survived by his wife, former model Deborah Lin as well as a son with ex-wife Marcy Wudarski.
Sixteen tracks weren't enough for J. Cole to share all of the music he's been recording over the past couple years, so his June 18 sophomore album Born Sinner includes noteworthy bonus cuts like with 50 Cent. During his visit to "RapFix Live" on Wednesday (June 19), the Roc Nation rapper relived his memorable studio session with Fif.
"That was incredible. The features on this album... a lot of them I was blessed [with]," Cole said, adding that there were no e-mail exchanges involved. "We're in the day and age where you just send it away and it comes back but I actually recorded with TLC and [50 Cent].
"He just happened to be L.A. and I had that song," Cole explained. "I'd stolen 50 Cent melodies and was humming it on the hook like, 'Man, if 50 do this hook, it'll be so amazing.' And he came through the studio in L.A., so it was crazy."
Cole has cemented himself as a talented producer with his work on Born Sinner, Cole World: The Sideline Story and his acclaimed mixtapes, and even 50 recognized that he was on top of his game. "I played him the joint, and when the hook came on, he was like, 'I could tell you was thinking about me when you did the melodies,' so he just sat and filled in the words. I got to literally watch 50 Cent sit there and write. It was wild."
Besides the music that comes out of a studio session with a successful and accomplished artist, there are also the lessons that a young rapper can hold onto forever. In this case, Cole learned that it was necessary to push for perfection, no matter whom he's working with.
"When I'm in the studio with people, especially with people like TLC and 50, I don't wanna overstep boundaries," he said, explaining that he was nervous to give critical suggestions to Fif. "I'm still humble and just lucky to be here so when he was recording, there were creative things I wanted to suggest or say, 'maybe you can get that one better'— and he was asking me how I feel, but he could tell I was hesitant."
"And he's like, 'No, this is your joint, you have to get it right. You've gotta tell me.' He was very adamant. I'll never forget that. Like it don't matter who you're in the studio with — this is your product. I thought that was ill that he could sense I was tryna be respectful and was just like, 'nah we gon get it right.'
Foregoing the requisite "galaxy far, far away" jokes, it appears that J.J. Abrams may have begun casting Schmoesknow.com reprinted text from a casting website announcing the availability of roles in a film directed by Abrams, and offered descriptions of seven characters who are set to appear in it.
Details are scarce about the plot of the film, which was written by Michael Arndt ("Oblivion," "Catching Fire"). But the first character is described as "a young man aged between 20 and 25, witty and smart, fit but not classically handsome." Interestingly, that seems to resemble the physical description of Luke Skywalker but the personality of Han Solo, but that seems like an unlikely genetic combination. That is, unless the fella is Han and Leia's son, who perhaps resembles his uncle but retains the scrappy charm of his father.
A second male character is described as a "man in late twenties, also fit, but this one is handsome and confident." While this description suits Han Solo to a tee, an interesting characterization for this role would be an Anakin Skywalker type. Already self-possessed and confident, he could either have his sense of security shaken, or find himself going down a path where confidence leads to, well, the Dark Side, as has been thoroughly documented in "Star Wars" films several times.
The first female character listed is described as "late teenage" with a "great sense of humor, also physically fit." Sadly, there were few female characters in either trilogy that possess all of these qualities — as strong and interesting as Leia and Padme were, they weren't known for their jokes. But even though Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's padawan in "Clone Wars," was more brash and reckless than especially funny, she might fit the bill if one were looking for a character to compare to this "Episode VII" role.
A second young female, described as "also late teens, tough, smart and physically fit," could easily be cut from the Leia/ Padme mold. As mentioned above, both of those characters are serious-minded — except when it comes to their love interests — but they both come up under privileged but challenging circumstances and are forced into leadership positions at an early age, which would produce some interesting chemistry if they were paired (or pitted against) the aforementioned male characters.
Three more male characters are listed, one "in his forties, obviously physically fit" and "a military type;" another "around thirty" who's described as "an intellectual type;" and lastly, a "guy aged around seventy, strong opinions and tough." Given the scruffy nature of the Rebel Alliance and its penchant for promoting folks like Han Solo and Lando Calrissian into leadership roles, it stands to reason that the new film could find an age-appropriate proxy for those characters, or even Ewan McGregor's interpretation of Obi Wan Kenobi. Admittedly, none of these characters are rigid disciplinary types, but their acumen in battle could serve the film's action set pieces well. Conversely, this character could be an adversary for the heroes, especially since militaristic characters have long been a staple of the "Star Wars" series' hive of scum and villainy.
The thirty-ish intellectual sounds a whole lot like C-3PO, although by all accounts Threepio and Artoo will appear in the film since they're the only canon characters who are rumored to appear in every one of the films. Whether this means the actor cast will play the role underneath Goldenrod's armor, a newer version of him, or if it's absolutely necessary, a different character with the smarts to balance out his companion's brawn, would be a welcome addition to the ensemble's chemistry.
And "a guy aged around seventy, strong opinions and tough"? Well, if that ain't Han Solo, we don't know what is. Harrison Ford could walk onto set and possess all of the qualifications that role requires. Then again, someone like Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson, each of whom is just outside that age range (in obviously different ways) could provide a wonderful counterpoint to the rest of the cast, not the least of which because if there's one thing a literal universe of different characters and species needs, it's multiple races, ethnicities and faces.
Of course, all of this is just speculation; George Lucas hasn't yet consulted us on what his plans are for the franchise. But you'll be the first to know after he calls us!
Check out everything we've got on "Star Wars: Episode VII."
Ever wanted an awards show 24-hour drumming marathon, performances from your favorite artists and the wackiest awards? Look no further; the O Music Awards are HERE!
Watch the live stream at OMusicAwards.com for 24 hours, or if you can't stay awake, just check in when you can. It starts at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday (June 19) and featuring performances from Hanson, the Jonas Brothers, Kat Dahlia and Kate Nash, who will all join in for the first-ever "Live Music Day" festival. Grouplove will be there, and K Michelle and Ashley Monroe and the So So Glos and Langhorne Slim and Matt Nathanson... you get it... the list goes on. After all, there's 50 bands participating.
With the JoBros set to kick things off, we caught up with the band mere hours before show time. "We're really excited to be able to perform at the OMAs," Kevin said. "Twenty-hour hours of live music is really incredible and to kick it off is a huge honor and we're just happy to be a part of it. I think we're just gonna be playing some new songs as well, so if you haven't been able to come to one of the shows ... [you'll see us perform] 'First Time,' our new single and a couple others [but] we'll be playing that one, so make sure to tune in to watch."
Asked whether they had met Hanson, fellow performers and a boy band trio they've often been compared to, Kevin revealed, "We have not. I have not personally met all three of them. I would love to take a picture with the three of us and the three of them finally. We've never been able to do that. I think it'd be cool. And they've just created MMMHops," he added of the group's new beer. "I want to taste it. Hopefully, they'll have a case. On hearing that, younger brother Nick, deadpanned, they'll have a case."
Throughout the show, some famous celebs, like Hunter Hayes, will be presenting awards like Best Artist Instagram, Favorite Musical Cat, Best Interactive Video, Too Much Ass for TV (see all the nominees in their categories on the site).
And to top everything off, Andrew W.K. will try to drum up a new world record, even if it is for Longest Drum Session in the Retail Store.
"Despite my apparent confidence, inside I am actually a very small, trembling shell of a person, who is not only intimidated, but completely mortified and horrified by the ramifications of this challenge," he said. "When I signed up for it, I was like 'Alright, 24 hours of drumming!' and then it started to set in: 24 hours of drumming. Just drumming for an hour — just drumming for 24 seconds — can be quite intense ... I can't even play one of my own songs on the drums all the way through without my arms burning.
"So let it be said, I'm not taking this lightly," he continued. "I think it will push me to the very lengths of my strengths."
The trade in religious relics has ebbed substantially since the Middle Ages, when wealthy collectors and ambitious clerics vied for possession of a saint’s femur or a splinter of the Holy Cross. But on feast days, relics are still paraded through towns across Europe.
In today’s market, St. John the Baptist has made way for St. John (Lennon) the Beatle, whose piano — the one he wrote “Imagine” on — was auctioned off for more than $2 million in 2000. The relics of classical music are no less venerated.
On Wednesday night a pair of strings that once belonged to Paganini were to go under the online hammer at the New Hampshire-based RR Autograph Auctions, where they were expected to fetch upward of $20,000. The coiled strings are stitched to a small piece of paper that reads in Italian, “He who keeps these will forever be in the memory of Niccolò Paganini,” evidence of the feverish fan cult that surrounded the greatest violin virtuoso of his day. The paper is dated May 1830 and marked Elberfeld, a town now incorporated into Wuppertal, Germany.
Paganini’s strings were the subject of intense fascination. Morbid rumors surrounded the origin of the gut they were made out of. Could it be that they came from a lover he had murdered and whose soul was now enslaved by the sound of his violin? His strings also had a curious habit of snapping in the middle of a performance, forcing Paganini to continue playing on ever fewer strings, with ever more virtuosic fingerings. This was, in fact, the result of deliberate weakening of the strings beforehand in order to create shock and awe.
There was a processional element — and a good deal of unadulterated worship — in last week’s visit to New York City of another musical relic: Mozart’s violin. As in religious matters, a little faith is required to link the instrument to Mozart. It was certainly in the possession of his sister Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, at her death in 1810 and resembles descriptions of an instrument Mozart left behind in Salzburg when he moved to Vienna in 1780.
On its first North American tour last week, the instrument was accompanied by solemn guardians from the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, which has possessed the violin since 1956 and allows select musicians to play it with some frequency. The violin, a yellow-varnished, ample-hipped instrument most likely from the Klotz violin-making workshop of southern Germany, has already traveled to China and Japan.
At the Boston Early Music Festival last week it was placed in the hands of the violinist Daniel Stepner, who, together with Anne Black on Mozart’s viola, played duets by the composer. On Friday the procession continued to New York City, where the violinist and composer David Fulmer played it at the Austrian Cultural Forum.
In preperformance remarks, Mr. Fulmer expressed reverence for the instrument. “It’s not just a piece of wood,” he said. “It’s Mozart’s vocal cords. This was as important to Mozart as was his quill and ink.”
But when Mr. Fulmer played Mozart’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in C Major (K. 296), accompanied by the pianist Steven Beck, the only sonic interest lay in the instrument’s G string, which possesses a fully developed personality while the higher strings produce a pale and sandy sound.
The fascination of Mozart’s violin, then, remains in the object itself. It doesn’t fully translate into sound — unlike the glorious “Lipinski” Stradivarius violin, for instance, which passed through the hands and lives of a number of composers beginning with Giuseppe Tartini, and whose fascinating journey is chronicled on a gorgeous recent CD, “A Violin’s Life,” with performances by Frank Almond.
But the Mozarteum Foundation, egged on by the new-music enthusiast Andreas Stadler, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, went beyond veneration when it invited Mr. Fulmer to also play two contemporary works on Mozart’s violin.
In the cadenza from Mr. Fulmer’s own “Jauchzende Bögen” (2013) he used almost exclusively modern techniques, including harmonics played close to the bridge, where they took on an electronic shimmer. The violin has a shorter fingerboard than modern violins, so many of the highest notes required Mr. Fulmer to venture into the no man’s land between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard. For Matthias Pintscher’s ethereal “Study III for Treatise on the Veil” (2007) Mr. Fulmer attached metal paper clips to two of the strings and an ordinary mute as well as a hollow practice mute on top of the bridge.
No doubt for some, the sight of Mozart’s violin tricked out in 21st-century gadgetry is sacrilegious. But unlike a femur, an instrument wants to be played.
Bob Levey, Getty Images
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With her bright, alluring sliver of a voice — a darting musical tongue of flame — Stacey Kent has few of the traits commonly associated with jazz singing. Yet with her lightly swinging delivery, curt phrasing and attraction to Brazilian bossa nova, she is a jazz singer in the iconoclastic mode of the much-missed Blossom Dearie, whom some critics wrongly dismissed as more cabaret than jazz.
Instead of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, the spirits who guide Ms. Kent belong to the Brazilians, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and João and Astrud Gilberto. Dreaminess trumps realism. Ms. Kent and her husband, the saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, suggest a latter-day answer to Ms. Gilberto and Stan Getz, whose early recordings remain the foundation of what they do. And on Tuesday evening at Birdland, where Ms. Kent and Mr. Tomlinson arrived for their annual New York City appearance, the opening set was sprinkled with Jobim songs, animated as much by Mr. Tomlinson’s intensely smoky solos as by Ms. Kent’s girlish chirp.
But there is more. In recent years the novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes fanciful, mildly surreal lyrics to Mr. Tomlinson’s music, has given Ms. Kent a quasi-literary identity. The portrait evoked by their collaborations is that of a reflective free spirit and latter-day romantic cautiously following her exploratory instincts. Although Ms. Kent has an introspective side, you could never describe her sensibility as tragic or even deeply sad. She projects an innate buoyancy.
Ms. Kent’s other defining characteristic is her pan-European musical outlook. She grew up in New Jersey, but she and her husband are based in England and have built up large followings in France and Germany. In her 2010 album, “Raconte-Moi,” Ms. Kent sings in fluent French.
It all made for a heady mixture in a show that was a kind of retrospective, the high points being the Sammy Cahn-Benny Carter standard “Only Trust Your Heart,” and a Tomlinson-Ishiguro collaboration, “The Changing Lights,” a song that defines Ms. Kent and Mr. Tomlinson as sophisticated, cosmopolitan jazz impressionists.