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Today: Make Music Winter 2016

Mmw2015_logoAs New Yorkers finish up their shopping and start thinking about heading home for the holidays, they'll be surrounded by music all day today as part of the 6th annual Make Music Winter, marking the shortest day of the year. Featured artists performing throughout the five boroughs include members of Antibalas, singers Onome and Jascha Hoffman, all-women Brazilian drumline Fogo Azul, keyboardist Karl Larson, conductors Thomas McCargar and Malcolm Merriweather, composers Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Cameron Britt, Ravi Kittappa and P. Spadine, and others. 

The full schedule is available on the Make Music Winter website. Our recommended itinerary for the day is below.

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Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill with Cassandra Wilson at the Irish Arts Center

DSC03541Ireland's County Clare has long been the home of the Emerald Isle's most talented traditional musicians, where practically every pub in sight hosts seisúns until the wee hours of the morning. Count among them Martin Hayes, six-time All-Ireland fiddling champion and the driving force behind Irish-American band The Gloaming, who've played everywhere from Lincoln Center's White Light Festival to the Sydney Opera House

On Saturday, I caught the last night of Hayes' residency at the Irish Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen where, over the course of ten days, he collaborated with everyone from NYC string quartet Brooklyn Rider, to poet Paul Muldoon. Throughout, he was accompanied by Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, who plays in The Gloaming and has been Hayes' close musical partner for more than 20 years.

But, Hayes seemed to save the best for last, as he was joined Saturday night by jazz legend Cassandra Wilson. Surprisingly, Hayes said it took awhile for him to warm up to the idea.

"Someone said we should collaborate with Cassandra Wilson, and I wasn't so sure about it. Then, I heard her sing, and I said to myself: 'Oh, I think I might like that after all."

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Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Bob Dylan Nobel Prize
O'Neill. Faulkner. Hemingway. Dylan.

Ending years of what many felt was nothing more than wild speculation, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this morning to Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan is the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993. More importantly - especially for music lovers - he is the first-ever musician to win the award, given annually in recognition of "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

When asked if Dylan truly deserved the award, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, had this to say:

"Of course he deserves it! He is a great poet in the grand English poetic tradition. He's been at it for 54 years now, reinventing himself constantly...If you look back 2,500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho, who wrote poetic texts that were meant to be performed, often together with instruments. It is the same way with Bob Dylan. He can be read, and he should be read. The times are-a-changing, perhaps."

When asked if there were particular examples of Dylan's work which swayed the jury, Danius cited Blonde on Blonde (1966) as "an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and putting together refrains, and his pictorial thinking." 

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Pathway to Paris Benefit for Climate Change at City Winery

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"If we don't act boldly (with regards to climate change), the bill that could come due will be mass migrations. And cities submerged. And nations displaced... The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition, and there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force...Only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair." - President Barack Obama, Address to the U.N. General Assembly, 9/20/16

Donald Trump can call it a hoax all he wants: climate change is real. I saw it with my own eyes earlier this month in Alaska, where the glaciers have retreated with alarming speed, some reduced to little more than dirty snowballs. Fortunately, world leaders have decided to do something about it, meeting last year in Paris to draft the first comprehensive, worldwide agreement to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases beginning in 2020. With ratification by the U.S. and China earlier this month, and India's announcement over the weekend that they will ratify it this week, the agreement is tantalizingly close to the 55% threshold required for it to take effect. 

But, with Trump vowing to pull out of Paris if he is elected president, the agreement's fate is still far from certain. So, on the eve of last week's U.N. General AssemblyJesse Paris Smith (daughter of Patti Smith) and Rebecca Foon assembled an all-star lineup of musicians and activists at City Winery through their watchdog organization Pathway to Paris. Performers included folksters Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche, the ecstatic thrash of Xylouris/White, and the remarkable Tibetan vocalist Techung.

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