Ned Wharton

Christine Goerke is focused on endurance. The dramatic soprano is tackling one of the most challenging roles in opera: singing Brünnhilde, the Valkyrie maiden warrior, in Richard Wagner's epic, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Otherwise known as the Ring cycle, the 16-hour saga spans four operas and tells the story of gods, monsters, humans and an insatiable urge to own an all-powerful golden ring.

The musical leg of SXSW 2019 has taken over Austin, Texas, once again and Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras has been standing amidst the food stands, venues and musical equipment cases to check out all the best Latin talent making noise.

"South by Southwest is becoming more important for Latin music every year," Contreras says. "More and more bands from Latin America, Spain and the U.S are coming here. I've been coming for 10 years and I used to be able to see most of the bands I needed. Now, its impossible."

Pianist Jeremy Denk's latest album is a musical odyssey. Starting with the austere tones of medieval composer Guillaume de Machaut, Denk travels in time across the keyboard all the way to the 20th Century landing on the atonality of Karlheinz Stockhausen and the minimalism of Philip Glass.

Named after the beloved Professor Longhair song, Tipitina's is a famous club that the New Orleans band Galactic has frequented for over 25 years. Now, the longstanding funk band out with its 10th album, Already Ready Already, owns the place.

Back in 1967, Bobbie Gentry sang a haunting ode to young love and sad endings in the deep South called "Ode to Billie Joe." That song, about a mysterious occurrence on the Tallahatchie Bridge, was the No. 1 song in America for several weeks. A year later, Gentry released a country-rock opera, The Delta Sweete. It hardly sold at all — but has since become a favorite of collectors and musicians.

Rosanne Cash has been performing since she was 18. She had her first No. 1 country hit in her mid-20s, and in the decades since, has created a rich Americana catalog that explores love, loss, family, and place.

Her latest album, She Remembers Everything, is a collection of personal songs all written or co-written by Cash. She spoke about it with NPR's Debbie Elliott; hear the radio version at the audio link, and read on for an edited transcript.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The daylight is dwindling away. The solstice arrives on Friday. So let's listen to some warming songs from Eastern Europe that celebrate the season upon us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMCI KOLEDARCI")

KITKA WOMEN'S VOCAL ENSEMBLE: (Singing in Bulgarian).

Since the late 1960s, NPR's Ned Wharton's brother Geoffry Wharton has worked as a professional violinist in Europe. Wharton often played jazzy pieces by a rather obscure composer named Audrey Call as encores. Maybe to Europeans it was the exotic sound of jazz being played at classical concerts that won their hearts, but Call's "Witch of Harlem" became a hit within Wharton's performances.

Over two decades ago in 1997, when violinist Hilary Hahn was 17, she made a celebrated recording debut, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. That year, Hahn told NPR about her enthusiasm for Bach's music.

"There's nothing I really wanted to record more than Bach," Hahn said. "I can work on it for a long time and keep discovering more things that surprise me every time."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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