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Playlist: David Schulman's Favorites

Compiled By: David Schulman

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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.

George Clinton, AKA Dr. Funkenstein, in his own words

From David Schulman | Part of the Musicians in their own words series | 04:59

If James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, George Clinton remains the undisputed Crown Prince of Funk.

Parliament-Funkadelic. Flashlight. The Mothership. Atomic Dog. Dr. Funkenstein. Here's George Clinton, in his own words (and yes, the tape does run backwards sometimes)...

100_3461 If James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, George Clinton is the Crown Prince
of Funk. 

He's still going strong as the bandleader and ringleader of Parliament and Funkadelic. Their shows in the '70s featured giagantic puppets, a guy in a diaper, and the awesome  Mothership. Certain insiders even credit the man with the invention of cloning.

As Dr. Funken — er, Clinton likes to say, "Funk is the DNA for rap." Party tunes like "Atomic Dog"  and "Flashlight" have been sampled over and over, and over, and over.

This is how George Clinton tells his story in his own
words. We'll let the man start with his job description ...

Cyro Baptista: in his own words

From David Schulman | Part of the Musicians in their own words series | 07:06

Cyro Baptista in his percussion garage ...

Cyrobtdcoverele_small Beyond-Brazilian musician Cyro Baptista is fluent in the musical languages of samba, cabela, and yoyoma. Also, squirrel. He proves it in this piece, and demonstrates how he narrowly averted disaster during a recording session with the fearsome-to-some-people soprano Kathleen Battle. Cyro's secret weapon? A vacuum cleaner hose. Originally included in "Keepers of the Groove," a Musicians in their own words special distributed in 2007 by PRI.

Musicians in their own words (Series)

Produced by David Schulman

Most recent piece in this series:

Chris Foreman at the Green Mill

From David Schulman | Part of the Musicians in their own words series | 04:21

Img_2094_small Chris Foreman plays every Sunday in Church. And every Friday, he's at Chicago's legendary Green Mill — playing the funky Hammond B3 organ in a nightspot that used to be a favorite of Al Capone.