Numbers are down at the American International School in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
In just over a year, the country has witnessed a rebellion, a military coup and the occupation by Islamist fighters of the desert northern region, recently largely liberated in a counteroffensive by French-led forces. Despite the troubles, the school is open and classes continue.
Teacher Paul Chandler is taking his combined class of 6th- and 7th-graders through their early paces, learning the Malian music they'll be performing at the annual school concert.
How do you write something like Partita for 8 Voices, the a cappella vocal piece that is this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music?
"Very late at night," says the composer, Caroline Shaw, speaking with NPR's Scott Simon. "Sometimes it comes from having a sound in your head that you really want to hear, that you've never heard before, and struggling to make that sound happen in any way you can."
When Superstorm Sandy hit New York City last fall, the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, like most everything else, totally shut down. It was a week before power returned to FSG, according to Brian Gittis, a senior publicist. When he got back to his office, he began sorting through galleys — advance copies of books. And one of them caught him off guard.
Its cover had an illustration of the Manhattan skyline half-submerged in water.
"It was definitely sort of a Twilight Zone moment," Gittis recalls.