Twenty-five years ago today, Houston Grand Opera mounted the world premiere of Nixon in China, the first opera by a young composer named John Adams. Two days later, The New York Times described it as a "coy and insubstantial work" and "hardly a strong candidate for the standard repertory."
The Tibetan Labrang Monastery in Gansu, northwestern China, is normally a place of tranquility. Now, it is also known for tragedy. Early this morning, a Tibetan farmer known as Dhondup headed to Labrang to perform the Buddhist ritual of walking around the monastery in prayer. Near the prayer hall inside the gold-roofed monastery, Dhondup lit himself ablaze in protest of Chinese rule in Tibet.
Bringing blues music to the Top 40 isn't easy: Only a handful of musicians have done it in the 30 years Robert Cray has spent winning awards, selling millions of records and otherwise kicking around on the national stage. But Cray has, crossing over from blues-club stages to arenas with the double-platinum 1986 album Strong Persuader and its single "Smoking Gun," and has continued to stick around as one of the most reliably gifted and accessible guitarists around.