School lunch is often synonymous with loud noise. Studies have shown the decibel level in some cafeterias is as high as a lawn mower.
Every so often, though, students at Alice Terry Elementary School, southwest of Denver, are asked not to make any noise.
When the music teacher told students here they'd occasionally have a "silent" lunch break, this was kindergartner Alyssa Norquette's reaction: "Why do we need a silent lunch? Is it because we're too loud or something?"
Thao Nguyen, of the folk-rock group Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, has been on a musical journey since she started performing in her teens in Northern Virginia. Delicate yet fierce in her vocal delivery, she writes often about her social concerns — and it was a trip to a California women's prison that inspired much of her latest album, We the Common.
Ngyuen and her band are on the road for the first time in several years; she spoke with NPR's Jacki Lyden from a tour stop in Kansas City.
By the time John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997, he had written and sung a remarkable assortment of cherished music: "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and many more. He was often mocked by edgier musicians for being a kind of musically soft, spongy Wonderbread of a singer-songwriter. But his songs have endured — and influenced more than one generation.
Richard Wagner was, and still is today, arguably the most controversial figure in classical music. A self-appointed deity and hyperdriven genius, Wagner is often considered the ultimate megalomaniac. He dreamed up and achieved a single-minded plan to change the course of classical music history.