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Transformations®

We enjoy music because it's a beautiful art form, but music also has the ability to touch, to transform, to heal, to build bridges, to sustain us. In this series, Performance Today focuses on those moments, large and small, when music transforms our lives.

Composing a String Quartet on the Reservation

Classical music is dominated by styles developed centuries ago in Europe, but that's rapidly changing. On Performance Today we'll meet Native American composers who are training students attending high school on the Navajo and Hopi Nations in the southwest to compose in their own style as part of the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP). The result is a mix of traditional melodies, lyrical musical descriptions of the land and percussive rhythms of heavy metal, all performed by a classical string quartet.
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Playing Incarcerated

Music can be made in some unusual places—on boats, in subway stations, even in the shower—but this place is special. Across the country, music programs for inmates are popping up in prisons and correctional centers, often supported entirely by volunteers. On PT, we'll go to the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center where a group of volunteers are teaching the women inmates how to hold a bow, how to play in an orchestra, and how to reconnect to their loved ones.
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Musical Diplomacy

Violinist William Harvey is well aware that he is the only American many of his music students have ever met. Harvey was a student at Juilliard in New York when the World Trade Center towers fell in 2001. Music, he decided, was not something to be appreciated from afar, but something that through active participation can help us to understand and appreciate other people and cultures. Today, Harvey is spending the year in Kabul, Afghanistan teaching kids to play stringed instruments, learning how to play Afghani instruments himself, and working to build a bridge between the two cultures.
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Harp that Heals and Comforts

The Reverie Harp is a light-weight, egg-shaped stringed box designed to be both a musical instrument and therapy tool. On Performance Today we examine the symbolism of a harp in life and death and the power music can have to ease suffering. Our series observes a music therapist as she helps a stroke patient use the harp to regain the use of her left arm and a hospice patient who uses the harp to find joy and solace in the time she has remaining.
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Music at the Checkpoint

When he was a boy Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian, was the subject of an iconic photograph, shown throwing a rock at an Israeli tank. Aburedwan's teenage years were marked by violence in Ramallah, but when he was 17 a neighbor gave him a viola that changed his life. Performance Today talks with Aburedwan about how music shielded him from the violence in the Middle East, and about Al Kamandjati, the program he has started to teach music to kids as an alternative to violence.
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Sphinx Performance Academy: minority musicians become major performers

The Sphinx Organization exists to encourage diversity in classical music. It aims to help Latino and African-American players, who are underrepresented in US orchestras, develop as musicians through its courses, competitions and outreach work. We visited the Sphinx Performance Academy in Chicago, a summer camp for young string players, to hear the stories of these minority musicians.
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Share your story

Tell us how music has impacted your life and read what other listeners have shared.