NPR National News

Metric In A Non-Synthetic Situation

Jun 20, 2012

In a matter of minutes, Metric singer Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw went from rocking in front of thousands of fans on the main stage of the Sasquatch Music Festival to hiking through a rumored thicket of rattlesnakes overlooking the Columbia River. The duo gamely made the trek for an acoustic performance of "Synthetica," the title track from Metric's new record.

The four-man vocal ensemble New York Polyphony sings ancient music built for big resonant spaces. Since they can't just pop into St. Patrick's Cathedral any time they need to practice a renaissance mass, the group rehearses sometimes in the Jackson Heights home of bass singer Craig Phillips. There, in a modest-sized living room, they can hear every detail. "It's a very different experience rehearsing in a dry room and a small room," says tenor Geoffrey Silver. "You actually hear what you and your colleagues are singing, there's no watercolor wash over what you are doing."

It's tough to concentrate on the rigors of Beethoven with jackhammers pounding in your ears. So when they started demolishing the building next to Jonathan Biss, he moved his piano out of his apartment into a separate studio, away from the commotion. "I would get up in the morning, the piano wasn't there, and I had to leave my apartment to go practice and I've decided that's a much more productive way of working," he says. Biss needs a good working environment for his massive project.

Jeremy Denk has his own personal "piano boot camp." Actually, it's his cramped Manhattan apartment. Beside his beloved books, a trusty coffee pot and a laptop, there's not much to do except practice. Which Denk does, hours and hours a day on a Steinway wedged into his living room. On a good day, he brews pot of coffee number one at about 11, then plays for about five hours. Perhaps a run to the gym, then pot number two is brewed at about 6, followed by more playing — until the neighbors complain.

Intern Net: Meet MacKenzie

Jun 19, 2012

As I come to the end of my first two weeks here, I thought it was about time to introduce myself, so you can know me as more than just the unpronounceable name Peter says at the end of the show.

Hi. My name is Mackenzie. I am a recent grad trying to put off doing something real with my life for as long as possible. Which is probably how I got to be the intern for "Wait, Wait."

Alaska Natives are twice as likely to get colon cancer and die from it as the white population in the United States. When Mayo Clinic doctor David Ahlquist took a trip to Bethel, Alaska, in the mid-1990s, that startling statistic caught his attention.

"Here they had one of the world's highest rates of colon cancer and one of the world's poorest outcomes in terms of survival from cancer, because of late diagnosis," Ahlquist says.

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. That includes struggling with their respective legislatures. Earlier, NPR's David Welna explored Romney's time as governor of Massachusetts. In this installment of "Parallel Lives," a look at Obama and Congress.

Guest DJ Patti Smith

Jun 19, 2012

On this edition of All Songs Considered, poet and singer Patti Smith joins host Bob Boilen to talk about her musical passions, including doing fancy dance steps with her siblings in South Jersey. She talks about meeting Jimi Hendrix as a young journalist and later recording in his dream studio Electric Lady Studios, where she and her band made their latest album, Banga.

Pages