The PBS Arts Fall Festival continues this month with a selection of programs drawn from various disciplines and traditions.
Behind the Music
Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music is an exhaustive survey of technological and creative innovations that redefined how music is made and experienced. The documentary series was the last project produced by George Martin, who died earlier this year. Using archival and new interviews, studio footage, and an extensive soundtrack, the series features artists, producers, and others from multiple genres and eras. Episodes include “The Recording Artist” (Monday, November 14), about the role of producers such as Martin, Sam Phillips, and Dr. Dre; and “The World is Yours” (Monday, November 21), which covers sampling and the rise of hip hop. Music videos, recording formats, and the human voice are the subjects of other episodes. Soundbreaking airs in eight one-hour episodes at 9 p.m. weeknights November 14 through 23.
Music City Roots Live from the Factory continues Friday nights at 7 p.m. with guests including The Doobie Brothers (November 11), Gretchen Peters (November 18), and the Jon Stickley Trio (November 25). ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival airs Thanksgiving evening, November 24, at 9 p.m. This special episode highlights the 2016 Americana Music Association Honors & Awards ceremony with performances by Bonnie Raitt, Dwight Yoakam, George Strait, Billy Bragg, and others.
Friday Night Arts
In 1958, Alvin Ailey gathered a group of young modern dancers for a performance at New York’s 92nd Street Y. Since that time, the company he founded has been among the leading modern dance ensembles and is deemed the premier African-American dance troupe in the world. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, premiering Friday, November 4, at 8 p.m., includes Chroma, a contemporary work by British choreographer Wayne McGregor set to original music by frequent dance composer Joby Talbot and orchestrations of songs by The White Stripes.
The Lincoln Center at the Movies special concludes with the company’s signature piece Revelations. First performed in 1960, Ailey’s masterpiece draws on African-American spirituals, gospel songs, and holy blues to convey themes from African-American history. Revelations is also known for the creative way dancers interact with undulating fabric used to suggest water and other aspects of place.
Just a year after the Alvin Ailey company’s debut performance, Gypsy opened on Broadway with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Inspired by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical features the stage mother to top them all. Jonathan Kent’s revival production stars Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter movies, Cranford) as Momma Rose, Lara Pulver (Sherlock) as Louise, and Peter Davison (Campion, All Creatures Great and Small) as Herbie. Staunton and Pulver received Olivier Awards for the London run of the show. Great Performances: Gypsy airs Friday, November 11, at 8 p.m.
Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs reveals another side of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery host. In the special airing Friday, November 18, at 8 p.m., the award-winning actor (The Good Wife) and Broadway personality performs the cabaret show he created for New York’s Café Carlyle in 2015. Cumming has now toured the show across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
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