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Big risks and adventurous friends: How composer Julia Wolfe became a renegade

September 15, 2022
NPR Music
Editors’ Picks

Sometimes, all you need is a little push. In the fall of 1976, when Julia Wolfe arrived at the University of Michigan from Pennsylvania, she was just 17 and viewed herself as a “wild teenager” with her sights on social sciences and politics. Activism was a possible path. Music wasn’t on her radar.

But one day, a friend coaxed Wolfe into taking a peculiar music class, taught by a forward-thinking Quaker who didn’t care how much you knew about composing…

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Steel Hammer film premiere at Cal Performances at Home (streaming)

Cal Performances at Home premieres Steel Hammer, a new film featuring the acclaimed oratorio by Julia Wolfe. Film will be available on demand through August 4.

Described by The Boston Globe as “[an] epic explosion and reconstruction of the folk ballad,” Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer is a meditation on over 200 versions of the John Henry legend, with voices and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, along with mountain dulcimer, wooden bones, banjo, harmonicas, clogging, and body percussion…

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