World War II

It's a Yankee Doodle Dandy edition of Opus this time! Gretchen will play the Symphony #3, the final symphony of Aaron Copland, composed during WWII. Also we'll double the dose on Copland with A Lincoln Portrait, narrated by the resonant bass of James Earl Jones. 

George Boykin is the guest on Opus today. George talks about growing up in Sioux City in a time of segregation and his time with the Sanford Community Center and the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors. He also talks about the struggle facing many musicians of color during the mid 20th century.

Lully Lullay

Dec 31, 2017
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Coventry, an English city of 250,00 in the West Midlands, was home to significant industrial power when World War II began, a line of industries Hitler wouldn’t and didn’t miss. When the Battle of Britain began, a specific Coventry blitz started immediately and didn’t end for three long months--198 tons of bombs killed 176 people and injured almost 700.

But the worst was to come. On November 14, 1940, 515 Nazi bombers unloaded on Coventry’s industrial region, leaving the city in ruins. Its own air defenses fired 67 hundred rounds, but brought down only one bomber. It was a rout.

James Schaap

We visited Stratford-upon-Avon, toured Shakespeare's house and watched the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Julius Caesar in the Royal Shakespearean Theater. I vaguely remember the grave of Jane Austin, but Piccadilly Circus is gone completely.

For reasons I can't explain, nothing in jolly old England left as hearty an impression as the bombed-out hulk of Coventry Cathedral. For a moment, the Battle of Britain was more than a grainy newsreel or a whole album of old black-and-whites.

Collateral Damage

May 29, 2017
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Karen Edelman Williams had never been here before, never seen unending fields of corn and soybeans amid the tawny prairie grass, never seen anything like the yawning openness all around. So when, sometime later, she wrote a letter to those people she’d met on a visit out here, she told them she’d never forget the place. “I will never forget the kindness of the people we met there,” she told them, “or the beauty of your Nebraska skies.”

Today, I’m recommending, the beautifully poetic and award-winning book, Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otuska.

It is the story of a generation of Japanese war brides who leave behind everything they’ve ever known in the hopes of finding a better life in America by marrying men who they’ve only seen in photos and heard from in a handful of letters, promising them good jobs, large houses, and plentiful bounty.

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There's very little to see now but row after row after row of foundations, a procession of rectangles angling down a long slope toward where there once stood a front gate. If you get there in June, the whole expanse will be awash in wildflowers, a bright yellow smiley face on a place you can’t help but grimace to remember.