Top Picks: The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, AOL's New York City Ballet documentary, and more

Jazz musician Ben Allison tries something new with his genre on the album 'The Stars Look Very Different Today,' the children's book 'Songs from a Journey with a Parrot' has kids read and sing, and more top picks.

Courtesy of PMK•BNC
A New York City ballerina rehearses with a television camera looking on.
Johan Persson/ NCFathom
A scene from the London production of Noel Coward's 'Private Lives' is pictured.
The cover image of 'Songs from a Journey with a Parrot' is pictured.

Live from the West End

Noël Coward’s Private Lives will be aired from London’s West End to cinemagoers through NC Fathom Live on Dec. 11. The sold-out run stars Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor as glamorous divorcés Elyot and Amanda, who rekindle their love for one another while honeymooning with their new spouses. Audiences will be treated to an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience with cast and crew. Check for participating cinemas.

Peace concert

AXS TV will broadcast the Nobel Peace Prize Concert from Oslo Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. ET, the day after the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Actress Claire Danes will serve as the host of the concert featuring pop artists such as Mary J. Blige, James Blunt, and hip-hop duo Envy. The event honors this year’s Peace Prize winner, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

First violinist

Robert Mann has been a vital force in the world of music for more than 70 years. As founder and first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mann has brought adventure and discovery to the world of string quartets. In the documentary Speak the Music, which is rich with archival footage, Mann offers personal anecdotes, reveals the dark side of the creative process, and shares his inner passion for the music he feels. The film is now available on DVD.

Songs for children

Children’s publisher The Secret Mountain presents Songs from a Journey with a Parrot. A colorful book of rhymes and lullabies collected by Magdeleine Lerasle accompanies a CD featuring 30 songs from Brazil and Portugal. Sung in Portuguese (with the lyrics printed in English in the songbook), the songs blend samba, modinha, fandango, and bossa nova rhythms for an engaging and soothing cross-cultural experience that any child will enjoy. The book is illustrated by Aurélia Fronty; musical arrangements are by Paul Mindy.

Jazz make-over

Jazz bassist/composer Ben Allison set a goal for his new album: “I wanted to create a sound collage that mashes references from intersecting worlds.” On his 11th album, The Stars Look Very Different Today, Allison and his band of talented “sound travelers” take jazz apart and reassemble it in surprising, unconventional, and ultimately stunning ways. Jazz gets a much-needed kick in the pants in the album’s inventive grooves. “The Ballad of Joe Buck” features fleet-fingered Brandon Seabrook on ... wait, is that a banjo? Yes – and it works beautifully, like the rest of this inspired project.

Backstage at the Ballet

Get a glimpse of the New York City Ballet backstage through city.ballet, a new online series from AOL. The 12-part documentary show is narrated by executive producer and NYCB board member Sarah Jessica Parker. It includes interviews across the spectrum – from the NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins to apprentices trying to earn a place in the company – as well as footage of the company’s classes and shows. Check out the fascinating videos at

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Top Picks: The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, AOL's New York City Ballet documentary, and more
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today