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 http://www.fathomevents.com 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 www.cityballet.com.

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