Journalist partners with band for unique interactive performance |

Journalist partners with band for unique interactive performance

Know & Go

WHO: The Center for the Arts presents

WHAT: Ensemble Galilei – Winter Solstice with Neal Conan

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley, CA 95945

TICKETS: $35 members, $40 non-member. The Center Box Office - 530-274-8384 ext 14, BriarPatch Co-op Community Market - 530-272-5333. Tickets online at


Neal Conan, the musical-voiced journalist who hosted National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” show for 11 years, will narrate the multimedia performance of the original chamber group, Ensemble Galilei, Saturday at The Center for the Arts.

A Winter Solstice with Neal Conan features text from Ogden Nash, Li Young Lee, Mary Oliver and Jim Harrison. Hailed for its unique blend of Irish, Scottish, early and original music, Ensemble Galilei creates an inspired sound using a variety of ancient and modern instruments, including the Celtic harp, Scottish small pipes, gamba, fiddle, recorders, whistles and percussion.

With no discernible musical skill, Conan has managed to achieve a lifelong ambition to perform on stage with a band.

He first read poetry and stories to the music of Ensemble Galilei in 2000 and worked with the group to put together both “A Universe of Dreams,” which debuted in 2004, and “First Person: Stories from the Edge of the World,” which had its premiere at the National Geographic Society in 2007. He tours with both programs.

“A Universe of Dreams” features images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and “First Person: Seeing America” features selected images from the photography collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Conan was the final host of “Talk of the Nation,” which broadcast its final show on June 27, 2013. He brought decades of news and radio experience to the program, which reached over 3.5 million listeners per week on more than 400 NPR member stations. A familiar voice, Conan joined NPR in 1977, and worked as a reporter based in New York, Washington and London.

He served as NPR’s Bureau Chief in both New York and London and anchored live coverage of many live events, including national political conventions, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees and a presidential impeachment.

On the other side of the microphone, Conan has also served as editor, producer and executive producer of NPR’s flagship evening newsmagazine, “All Things Considered” and, at various times, acted as NPR’s foreign editor, managing editor, and news director.

Conan’s awards include a Major Armstrong award for his coverage of the Iran-Iraq War, a prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award as part of NPR’s coverage of the Gulf War, another duPont and a George Foster Peabody Award for his part in NPR’s coverage of Sept. 11 and yet another duPont for NPR’s coverage of the war in Iraq.

Mixing the colors and styles of early instruments with Celtic traditions, Ensemble Galilei is equally at home with Irish Reels, Medieval Cantiges, and English country dance tunes. The group includes Ryan McKasson (fiddle), Isaac Alderson (uillean pipes), Jackie Moran (bodhran/percussion), Carolyn Surrick (viola da gamba) and Sue Richards (Celtic harp).

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User