Monday, June 30, 2008

New Release - 40 Degrees North

Guitarist Xuefei Yang ("Fei" to her friends) has released an exciting new album on the EMI Classics label, 40 Degrees North. Listen for selections from the album on KPAC and KXTI.

Fei spoke with host and producer John Clare recently about her new release, China, and playing classical guitar.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Let it be

Ludwig van Beethoven's last quartet, Opus 135 asks the listener a question, both musically and actually written in the score:
Muss es sein? (Must it be?)
And then he answers, Es muss sein! (It must be!)

The finale, from YouTube:

We've created a couple of graphs over at GraphJam to express this finale:

Tune in Sunday afternoons for chamber music on St. Paul Sunday, as well as weekdays on Performance Today with great classical music everyday on KPAC and KTXI!

John Clare, afternoon host

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back to Louisiana!

The word exotic doesn't get used much anymore. With airlines, vaccinations and satellites - all parts of the world are now accessible, but that wasn't always the case. In his opera Manon Lescaut, Puccini has the lovers end up in the vast desert near the outskirts of New Orleans. Now that is use of a wholly imagined landscape!

On the Piano this Sunday we return to the Louisiana and more realistic depictions of that our neighboring state with music by native son, L.M. Gottschalk and contributions by Ketelbey and Virgil Thomson. Louisiana - A Pianist's Journey features many world premiere recordings of music meant to beguile and relax the listener. Imagine the beauties of Louisiana without humidity, gas stations or even leaving your easy chair!

The Piano, Sunday afternoons at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

Randy Anderson, host

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Special Feature - Leroy Anderson

Sunday June 29th marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer Leroy Anderson.

The preeminent American composer of light concert music, Anderson wrote the familiar tunes Sleigh Ride, The Syncopated Clock and Blue Tango. His music captures the imagination of millions of people around the world with its memorable, optimistic melodies and impeccably crafted orchestrations.

We recently spoke to the composer's son Kurt about his father's music and the anniversary.
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Conductor Leonard Slatkin is currently recording the complete Leroy Anderson works on the Naxos label. Volume 3 has just been released and we talked with the maestro about Anderson and his music.

Tune in Friday and Monday during Performance Today on KTXI and KPAC to hear Anderson's music with the interviews.
John Clare, afternoon host

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Comeback? Brokeback?

Opera has always been popular in Italy...and around the world for centuries. Lately it seems that opera is making a comeback, with productions in movie theaters, and most recently at the ballpark!

(picture from the SF Gate website) But there are rumblings in Italy about the opera houses and funding. And it's been announced NYC Opera has commissioned Brokeback Mountain.

Friday through Sunday you'll be able to experience Puccini's Tosca at the San Antonio Opera.

Don't miss this Saturday's opera, Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi with the Chicago Lyric Opera starting at noon; and it's a night of Schubert songs and music with Ron Moore with the Tuesday Night at the Opera on KPAC & KTXI.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Harry

Today marks the 107th anniversary of composer Harry Partch's birth. Partch was a maverick, and you can find more about him through this link.
This last summer, I wrote a spoof with Partch in a musical/magical world on another famous character:

Harry Partch and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (in the EU it is known as "Harry Partch and the Philosopher Symphony")
Harry Partch and the Torture Chamber Music
Harry Partch and the Prisoner of Ausdrucksvoll
Harry Partch and the Guitar of Feuermann
Harry Partch and the Order of Sharps and Flats
Harry Partch and the Half Note Prince
Harry Partch and the Deathly Hockets

The seven-part Harry Partch series of satirical novels was written by Eskimo author J. N. Clare about an adolescent boy musician named Harry Partch and his best friends Ron Webern and Harmony Grainger. The story is mostly set at Hogwoods School of Music, a school for young musicians, and focuses on Harry Partch's fight against the evil musician Lord Voltisubito, who killed Harry's parents as part of his plan to take over the musical world.
Read more silliness here. Enjoy!
John Clare, afternoon host

Monday, June 23, 2008


I travelled this weekend to Wichita, Kansas and had nine hours to drive on I-35. What to listen to? Of course, I took KPAC with me until I left the area, and then tuned into KMFA in Austin. After that I caught up with friends on the phone and didn't listen to much, tuning later to WRR in Dallas. After a reststop and refueling, I listened to a little bit of everything on my mp3 player, from Anne-Sophie Mutter playing Beethoven's Violin Concerto to Radiohead's In Rainbows and alot more in between, classical, rock and jazz.
What do you like to listen to travelling? You can share your choices in the "comments" section below!

And hear your favorites tonight with James Baker Listener's Choice starting at 9pm tonight on KPAC and KTXI.

John Clare, afternoon host

Friday, June 20, 2008


This summer you can get away without ever leaving your computer! Starting today, Medici TV is webcasting from the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. You'll be able to see and hear performances as they happen and even for a bit afterwards!

I was blown away last year with their coverage of the Verbier Festival, and heard many concerts I wasn't able to go to with artists like Hilary Hahn, Helene Grimaud and Misha Maisky!

Check out:

Of course, don't forget you can travel with other Texas Public Radio listeners this December to the European Christmas Markets. The deadline is coming up July 7th. Call 1-800-622-8977 to reserve your spot, or follow this link.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Basic Library - Maestro Levine

For decades, Americans have suffered an inferiority complex when it comes to classical music, in particular regarding conductors of classical music. Yes! There was Leonard Bernstein and his legend still casts a mighty and important shadow, both nationally and internationally. But take a look at where American orchestras shop for their conductors. It's mostly in the international marketplace, especially in Europe. Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, Sir Georg Solti, they all played mighty roles in building our American musical institutions into polished voices of classical music. Look around today, and you still find mostly Europeans conducting the important American orchestras. One of the most anticipated (and surprising) recent appointments was the naming of Riccardo Muti as the new maestro of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For over 40 years there has been an important American conductor at work, and doing most of his important conducting here in his home country. James Levine has done it quietly, at times with little fanfare, but never disappointing with his final, well-crafted product. And for much of that time, James Levine has headed what some would regard as the premier American musical institution, The Metropolitan Opera. So why has such a career gone largely unheralded? Maybe we have to go back to the sad fact of the myth of the European conductor, that only Europeans can play the role of podium star.

James Levine turns 65 this weekend. While many might look to retirement at this age, the Maestro of the Met is continuing full speed ahead, giving much of his current attention to his Directorship of the Boston Symphony. Over the next couple of weeks, the KPAC Basic Library will play Happy Birthday for Maestro Levine by presenting an overview of why this American musician succeeds in a Eurocentric arena. Levine is the complete package of extraordinary musical abilities. He is a conductor, a pianist, an accompanist, and a seer. Tune in for James Levine and the Met, James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Levine in Boston and James Levine, the pianist, at Carnegie Hall and at Chicago's Ravinia Festival. And still we won't make a dent in the extensive James Levine discography. It's a two-week long birthday bash, with James Levine on the KPAC Basic Library, Saturday evening at 5:30.

James Baker, KPAC host

Musical Memories

I took a trip down memory lane this morning, listening to Deirdre Saravia playing Brahms' Double Concerto with Issac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma. It's been awhile since I've heard it (at least 4 or 5 months!) and I immediately remembered a high school sweetheart.
You see I went out with another violinist in Youth Symphony back in Wichita. We were freshman and wanted to be professional musicians. Besides seeing each other at rehearsals (she went to McPherson and I was a Derby student) we also ushered at the Wichita Symphony concerts. There we heard Brahms' Double Concerto - and it was our song! We'd talk on the phone and talk of orchestra, music and of course recordings of the Brahms. I would often play the LP of the Stern/Ma recording and think about my sweetheart (and even try to play along with the record!)
Jenna moved that summer with her folks to Rome, Italy and I've never seen her again, we fell out of touch but we'll always have Brahms' Double Concerto.

Do you have a memory to a particular piece of music? Share it with us in the comments section, or blog about it and send us the link!

John Clare, afternoon host

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. - W. H. Auden

So are you sensible about opera? Don't forget you have a chance to hear live opera June 27-29 with Puccini's Tosca with the San Antonio Opera.
Join us tonight for one of the great moments of opera, the Prelude and Love Death from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Of course, you can listen Saturday afternoons at noon for opera and Tuesday nights at eight on KPAC and KTXI.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


What did you do on your last birthday? Meet up with friends? Surprised by your loved ones? Pretend ala Jack Benny that you're 39?

Musicians love birthdays, and will often program music to honor a composer or another performer. You might remember back in 1985 the world celebrated Bach and Handel's 300th birthdays with their music, and back in 2006, the 250th birthday of Mozart featured lots of his music and new recordings.

Today is Igor Stravinsky's (right) birthday (born in 1882) and we'll hear one of his early ballet scores, The Firebird.

Next Monday, conductor James Levine (left) turns 65 years old. We'll celebrate with some of his performances as well as feature him on The Basic Library, Saturday evening at 5:30pm.

Also, Leroy Anderson (below right), composer of Sleigh Ride, the Syncopated Clock, the Typewriter, and other popular light classics, would have been 100 years old June 29th. Keep an eye out for some special features around this centary!

Americans take on Bach

I remember a TV chef saying that cooking chicken is like a painter approaching a blank canvas, "you can make chicken taste like anything". I find that the keyboard music of Bach is like that, a performer can bring anything to this music. Think about the performances that are church-like in there solemnity. Then there is fast players like Argerich and Martins. There are all the colors of the rainbow in Wendy Carlos Bach on synthesizer or the polyphonic juggling of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.
On the Piano this Sunday afternoon, we sample some new recordings by American pianists playing the Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach. The program starts with a quick listen to a number of distinctive Bach pianists and then we hear two new recordings featuring Richard Goode (right) and Murray Periaha (above left).

The Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

Randy Anderson, host

Monday, June 16, 2008

Seen on 35

A picture of a Texas Public Radio billboard on I-35N.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Artist Interview - Helene Grimaud

Pianist Helene Grimaud is on the cover and featured in the July issue of Gramophone.

Host and producer John Clare spoke with Grimaud about her latest release: Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and the Sonata #28. They also spoke about Bach, harpsichords and much more!

Listen to the interview:
Part 1
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Part 2
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Tune in for great keyboard artists every week on "The Piano" Sunday nights at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An afternoon at the opera

I'm excited to see Tosca the end of this month with San Antonio Opera. Being new to the city, I can't wait to hear the local groups and the visiting artists. The classical music world is small, so I wasn't too surpised to realize I have a friend who is part of the Cactus Pear Music Festival coming up next month.
Back to Tosca, a few years ago while living in Las Vegas I had the chance to perform with tenor Luciano Pavarotti as a second violinist with the Glen Willow Symphony. He was past his prime, but there were still shades of greatness in his voice. Rehearsals and the performance were stellar.
This afternoon hear Pavarotti at the top of his game in E lucevan le stelle – "And the stars were shining" from the 3rd act of Tosca. And hear great opera with Ron Moore every Tuesday at 8pm with Tuesday Night Opera on KPAC and KTXI!
John Clare, afternoon host

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take it...

From the Top, to quote Chris O'Riley!
Classically trained teenagers will have their chance to shine as Texas Public Radio’s KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM welcome National Public Radio’s From the Top on September 13 at Laurie Auditorium.
From the Top is a nationally broadcast radio program that features America’s top young classical musicians and vocalists. The program is heard at 10 a.m. every Saturday on Texas Public Radio’s KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM. Texas Public Radio is seeking classically trained musicians from ages nine to 18 to submit their audition tapes to appear in the live San Antonio taping. From the Top is currently accepting applications for soloists, composers, and small and large ensembles. The deadline to be considered for inclusion in the September taping is July 1. Interested performers are required to submit an application in addition to a recording of two current selections. Specific application details are available on
With an audience of approximately 750,000 weekly listeners, From the Top is public radio’s fastest-growing program in history. Recorded in live concert settings around the United States, From the Top’s host, acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley helps to capture the top notch musicianship, offbeat humor and insights of America’s best pre-teen and teenage classical musicians. Many performers who appear on the show are invited to tour nationally as the program records around the United States.
High-profile performers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Bobby McFerrin have appeared on the show to talk about their musical influences and to perform with the young artists. Each one-hour program presents five young performers or ensembles whose stunning individual performances are combined with lively interviews, unique pre-produced segments, radio theater skits and lighthearted musical games. Previous episodes are streamed on NPR's music website.
More details on From the Top’s visit to San Antonio are available on Texas Public Radio’s website at

And you'll also want to note that Chris will make another appearance in San Antonio when he plays with cellist Carter Brey in October for the Tuesday Music Club!

Hi Dad!

With Father's Day this Sunday, we've been celebrating with some classical music: Monday we played Debussy's Children's Corner, a work written for his daughter Chou Chou to enjoy.
Yesterday we had a Vivaldi Concerto with Celedonio Romero and John Corigliano, Sr - father of composer John Corigliano.
This afternoon we'll have Leopold Mozart's Horn Concerto, his son Wolfgang's Piano Concerto #14, and his son Franz Xavier's Rondo for flute!
Check out what else we're playing on KPAC here.

So, what kind of music do you like listening to with your dad? Any fond musical memories you want to share?
Click on "comments" below or email us.


Welcome to KPAC's new blog. You'll find all sorts of information, entertainment, reports, concerts, links and more here.

I thought I'd start off sharing my "view" from my desk at Texas Public Radio. I'll include more views as I learn San Antonio and meet listeners.

In the meantime, enjoy the links, views and if you have any questions, feel free to email me:
See you on the radio!

John Clare, afternoon host