Thursday, July 31, 2008

Behind the scenes

Texas Public Radio is celebrating 25 years - and there is a dvd being made for this fall. Wednesday there was some filming going on around the station with the classical hosts, and here are a few snaps of the action.

Seen left, Deirdre programs music in the library.

On the right, James announces a selection.

Randy takes notes of the production, seen left.

Ron looks for a cd in the library, as pictured right.
More details on the film to come this fall!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eh? What was that?

New report says it's not just rockers who suffer hearing damage...and can we hear the difference in mp3s? Say goodbye to cassette tapes...and you'll be able to see concerts with natural light in Boston.

So, what do you think of LPs? CDs? MP3s? Is it quality over convenience? Share your thoughts in the comments - we'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More vacation time

What would you do with a few more weeks vacation? The Philadelphia Orchestra will have more time off since they have had to cancel their European Tour this summer.
While there is more finger pointing in Columbus, Ohio it may be good news for Dayton.
And things are jazzier in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, the Proms are underway in England.

So what are you doing this summer? Be sure to take KPAC and KTXI with you - and here online at!

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Symphony IS going to tour this fall, unlike their Eastern Pennsylvania counterparts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Strike one

There is talk of a worker's strike in Milan that could stop the Queen of Spades opening night at La Scala. Read about it here.

There is also alot of buzz about Bayreuth as well, read about Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg production that opened yesterday. Another view here too.

Also, Drew Carey is making headlines, not with The Price is Right, but with Shakespeare and the Cleveland Orchestra!

Don't miss Tuesday night at the Opera with Ron Moore - Dvorak's Rusalka starts tomorrow night at eight o'clock on KPAC and KTXI.

From the Top is coming...

The premier radio (and now television) showcase for young classical musicians, From the Top, is coming to San Antonio for a live show at Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium. Area musicians will perform with host Christopher O'Riley; the show will be taped for broadcast nationwide.

The date is Saturday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m., and tickets are on sale now.
Don't forget to listen to From the Top, Saturday mornings at 10:00 on KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM!

(In the picture, a From the Top billboard spotted along I-10 eastbound near Crossroads Mall.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Gay Ninties in Paris with Gabriel Fauré

The 1890's were a great time in French art and Gabriel Fauré was there conducting the choir of one of the fanciest churches in Paris. Friends with composers, singers, artists and writers - Fauré was struggling to make his musical voice known and respected. On the Piano this Sunday we contiue our exploration of Fauré's life and music. Handsome and debonair, Fauré was painted several times by John Singer Sargent.

It is surprising that someone so good looking would go to a matchmaker to find his wife. When she turned out less compatable than he hoped, Fauré turned to the many women that found him so attractive. One of those affairs enriched the world of music as you will hear on the Piano, this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI. What music? A hint is pictured below:

(Fauré and "Dolly" Bardac)

Host, Randy Anderson

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's the buzz? The Fly as opera.

Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore has written his first opera, but he isn't straying too far away from the world of film. Currently on stage now, "The Fly," based on David Cronenberg's 1980s film, which in turn was based on the 1950s sci-fi flick. But the opera is set in the 1950s. Do you follow?

THE FLY is described on the production's website as a "Sci-Fi Love Story."

"The Fly is an engrossing exploration of the physical and psychological transformation in which a brilliant scientist begins to mutate into a hybrid of man and fly after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. Researcher Seth Brundle makes a stunning breakthrough in the field of matter transportation when he successfully teleports a living creature. Frustrated in his budding romance with a scientific journalist, and in need of a human subject, he recklessly attempts to teleport himself. An unseen fly enters the transmission booth as well, however, and Brundle soon realizes that his experiment has had 'mixed' results."

True to form, the opera ends tragically.

Lending his talents as conductor of the Paris production of "The Fly" is no less an operatic star than Placido Domingo. "There are very moving moments, very melodic moments. But as the narrative advances, the orchestration becomes harder," Domingo told the New York Times.

Here's a link to a story about the production from PRI's "The World."

What other modern stories do you think would make good operas? Myself, I've always wanted to see Dracula on stage, especially after Guy Maddin's filmed ballet version that used Mahler's music to wonderful effect.

--Nathan Cone

Monday, July 21, 2008

SA Symphony Announces New President

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (July 21, 2008) – The San Antonio Symphony announced today that Long Beach Symphony Executive Director Jack Fishman will assume the position of President/CEO for the organization before the new season begins in October 2008. Current Symphony President David Green has resigned, saying he had accomplished his goal of getting the Symphony on a strong economic footing and is now looking at other opportunities.

“Jack has a great track record of successful symphony management, and we are excited about his leadership as we move the Symphony into the next phase of its growth,” Symphony Board Chair Debbie Montford said, “I want to thank David for the thoughtful and strategic way he has gone about fulfilling his responsibilities to the symphony in the past and especially his proactive actions in locating an excellent person as his replacement,”

Fishman, who was confirmed as Green’s replacement with a unanimous vote of the entire symphony board at a special meeting held July 18th, has served as Executive Director of the Long Beach Symphony since 2000 and has an extensive background in music and symphony management. He was first identified during the national search for a CEO in 2005, and has since renewed his interest in San Antonio.
"I'm deeply honored to be chosen to be part of the San Antonio Symphony family. Working to ensure this community treasure continues to provide artistically excellent music and is well managed with fiscal responsibility are tasks I am eager to be engaged in,” Fishman said. “I'm looking forward to partnering with the community, Symphony Board, volunteers, musicians and staff to bring great symphonic music to as many San Antonio adults and children as possible."

Fishman began his career as a professional musician as Principal Bass with the Puerto Rico Symphony during the 1981-82 season. He then performed with the Knoxville Symphony and the Florida Symphony Orchestra. After a musician and management stint with the Bedford Springs Festival in Florida, Fishman began considering a career in Symphony management and became the Orchestra Manager of the Jacksonville Symphony in 1990. After serving as Executive Director of the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, where he grew the annual budget for five years, Fishman was recruited by and accepted the position of Executive Director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra in 2000. During his time in Long Beach, he has successfully recruited a music director, led an outreach program aimed at attracting more Hispanics to the Symphony, and reduced annual operating deficits.

Interview with Jack Fishman.

KPAC Staff

From a meeting on Friday, the KPAC announcers strike a pose. [Robert Bates, Ron Moore, James Baker, Randy Anderson (back row, standing)
John Clare, Deirdre Saravia (front row, sitting)]

Somehow they were coaxed to be outrageous as well!
[photos taken by Program Director Nathan Cone]

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Life and Music of Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Fauré is well known for his exceptionally lyrical works for orchestra. Much of his career was spent as a church musician and on the side he composed music, most of it for the piano. A veteran of the Franco-Prussian war, Fauré was highly talented and trained, but would he be able to make an impact with his music?

On the Piano this Sunday a look at the life and music of one of France's most influential composers, Gabriel Fauré. We take a look at Fauré's early life and what shaped him as an artist and as a man. Some composers are luckier than others when it comes to making a life for themselves that allows them to create on their own schedule. Fauré had the talent and the discipline but sometimes you need just a little more. On the program familiar and new music of this French musician that saw him in his later years teaching his principles to a new generation of composers.

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

Host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh Pear!

The Cactus Pear Music Festival concludes this weekend. Read about it here on, and check out their website.
John Clare had a chance to speak with Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio - artistic director and violinist; as well as composer David Heuser who has a world premiere, The Golden Ax; and with classical fan Dr. Kenneth Bloom about last week's opening night.
Take a listen here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


How do composers come up with titles for their works? Sometimes it is before the work is written, sometimes afterwards...and sometimes composers even see colors with their music - there is a phenomenon where you see colors with certain notes, Synesthesia.

Michael Torke and Helene Grimaud are two such musicians who are synesthetic. Torke has written a whole series of "color music." And other composers have had color associated with a piece, like the Red Violin by John Corigliano, The Yellow River Piano Concerto, and the Banks of the Green Willow...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Picture this

Every five seconds, 60,000 plastic bags are used in the United States. Every time we purchase something at the supermarket, or the convenience store, or the mall, these numbers pile up — to over 514 million plastic bags every day.
Internationally-acclaimed photographer Chris Jordan has captured staggering statistics, such as how many plastic bags we consume, into digestible images, engaging us to look at the impact we have as individuals and a society on our environment.
Texas Public Radio, in partnership with the The San Antonio Library, the San Antonio Library Foundation, and the Southwest School of Art & Craft, will bring Chris Jordan's eye-opening exhibit, Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait to San Antonio. The photographic series will be on display at the San Antonio Central Library and the Southwest School of Art & Craft's Navarro Campus. The exhibit is free and will be open beginning August 3 through August 29.
Focusing on blinding white walls made of millions of sheets of office paper, a giant whirlpool of discarded cell phones or dense forests of piled supermarket paper bags, Chris Jordan’s massive digital photographs provide a startling perspective on the enormity of America’s waste stream. Zooming from the enormous to the detailed, from the collective to the individual, his commentary inspires reflection on the complex roles we all play, and the responsibilities we all hold, in the stewardship of our planet and each other.
The exhibit is made possible by The Smothers Foundation, Allegra Print & Imaging, and Monterrey Iron & Metal.

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Joke, this composer is to be taken seriously!

I was first introduced to the music of the French composer Jean Francaix, by concerts of the Olmos Ensemble here in San Antonio. I found Francaix's works fun, beautifully constructed and accessible. A real prodigy, Francaix was composing by six and was brought to the attention of Nadia Boulanger who considered him one of her best students. A composer at heart, Francaix continued his chosen path to his death at the age of 85.

When it comes to pronouncing the name of the composer, Jean Francaix few people agree. Some say "frahn-SAY", but the composer himself wrote to a New York broadcaster claiming it is "frahn-SEX". You can hear about the sense of humor of this composer on the Piano this Sunday afternoon, so we never know when this brilliant musician is joking or not - like getting American radio announcers to say "sex" every time we announce his music! However you say his name, his music is fun, bright and witty. On the Piano this Sunday I speak to Nicole Narboni who introduced me to the piano music of this charming musician.

Nicole has a new album out which gives us the best idea of Francaix's music for his own instrument, the piano. And you can hear some of it this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

Host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spotlight on Cactus Pear

Tune in this morning at 11am for Classical Spotlight on KPAC. We'll talk with Artistic Director and violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio about the 12th annual Cactus Pear Music Festival that gets underway tonight.
Hear music by Brahms, Telemann and Hermann Goetz. We'll also talk with Deborah Moore from the Steinway Piano Gallery about what its like attending a concert at Cactus Pear.
Classical Spotlight airs Thursday mornings at 11am on KPAC.
Next week we'll continue the discussion with Sant'Ambrogio and also talk with composer David Heuser about the world premiere of his chamber opera, The Golden Ax.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ferocious Romanticism

Ferocious Romanticism

One of the hallmarks of hyper-romanticism is Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. The number of musicians it inspired, puzzled or horrified is legion. After hearing it, the violinist, Nicolo Paganini (below left) was moved to commission Berlioz (center) to write a viola concerto for him. And Franz Liszt, the Paganini of the piano, (below right) became Berlioz's life long friend and champion. In these times of instant and perfect digital reproduction the notion of not being able to get what you want is troubling, but that was the problem in the nineteenth century. The score of the Symphonie Fantastique was not published for 15 years after it premiere. To help his friend and to further explore his own growing virtuosity, Liszt painstakingly transcribed the work achieving an accurate depiction of this orchestral showpiece for the piano.

There aren't many recordings of the Berlioz/Liszt Symphonie Fantastique, but someone who did it twice and with great passion and technique is the Turkish pianist Idil Biret. You can hear her knuckle-busting performance of this seminal masterpiece this Sunday afternoon on the Piano, heard on KPAC and KTXI at 5 pm.

Randy Anderson, host

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What would you do?

Have you seen the commercials for an ice cream product asking what would you do for one? Now one opera company in Germany is banking you'll spend close to what it would be to see the opera in theater on your computer.
You can see Wagner's Meistersinger von Nurnburg online for $77. Read more about the five hour affair here. And you can see the live premiere at July 27 at 4 p.m. for free at a public viewing in Bayreuth's town square.
Be sure to catch Beethoven's Fidelio this weekend (Saturday at noon) from Los Angeles on KPAC and KTXI. Also Tuesday night at the Opera, with host Ron Moore will have Puccini's Turandot with Nilsson, Scotto and Corelli starting at 8pm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fab Four

The Beatles might easily be compared to Bach or that can be arranged for different instruments and not lose the feeling, tuneful melodies and the endurance of their music.
Just recently an interview has turned up after 44 years with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Check it out here.
Do you have a favorite Beatles tune? Favorite performance by Goran Sollscher or Ofra Harnoy?
Let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Election year

Who says classical music can't be fun? Right now, you can help vote for the Artist of the Year at Gramophone:
Your choices (10 in all) range from violinist Hilary Hahn to soprano Natalie Dessay to pianist Murray Perahia. Of course, hear them all on KPAC and KTXI!

And don't forget about our own polls here on the right, there's still time to vote for your favorite composer, and we're still wondering which cartoon is your favorite for classical music!