Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On assignment

Host John Clare spent yesterday morning @ Lackland AFB with musicians from the USAF Band of the West. Keep an eye out here and on Facebook for the story and performances from the talented troops!

Next soloist

What Jennifer Koh has been up to lately, she'll be here in October to play Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the San Antonio Symphony!

A Lunch Break With a Bach Partita as the Main Course

Word has gotten out about Lunchtime Concerts, the informal free performances of chamber works at the intimate reading room in Philosophy Hall on the Columbia University campus. The series, sponsored by the Miller Theater and Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, opened on Monday afternoon at 12:30 with the exciting young violinist Jennifer Koh playing Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor. And people started arriving up to 45 minutes before the program began to get a seat.

About 200 people eventually crowded into the room, which is perfect for chamber music. Some sat atop desks lining the walls; others stood in the back. The programs are short, in keeping with the theme of enjoying some music during your lunch break, and only one substantial work is played. It was revealing to hear this astonishing Bach partita on its own. For all its greatness, the piece can get swamped when performed alongside the works for violin and piano typically played at a recital.

This was the first of six programs Ms. Koh will play presenting all of the Bach partitas. (The series will also offer Benjamin Hochman playing the Bach piano partitas and Alisa Weilerstein [ed. Who was just HERE in SAN ANTONIO!]playing the Bach cello suites.) Following the Lunchtime Concerts tradition, she first spoke to the audience about the piece. Bach, who was working in Weimar when he completed his six partitas in 1720, was surely influenced by the Weimar violinist Johann Paul von Westhoff, who had already published a collection of solo violin partitas.

Ms. Koh played the opening measures of the Allemande, Courant and Sarabande from a Westhoff suite, alternating the excerpts with opening measures of the corresponding movements by Bach. Westhoff’s partitas fired Bach’s imagination about ways to write for the violin. Bach took it from there. And how.

The Partita in D minor has a curious structure. After four dance movements, which last 12 minutes together, the work ends with the monumental Chaconne, a set of rhapsodic variations on a stately triple-meter dance theme, totaling 15 minutes.

Ms. Koh conveyed the naturalness of the phrasing in the flowing Allemande and brought Baroque zest to the Courant. The gutsy way she played the chords in the Sarabande allowed the wistful melodic line to shine. And she balanced intensity and buoyancy in the fleet Giga.

Finally, she gave a deeply expressive account of the Chaconne, dispatching the challenges with such security that you did not notice the sheer virtuosity at work. The ovation was so ardent that Ms. Koh, who had been visibly engrossed in her performance, wiped away tears.

The next program in the series of Bach violin works is on Wednesday at
Philosophy Hall, Columbia University, Broadway at 116th Street, Morningside

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gil on Sarasate - Run Gil Run!

Very funny video promoting his new cd!

Check him out here in San Antonio as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

RIP, Alicia De Larrocha

We were very sad to learn of Alicia passing on Friday, September 25th.
From the BBC:
The petite pianist, who measured just under five foot (1.52m), won praise for her technique and judgement of tempo.
As well as her performances of Mozart and Rachmaninov, she was regarded as unrivalled in her interpretation of Spanish composers like Isaac Albeniz.
De Larrocha retired six years ago, after 75 years of public performances.
"She was an extraordinary ambassador for Spain," Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde said in a news release following the announcement of her death.
The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra was due to hold a minute's silence before this weekend's performances in honour of the pianist.
Child prodigy
Born in Barcelona in 1923, de Larrocha began playing at the age of two.
She gave her first recital aged six, and made her orchestral debut when she was 11, performing as a soloist for the Madrid Symphony Orchestra.
Although famed as a champion of Spanish music, her teacher Frank Marshall forbade her to play it before she was 15.
"It was Bach and Mozart that I played," she later recalled. "This is a necessary base for a pianist. You cannot play Spanish music without it.
"Spanish music is very, very, very hard. Young people come to me and think they can play it right away. But Spanish music must have the right rhythm, just as Bach and Mozart must have the right rhythm.
"If you cannot play Bach and Mozart well, you cannot play Spanish music well."
Her teenage years were overshadowed by the Spanish civil war. Her family remained in Barcelona, but food was scarce, and de Larrocha later described how her father had to travel to the "mountains to get greens to eat".
She resumed giving recitals in Spain once the war ended, displaying a style and skill that transcended her age, but was she prevented from travelling to Europe by the outbreak World War II.
It was 1947 before she would play outside of her home country, and she made her British debut in 1953.
Two years later came her first trip to the United States at the invitation of famed conductor Alfred Wallestein, and a tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
After this breakthrough, she gained recognition as one of the world's most outstanding pianists.
'No peers'
In 1959 she became director of Barcelona's Academia Marshall, where she had studied and tutored as a youngster.
By this time, her affinity with Spanish music was becoming more widely recognised, and her performances of Albeniz's Iberia and Granados's Goyescas won particular praise.
She recorded Iberia four times, and gave premieres of several Spanish works, including book four of Mompou's Musica Callada and Montsalvatge's Concierto Breve, which is dedicated to her.
"The fact is that in this repertoire, Larrocha really has no peer, and any of her versions are nearly always going to be first choice," wrote Jonathan Summers in his A-Z of Pianists.
Over the years, de Larrocha was awarded numerous prizes, including the Prince of Asturias Prize in 1994, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in Paris in 1988 and the Paderewski Memorial Medal.
Her recordings earned her four Grammies and numerous other prizes.
In 1995, she complained to the New York Times that age was affecting her handspan - and thus her ability to play.
"I used to reach a 10th," she said, referring to the keyboard's gap from middle C to E in the octave above. "Now, a ninth, with some difficulty."
De Larrocha said this deficit could be heard across her various recordings of Grandos' Goyescas. "The first and second record, you can hear the 10th," she said. "The third, no, because my hand is shrinking."
The pianist eventually retired in 2003, after some 4,000 concerts, at the age of 80.
Family friend Gregor Benko confirmed her death to the Associated Press news agency. He said de Larrocha had been in poor health for two years, since breaking her hip.
A spokesman for the Quiron hospital, where she was admitted some days ago, said she had died from cardiorespiratory failure shortly after 2300 (2200 BST) on Friday.
Married to the late pianist, Juan Torra, she leaves behind a son and a daughter.

Host John Clare remembers her playing in Wichita when he was a teenager. He recalls just after college she played with friends in the orchestra in Duluth, and was very gracious to them, smiling and complimenting them for a particularly moving Emporer Concerto. Years later, Clare cherished her last concert in San Francisco playing Haydn and DeFalla.
Do you have memories of De Larrocha? Share them in the comment section!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Party Time!

When looking through a calendar of famous musicians one sees clumps of great names locked together. Does this have something to do with astrology or is it just a great excuse to celebrate famous pianists? On the Piano this Sunday great names and performances all born near the end of September.

The Piano heard Sunday afternoons at 5 on Texas Public Radio.

host Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Classical Spotlight: Weilerstein & Texas Bach Choir

This weekend, catch soloists, choirs and much more in and around San Antonio!
"Brahms First" is the San Antonio Symphony program tomorrow & Saturday, September 25 & 26, at 8:00 pm in the Majestic Theatre. Rossen Milanov, conductor leads Dvorak and Brahms, and features Alisa Weilerstein, cello in the First Concerto by Shostakovich.
"A Cappella Unleashed" takes place with the Texas Bach Choir Saturday, September 26,5:00 pm at St Lukes Episcopal Church; and again Sunday, September 27, 3:00 pm at Woodland Baptist Church. The program has works by Palestrina, Mendelssohn, Monteverdi, Purcell & Haydn.
The Metropolitan Opera National Council(MONC)Southwest Region will celebrate its 51st annual auditions with the Finals Concert on Sunday, September 27th. This event will be held at the Coates -Seeglison Theater Chapel on the campus of Saint Mary's Hall, and is free & open to the public. It starts at 2 pm.
Carole Terry, organ, plays a concert celebrating the Mendelssohn 200th birthday, at Parker Chapel Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
Tomorrow night at Christ Episcopal Church @ 7:30 and then next Tuesday at Trinity’s Ruth Taylor Recital hall, pianist Faith Debow plays music by Dan Welcher, Mozart, Liszt & Rachmaninoff. There’s more info at 736-3132.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SA Sym: Rossen Milanov

This weekend starts the regular season of the San Antonio Symphony. Guest conductor and music director candidate Rossen Milanov conducts Dvorak, Shostakovich & Brahms. He stopped by the TPR Studio to talk about the program with host John Clare:

SA Sym: Rossen Milanov from Classical Spotlight on Vimeo.

New vs. Old

A blind listening test at a forestry conference suggests that foresters, at least, prefer a modern violin made from fungus-treated wood to an original Stradivarius (an example of a Strad, played by Janine Jansen on the left).

Last year Francis Schwarze of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research in St Gallen published results suggesting that treating wood with fungus might help recreate the unusually low density that prevailed when Antonio Stradivari carved his legendary instruments. (Nature News, 16 June 2008)

Schwarze teamed up with luthiers (violin-makers) to build violins with the treated wood, along with some control copies made from untreated wood. At a blind competition in the German city of Osnabrück on 1 September this year, 180 attendees of a German forestry conference (Osnabrücker Baumpflegetagen) rated the test violins and an original Stradivarius played by British violinist Matthew Trusler (World Radio Switzerland, 1 September 2009). One of the fungus-treated violins, called "Opus 58" garnered 90 votes for the best sound, with the Strad second at 39, according to a press release.

Blind violin identification is notoriously difficult: In a BBC test in 1974, experts were only able to correctly identify 2 of 4 instruments, and confused a modern instrument with a Stradivarius. Schwarze noted that the fungus treatment might make violins which sound like Strads, at least to foresters, for as little as 25,000 Swiss francs (World Radio Service, 10 September 2009).

For centuries, the perfect tone of a Stradivari violin, such as the one played by Anne Sophie Mutter at the recent Lucerne Festival, fascinated many music lovers. At the last Empa science forum in late August 2006, two scientists and a violin maker took the audience on the lookout for the secret of Antonio Stradivari.

Did the great violin maker use a special primer or varnish, did he treat the woods he used with minerals, or it was a fungus that gave the wood tone its special characteristics? Ever since, violin makers have tried to find the reason behind the differences in tones and paid careful attention to the quality of the wood used. But only ten years ago, scientists have become interested in the resonance properties of spruce fir, which is the most commonly used wood in violin and piano construction.

Wood - a material with many faces
Christoph Buksnowitz of the Agricultural University in Vienna, explained to about 150 participants of the forum, that spruce wood is used in tone instruments since it contributes a lot to the development of sounds and because it was available in large quantities in close proximity to the early factories of musical instruments. Spruce fir used in violin making must have certain physical characteristics. Thus, for example, the diameter of the tree trunk must be at least 40 centimeters in order to allow for the size of boards needed in violin making. Tree rings must be evenly spaced about 5 millimeters apart in order to allow for perfect propagation of sound. Therefore, growth conditions play an important role, Busnowitz noted. Only wood from those spruce trees growing at their typical range and at heights of about 1.000 meters are therefore suitable. Too much light or wind from one side cause Uneven growth and therefore the wood is of lower quality. In order to remove tensions in the wood, the trees must be dried naturally for some years.

All these factors influence the formation and shaping of the most common cells of the spruce fir, the tracheids. When the cell walls of these tracheids become thin then wood density is reduced, and the wood becomes less heavy. Such a result is wished for in the making of violins because it allows for better resonance properties and sound radiation. However, this kind of wood is at the same time also less firm and this may negatively impact the stability of the violin. It appears then that the acoustic of a musical instrument is influenced by the cell structure of the wood. Experienced violin makers recognize the tone quality of the wood by its color. Thus, for example, the yearly formation of growth rings or a fungal decay of a tree will change the color.

One may be tempted to ask therefore, why violins are still made out of so complicated a material with resonant wood and not out of a less variable material such as carbon fibers. Dr. Busnowitz thinks that «a lot of tradition is tied in with the resonance wood of the spruce tree, which is unique and individual in its form and tone features».

Fungi as useful helpers
In the past, it was thought that a fungal decay of a tree brings about damaging effects altogether. Melanie Spycher in PhD work at Empa tried to show that this must not necessarily be the case to the Tonal quality of the wood.

Empa test of spruce wood infected with fungi
She Sterilized infected spruce and maple wood pieces with different kinds of wood decaying fungi and these fungi allowed to grow for periods of from four to twenty weeks in a climatically controlled chamber.

So far, the interim results of this probe are astounding, as Melanie Spycher puts it: 'Different fungi work differently on various woods.
With the split gill fungus, Belonging to the group of the soft rot fungi, we could achieve suitable for violin making changes in the wood structure. »In June of this year, a patent was applied for.

This maple tree had Thicker cell walls before it was infected with fungi. The fungus reduced the cell wall thickness of the wood without impairing its firmness. Thus, the density of the wood was reduced thereby making the violin lighter Tonal and improving its quality. Yet, the necessary firmness of the instrument was maintained.

A Soulless violin
Michael Rhonheimer's profession of violin making could soon be impacted through the ongoing research in the resonance of spruce wood. Even today, Rhonheimer constructs resonant Baden Masterworks in his workshop, using nearly the same tools as were used in the 16th or 17th centuries, such as CHISEL, tuning hammer, saw, plane and the botanic horsetail. Wood alone, however, does not determine the quality of a violin's sound. Other details, such as the Curvature of the upper and lower plates of the violin and the positioning and size of the "F holes" play a role as well. Until in this manner through handicraft and costly new violin finally makes its sounds, one year goes by and the master violin maker has spent at least 300 hours producing the instrument.

Rhonheimer did make it clear that the quality of new violins is comparable to that of old ones. While older musical instruments are valued because of the passage of time and the culture of music, new ones have the advantage in their construction that the artist's wishes can be taken into account. Nevertheless, the master violin maker does not have a high opinion of machine made violins. 'Contact with the material is lost, and thus for example a carbon fiber violin sounds Soulless ». On the other hand, biological modifications in the wood used for violin construction are less Objectionable for the purpose of building future violins again in the manner of Stradivari.
The 'master fungus »discovered by Empa, may soon find its way to the workshops of the violin makers and help construct violins which may compete with the one now played by Anne Sophie Mutter. (EMPA press release 4 September 2009)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gil in SA

A great discussion about violin, concertos of the 1930s, and teaching:

Shaham in SA from Classical Spotlight on Vimeo.

Z video serenades

Enjoy this continuing series of Judith Lang Zaimont's music and the artistry of Gary Zaimont:

The Met right here!

The Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Southwest Region will celebrate its 51st annual auditions with the Finals Concert on Sunday, September 27th. This event will be held at the Coates -Seeglison Theater Chapel on the campus of Saint Mary's Hall, 9401 Starcrest Drive, San Antonio, Texas.
The public is invited, at no charge, to hear some of the most promising young singers in the world of opera. Curtain time is 2:00PM.

The Finals Concert draws regional, national and international talent. These rising stars offer an exciting performance before a panel of four distinguished judges. On hand for this year’s competition will be John Baril, Music Director of Central City Opera in Colorado; Sheri Greenawald, Opera Center Director for the San Francisco Opera; Jonathan Dudley, a renowned vocal coach in New York City; and Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director of the MONC. Singers will be accompanied by Richard Bado, Chorus Master of the Houston Grand Opera and Director
of Opera Studies at Rice University. Emcee for the afternoon will be Mark Richter, Founder and Artistic Director of the San Antonio Opera.

The Southwest Region winner announced at the end of the performance will receive coaching from the Metropolitan Opera’s artistic staff, and then compete at the National Semifinal Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in March 2010. Grand Finalists named at that competition will perform on the stage of the Met with a full orchestra before an audience eagerly anticipating the professional birth of future worldwide opera stars.

The Southwest Region auditions have produced more than 35 national finalists, with many joining the permanent roster of singers at the Met.

The tradition of producing the MONC Southwest Region auditions in San Antonio began in 1959 with Margaret Batts Tobin. One of San Antonio’s strongest arts philanthropists, Mrs. Tobin was pivotal in developing the National Council’s regional auditions program to identify and develop top operatic talent throughout the US, then keep that talent within US shores. Not only did she establish the auditions program in San Antonio, Mrs. Tobin also involved The Junior League of San Antonio, Inc. (JLSA), whose volunteers have helped stage the Southwest Region auditions since inception.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Latin Grammys

Here are this year's Classical nominees:
Best Classical Album

Bach: Cello Suites
Andrés Díaz; Alan Bise, producer [Azica Records]

Cavaleiro Neukomm Criador da Música de Câmara no Brasil
Ricardo Kanji & Rosana Lanzelotte; Anna Carolina Gomes, producer [Biscoito Fino]

Concierto De Aniversario
Ricardo Morales & The Pacifica Quartett; Luis Enrique Juliá, producer [ProArte Musical]

Villa-Lobos: Piano Music; Guia Pratico, Albums 10 and 11; Suite Infantil Nos. 1 and 2
Sonia Rubinsky; Nikolaos Samaltanos, producer [Naxos]

Best Classical Contemporary Composition
Cuatro Asimetrias Para El Cuarteto De Guitarras De Asturias Entre Quatret
Orlando Jacinto Garcia, composer (Orlando Jacinto Garcia) [Innova Recordings]

Danças Nativas
Clarice Assad, composer (Aquarelle Guitar Quartet) [Chandos Records]

Inca Dances
Gabriela Lena Frank, composer (Manuel Barrueco & Cuarteto Latinoamericano) [Tonar Music]

Variations on a Souvenir
Roberto Sierra, composer (Roberto Sierra) [Albany Records]

Voces Del Barrio
Alfonso Fuentes, composer (Kathleen Jones) [Cemca]

Read more about them here. Winners will be announced November 5th, 2009 in Las Vegas.

A piano concerto with a mid-life crisis?

Yes there is one, the magnificent and monumental Concerto in C by Ferruccio Busoni. In it the piano is a metaphor; symbolic of the life of an artist from before birth to the last breath and an acceptance of the infinite. On the Piano this Sunday part two of the Busoni concerto that will take us from middle-aged crazy to the end of our time.

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

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Classical Spotlight: Carmina & more

2009-2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the San Antonio Symphony. The occasion features Alison Trainer, soprano; Scott Scully, tenor; Michael Mayes, baritone; San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers; Children's Chorus of San Antonio; Alamo Heights United Methodist Church Choir; San Antonio Choral Society; and University United Methodist Church Choir in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.
Ken David Masur will conduct and also have violinist Gil Shaham play Barber's Concerto, Opus 14. The concert @ the Majestic Theatre is sold out. Their regular season starts next week and we look forward to Brahms, Shostakovich and Dvorak next week.
Masur stopped by and talked to host John Clare about the concert, watch their discussion here:

This Sunday, September 20, Heart of Texas Concert Band plays @ the Alamo, starting at 2pm. The program, Six Flags over Texas, features music for the Lone Star state, including band works by Anderson, Lerner, Alvarez, Barnes & Reed.

Finally, next Tuesday, September 22, Olmos Ensemble celebrates their 15th Anniversary Gala with Sergei Prokofiev's Quintet, Op. 39 and the Schubert Octet in F, D. 803. Tuesday evening's concert starts at 7:30 PM @ the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Symphony soloist

Gil Shaham’s “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” project will occupy a central place in his 2009-10 season as he joins a “who’s who” list of great conductors and orchestras on three continents – including Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tilson-Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra, Robertson and the New York Philharmonic, and Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – for performances of masterpieces by Barber, Berg, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Walton. These works are but five of a remarkably long list of important violin concertos produced in the same decade that Shaham will perform and, in some cases, record in coming seasons. Offering a striking sonic contrast, he will also give a series of solo all-Bach recitals this season throughout Europe, including performances in London (Wigmore Hall, October 22), Istanbul (March 13, 2010), and Cologne (Philharmonie, March 17, 2010). An important highlight for the fall will be the release on Shaham’s own Canary Classics label of an album celebrating the centenary of legendary Spanish composer and violinist Pablo de Sarasate. The recording teams Shaham with violinist Adele Anthony, with whom he will launch the album with a performance on September 29 of an all-Sarasate program at New York’s popular new music club, (Le) Poisson Rouge. In December, Shaham and the New York-based Sejong will tour Asia with Haydn’s violin concertos in C and G major and Mendelssohn’s Octet; an album featuring these artists and this repertoire will also be released on Canary Classics this season.

“Violin Concertos of the 1930s”
Gil Shaham explains the idea behind his “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” project:
“I love playing these pieces and I love hearing these pieces. As we entered the 21st century I started thinking back to the great music of the last century – thinking specifically about violin concertos – and I realized that many of my personal favorite concertos were written in the 1930s. I wasn’t the only one struck by this idea, as I discovered when we played the Stravinsky concerto in Cleveland earlier this year. During an intermission interview I was asked – completely unprovoked – what it was about the 1930s that produced these concertos. Was it something in the air? After another performance, this time with the National Symphony Orchestra, a very eloquent patron posed this question to me: ‘When this concerto was written, it was a time of great turbulence and trepidation, and people felt they were standing on top of a volcano that was starting to erupt. How is this reflected in the music written at that time, and how does it relate to the music and times that we live in today?’ Great question – and one that I’m not equipped to answer. I’m hoping this project can lead to some interesting conversations.”

An incomplete list of violin concertos written in the 1930s would include masterpieces by Stravinsky (1931), Szymanowski (No. 2, 1932-33), Milhaud (Concertino de printemps for violin, 1934), Berg (1935), Prokofiev (No. 2, 1935), Sessions (1935), Schoenberg (1936), Bártok (No. 2, 1937-38), Bloch (1938), Britten (1939), Hindemith (1939), Hartmann (Concerto funèbre, 1939), Piston (No. 1, 1939), Walton (1939), and Barber (1939). Korngold’s concerto was written between 1935 and 1937, published in 1945, and first performed in 1947. Khachaturian’s violin concerto just missed the cut-off point, being completed in 1940.

Last season, Shaham performed the Stravinsky and Berg concertos, and this season he performs no fewer than five concertos from the 1930s, beginning on September 19 in San Antonio, TX with a soaring masterpiece by American composer Samuel Barber. Shaham gives additional performances of the work with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern (Jan 22-24, 2010), the New York Philharmonic and David Robertson (Feb 25-27, 2010) and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Kirill Karabits (May 19-20, 2010). Robertson and Shaham will also team up with the BBC Symphony next summer for a performance of the Barber at London’s BBC Proms (Aug 26, 2010).

This past June, Shaham and Tilson Thomas performed the Berg Concerto together in San Francisco to great acclaim, with San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman calling it, “a rendition that, quite rightly, focused all that energy on communication between the performers and the listeners, [of which] the results were transfixing.” On November 5, Shaham and Tilson Thomas encore the work, this time with the London Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Hall. Soon after, Shaham heads to Los Angeles to give four performances of the Berg concerto with Gustavo Dudamel during his first season as the new Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Nov 19-22). Late in the spring, Shaham gives three more performances of this hauntingly, sometimes harrowingly beautiful work with the Staatskapelle Dresden and David Robertson (Jun 13-15, 2010).

Shaham’s other performances of concertos from the 1930s include six performances of Prokofiev’s richly expressive Second – one with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern, the others with the Saint Louis Symphony and David Robertson, at home in Missouri and on a California tour that includes performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles; seven performances of Stravinsky’s sparkling neoclassical Concerto in D (with Saint Louis and Robertson, Baltimore and Alsop, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Jansons); and two performances of Walton’s Mediterranean-infused Concerto in B minor with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Hugh Wolff.

Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works
This month, Shaham adds a captivating new title to the catalog of Canary Classics, the label he founded in 2004. The new recording, Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works, teams Shaham with violinist Adele Anthony, to whom he is married, in a celebration of the music of legendary Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908). The Pamplona-born composer’s colorful dance- and song-inspired works are not only enormously entertaining and irresistibly appealing, but also full of sometimes hair-raising technical challenges.
Shaham and Anthony both feel a deep connection to Sarasate’s music, and used the occasion of the composer’s centenary in 2008 to pay tribute to his work. One highlight of their activities included a November concert at New York’s Lincoln Center, broadcast live on public television, at which a much-surprised Shaham was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, presented to him by his friend and colleague, conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The season’s festivities culminated in “¡Sarasateada!” – a series of Sarasate concerts in Valladolid, Spain, which were recorded for this CD release. Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works will be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, September 29, when Shaham and Anthony will also perform an all-Sarasate program at the popular downtown music club (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City. Shaham discusses the album in a news release that also includes a full track listing, available at this link: Further details are also available at:

The new release marks the debut of Adele Anthony on Canary Classics, for which she will contribute a concerto album in the near future, pairing the popular Sibelius concerto with a work by Australian composer Ross Edwards. Shaham’s previous release for the label showcased Elgar’s epic violin concerto in a critically-acclaimed performance – with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under David Zinman – that was also a surprise Billboard best-seller. Writing for the Denver Post, Kyle MacMillan called it one of the best albums of 2008, noting, “In peak form, with typically responsive phrasing and fetching, natural tone, Shaham receives forceful backing from Zinman and the orchestra.” David Cairns called it a “fine account” in London’s Times, observing, “Gil Shaham plays with a wonderfully pure, true, expressive tone, and phrases like a master.”

Visit for additional information about Shaham’s recordings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Real winner of an interview!

Host John Clare spoke with Cliburn finalist Di Wu this weekend - she was in town to play Chopin with the Mid Texas Symphony. Listen to their conversation: (mp3 file)
Hear more insights with local performances and guest artists every Thursday afternoon at 2pm with Classical Spotlight!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brown Schoenberg?

Fans of Dan Brown and fans of Arnold Schoenberg unite! The gripping and hilarious parody, The Schoenberg Code is coming your way. Check out Dick Strawser's fun writing here, a spoof of the Da Vinci Code.
The world, of course, celebrated Schoenberg's birthday yesterday, September 13th.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is pictured to the left is a map of a piece of music. The three buildings and two fantastic landscapes represent the 5 movements of Ferruccio Busoni's monumental Piano Concerto in C. While most concerti were composed to show off the capabilities of the soloist, his work takes on life itself from before we are born to the last breath in our bodies. This makes the concerto more like one of Gustav Mahler's transcendental symphonies than an evening's entertainment. So, it is not surprising that Busoni and Mahler were friends.

Tune into the cosmos this Sunday afternoon at 5 when we explore life through the music of Ferruccio Busoni - on the Piano.
host Randy Anderson

Classical Spotlight: Another good look

Classical Spotlight: Another Great Look from Classical Spotlight on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Classical Spotlight: Another Look

Last night @ the dress rehearsal of Madama Butterfly with SA Opera.

Classical Spotlight: First Look

SA Opera: Dress Rehearsal1 from Classical Spotlight on Vimeo.

Classical Spotlight: Opera & more

Join us on Classical Spotlight this afternoon @ 2pm for everything happening in and around San Antonio.
Tomorrow through Sunday it's the new production of Madama Butterfly with the San Antonio Opera, directed by John de Lancie. Take a look at his conversation with host John Clare:

Ranging from the simple strophic styles of the classical period to the mature romantic style of Brahms, Angela Malek & friends trace the history of the Lied and its ties to land and poetry in the German culture. A demonstration on the accompanying Viennese grand piano will also be included. Sunday afternoon @ 3pm at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church.

Also Sunday afternoon, the Mid Texas Symphony and David Mairs present Czech it out @
Jackson Auditorium on the TLU campus in Seguin, starting at 4pm. On the program is Chopin's E minor Concerto with Di Wu, Piano, a 2009 Van Cliburn Finalist and the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak.

Coming up Wednesday, September 16 at 7:30 pm, there's another chance to hear a 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner - Silver Medalist Yeol-Eum Son plays a concert at Ruth Taylor Auditorium @ Trinity University.

The Youth Orchestras of San Antonio will bring Eric Booth to San Antonio on September 16 at 6 p.m. for a lively presentation of YOSA's new Music Learning Center and the music education system that inspires it, Venezuela's El Sistema.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chance for Tchaik

For a limited time, you can listen to a live recording of Janine Jansen play Tchaikovsky's Violin Cocnerto with the LA Philharmonic from NPR Music. Take a listen here.

Her new Beethoven & Britten concerti comes out later this month (just twenty days away, 9/29)!

John Clare had a chance to speak with Jansen about playing (mp3 file) and about musical style (mp3 file)

SA Competition in the news

The 25th SAIPC takes place next month, and is already getting some ink! Here is more about Joan Tower from her publisher, G Schirmer:
This Sunday the competition features Eric Himy in a program called "Gershwin in Paris." Find out more by calling 210 655-0766.
And watch out for more updates between now and October 11th!

Make your own Liszt

We want to know San Antonio's favorite classical pieces! Check out this link to submit your ten favorites, or email them here.
You can take a look at the Telegraph's recommended 100 classics here. This October you'll be able to compare SA vs UK!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fred Mills, Canadian Brass Trumpeter, Dies

Prior to the Canadian Brass, there were the New York Brass Quintet, the American Brass Quintet and numerous other ensembles, largely regional, which played a repertoire of arrangements and transcriptions from the Renaissance and Baroque, much of this published by Robert King, in North Easton, MA. There was also a slight category of early original music for brass ensemble, i.e. the quintets by Victor Ewald and Ludwig Maurer's short pieces. Then, there were contemporary works for 5 brass, almost all written for 2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba. On the other side of the Atlantic, Philip Jones formed the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (PJBE) which produced exciting new sonorities with its standard instrumentation of 10 brass. The PJBE also generated numerous new arrangements and original works which extended the upper reaches of a brass ensemble through use of the piccolo trumpet.

On this side of the Atlantic a dramatic reformation of brass quintet playing came not from innovative Americans, but from the Canadian Brass. Formed in 1970, the Canadian Brass soon attracted attention from the lower reaches of the continent with their showmanship and rethinking of the sonoric possibilities of 5 brass. There is at least modest irony in the fact that the ensemble was originally the brainchild of trombonist Gene Watts and tubist Chuck Daellenbach, for what would soon distinguish the Canadian Brass was the brilliance of the trumpet playing, made even brighter by the frequent use of piccolo trumpet. Just as Philip Jones had extended the range of a large brass ensemble, the Canadian Brass created a quintet sound previously unimagined. Other quintets soon followed, but the Canadian Brass remain the inventor of the modern brass quintet and even today, 39 years later, they reside on the top rung of the brass quintet ladder.

Trumpeter Fred Mills joined the ensemble in 1972 and immediately made an impact with his piccolo trumpet playing and arranging skills. Mr. Mills retired from the Canadian Brass in 1996, though he continued to play and teach at the University of Georgia. Tragically, Frederic Mills died the evening of September 7 as the result of a traffic accident. He will surely be eulogized throughout North America and around the world for his generous and significant contributions to music education and the art of the brass quintet. The headline banner on the Canadian Brass website says it all:

Tonight Gabriel is playing trumpet duets.

Learn more about Fred Mills here: Associated Press story

Learn to fiddle online!

Unique fiddle ensemble Childsplay is launching their new YouTube series Childsplay Lessons, featuring free tutorials by its members.
In the first installment of the series, Childsplay's Bonnie Bewick, also a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, shares her tips and tricks (involving a clever use of your standard ballpoint pen) for sustaining sound at either end of the bow. Watch Bewick's lesson here:

Check for free downloads of this and future episodes in the Childsplay Lessons how-to series.

The 13 tracks on multinational fiddle ensemble Childsplay's newest album, 'Waiting for the Dawn,' integrate the traditional and the modern, with tunes that range from the Scottish folk tune "Rattling Roaring Willie" (with lyrics by Robert Burns) to U2's "Mothers of the Disappeared" to Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," itself an update of the American Civil War song "Aura Lee." The addition of vocals by Crooked Still's Aoife O'Donovan and vocal harmonies, a first for a Childsplay album, weave a timeless tapestry of meaning into the strings' rich timbre.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Be a part of it!

Be on stage with the San Antonio Symphony!
The San Antonio Symphony is about to begin it's 70th anniversary season, and you enjoy the dramatic season opener while supporting KPAC 88.3 FM.

KPAC is auctioning off an enchanted evening on the town for two that includes a romantic dinner, chauffeured limo and exclusive seats on-stage for the San Antonio Symphony's season opening performance of on of the most dramatic and well-known choral pieces ever composed, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with the San Antonio Mastersingers. Also featured that evening is famed violinist Gil Shaham who will perform Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto.

Package Includes
•Two (2) tickets to the San Antonio Symphony's performance of Carmina Burana & Gil Shaham on September 19, 2009 at 7 p.m. (Seats are on-stage with the San Antonio Symphony and San Antonio Mastersingers during the second half of the performance.)
•Dinner for two to Bohanan's Prime Steaks-Seafood.
•Limousine rental for the evening.
•Framable photograph of auction winner and guest on the stage of the Majestic Theater.
•Entry for two (2) to a post-performance champagne meet-and-greet reception with violinist Gil Shaham.
The entire evening is valued at $750. Opening bid is $500. All proceeds benefit Texas Public Radio, home of KPAC 88.3 FM, San Antonio's Classical Oasis.


NOTE: A black tuxedo or suit with bow tie or a black dress are required to sit on the stage during the concert.

Auction Rules
•Please note that by placing a bid you are making a contract between you and Texas Public Radio. Once a bid is placed, it may not be retracted.
•All sales are final.
•Texas Public Radio will contact the high bidder to arrange payment at the conclusion of the auction. Payment can be made by cash, check, or by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card.

SA Hot 100?

No, not the temperature, whew!
Every day, KPAC 88.3 FM aims to soothe and delight with selections from our extensive classical music library. We strive to play the best that classical music has to offer, but now we want to know which pieces of classical music carry you through your day.

KPAC 88.3 FM is counting down San Antonio’s 100 greatest classical hits, and we’re giving you an opportunity to let us know what your favorite pieces of classical music are.

Beginning September 1, we’re taking submissions for your ten favorite classical music pieces. From Schubert to Chopin, Bartók to Beethoven, anything is up for grabs as you pick the music that you love the most.

Submissions will be compiled to build a list of 100 selections that San Antonians call their favorites. Beginning October 16, we’ll countdown your favorites for one week.

Click the here or email ( to make your submission.

And don't forget! You can always pick your classical favorites with Listener's Choice, hosted by KPAC's James Baker, every Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m.

Go to Aida!

Texas Public Radio invites our members to pick up their free passes to the Santikos Embassy Theater for Opera in Cinema's one-night-only screening of Guiseppe Verdi's Aida, performed at La Scala, the world-renowned opera house in Milan, Italy.

TPR has reserved VIP seating at this free screening. Aida will be showing on Thursday, September 10 at 7 p.m. Pick up your passes at our offices, located at 8401 Datapoint, Suite 800, San Antonio, TX 78229.

NOTE: Passes do not guarantee admission, for seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Opera In Cinema's Aida
Thursday, September 10, 7 p.m.
Santikos Embassy Theater
13707 Embassy Row
San Antonio, TX 78216

BONUS: Each pass comes with a 2-for-1 voucher to the San Antonio Opera's upcoming performance of Madame Butterfly!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Classical Spotlight

Join us this afternoon at 2pm for the return of Classical Spotlight on KPAC & KTXI.

Host John Clare speaks with Carolyn True (right) and Bradley Beckman (left) about their concert, Violence & Dances, coming up next Tuesday @ Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Auditorium.

Also, something you might have missed this last summer was the launch of Classical TV. Clare speaks with Founder Chris Hunt about the new service. Check it out for yourself!

This fall will mark the debut of conductor Troy Peters (right) who is the new musical director of YOSA. Peters came by the TPR studios and spoke with Clare about his new role.
YOSA is also presenting Eric Booth with their Music Learning Center on September 16th, find out more here.

Finally, Ursula Mamlok (right) is a gifted composer who is 86 years young. Bridge Records has released the first volume of her music, and host John Clare spoke to her about her music and the new release.
Listen to their conversation here. (mp3 file)

Sample all of today's show, and past shows! as a podcast online here.

And be sure to tune in next week as we talk with two Van Cliburn Piano Competition winners performing in the area, as well as a discussion with John de Lancie, in town to direct SA Opera's production of Madama Butterfly.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Future of Butterfly: SA Opera

We're looking forward to Madama Butterfly with SA Opera next week - keep an eye out for an interview with director John de Lancie with host John Clare.
Here's a sneak peak, the set of the production, set in the future!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

RIP, Kunzel 1935-2009

We are sadden by the news of Erich Kunzel's death. (There is more @ the Cincinnati Enquirer) He leaves a large legacy of recordings, prominmently on Telarc with the Cincinnati Pops.

Last year TPR's Barry Brake spoke with the maestro during the Olympics. Listen to the interview: mp3 file

James Dick @ Round Top

This last Saturday audiences got a preview of the August to April series @ Round Top. Host John Clare was on hand to emcee and film some of the is the finale, with founder & pianist James Dick. He plays two impromptus by Franz Schubert.

Last chance

Today is the deadline!

To enter the Digital Composer-in-Residence competition please send:

1.A printable PDF of your score
2.A sound file of your submission (midi files are accepted if no other option is available)
3.The name of a piece of music by a composer that has influenced you, that you would programme at the live event in November. See guidlines below for more detail.
You can either post your entry to:

Digital Composer-in-Residence Competition
Dilettante Music
Suite 5
46 Manchester Street
London W1U 7LS

Or email your score in pdf format, along with your recording and influencial piece of music to

• Entries should not exceed 8 minutes in length

• Maximum scoring/instrumentation cannot exceed 8 instruments, and should be selected from: violin (1 or 2), viola, cello, piano, trumpet, flute, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, double bass, electronics and voice(s), or any combination therein.

• It is not a requirement that works be composed specifically for the competition, however works that have already been professionally recorded and distributed cannot be submitted.

• Submissions should also include a brief paragraph discussing your influences, with particular reference to the work you have submitted. Please highlight the individual work you would programme at the finalists concert. If you are a finalist, this ‘influential work’ will be performed at the 5th November concert. For this reason, it must be a chamber work for a maximum of eight instruments as detailed in the instrumentation guidelines above.

• Entrants may enter only one composition

• Anyone can enter, but you do need to be a Dilettante member (if you’re not already) and joining Dilettante is free.

The closing date for entries is 1 September 2009. Entries received after this date will not be considered.

The Digital Composer-in-Residence is a ‘virtual’ residency, so the winner will be expected to participate in a number of online activities on the Dilettante site.

If you have any questions about the competition, or you're not sure about something, feel free to email us on