Monday, March 30, 2009

Motion and music

I love to hear live music - you'll almost always find me at a concert (I've been the guy with the mohawk at classical events this fall, winter and part of the spring) whenever I can go.

This weekend I heard one of my favorite ensembles, the San Antonio Symphony in a program of Bartok and Brahms. The soloist was Sarah Chang, who signed cds at Antonio Strad Violins Thursday afternoon as well as at the concerts.

It was wonderful to meet Sarah and to hear her live. What was not so wonderful was how she moved. Really. It was one of the oddest things I've witnessed in a concert. She paced, kicked (perhaps the most distracting with her gown), and continually came close to hitting the conductor - principal 2nd violinist - and the first stand of 1st violins. Add wildly releasing her bow after certain passages and you end up with very odd choreography with one of the monumental violin concertos. Ultimately it was disappointing and distracting, from the music and her performance.

During the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra the house lights were left on (sort of the opposite of Earth Hour?) and was also a lackluster interpretation from Andrew Grams. Three concertgoers behind me also insisted on talking during the entire work. I asked them at intermission to please refrain from doing so, that it is rude to other people there to listen to the music to speak except in between movements or after the work is over.

Be sure to check out the San Antonio Symphony this week with maestro Chosei Komatsu, joined by Roger Wright, piano (2003 San Antonio International Piano Competition Winner) in a program including Gutiérrez: Improvisation for Strings; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3; and Dvořák's Symphony No. 6.

But I will ask one thing - okay - two things: 1) Please don't talk during the music.
2) Only give a standing ovation if you are so moved by the music and performance that you are forced to leap to your feet as soon as the music is over. Standing ovations mean nothing anymore because they happen all the time. Everything gets a standing ovation from everyone. Be different, don't do it because everyone else is...make it something special - when you HAVE to get up and says thanks, by applauding and yelling and hopping up...not just getting up because someone else did.

John Clare, Classical Spotlight & KPAC afternoon host

Did you hear the concert - what did you think? Are you someone who believes in applauding no matter what, or ever been tempted to "boo" a performance? Let us in know in the comments section!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cowboys & Indians

Here I am a tough desperado ready for trouble. A bust-up with bad guys or a shoot-out with Indians could breakout at any moment!

I am Randy Anderson and on the Piano this Sunday - Cowboys & Indians. At the end of the 19th century there was a great intellectual curiosity in Native Americans and their music. The best example of this are the "Indian" themes from Dvorak's Symphony from the New World. These fragments were collected by the American Indianists and arranged for the most popular instrument of the day, the piano. You will be amazed at how far these musical notations reached out into the musical world. Then there are cowboy songs and the folks that collected them. It is wild to think of a Cowboy musical, but there was one.
Hear these truly American pieces on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 here on KPAC and KTXI.

host Randy Anderson

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Classical Spotlight: TX Mysterium

Live at the TPR Studios...
Here is the first work, Call up the storm:

And the other, rain music:


Hear the interview at here. Mysterium of Modern Music from Texas State University at San Marcos plays in San Antonio Saturday night at 7pm.

Maestro Andrew Grams

Texas Public Radio will speak with all the candidates for the San Antonio Symphony Music Director Search and have them on Classical Spotlight. You'll get a chance to learn more about the maestros - don't forget to attend the symphony and fill out the questionaire as well!

This week we talk with Andrew Grams. John Clare asked about the program, music and having a violin background.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Impromptu

Do you know Dr. Nan? You might have seen her play around town, or heard her on The Piano, or caught her video. Tomorrow you can hear Nicole Narboni on WFMT at 4pm (central) here.

Classical Spotlight: SXSW

Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, was featured Saturday night at SXSW.





The Elysian Quartet, seen below left, and violin-and-laptop duo John Matthias and Nick Ryan performed. In between sets, Prokofiev will DJ.
Joining Saturday's Nonclassical showcase was Austin's own contingent for boundary-busting indie classical musicians: Graham Reynolds, Peter Stopschinski (seen right), P. Kellach Waddle and the Tosca String Quartet.

Enjoy this interview with Prokofiev before the show:





http://www.vimeo.com/3818105

Learn more by listening to Classical Spotlight on KPAC & KTXI Thursday afternoons at 2pm and online, http://www.tpr.org/programs/classicalspotlight.html

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maestro James Judd

Texas Public Radio will speak with all the candidates for the San Antonio Symphony Music Director Search and have them on Classical Spotlight. You'll get a chance to learn more about the maestros - don't forget to attend the symphony and fill out the questionaire as well!


This week we talk with James Judd. John Clare asked about the program, music and recording cds for Naxos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SA Opera: Dress Rehearsal

San Antonio Opera presents the Mikado Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. Thursday morning they performed for 1700 middle school and high school students.


The Mikado runs Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and Sunday afternoon at 2 in Lila Cockrell Theater. Learn more by listening to Classical Spotlight on KPAC & KTXI Thursday afternoons at 2pm and online, http://www.tpr.org/programs/classicalspotlight.html

At the Dress Rehearsal

The Mikado with San Antonio Opera, dress rehearsal Thursday morning...

Classical Spotlight: SA Opera

San Antonio Opera presents The Mikado this weekend (tomorrow through Sunday) at the Lila Cockrell Theater. They've also just announced their 2009-2010 season, take a look at their press conference, including director John de Lancie!


You can hear the whole Gilbert and Sullivan work with San Antonio Opera tomorrow through Sunday at Lila Cockrell Theater. Tickets and information at 225-5972 or online at SA Opera dot com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Classical Spotlight: Angela Malek

Recently soprano Angela Malek and pianist Kristin Roach came by the TPR Studios to talk about their performance of French songs, Sunday March 22nd at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. They also sang some Jacques Leguerney!



Tune in for the full interview on Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoon at 2pm on KPAC and KTXI.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1K Classics

An archive of 1,000 classical music recordings has been put online. The British Library Archival Sound Recordings project includes previously unheard concertos and sinfoniettas from composers such as Bach. There are also orchestral suites and concerti by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms.
The recordings are available to visitors to the British Library reading rooms and can also be accessed by the public at home. However music can only be streamed rather than downloaded.
The two-year project has been funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, an offshoot of the education funding councils.

Now read about James Baker's story of recordings...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Behind the scenes

I thought you might enjoy some shots from SOLI Chamber Ensemble during the filming of their rehearsal early this month.
They perform tonight at Gallery Nord and tomorrow at Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Recital hall.

You can also check out these webisodes online here.



Friday, March 13, 2009

John Eliot Gardiner Plays Brahms

New Brahms reviewed by James Baker



Of all the movements in classical music over the past 35 years, the period instrument movement was one of the most controversial. Not only did it force listeners to confront the possibility that the performance styles they had grown up with were invalid, but it also forced listeners to hear so-called historically valid performances which were painfully short on technical merit. We all recall the strange timbres of historical instruments and the unreliable intonation of the instruments and the players. Not only that, but we began to hear some of our favorite music played at speeds which were contrary to modern convention – sometimes slower, but more often faster than we could comfortably accept.

Throughout the emergence of these historically informed performances there were numerous mistakes and mis-steps. Sometimes the academicians who were doing the historical grunt work were not the best at actually showing us how the music should sound. Performance technique was still well behind the playing by musicians who used modern instruments. Listeners fell into two camps which rarely shared company in the concert hall. Proponents of period instrument performance could often not be dragged in to hear a modern symphony orchestra, especially if they were playing Bach or Handel. On the reverse face of the coin, those who preferred their Bach conducted by Herbert von Karajan would only deride those ensembles such as Collegium Aureum which valiantly labored on in search of performances which would sound as though they came from Bach’s hand.

Over the years a new performer began to emerge, one who studied and tamed the early instruments. Concurrently, instrument makers began to copy old instruments, so called period instruments, working from an historical intention but with modern workshops in which to build their authentic instruments. As these two factors came together, ensembles such as Concerto Koln, Concentus Musicus and the English Baroque Soloists rose as cream to the top and began to show the true possibilities for playing and hearing old music in new ways.



John Eliot Gardiner entered the scene in 1964 when he formed the Monteverdi Choir. The Monteverdi Orchestra, an ensemble which played modern instruments, followed. In these early years, Gardiner’s approach was one which has emerged in the 21st century as a valid compromise to going completely historic in performance approach. Gardiner and his musicians played in a style which was informed by study of early performance practice. Their reasoning was that performance thus rooted would honor more closely the intentions of the composer. This resulted in performances like those found in Gardiner’s recording of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.


At this point, Gardiner was on the verge of retooling his Monteverdi Orchestra into the period instrument ensemble The English Baroque Soloists. With this move, in 1977, Gardiner and his musicians became major players in the still struggling period instrument movement. Although Gardiner’s reputation is still rooted, somewhat in a misinformed manner, in the Baroque and earlier, i.e. Bach, Handel and Monteverdi, he startled us all in 1990 with the formation of his Romantic and Revolutionary Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble meant to play Beethoven, Schumann and, most recently, Brahms.

Gardiner’s talent allows him to move freely from period instrument performance to modern instrument performance. He has a musician’s heart which makes engaging music wherever he might be conducting, whether it be with the Vienna Philharmonic or, more recently, playing Brahms Symphonies with his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. With the Brahms, Gardiner is opening a bold, new arena which is sure to stir both the fans of performances on authentic instruments and those who believe Karajan, Bohm, Solti and others got it right with a modern orchestra.

Gardiner’s new Brahms, there are now two volumes released, including the First and Second Symphonies, is about more than just the sound of the late-19th Century orchestra. The new recordings include examples of Brahms’ choral music with orchestra, underpinning Gardiner’s intellectual and musical argument that these are important bridges into Brahms’ purely orchestral writing. He presents the evidence in a convincing manner, but also in entertaining interpretations. These are performances which come from the collective hearts and souls of Gardiner’s committed musicians and even if they don’t sway the reluctant listener to the ways of period instrument performance, they will entertain and engage. The tempi are perhaps a bit faster than you will be accustomed to, but give them a chance and they won’t disappoint those seeking well-interpreted Brahms. Within moments there are “aha” phrases and musical gestures which will focus your attention on what Gardiner is about. Yes, the historically valid instruments do lend a transparency to the orchestral timbre, but Gardiner and his musicians also show us other ways of approaching Brahms at a number of different interpretive levels, and this is why you might want to put these recordings onto your music player and spend some time with them. The playing is of the first rank. There are few technical limitations which will distract the listener from Brahms’ great symphonic vision. If you like Brahms, you will not come away disappointed. If you don’t like Brahms (and I accept there may be a few of you out there), listen with an open mind and the freshness of these performances just might show you the possibilities.


The entire cycle of Brahms Symphonies has now been recorded. I don’t know the release schedule, but notable is the fact that these are being produced for and marketed by Gardiner’s own label Soli Deo Gloria. This is worth supporting! Recordings are available through amazon.com and also by download from eMusic.com.

Spotlight: Soley SOLI

An indepth look at SOLI Chamber Ensemble's Soley SOLI concerts on March 16th and 17th, 2009. Conversations with Diego Vega, Kevin Puts, and Robert Xavier Rodriguez, plus music by Henry Purcell and John Williams. Includes rehearsal footage from early March with the ensemble and interviews not seen before.


Produced by John Clare for Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.

Green Sounds

There's a concert tomorrow (Saturday) at 7pm in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio sanctuary. An acoustic guitarist, singer, and composer who furthers the ideals of ecology, justice, and peace, Jim Scott makes an impact on hearts and minds across the world. Tickets are $10 or $15 at the door. All the benefits go to Jim Scott and our committee to help make our campus a Green Sanctuary, beginning with the addition of a rainwater catchment system. I hope this is not too late of notice, but we would love for you to come join our cause and listen to some great music! We have a blog writeup here (http://firstuugreen.wordpress.com/) and Jim's website is here (http://www.jimscottsongs.com/) for more information.

Home from the Sea

Learning music is always a good step when you are young, because you never know when its discipline and diversion will come in handy. Albert Roussel came from a seafaring family and it was no surprise that he joined the French Navy. Seeing the world and battling the elements were however not enough for our mid-shipman and in middle age he turned his attention to music, studying with Eugène Gigout and at the Schola Cantorum with Vincent D'Indy. Attracted to the color and harmonies of Impressionism, Roussel added his own sense of Classical Architecture and restraint. Besides his composing, Roussel was very influential as a teacher to such composers as Satie, Edgard Varese and Bohuslav Martinu.

The beauty, adventure and clean construction of Roussel's music comes across in his piano pieces as well, which you can hear this Sunday afternoon at 5 here on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This Weekend's Itinerarios


Bazilian brass on Sunday's Itinerarios: There has long been a buzz about the lively dance music coming out of Brazil. Sambas and bossa-novas are played and danced even in such unlikely places as Helsinki. But more and more, Brazil’s musical exports have diversified and now we find the orchestras, such as the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, drawing followers through their recordings and their international touring. Now add the Quintetto Brassil, an ensemble of 5 Brazilian brass players, to Brazil’s cultural exports. Their repertoire runs from original compositions to arrangements of traditional dances of Northeastern Brazil. On this weekend’s presentation of Itinerarios, music with Latin American roots, we will revel in the sonority of Brazilian brass. I’m James Baker, host and producer of Itinerarios, hoping you will join me Sunday at 7 pm for this and more on KPAC-San Antonio, your classical oasis.

Soley SOLI: webisode 6

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, continuing today with this webisode: John Clare speaks with composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez about teaching and teachers.

Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soley SOLI: webisode 5

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, continuing today with this webisode: John Clare speaks with composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez about technology.

Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Release: Mark O'Connor

The latest from OMAC is Mark O'Connor's Americana Symphony. The release has O'Connor's Symphony No. 1 "Variations on Appalachia Waltz" and his Concerto No. 6 "Old Brass." Simply put, it is music that reflects the hope of our nation and times.

O'Connor brilliantly builds on his own music in his symphony. Each movement embraces a different aspect of our country, from dances and jigs to scenes of the sky, sun and open spaces. After numerous performances around the country (and I expect there to be many more as this release is heard by managers and audiences alike) the Baltimore Symphony recorded the Americana Symphony with director Marin Alsop. Let's hope Mark pens at least eight more of them!
The other work featured is O'Connor's sixth concerto. It was inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright plantation in South Carolina. If there is one thing that can out shine Mark O'Connor's composition, it is Mark O'Connor's violin playing. O'Connor fiddles, twangs and charms his melodies in brilliant orchestrations with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. Set as a traditional concerto as fast-slow-fast, there is nothing formulaic about it.
Take a listen to an interview with Mark O'Connor from this last December. [mp3 file] Afternoon Host John Clare

Soley SOLI: Webisode 4

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, continuing today with this webisode: John Clare speaks with composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez about Musica por un tiempo.


Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soley SOLI: Webisode 3

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, continuing today with this webisode, rehearsing the music: John Clare shows behind the scenes at a rehearsal of Musica por un tiempo.


Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Symphony announces new season

The San Antonio Symphony has announced its 2009-2010 season - the Symphony's 70th anniversary. Opening the season is a special, one-night-only performance of Carmina Burana, Saturday, September 19. The Symphony also features violinist Gil Shaham performing Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto.
Christopher Seaman will continue as the San Antonio Symphony's Artistic Advisor for the 2009-2010 season. Single tickets go on sale in August.
The San Antonio Symphony subscription series consists of 28 Classics and 12 Pops concert performances; Educational concerts include 24 Young People's Concert performances, a week-long St. Philip's College Residency program, a Side-by-Side with Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, four Interactive Family Concerts and numerous Community Engagement and Neighborhood Concerts.
"Developing this Symphony season took a great deal of balance, as we wanted to give conductors an opportunity to showcase their best talents to the community, while also providing the same story-telling, entertainment and emotional retreat experience audiences have come to enjoy in our classical performances," explained Maestro Seaman. "The selected pieces are a great equalizer in that we are showcasing the orchestra and the conductors' depth while reminding audiences why classical music is fun and transformative."
The 2009-2010 Classics Series includes Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and many others. Guest soloists include soprano Dawn Upshaw, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, guitarist Manual Barrueco, bassoonist Sharon Kuster and concertmaster Ertan Torgul.
"The 2008-2009 season kicked off our music director search and created a unique opportunity for the community to enjoy many exciting new conductors," said Jack Fishman, Symphony President/CEO. "We are delighted to bring many of them back and showcase new candidates this season as we move closer to finding the next San Antonio Symphony music director."
The Symphony will continue its Interactive Family Classics Series, which encourages children and their parents to "get up close and personal" with musical instruments during pre-concert activities and a condensed, hour-long concert. Audience members meet the conductor and symphony musicians before each concert to discover the joys and challenges of conducting and playing live, orchestral music. The Symphony will perform four Sunday afternoon concerts for families at Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium again next season. The Young People's Concert Series, which aims to inspire, educate, and entertain young people through the performance of live symphonic music, will encompass four weeks of concerts and twenty-four performances at Laurie Auditorium as well.
"Education is a key component of every symphony season, and we are excited to see opportunities grow for students in San Antonio and the surrounding communities to experience classical music and learn the joys of playing a musical instrument," Fishman said. "They are our future community leaders and music lovers."
Listen for the 2008-2009 season later this summer on KPAC and KTXI!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Live in the Studio

Last month the Southwest Guitar Festival was held around town, from UTSA, to the Majestic, to the studios of KPAC. William Kanengiser, from the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet stopped by and spoke with host John Clare.

Soley SOLI: Webisode 2

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, continuing today with this webisode, making the video: John Clare shows behind the scenes at a rehearsal of Musica por un tiempo.
video
(download this video for your iPhone or iPod here)
Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Classical Spotlight: March 5

This week we feature several local concerts and a new release from Koch International Classics!

Tonight and Sunday don't miss the Symphony of the Hills in a program, "For the Young and Young at Heart". They'll play Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Smetana and Tubby the Tuba. Conductor Jay Dunahoo, pictured right, spoke with host John Clare about the concert. Find out more here.

Tuesday night, the Olmos Ensemble presents a concert of "Romance and Humor" with special guests, Anne Epperson, piano and Linda Poetschke, soprano. Founder and Artistic Director Mark Ackerman, pictured left, came by the TPR studios and talked to us about the program that includes Robert and Clara Schumann, Francaix and Alfred Bachelet.

Finally, Anne Akiko Meyers, pictured right, has a new cd out from Koch called Smile. It features pieces by Piazzolla, Messiaen, Schubert and traditional folk tunes. She spoke from Carnegie Hall about the new release.

Listen to Classical Spotlight every Thursday afternoon at 2pm on KPAC and KTXI, your classical oasis in San Antonio and the Hill Country.

Soley SOLI: Webisode 1

SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents works by John Williams, Kevin Puts, Diego Vega and Robert Xavier Rodriguez next week at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. TPR will feature interviews and music with SOLI, starting today with this webisode of Rodriguez.


Stay tuned for more interviews, music and be sure to listen to Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoons at 2pm for more of the music scene in and around San Antonio!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Congrats

The YouTube Symphony performs next month at Carnegie Hall and they've announced the orchestra musicians - 4 of them from Texas!
Renee Noel Gilliland El Paso, 22
Jacqueline Morant Keller, 26
Wade Coufal Pearland, 17
Dawson White Waco, 21
Congratulations! Hear more about it here.