Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sony captures Vienna

The Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year's Concerts are the world's most watched classical events. Starting in January 2012, the concert recordings will appear on Sony Classical. The contract, ironically signed last week in Salzburg, encompasses releases on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
The New Year's Concert is broadcast from Vienna's Musikverein to over 70 countries and reaches more than 40 million television viewers. The resulting recordings with works from the Strauss dynasty and their contemporaries are among the classical market's most important releases.
Prof. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg, Chairman, Vienna Philharmonic says "The Vienna Philharmonic is delighted to have found in Sony another prominent partner for our audio and video recordings. We are confident that the New Year's Concert will be enjoyed by an even wider audience thanks to our collaboration with Sony."
From the record giant's side, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, CEO, Sony Music Entertainment stated “For millions of people, the New Year’s Concert is an inspiring way to begin the year; it expresses a universal message of hope and friendship for the year to come. The Vienna Philharmonic devotes itself to the Strauss family’s masterpieces and always presents the world with audio and video recordings of great beauty and enormous appeal. Sony Music is proud to be the orchestra’s new partner for these remarkable releases.”
Finally, President of Sony Classical, Bogdan Roscic says "Sony Classical’s catalogue already contains some legendary New Year’s Concerts, including the famous video of Karajan's only appearance in 1987 and the unforgettable audio recordings documenting Carlos Kleiber's two concerts. I look forward to continuing this tradition and also to ensuring that these recordings attain the success they deserve in all markets."
You can hear the VPO's NYE concerts on KPAC & KTXI every holiday season...and all of September we highlight local symphonic music with the San Antonio Symphony Sunday afternoons at 2pm - the schedule is on the left hand side of this blog!

Classical Spotlight: JoAnn Falletta

Enjoy a talk with JoAnn Falletta, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony. She is also a Naxos recording artist and spends a little bit of her summer at the Round Top Festival here in Texas.
This is an exclusive interview with host John Clare covering new releases, her conducting background and upcoming projects:

Listen for JoAnn's recordings on KPAC & KTXI, and for her return to Round Top next summer! Classical Spotlight returns this Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 at its new time, 1:00pm.

Round Top: Dancing

Here's a sampling from Round Top of their ballet program.

You can see the Nutcracker this December and there are dance classes offered as well!

Monday, August 30, 2010


We thought you might enjoy this with O'Connor and Marsalis!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A brand new 60 year old recording!

On the Piano this Sunday, three recent recordings that feature Slavic composers. Hear the great Horowitz play Islamey the only season it was in his repertoire. Also an etude of Karol Szymanowski and his Sonata No. 3 both performed by Emily White and to bring the program full circle a Canadian pianist, Nareh Arghamanyan plays the Horowitz edition of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Sonata No. 2

On the Piano, this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sizzlin' Opera

A new cookbook is out, Die Oper Kocht (World stars at the stove: The favorite recipes of great voices) that features all sorts of recipes from Angelika Kirchschlager and Jose Carreras to Vesselina Kasarova and Thomas Hampson!
Pictured left is the spicy mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato who shares a recipe for cinnamon rolls!

The "making of" video is a real hoot - using Bazzini's Dance of the Elves:

They also have a facebook like, and the cookbook itself is on Germany's Amazon store.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How did Mozart die? Let me count the ways

We know you probably have seen Amadeus and know the rumor about Salieri, but every since Mozart's death, people have contemplated how Mozart died...read on:

After Mozart’s Death, an Endless Coda
Direct medical evidence? None. Autopsy? Not performed. Medical records? Nowhere to be found. Corpse? Disappeared.
Yet according to a recent article in an academic journal, researchers have posited at least 118 causes of death for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
A modest industry of medical speculation has grown up around the subject, evidence of our fascination with what cut down great creative artists in history. In Mozart’s case published speculation began within a month of his death in 1791, and musicologists, physicians and medical scholars have regularly joined the fray ever since.
Dr. William J. Dawson, a retired orthopedic surgeon who is the bibliographer for the Performing Arts Medical Association, decided to organize the theories. He examined most of the 136 entries in the association’s database dedicated to Mozart’s death, a list by no means comprehensive."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alondra de la Parra's "Mi Alma Mexicana"

Alondra de la Parra's new double CD "Mi Alma Mexicana" continues to be one of the top sellers internationally. KPAC's James Baker recently talked to Alondra about her path to music, her experiences conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas and other ensembles around the world, and the making of the new recording. Listen now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Life before purists...

There was a time when the name of Bach was hyphenated. No, he didn't take his wife's name, but Bach's music was arranged for us so we could hear it on the instruments we are used to; big orchestras and concert grand pianos. Those interested in playing Bach only on organs he would be familiar with moved on to the rest of the instrumental families and soon there was a new reason to record all of Bach, Haydn and Mozart again, this time with authentic instruments. I'm lucky, I like it all. Falling in love with the harpsichord was easy with Paul Mauriat's Love is Blue back in the 1960's. I wanted to learn to play on such an instrument, but that was a real challenge to a broke thirteen year old living in a small town in Texas, so I had to make do with pictures in reference books.

Now in an age with historic instruments rebuilt to play and the thousands of new harpsichords that are assembled as if it was 1640, we listeners and performers have a choice. KPAC's own Gerald Self makes the most beautiful sounding and looking harpsichords I know of and if I had the room I'd have one in my house. It's funny, but when you are young it is the lack of money holding you back and when you have the money well, it's something else.

On the Piano this Sunday, baroque music on a concert grand and I'm not thinking about Bach's music here, but from the golden age of French music at of Couperin and Rameau. Does this music so closely associated with the dynamics and timbre of the harpsichord even work on a piano?

Find out this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano @ KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Top Ten Classical Breakup Songs

As summer draws to a close, so do summer flings. While not all relationships end, some fade just like the hours of daylight. KPAC host John Clare has some listening selections for you, some classical catharsis.

10. Verdi – La forza del destino overture (The force of destiny) [listen here]
9. Fritz Kreisler – Liebesleid (listen here)
8. Panufnik – Autumn Music (listen here)
7. Schumann – First sorrow (Album for the young) [listen here]
6. Corigliano – Of Rage & Remembrance (listen here)
5. Puccini - Con onor muore ("To die with honor") from Madama Butterfly (listen here)
4. Xenakis – Pithoprakta (listen here)
3. Kurtag - Ligatura Message To Frances-Marie (listen here)
2. Penderecki – Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima (listen here)
1. Gorecki – Symphony No. 3 Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (listen here)

What songs have gotten you through a hard breakup?

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Release: Glass by McDuffie

This year the San Antonio Symphony features violinist Robert McDuffie in a new work, The American Four Seasons by Philip Glass. McDuffie's recording is coming out soon:

The cd and download will be released October 12, 2010. McDuffie performs in San Antonio on April 1&2, 2011.

Eat Pray Love Classical Style

Perhaps you read the 2006 memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" or went and saw the movie this weekend. Author Elizabeth Gilbert chronicles the her trip around the world after a divorce, and what she discovered during her travels. Julia Roberts portrays Gilbert in the movie:

While the soundtrack for the movie has Gilberto, Neil Young and Eddie Vedder amongst others, we thought you might enjoy a classical take on EAT, PRAY, LOVE.

William Walton's masterpiece, Belshazzar's Feast:

Alan Hovhaness' Prayer of St. Gregory:

Nino Rota's Score for Romeo and Juliet:

What are some of your favorites to Eat Pray Love? Tell us in the comments section.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Doing what comes naturally....

The Chinese have a saying, "find a way to make a living doing something you love and you will never have to work another day in your life" - it is easier to follow your heart than to chase a paycheck. Nikolai Medtner was one of the last composer/ pianists and he knew exactly what he wanted to do even though he had a hard time providing for himself and his family. But he stuck to his guns as an artist that believed in himself. When his friend Sergei Rachmaninoff secured for Medtner some tours of America, the pianist insisted on playing his own music rather than offering something more popular that would sell more tickets.

There are a number of contradictions in Medtner's music, it is thick, but must be played lightly, his harmonies are more adventurous than of those by Rachmaninoff and the rhythms are tricky - often tripping up those learning his music. This composer is a romantic classicist and however lyrical or exciting the music the foundations are always in the grand tradition. Brahms would be proud.

Come and explore music from both ends of Medtner's repertoire this Sunday. Hear some tiny Fairy Tales and the massive second piano concerto of Nikolai Medtner on the Piano, this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Was First in SA, now a "first" in NY

Amanda Stewart is the former Principal Trombonist of the San Antonio Symphony...she left last summer to join the New York Philharmonic. We thought you might enjoy catching up with her from an article in today's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/nyregion/12entry.html

Where's SLL?

Well, right now he’s conducting in Australia, but Sebastian Lang-Lessing makes his debut with the San Antonio Symphony as their new Music Director on October 2 with a special concert featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, the “Titan.” Until then, KPAC and the San Antonio Symphony are celebrating the coming season with a fun scavenger hunt that will allow you to win some tickets to that performance, or another San Antonio Symphony performance in October.

From August 17 to September 26, a life-size cutout of the San Antonio Symphony’s new Music Director, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, will be placed at random businesses around town. The “Flat Sebastian” or “SLL” will be at each location for one week, starting on Tuesdays. To win tickets, take a photo of yourself standing next to SLL with your camera or smart phone and send it to tickets@saysmphony.org with your contact information. You may also upload your picture to the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page, and the Symphony will contact you.

Clues as to where to find SLL each week will be broadcast weekdays at 9:00 a.m. on KPAC 88.3 FM, and throughout the day. They will also be available on the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page, and through the Twitter feeds @SASym and @TPRClassical (hashtag #findsll). This blog will also have information.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some light summer reading

Summertime often finds time at the beach or at the pool and extra time to read. What have you been enjoying on your Kindle, iPad, or your "analog" book that you can't set down?

I'd like to recommend a serial online story that is being posted on Dick Strawser's blog, Thoughts on a Train, a parody of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol - his is "The Lost Chord." You can start here for the e-Table of contents.
Strawser describes “The Lost Chord,” as:
a Dr. Dick 'Music Appreciation Thriller,' a novel by Dick Strawser that is, simply put, a musical parody of Dan Brown's “The Lost Symbol.”
And by 'musical,' I don't mean “The Lost Symbol: The Musical,” with songs and dance numbers and lots of tits and feathers: I mean a reworking of the story within a
context of classical music.
Mr. Brown's novel, his third in a series of Robert Langdon mysteries, deals with the Masonic Brotherhood and its secrets, especially trying to discover the whereabouts of the “Ancient Mysteries” which, legend has it, are buried somewhere in Washington D.C. and when found will give the finder immense, unheard of powers.
My parody of his novel, on the other hand, deals with Musicians – particularly composers who would seem, according to most normal people, something of a select group, a secret society with its own language and rituals and visions – and it deals with the mysteries of creativity and inspiration, among other things. These “old secrets,” handed down by masters of composition to their students over the generations, through the centuries, create a distinct link with the past no matter how new the music.
In Brown's original, the clues are found on the Masonic Pyramid. In my parody, they're found on a Mozart Bobble-Head Doll (actually, a headless bobble-head doll).
Though there is no legend I know of, I think anyone who's ever wanted to
become a composer wished at one time there were a magic pill out there,
somewhere, that would turn them into The Greatest Living Composer. And that is
the focus of the mystery behind “The Lost Chord.”
You might also enjoy The Schoenberg Code - his musical take on The DaVinci Code! We also recommend checking out Some Books Considered - Dan Skinner's podcast online at http://www.tpr.org/programs/books.html

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What I did this summer

Did you ever have to write a report or do a presentation about "what you did over the summer?" Elementary school, right? Maybe middle school? These days with twitter and facebook, social media pretty much answers those questions! Recently Betty White quipped on Saturday Night Live that "in her day, looking at someone's vacation slides was considered punishment!"
Nonetheless, I was amused when coworkers asked me about what I did this summer...and thought, what a fun post this could be on the blog.
In June, I wrapped up Classical Spotlight and went on the road with YOSA for their "Great Tour of China." It was truly amazing and fun to see young musicians perform and interact across China. The food, shopping and sights were spectacular too! On the left hand side is a picture of me on the Great Wall of China.

Here is a video montage of the trip with an appropriate soundtrack by John Adams - The Chairman Dances!

When I arrived back to San Antonio, it was time to take in some summer festivals, Round Top International Music Festival and Institute continued their 40th year - it was a real blast to see and hear old friends in Round Top. Also the Cactus Pear Music Festival got underway in July and it was great seeing Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio. I spent a morning with the Young Artist Program and heard a world premiere by Colin Sorgi.
Later in July I took a leave of absence and documented the West Branch International Music Festival & Academy near Hancock, NY. It was a dreamy two weeks of solo, chamber and orchestral music. I made new friends and enjoyed catching up with old friends too - in a cooler climate surrounded by the Catskills. Pictured on the right is a photo of me with the concertmaster of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra, Sir Lars Bjørnkjær on the deck of the West Branch Angler Resort.
Here is a great example of the orchestra at WBIMF, conducted by Christian Hørbov-Meier, performing Jean Sibelius' Romance, Opus 42.

Now the dog days of August are here and I am busy preparing videos of this summer, plus practicing violin, and setting up the new season of Classical Spotlight (Thursday afternoons at 2pm, returning September 2nd!) I'll also return to Round Top on August 28th for their preview concert of the August to April series at Festival Hill.
I would love to know what you have been doing over the summer. CEO Jack Fishman has shared what he has been up to, as well as some of the musicians of the San Antonio Symphony on his blog. Post a comment here, or send an email and photo to john@tpr.org.
John Clare, afternoon announcer & Classical Spotlight host

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hall of famer

We tweeted last week the great news about Carl Kasell being named to the Radio Hall of Fame. Perhaps you met Carl during his visit to San Antonio last May (pictured with TPR members on the right). We love hearing him on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on sister station KSTX...evidently there was some jealousy from another radio personality, find out more about the "scruff" here: Carl Kasell responds to Howard Stern’s attacks

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria & Sala Nezahualcoyotl

There are a few concert venues around the world which are so special as to allow musicians to play at their very best. The Sala Nezahualcoyotl, in Mexico City, is one such acoustic space. The hall was the brainchild of Eduardo Mata while he was conductor of the Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM (OFUNAM) back in the 1970s. Interestingly, Maestro Mata replicated many of the special qualities of the Sala Nezahualcoyotl when he spearheaded the design and construction of the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

From the beginning the Sala Neza, as it is affectionately known, has been the home of the OFUNAM. It has also hosted other of the Mexican orchestras in special concert series and is a favorite venue for the international performers who pass regularly through Mexico City. Since 1978, Sala Nezahualcoyotl has also been home of the summer invitational orchestra known as the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria.

Not only is the Sala Nezahualcoyotl acoustically satisfying, it is also a treat to the eye. Add to this the fact it sits amongst a spectacular ancient lava flow, within walking distance from several pre-Colombian ruins, and you have myriad reasons to include hearing a concert at the Sala Neza on your next visit to Mexico City. You will be glad you did.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Berlioz of the Piano

What a descriptive phrase! Hector Berlioz with his imagination, love of the macabre and a penchant for monster, certainly nails down an impression, but of whom? Liszt, sure, maybe Anton Rubinstein, but this was said of Charles Valentin Alkan. This little known French composer/ pianist is hard to come to grips with; he avoided people, publicity and concerts. He was a friend of Chopin, who lived in the same apartment building and after his death in 1849; it was Alkan who inherited Chopin's pupils and unfinished notes on a teaching manual by the Polish composer.

What characterizes Alkan's music is it's incongruity between an arch conservative who was also one of the wildest romantics. Imagine a cross between a teenaged Mozart and Edgar Allen Poe and you are getting into the strange space that Alkan occupies in music.

This isn't music for the faint hearted performer. I've noticed that some composer's piano music often looks unique, like the fingerprints of the artist are visible on the printed page. Chopin's music does not look like Beethoven and Schumann isn't like Bach, no matter how hard he tried. Alkan's music looks blocky like Liszt's, but it is thick, really thick. The music looks so straight forward that you think you might be able to sight read some of it and then the thickness and complexity of the chords start to intimidate you and all it takes to finish your enthusiasm, is a glance at the time signature and this is where most pianists throw up their hands. Playing music this thick, rhymically tricky and fast isn't for the average pianist.

The people who take the trouble to learn Alkan are a special bunch. These are not pieces for a typical recital. The Symphonie for Piano solo is an offering for those connoisseurs that spend their time reading about and listening to composers that only show up as footnotes in main stream music books. You need a sterling technique, lots of stamina and what the Italians call bravura, the ability to whip up the piano into a froth of notes. That will get you entrance into the interesting and unusual world of Alkan.

Tune in for an introduction to this conservative/ wild man in the age of Romanticism on the Piano this Sunday at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

William Schuman 100th

Today marks 100 years since William Schuman was born. A gifted composer, Schuman was also an arts force in America and led many organizations including Lincoln Center, Schrimer Music, Juilliard and won the first Pulitzer Prize in Music!
Here is an interview I did a few years ago with the president of the Juilliard School about his grand book on Schuman:

Joseph Polisi on American Muse from John Clare on Vimeo.