Thursday, September 30, 2010

Under the Hood

Bridge over the Platte River. Photo by Nathan Cone.
Classical stations convene in Denver for annual PRPD Conference.

In September 2010, I attended the annual PRPD (Public Radio Program Directors) conference, held in Denver. Nearly 500 attendees from all over the country convened to discuss public radio’s future. The big topics at the conference included fostering an atmosphere of openness and inclusiveness within the public radio system to encourage diversity, and mobile technology’s role in the way people access public radio content.

Program Directors from several classical music stations gathered in a special session pre-conference, and one of the many breakout sessions at PRPD was about re-imagining the role of music services in public media.

Below are some of my notes and observations from the classical session:

Anya Grundmann of NPR Music noted the popularity of the still new NPR spinoff website. There were 70,000 page views last week. Chatting online during live performances has been a successful experiment. Similar to, stations can partner with NPR Music through an API that will feed music content to their own sites, something KPAC hopes to be able to do in the not-too-distant future with our own web redesign. NPR Music is also interested in partnering with member stations for content creation, from performance audio/video to themed music streams, curated and hosted by member stations.

Frank Dominguez (WDAV) presented the “Concierto” service, a bilingual music program and stream similar to KPAC’s own Itinerarios program. KPBS picked it up for broadcast. Emphasis has been placed on conductors like Gustavo Dudamel, composers like Chavez or Ponce, and the fact that classical music isn’t just European or Anglo music, it’s your [=Latino audience’s] music. Dominguez says presenting bilingually for that brief program on WDAV represents an open door to the world of classical music for non-English speakers.
Also of interest to reaching a Latino audience, Classical South Florida has posted a lot of outdoor advertising—in Spanish—to reach Latino listeners. Their area is 50-50 Latino, and their audience registers 49% Latino, tracking similar to our own (46% of KPAC’s audience is Hispanic/Latino).

American Public Media debuted their “Classical Live” series of concerts. The idea is to look for the most interesting concerts happening in a particular month, and tell the story behind the concerts as well as hear the music. For example, Classical Live will broadcast Gustavo Dudamel’s opening concert with the LA Philharmonic on October 7 at 9pm Central; in January, the Nashville Symphony makes its post-flood return to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center; and also in January, the New World Symphony Hall in Miami is christened with the New World Symphony debut there. KPAC is excited to broadcast this live concert series.

There continued to be more discussion of ways classical stations can better engage their audiences and interact. Some stations have an Educational Outreach position on staff; other stations have dabbled with continuing education courses for adults in music appreciation. Young listeners enjoyed getting free station-branded hoodies or other swag from their public radio stations.

On the mobile tech front, some stations are beginning to develop station-branded apps for smart phones that do more than just play your station. WBUR allows listeners to suggest story ideas, donate through their phone, or access podcasts and more through their phone. What about for classical stations? Perhaps a mobile concert calendar with locations mapped out on your smart phone? All of these mobile apps and tech ideas take time to develop, and yes, money.

All in all, there was plenty of food for thought in Denver. But we’d like to know what *you* think. Comment on this blog post, or send your thoughts to me through email.

--Nathan Cone, Director of Classical Programming

Classical Spotlight Sells out

This week we highlight concerts from Mission Espada to the Callioux Theater!

Mostly Motets
The San Antonio Chamber Choir starts their 2010-11 season with a concert celebrating the music of Heinrich Schutz, Brahms and Rindfleisch .
Fri, Oct 1 - 8 pm   Mission Espada
Sat, Oct 2 - 8 pm  Mission Espada
Sun, Oct 3 - 3 pm  St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Visit for more information.

At the Helm
Sebastian Lang Lessing starts his tenure as Music Director of the San Antonio Symphony Saturday night.  On the program is Mahler's First Symphony, Brahms' “Lost Youth”, “In Silent Night”, “Evening Serenade” and Bizet's “Avec la garde montante”. The concert is sold out...but they begin their regular season next weekend, October 8 & 9 with Christopher Seaman, conductor and pianist Jeffrey Swann in a program including Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 2, "London".  Find out more at SASymphony dot org.

If it's not Baroque
Musical Bridges Around The World presents Mercury Baroque, a chamber ensemble from Houston, performs the opera “La Serva Padrona” by Giovanni Pergolesi staged with period costumes and furniture.
Also Edwin Colon Zayas - award-winning master of the Puerto Rican cuatro national instrument - plays a blend of native folk and dance music, and salsa with Sabor a Cultura, a group of musically-gifted youngsters from Cayey, Puerto Rico.
It takes place Sunday afternoon at 3 at McAllister Auditorium, on the campus of San Antonio College, 1300 San Pedro. More at 210-464-1534 or

What's Opera Doc?
Symphony of the Hills start their 2010-11 season next Thursday, October 7, at 7:30pm. The program from the Callioux Theater in Kerrvile is called Opera Highlights - featuring local and regional vocalists in excerpts from favorite operas.  Dr. Jay Dunnahoo leads Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and more!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Classical Spotlight: Mahler First Symphony

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mahler's First Symphony but were afraid to ask...the San Antonio Symphony performs Mahler One this Saturday as they welcome their new music director Sebastian Lang Lessing (pictured right).

GUSTAV MAHLER: Born in Kalischt, Bohemia, July 7, 1860; died in Vienna, May 18, 1911

I. Langsam. Schleppend. "Wie ein Naturlaut" - Immer sehr gemächlich (Slow. Dragging. “Like a sound of nature.” - Always very easygoing)
II. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (with vigorous movement, yet not too fast)
Trio: Recht gemächlich (well moderated)
III. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppend (solemn and measured without dragging)
IV. Stürmisch bewegt (stormily)
INSTRUMENTATION: 4 flutes (3 doubling piccolo), 4 oboes (1 doubling English horn), 4 clarinets (1 doubling bass clarinet, 2 doubling E-flat clarinet), 3 bassoons (1 doubling contrabassoon), 7 horns, 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani (2 players), bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tam-tam, harp, and strings
Download the score here at IMSLP.

Audiences in Gustav Mahler's time didn't know what to make of his music. Today, we're used to movies and TV shows that careen from action-packed explosions to romance, from comedy to melodrama. But more than a century ago, when Mahler inserted folk melodies into his enormous symphonies, some listeners thought he was nuts.
Mahler's First Symphony was originally conceived as a tone poem in two parts. Loosely based on Jean Paul's novel Titan, the structure was this: Part I: "From the Days of Youth," Music of Flowers, Fruit and Thorn—1. Spring and No End; 2. Flowers; 3. In Full Sail; Part II: "The Human Comedy"—4. "Stranded!" Funeral March in the Style of Callot; 5. D'all Inferno al'Paradiso (From Hell to Heaven). These titles were accompanied by more extensive programs describing the metaphorical content of each movement. In Jean Paul's Titan we have a youth gifted with a burning artistic desire that the world has no use for, and who, finding no outlet or ability to adapt, gives way to despair and suicide. Mahler apparently saw himself in this figure, as he described this work as autobiographical in a very loose sense. On the other hand the music, some of which Mahler actually accumulated from various earlier works, contradicts this program in so many ways, especially in the triumphant conclusion, that Mahler later withdrew it. He eventually came to scorn the application of specific programs to his symphonies in general.

With the sole exception of Brahms, and possibly Sibelius, there is probably no other composer than Gustav Mahler whose First Symphony represents such a towering achievement. But whereas Brahms was 43 when his First Symphony was completed, and Sibelius was well into his thirties, Mahler was just 28 when he finished his. The gigantic orchestral fresco was begun in 1884 and completed four years later. Mahler subtitled the work “Titan,” after a novel by Jean Paul. The first performance took place in Budapest on November 20, 1889 with the composer conducting. In 1896, Mahler eliminated the so-called “Blumine” (Flowers) movement, which did not resurface until 1959.

Among the innovations one can point to in this symphony are the largest assemblage of orchestral musicians hitherto required in a symphony, and the incorporation of café, pop and gypsy music, especially in the Funeral March. The evocation of nature in a symphony had been realized before (notably in Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and in Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique), but nowhere else are the very sounds of nature so pervasively and integrally bound up with the symphonic thought than in the first movement of Mahler’s First. The opening moments of the work are unforgettable - that sustained, distant sound of strings spread across a six-octave range vividly suggests the mystery and peace of the night into which are interjected cuckoo calls, far-off fanfares and fragments of still-unformed melodies. Mahler described the passage as depicting the awakening of nature from its long winter sleep. The mood of the lengthy slow introduction is finally dispelled by the sprightly theme of Ging heut’ morgens über’s Feld, (one of the Songs of a Wayfarer, first heard in the cellos), followed by another lusty, outdoorsy theme. The music grows in fervor and intensity, culminating in a mighty outburst from the entire orchestra. The release of enormous, pent-up energy is crowned by three great whoops from the horn section, and the movement continues on its merry way to its ultimate conclusion.

The second movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 is a folk dance. The robust scherzo movement is notable for its heavy rhythmic impulses derived from the Ländler, a rural Austrian dance. Special effects here include the use of the woodwind section en masse (often up to 12 players) in featured roles, breathtaking fanfares from the horns and trumpets, and signals from the “stopped” horns with their bells raised (“stopped” here meaning the players’ right hands are pushed deep into the bells, choking off the sound). A charming Trio, introduced by a poetic horn call, provides gentle contrast.

The third movement is a spooky funeral march, with klezmer accents, based on the "Frere Jacques" melody (“Bruder Martin” in German-speaking lands). The original title of “Funeral March” refers to Mahler’s parodistic portrayal in sound of a mock funeral procession, depicted in a book of Austrian fairy-tales. Beasts of the forest accompany a dead woodsman’s coffin to his grave. The use of a double bass instead of a cello to begin the “Frère Jacques” tune adds a touch of the grotesque. The tune is used as a canon or round, with additional instruments taking up the tune in turn (bassoon, cellos, tuba, etc.) without waiting for the previous one to finish.

After this material has run its course we hear a new, sentimental theme in the oboes, this one also bearing a counter-theme, now in the trumpets. Suddenly the sounds of a country fair intrude, music of a gypsy band with its corny melodies and relentless “um-pah” accompaniment. And then, as if from another world, Mahler offers an interlude of quiet repose - almost a dream sequence - in music of sublime beauty and gossamer textures. Eventually the mournful “Frère Jacques” music returns and the movement slowly recedes into the furthermost reaches of audibility.

Anyone who has dozed off to the third movement’s funereal tread will be instantly and rudely shocked back to his senses with the hellish outburst that opens the finale, one of the most terrifying passages in all music. To Mahler, that opening cymbal crash followed by the roar of drums represented a flash of lightning emitted from a thunder cloud. Strings swirl and rage, woodwinds in their highest registers scream in anguish, brass proclaim terrifying fanfares, and percussion evoke the din of battle and cataclysmic conflicts.
When the torrent of notes finally subsides, strings sing a consoling, infinitely tender and yearning song. The violent conflicts return, but this time they result in heroic proclamations from the brass. However, victory and fulfillment are not quite yet achieved. In another long, generally quiet passage, the music slowly gathers momentum, ultimately reaching a towering climax for which Mahler instructs the entire horn section to stand while it delivers fanfares from within an orchestra gleaming in a thousand dazzling, spectacular colors.
In 1899, audiences in Vienna hissed when they heard it; they were used to Brahms and Beethoven. But today, it's hard to resist the pull of a piece that begins like Mahler's First: The strings play a single note spread out over seven octaves. Mahler said it was "like a sound of nature."

For the premiere of his First Symphony (in Budapest in 1889), Mahler tried giving the audience something to think about, something to attach itself to. He told people that his music was loosely based on a novel by the popular writer Jean Paul, a novel called The Titan. After the premiere, Mahler started revising his symphony, and he eventually decided to drop the association with Jean Paul's book. But the name, "The Titan," stuck.

Here is the entire symphony with the NY Philharmonic & Lorin Maazel:


KPAC and Antonio Strad Violin invite you to meet and visit with violinist Anne Akiko Meyers at a special in-store CD signing. Join us on Tuesday, October 12, 6pm at Antonio Strad Violin.
Find out more about this Austin based violinist at her website,
Anne's new CD is "Seasons... Dreams." It is released today!
It features 3 world premieres and music with harpist, Emmanuel Ceysson and pianist, Reiko Uchida. On the disc are Beethoven, Debussy, Gershwin, Schnittke, Wagner and Vernon Duke.

‘playing that flows from the heart’  ‘trailblazing violinist’   ‘charting her own course’ 
Anne Akiko Meyers is one of the world’s renowned violinists -a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and educator who is known as one of the most diverse artists collaborating with artists such as Chris Botti, Il Divo and Wynton Marsalis, premiering new works written for her and showcasing under-performed or rarely heard works.
Meyers was born in San Diego, California and grew up in the Los Angeles area before heading to New York. She studied with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, Josef Gingold at Indiana University, and Felix Galimir, Masao Kawasaki and Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. At age 23, she was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, the only artist to be the sole recipient of this annual prize.
In the fall of 2009, she was named Professor of Violin at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2008, she was the first violinist to be a Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles. Meyers has given masterclasses around the world, was a panelist at the Juilliard hosted Starling-DeLay Symposium and is an adjudicator for competitions.
Anne performs on the “Royal Spanish” Antonio Stradivarius violin, dated 1730, that once belonged to the King of Spain.

In store appearance
When: Tuesday, October 12, 6pm.
Where: Antonio Strad Violin
10288 San Pedro
San Antonio, TX 78216
210.349.9788, direct
800.284.9788, toll-free

Monday, September 27, 2010

SA Composer chosen by American Composer's Orchestra

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces Playing It UNsafe, the first and only professional research and development lab to support the creation of cutting-edge new American orchestral music through no-holds-barred experimentation, encouraging composers to do anything but “play it safe.” The composers participating in Playing It UNsafe are Sean Friar, David Heuser, Joan La Barbara, Laura Schwendinger, and Henry Threadgill, selected from a national search for their willingness to experiment and stretch their own musical sensibilities, and their ability to test the limits of the orchestra. Playing It UNsafe grew out of ACO’s ongoing mission to commission and perform new music that expands the range of possibilities for – and challenges convention notions about – orchestral music.
Playing It UNsafe is a season-long initiative that includes a unique incubation process of laboratory workshops and public readings, and collaborative feedback, many open to the public. Audiences will have their first opportunity to see and hear the composers’ works-in-progress at the opening lab workshop, free of charge (no reservations required), on Monday, October 18 from 2-4:30pm at the JCC in Manhattan (334 Amsterdam Avenue). Subsequent lab workshops open to the public will take place on Thursday, December 9 (2-4:30pm); Saturday, January 29 (2-5pm), Tuesday, March 1 (2-4:30pm), and Thursday, March 3 (2-4:30pm). Playing It UNsafe will culminate on Friday, March 4, 2011 at 7:30pm with a concert featuring all of the “unsafe” new works at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan.
None of the new pieces developed for Playing It UNsafe will be conventional or typical orchestral fare. Sean Friar’s Clunker Concerto will be for a percussion ensemble playing a junked car with the orchestra; saxophonist and composer/improviser Henry Threadgill asks orchestra members to improvise and interact at an extremely high level, yielding a new strategy for the conductor to lead the orchestra in No Gate, No White Trenches, Butterfly Effect; vocalist and composer Joan La Barbara’s sound painting for voice and orchestra, In solitude this fear is lived, will utilize orchestra members placed throughout the entire concert hall; Laura Schwendinger will collaborate with her lighting-designer cousin Leni Schwendinger to fuse music and visuals into a seamless mix; and David Heuser’s Dysfunctional Families will pit orchestral instrument families against each other in an uprising that threatens to overthrow the conductor.
Playing It UNsafe is unusual in that it does away with the expectations often associated with orchestral premieres that can squelch composers’ creative impulses – limited rehearsal time, restrictive instrumental possibilities, pre-conceived programmatic or thematic ideas for concerts – and most importantly, the overwhelming pressure on composers to do something “safe.”
Playing It UNsafe will feature Orchestra Underground, ACO’s groundbreaking small orchestra ensemble that seeks to redefine orchestra music by embracing a wide gamut of musical styles, unusual instrumentations and spatial orientations of musicians, technological innovations, and multimedia/multidisciplinary collaborations. Since its launch in 2004, Orchestra Underground has commissioned and premiered nearly 50 cutting-edge new works. The program is a major expansion of a pilot program ACO undertook two seasons ago, and a desire by the orchestra to serve as a catalyst for new ideas within the orchestra community.

About the Playing It UNsafe Composer David Heuser's Dysfunctional Families (
Dysfunctional Families is a piece about the orchestra reacting to itself, where the supremacy of the conductor is undermined as the top-down hierarchy of the orchestra meets grass-roots uprisings, and where the audience finds themselves literally in the middle of inter- and intra-family battles. The piece will marry orchestral music with theatrical elements, particularly those that break the fourth wall. Performers fight within their section as well as across sections in what ends up being an all-out war for control of the symphony. The conflicts play out physically, with performers moving to different parts of the stage as their allegiances change. The conductor strives always to be in command of the ensemble, but, like war everywhere, he might put down a rebellion in the brass only to turn and find out the strings in an uproar.
David Heuser’s music has been called “thoughtful, beautiful, and wonderfully made” (San Antonio Express-News), “all-American music at its most dynamic and visceral” (Houston Chronicle), and “just the sort of music classical music needs more of” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Heuser considers himself a musical storyteller. His most characteristic works are rhythmically active, strongly melodic, and often deal with extremes of tempo, dynamics and register. Heuser began composing almost immediately after his first piano lessons at the age of seven. He attended the Eastman School of Music and then the Indiana University School of Music, where he received his doctorate. He is now a Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio teaching music composition and theory, and electronic music. He has received commissions from such ensembles as the San Antonio Symphony, the New York Youth Symphony, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, and the Texas Music Festival Orchestra.

About ACO
Now entering its 34th year, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, internet and radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent, as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras, and as an advocate for American composers and their music.
To date, ACO has performed music by more than 600 American composers, including 200 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra’s innovative programs have been Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; Playing it Unsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and Orchestra Underground, ACO’s entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations.
Extending its mission beyond New York City, ACO launched EarShot in 2008. EarShot is a multi-institutional network that assists orchestras around the country in new music readings and composer development opportunities. EarShot’s recent programs include new music readings for emerging composers with the Nashville Symphony, Memphis Symphony, New York Youth Symphony and Colorado Symphony Orchestra. More information can be found at
Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra’s outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 32 times, singling out ACO as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States,” including the 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. ACO received the inaugural METLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records, and More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at

Seeing cimbalom

Music for your Monday featuring a rare instrument...and the Berlin Philharmonic! Hearing is believing:

Friday, September 24, 2010

They come in bunches

When you look at a calendar of the birthdays of Classical musicians you see that there are only a couple of days a year that are blank. On the other hand there are a few days that are just chock-a-block with great musicians and most of them pianists!

On the Piano this Sunday a review of great artists born on the 25th and 26th of September. Ranging from the French baroque to Tin Pan Alley you can hear them on the Piano this Sunday at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Classical Spotlight: When Hilary Met Jennifer

SRod up to bat
We start with pianist Santiago Rodriguez who plays a program of Rachmaninoff & Schumann tomorrow night, showing that he's not just a judge for the SAIPC but a great artist too!
His September 24 program will include the Schumann Carnival as well as the Mozart Sonata, K. 330, and several Rachmaninoff works including the Sonata No. 2, Op.36. The performance will be followed by a Meet the Artist reception in the Sky Dining Room at Trinity University.
Santiago Rodriguez in Recital
Friday, September 24, 2010
7:30 PM Ruth Taylor Recital Hall Trinity University

Side x Side
A chamber orchestra of YOSA Philharmonic students playing side-by-side with their mentors from the San Antonio Symphony performing popular Italian gems.
Cimarosa: Overture to The Secret Marriage
Corelli: Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 4
Rossini: Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra with Ilya Shterenberg, principal clarinet of the San Antonio Symphony
Respighi: The Birds

Solos and more
Coming up next Monday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m., violinist Mary Ellen Goree is giving a faculty recital at the UTSA Arts Building Recital Hall. Pianist Christine Debus will collaborate. The program is:
J.S. Bach: Sonata no. 3 in E Major, BWV 1016
Charles Ives: Sonata no. 4, "Children's Day at the Camp Meeting"
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata no. 4 in a minor, op. 23
Pablo de Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, op. 25
Charles Ives quotes an old hymn in each movement: "I Tell Me the Old, Old Story;" "Jesus Loves Me;" and "Shall We Gather at the River."

 Let the Trumpet Sound
The San Antonio Symphony's first concert of the 2010-2011 season will feature Principal Trumpet John Carroll as soloist.  Resident Conductor Ken-David Masur leads a program of Handel, Bach & Haydn on Wednesday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the San Fernando Cathedral. The concert benefits the preservation of the Cathedral (tickets are $35; available at 210-576-1365 or for information email:
The complete Cathedral program:
Murcia arr. Russell from ¡Al Zócalo!
Bach Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066
Handel, arr. Tarr Suite in D major for Trumpet and Orchestra
Haydn Symphony No. 92 in G major, "Oxford"

Double the concerti
Jennifer Higdon released TWO new cds on Tuesday, one featuring her violin concerto called The Singing Rooms on the Telarc label with Jennifer Koh & the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus; and the other on DG featuring Higdon's Pulitzer Prize winning Violin Concerto with Hilary Hahn & the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Host John Clare spoke to both Hilary Hahn about the new disc, and caught up with Jennifer Higdon about her amazing skills.

Listen to these interviews and more at:

Daniel Catan's Il Postino Opens in LA Tonight!

Daniel Catan's newest opera opens tonight, September 23, 2010 at the Los Angeles Opera. Click here to listen to Brian Lauritzen's extended interview with Maestro Catan.

Better than Idol...

We are delighted to learn about this new project, The Virtual Choir. They have already recorded Lux Aurumque - next up is Sleep!

Visit for links to the music as well as instructions - they are hoping to have 900 singers for this next round - breaking the world's record for internet choir!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Elly Ameling Treasure

I'm for the most part a careful person. Decisions are reasoned, sometimes overanalyzed. Sometimes that's good. Other times I lose momentum and opportunities are lost. However, when it comes to buying recordings I have learned the hard way that if you see it, and want it (or need it), strike while the iron is hot. Too often it's gone the next week, or even the next day.

There are certain recordings which I know and love but which have been withdrawn from circulation. Nevertheless, I'm relentless in seeking them out. My good friend Google helps a lot and I'm practically on a first name basis with some of Amazon's associate resellers. For years now I have been looking for a CD restrike of Elly Ameling's gorgeous rendition of Stravinsky's wordless Pastorale. Ron Moore has also been scanning the marketplace for this 2 minutes of musical bliss, to no avail.

Well....I found it! It's not exactly the same studio performance, but is instead part of a 5 disc collection of live concert performances by Ameling. I admit I recoiled somewhat at the Amazon asking price of over $90. My first resort in such cases is to look for Amazon associates who either deal in used books and recordings or reduced price product. There were none to be found. However, I eventually tracked a much more attractive price from a seller in The Netherlands. It's hard to lose with Elly Ameling, so I bit on it. Today the set arrived and I must say it is everything I expected and more. (I'm still only partially through the set.)

So why am I admitting my own obsession with collecting CDs? It's because since I discovered the availability of this 5 disc set the recording has now popped on Amazon with several associates offering the set, new, for under $40, and that is including shipping. Learn from my impetuosity and save. But also learn from my experience which has made me an impetuous buyer of CDs - here today, gone tomorrow. You just never know.

-James Baker-

NEW RELEASES: Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon is a prize winning composer who has new major releases coming out tomorrow, September 21st:
Hilary Hahn plays Tchaikovsky/Higdon Violin Concertos on DG
Higdon/Singleton/Scriabin on Telarc with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

We'll feature both albums tomorrow and talk with Jennifer on Classical Spotlight (Thursday afternoon at 1pm Central) this week about these and other recording projects, as well as Hilary Hahn about the new concerto, tweeting as her violincase and where she was when Higdon's concerto won the Pulitzer Prize.

Last May, Jennifer Higdon was in Dallas for the Texas Premiere of her Violin Concerto - the first since it had won the Pulitzer Prize. She spoke with KPAC's John Clare at the Meyerson SymhonyCenter:

Excitement is brewing

Last year, classical music fans in Los Angeles and New York welcomed Gustavo Dudamel and Alan Gilbert as their music directors. This season Ricardo Muti is making headlines in Chicago as he takes the reins of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Here in San Antonio, the orchestra celebrates "The SLL Era" as Sebastian Lang Lessing becomes music director. KPAC has followed the search and talked with SLL on both of his trips (April 2009) (November 2009) and when it was announced (announcement and interview).
Currently we're collaborating with the San Antonio Symphony to "Find SLL" - a scavenger hunt that can land you free tickets to the orchestra concerts in October. Through September 26, a life-size cutout of Maestro 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 with your contact information. You may also upload your picture to the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page, and the Symphony will contact you. (TPR Host John Clare pictured left at an undisclosed location)
Clues as to where to find SLL each week will be broadcast weekdays at 9:00 a.m. here on KPAC 88.3 FM, and will also be available on the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page, and through the Twitter feeds @SASym and @TPRClassical.
Sebastian Lang-Lessing makes his debut with the San Antonio Symphony as our new Music Director on October 2 with a special concert featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, the "Titan."

Friday, September 17, 2010

David Amram remembers Dimitri Mitropoulos

The Greek born conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) broke a great deal of fertile musical ground during his lifetime. He championed the contemporary and cherished the traditional as he conducted all of the major orchestras around the world. Mitropoulos made his US debut in 1936 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From 1937-1949, he served as music director of the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Orchestra). In 1949, he assumed the post of music director of the New York Philharmonic. These were heady times for Mitropoulos as he focused upon the symphonies of Mahler while commissioning new music from the most important composers of the day. In many ways, Mitropoulos paved the way for the emergence of Leonard Bernstein, who succeeded him in 1957. It seems somehow fitting that Mitropoulos would die in Milan, Italy, aged 64, while rehearsing Mahler's 3rd Symphony.

David Amram fondly remembers Dimitri Mitropoulos in his "autobiography", called Vibrations. When I last crossed paths with David a couple of years ago, I asked him to tell me how he came to meet and know Dimitri Mitropoulos.

-James Baker-

Neither fish nor fowl or...

Here is a question, what has more measures than Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, borrows themes from the Hungarian War March known as the Rakoczy and at times sounds like Chopin wrote the music?

It is the etudes 8, 9 & 10 from the Opus 39 of Charles Valentin Alkan. On the Piano this Sunday three etudes that emulate a Concerto without Orchestra for solo piano. When you factor in Alkan's devilish technique and digital demands it takes a rare combination of strength, talent and bravura to be convincing for the 50 odd minutes it takes to perform this amazing work, but pianist Ronald Smith does it and you can hear him perform the "Concerto" from the Opus 39 of Alkan on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Classical Spotlight: We're Rockin'

And they are Grammy nominated!
This weekend Camerata San Antonio open their season on the heels of last week’s announcement that they are nominated for two Latin Grammys! Founder Ken Freudigman spoke with host John Clare about their 2010-11 season and what you can expect.

Camerata San Antonio plays Beethoven and Dvorak
Kerrville: Thursday, September 16 @ 7:30pm
Boerne: Friday, September 17 @ 7:30pm
San Antonio: Sunday, September 19 @ 3:00pm
Find out more at

They’re not in Kansas anymore!
The 70s rock band Kansas performs a benefit with the UTSA Orchestra this Friday at 8 p.m. in Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium. Kansas drummer Phil Ehart spoke with Clare about the concert and how they came about, and what you can expect with an orchestra and rock band!
There's more at

They blend as one
The Cooperleaf quintet consists of Ruth Moreland, Soprano/Artistic Director; Amy Phipps, Soprano; Laura Grindle, Alto; Andrew DeVoogd, Tenor; and Steve Wegner, Baritone. Moreland talked with Clare about the group’s repertoire and rehearsals, and what they’ll be up to over the next season singing in art galleries!

Saturday, September 18, 2010 7:30 p.m.
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church
15415 Red Robin Road, San Antonio, Texas 78255
Donations at the Door
For more information contact Edmund Murray, Music Series Director 210-695-2944

We’re an American Band
The Heart of Texas Concert Band will open its 2010-2011 season at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, September 19 with a program of light concert favorites. Conductor Mark Rogers stopped by the KPAC studio to share more about the program Sunday afternoon with John Clare…the two discussed Rogers & Hart, Leroy Anderson and the music of Arthur Sullivan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010
3:00 P.M.
Claudia Taylor Johnson High School
23203 Bulverde Rd.
San Antonio, Texas 78259
Find out more at

New Notes for Olmos
The Olmos Ensemble plays music by the Composers Alliance of San Antonio this next week. Four world premieres take place and all of the pieces are relatively new! To tell more about her “Flamethrower” quartet, S. Beth May spoke to John Clare about the work.

September 21st and 22nd, 2010 at 7:30pm
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at the University of Texas at San Antonio Recital Hall
Complete program and notes are at

Listen to the interviews online here at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Classical Makeout Songs

It is toward the end of the movie "Ten" that Dudley Moore hears what Bo Derek's character likes to focus on while listening to Ravel's Bolero. Perhaps you have a babysitter, or it's date night...what do you want to listen to with your sweetheart? KPAC host John Clare has some listening selections for you, some classical kisses if you will.

10. Philip Glass Modern Love Waltz [listen here]
9. Ravel Piano Concerto in G, ii Adagio assai (listen here)
8. John Corigliano Red Violin, 11. Coitus Musicalis (listen here)
7. Edgar Meyer If I knew [listen here]
6. Verdi La Traviata, "Wild my dream of ecstasy" "De' miei bollenti spiriti" (listen here)
5. Paul Moravec Vince & Jan 1945 (listen here)
4. Korngold Die Tote Stadt, Marietta's Lied ("Glück das mir verblieb") (listen here)
3. Isaac Albeniz Leyenda (listen here)
2. Tchaikovsky Symphony #5, ii andante cantabile (listen here)
1. Rachmaninoff Symphony #2, iii Adagio (listen here)

What songs do you put on for romance? Tell us in the comments below.
We're also going to countdown the Top 1oo in San Antonio in sure to let us know your favorites by visiting TPR dot org!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Out of this world opera

There's an old joke from the Hoffnung Festival of having an "interplanetary premiere," but this last weekend that description fits pretty well in the Netherlands. You see, Floris Schönfeld has penned a Klingon opera, U.

In this sector of the galaxy, be sure to check out the double bill from the San Antonio Opera this Friday, Saturday & Sunday. There's also a new opera group forming in this solar system!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Follow Friday

TGIF! We thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at Janine Jansen's newest release, Beau Soir!

We also send relaxing and good thoughts to Janine who is taking a doctor ordered break from concerts - rest up and get well soon!
Keep track of new posts, new releases and interviews by following our Twitter feed, TPRClassical!

I say, you are not French!

How can someone with the English name of Onslow become the head of the Beaux Arts Academy in Paris? A family scandal and a quick change of address and George becomes Georges. The young Onslow took to life in the country, hunting, fishing and attending dances, but when it came to settling down to a career it was music that won out. Onslow made good use of what little education he had, earning praise from Schumann, who compared Onslow's chamber music to that of Mozart and Haydn.

Also on the Piano this Sunday, Vladimir Horowitz plays his over the top edition of Modest Mussorgy's Pictures at an Exhibition. Recorded in Horowitz's ball park, Carnegie Hall, this is a performance for the ages.

The Piano, heard Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Classical Spotlight: US Open & close

This week's Classical Spotlight shines from UT to TLU and from New York to Munich!

47 (harp strings) - 0 (love)
Harpist Kirsten Agresta is used to playing for heads of state like Barrack Obama and Felipe Calderón, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and former Vice President Al Gore...besides appearing on Erykah Badu's latest album, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh. She's charmed audiences internationally since she began study of the harp at the age of five. By the time she was fourteen, she was soloist on a full tour of the British Isles and has since performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Israel, Japan, and the South Pacific.
This week, Agresta plays at the US Open, not tennis or even Debussy's Jeux, but as an entertainer at the President's Gate. She spoke to John Clare about playing harp, getting around New York and who she'd like to see in the US Open Finals! (You can see the US Open locally on KENS 5 or on the Tennis Channel.)

MTS opens with pizzazz
The Mid Texas Symphony begins their season with the Silver Medalist of the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, Yeol Eum Son, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto #21. Here she is playing in the Finals of the Van Cliburn:

David Mairs, who is in his 15th year leading the orchestra, conducts Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture. He spoke to host John Clare about the season opener happening this Sunday at 4pm.

MINDing the music
Dr. Richard Kogan visits San Antonio next Tuesday. He will be speaking on "Schumann, Bipolar Disease, and the Creative Process" and "Music and Mood Disorders: Tchaikovsky" at Health Science Center Auditorium.
Kogan has a distinguished career both as a concert pianist and as a psychiatrist. The New York Times praised him for his "eloquent, compelling, and exquisite playing" and the Boston Globe wrote, "Kogan has somehow managed to excel at the world's two most demanding professions."
Dr. Kogan spoke with TPR's Randy Anderson about his upcoming talks.

New Meaning for "Double" Concerto
There was a double release of Julia Fischer this last Tuesday - her Paganini Caprices, Opus 1; plus a DVD release of the Saint-Saens Third Violin Concerto and Grieg Piano Concerto. Yes, you read that right, a violin AND a piano concerto with the same soloist, Julia Fischer!
Fischer spent some time talking with host John Clare about these releases, as well as her solo Bach and future plans.
Fischer has also shared this about the new Paganini release:

There's also some great video here of the new dvd release of Saint-Saens & Grieg:

Learn more about her Paganini 24 Caprices here, and the new dvd of Grieg/Saint-Saens here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Latin Grammys

The Latin Grammy nominees have been announced! Take a look at all of them here. This year there are several San Antonio connections in the Classical area!!!

Camerata San Antonio's Salon Buenos Aires is up for two awards, including Best Classical Album and Best Composition (Clocks)! Additionally, Interchange by Sergio Assad is up for Best Composition, that the SA Symphony and LAGQ premiered in February 2009 at the Southwest Guitar Festival!

Category 42
Best Classical Album
Leo Brouwer; Amado Del Rosario, producer
[Sello Autor]
Yalil Guerra; Yalil Guerra, producer
[Rycy Productions Inc.]
Miguel Del Aguila; Kenneth Freudigman & Ken David Masur,
[Bridge Records/Peer-Southern Productions]

John Neschling, Conductor & Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de
São Paulo; Uli Schneider, producer
[Biscoito Clássico - Biscoito Fino]
Fernando Otero; Fernando Otero, producer
[World Village]
Southwest Chamber Music & Tambuco Percussion Ensemble;
Jan Karlin & Jeff Von Der Schmidt, producers

Category 43
Best Classical Contemporary Composition
Miguel Del Aguila, composer (Miguel Del Aguila)
[Bridge Records/Peer-Southern Productions]

2. Sergio Assad, composer (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, David
Amado & The Delaware Symphony Orchestra)
Sergio Assad, composer (Beijing Guitar Duo)
[Tonar Music]
Lalo Schifrin, composer (Antonio Lysy)
[Yarlung Records]
Orlando Jacinto Garcia, composer (Nodus Ensemble)
[Innova Recordings]
Tania Leon, composer (Nodus Ensemble)
[Innova Recordings]

Winners To Be Revealed on Nov. 11 When the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY® Awards Airs Live on the Univision Network from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Safe sax not so safe

The Mayo Clinic has released a study that shows brass playing may lead to lung disease.

Brass musicians may unknowingly inhale mold and bacteria from their instruments, which may lead to the development of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), according to a study published today in Chest magazine.
The allergic lung condition, which can develop into a more dangerous fibrosis, is characterized by shortness of breath and coughing. (via ABC News)

Inspired by Tom and Jerry

Lang Lang has spent most of his life in the US, and playing the piano. We thought you might enjoy this feature on him.

Lang Lang performs Rachmaninoff in San Antonio this January with the San Antonio Symphony!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Golden Gould

“The more you know about Gould, the less you know about him,” Michèle Hozer said. “What adds to his success is that he is such a mystery. That’s why we stay fascinated. I hope in the film we made we don’t try to say we have the definitive answer, that we leave it open. In fact, I believe that every generation will look at him differently.”
Hozer, along with Peter Raymont, have made a new film about Glenn Gould, “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould.”

Read more about it here in the NY Times, it opens Friday in NYC.

We have a quartet winner

Banff Centre competition executive director Barry Shiffman announced that the Cecilia String Quartet (pictured right) from Toronto, Canada has been awarded First Prize in the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC). Following six days of juried concerts focused on classical, Romantic, and contemporary repertoire, the winner was chosen from a group of the world's most accomplished young string quartets.
"With a stunning spirit of creativity that consistently celebrated risk-taking and discovery, the Cecilia Quartet impressed the distinguished jury above all others," says Shiffman. "It was, however, the insatiable appetite that the capacity audience showed for all music-making that has proven again that the future of classical music looks very bright."
The First Prize package includes a prize of $25,000 (CND), an extensive three-year career development program including concert tours in Europe and North America, Banff Centre residencies, including the production of a CD recorded and produced by the Centre's Audio department, and public relations assistance. The prize also includes a quartet of custom bows by renowned bow maker François Malo.
The evening's other award winners include:
Second Prize - Afiara String Quartet (Canada)
Third Prize - Quatuor Zaide (France)
Székely Prize (awarded for the best performance of a Beethoven or Schubert quartet during Round Four) - Afiara String Quartet
Canadian Commission Prize (awarded for the best performance of Canadian composer Ana Sokolovic's Commedia del'Arte, commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Banff Centre for the competition) - Cecilia String Quartet

Monday, September 6, 2010

Orchestral Beyonce

Recently the SA Symphony CEO Jack Fishman made mention of Beyoncé and Mahler. We thought it was funny but not very classical. The SLL mention was not Jack's usual great writing or observation...
Lo and behold, we found a link to Beyoncé and classical music - in fact to composer Mark Anthony Turnage:

Here is some more Turnage for your enjoyment, Texan Tenebrae:

We are also fans of Pomplamoose:

And of course, the NPR news take on Lady Gaga:

Labor Day 2010

On this Labor Day, we send good vibes to the Detroit Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony is an interesting article about orchestra pay.
Here is a video from the musicians in Fort Worth:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Life in Sonata-form

One of the oddest composers of the 19th century was the Parisian Charles-Valentin Alkan. Spectacularly gifted he was friends with Liszt and Chopin and one would consider him a romantic and he was sort of. His music is constructed as if a young Mozart or Haydn wrote it and the sentiment is that of the wildest romantic. The Sonata, the Four Ages of Man explores a man, not unlike Alkan himself, in the shank of life. Living life to the limit when young, later falling for the dark side and having to extricate himself with an eleven part based on a theme of Bach!

What happens next? Find out this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano, heard on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Classical Spotlight: Season preview

Cypress releases Volume 2 of Beethoven
The Cypress String Quartet is exploring the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, who said “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for men and makes them drunk with the spirit.” For their latest release, Cypress has given us Beethoven’s Opus 130 and the last quartet music he ever wrote, a finale he revised. Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel discusses the recording process and the monumental Grosse Fuge.
You can hear some more of their Beethoven here:
The Cypress Quartet visits San Antonio in January 2011 as guests of the San Antonio Chamber Music Society.

YOSA on the go
The Youth Orchestras of San Antonio start their season later this month with a chamber music concert focusing on Italy. Music Director Troy Peters talks with host John Clare about leading youth in classical music, engaging their energy and what to expect on their Gold Series. This season includes visits from Jaime Laredo & Sharon Robinson, the Youth Orchestra of Monterrey, and Jon Anderson from the rock group YES.
Hear YOSA and Troy Peters in action on September 25, 2010, at Coker United Methodist Church starting at 7 p.m.

Turtle Island New Release
The Turtle Island Quartet has done it again, expanding the sound and repertoire for quartets with a new cd of Jimi Hendrix and their own David Balakrishnan. The new release features Electric Ladyland plus the genre bending Tree of Life. Balakrishnan talked with host John Clare while on tour in LA, about the group’s technique and the unique sound they play.
Sample part of the new album on the Quartet’s website:
They’ll be in Brownsville, TX at the UTB/TSC Arts Center on October 1st, 2010 7:30pm a program called Danzon with Luna Negra Dance Theater & Paquito D’Rivera.

SA Sym SLL Preview
Next month, the San Antonio Symphony welcomes Sebastian Lang Lessing as it’s ninth Music Director in 76 years! On the program will be Mahler’s First Symphony and a champagne toast. It will be a busy season for Lang Lessing who continues to conduct around the world…but he took out a few minutes to chat with host John Clare about outreach, festivals and of course, his first year in San Antonio.

You can win a voucher for tickets to see & hear the San Antonio Symphony – check it out – Find SLL!
Don’t forget to relive the 2009-10 season of the SA Symphony Sunday afternoons with your host Nathan Cone on KPAC & KTXI through September.

Barry in Bavaria!
KPAC's Barry Brake has had a busy summer. Not only is he a new father (congrats – Greta is so cute!) but Barry spent some time in Bavaria, Germany this summer. While there, Barry interviewed Markus Zwink, music director for the Oberammergau Passion Play, which has been performed in Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany by its inhabitants since 1634.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Listen to all of these interviews on the NEW Classical Spotlight page, and remember to tune in Thursdays at 1pm on your classical oasis, KPAC & KTXI!