Friday, December 30, 2011

The indignity of it all….

There weren't many things that shocked Lord George Byron, but one of them was the waltz. When in Vienna he saw couples "clasped in each others arms" and he thought that society was tumbling down. Not everyone was so affected; one doctor prescribed the dance as a method of stirring up the blood and providing exercise. At the height of the waltz craze there where huge halls that conveniently had rooms for expectant mothers to give birth in and other rooms to give young women their start towards motherhood.

On the Piano this Sunday I continue with the dances that we broadcast earlier "live from Vienna" with a program that traces the waltz from one of its earliest practitioners of the dance to those that composed in lilting 3/4 time in the twentieth century.

It's Waltz Fever on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Die Fledermaus & Viennese Laughter

 The story is told of the of the two soldiers one Austrian, one German, each reporting on the progress of a battle.
                     " Herr General,the situation is serious, but not hopeless.", said the German.
  But the Austrian replies, smiling and relieved " Herr General. The situation is impossible, but not serious."
This laughter in tears, the self irony and deprecation; the odd smiling melancholy, all of this is part of the sensibility we think of as Austrian and more specifically Viennese. It is this exquisitely balanced and gentle sophistication that marks, perhaps the greatest of all operettas, Die Fledermaus or The Bat.
 A classic from the night of it's premiere in 1874 it blurs the line between what is opera and what is operetta. So persuasive  is its' music that it commands attention before a single note is sung in the unforgettable overture. The plot sounds impossible for a comedy. Someone is threatened with jail and decides to attend a ball. In between there is flirtation and the hint of seduction and betrayal from both a husband and a wife. Framing these events is another plot of revenge for a social humiliation: after a party attended by two drunken friends one abandons the other to stagger home still in costume (as a bat) the next day in broad daylight. The plot grows more complicated with each scene. At the ball there is no confession and revelation but a playing at masquerades, in which a husband and wife flirt unaware that the stranger that attracts them is in fact a spouse. In between is wrongful imprisonment; a drunken jailor this hilarious role playing goes hand in hand with social posing, misdirected romance, class lines hopelessly confused. All to an unstoppable flow of melody. At the end all is understood, but not everyone is pardoned. A worldly wise comedy, or adults after a night of champagne.
Please make time in your holiday celebration , for a cool and bubbling comedy.Tune in this Saturday at noon for Johann Strauss II, Die Fledermaus. This New Year's Eve on KPAC and KTXI and Prost! 
by Ron Moore

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Four Corners! Review

If your perception of the musicians of the venerable Berlin Philharmonic is of a bunch of staid, conservative individuals who just happen to play classical music in an exceptional way, you're only partly right. Granted, not everyone in the orchestra would be willing to sit in the back seat of Sarah Willis' Mini Cooper and goof around making a YouTube video, but for the most part there is a youthfulness and joy to be observed in the personnel of the Berlin Phil. And, of course, it's arguably the greatest orchestra in the world.
I drop the name Sarah Willis as though everyone will know who she is. For those who don't know Ms. Willis, she made history in September 2001 by becoming the first female brass player ever to win a position in the Berlin Philharmonic. Since then, she has become heavily involved in Zukunft@BerlinPhil, the Berlin Phil's Education Project. Sarah also does some of the intermission interviews for the Orchestra's Digital Concert Hall, while still finding time to play horn quartets with her colleagues in the orchestra.

The latest recorded venture of the Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet is called Four Corners! This could well be the Berlin Phil's heavy touring schedule in microcosm. Following Sarah's activities through her highly engaging internet photo albums makes my head spin. It seems the orchestra is ever with bags packed, going somewhere within the bounds of the mythical "four corners of the world". In fact, the album Four Corners! is a musical travelogue.

I was surprised, and delighted, to hear music of America in tracks one and two. With a bang, we find ourselves in the midst of a Western movie with the song Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, from High Noon. The playing and the arrangements are outstanding throughout. By the way, that's Sarah Willis on the low 4th horn part, every bit as virtuosic as the high playing of Stefan Dohr and her other two collaborators, Fergus McWilliam and Klaus Wallendorf. The bottom line throughout Four Corners! is fun, complete with various vocalizations and sound effects. I won't give them away, but will only say that they made me smile, groan at the occasional musical joke, and almost jump out of my seat with a musical surprise more vivid than Papa Haydn's "surprise" could ever be.

Four Corners! is published by the horn maker Gebr. Alexander, Mainz. The horn section of the Berlin Philharmonic has traditionally played instruments made by Alexander, and such is the case with this recording. Four Corners! is available as an MP3 download from iTunes or If you can track down the CD, perhaps from Pope Instrument Repair or Amazon in Germany, the liner notes provide numerous photos and more of the tongue-in-cheek cheer of the disc. Highly recommended!

James Baker, KPAC

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Holly & the Steinway

Think back to how families used to celebrate the Holidays, for some of us it was sitting in front of the TV watching a Charlie Brown special. Go back another twenty years and Dad would play disc jockey keeping the records spinning on the Hi-Fi. Back even further, another generation before that and it was the family grouped around the piano with someone, who hopefully spent some time practicing up, playing Christmas carols for the mini-multitude to sing to.

On the Piano this Christmas day music of the season with Tchaikovsky's contribution to a music magazine then there is Liszt's music for his grandchildren with selections from his Christmas tree. Then Sergey Liapunov presents some music from the hinterlands of Russia, there are some American spirituals as played by a master of  touch and phrasing and even music for the amateur with piano accompanied by triangle, bird call and toy trumpet.

Find music to lift your heart on this special day on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Around the net

With apologies to AOTS, we have seen some fun stuff posted from different sources, and wanted to share with you!
NPR breaks the London Philharmonic playing the Angry Birds theme!

Performance Today has Christmas Around the Country:

Frank Oteri impersonates some famous composers.

It's Rob Kapilow's birthday:

For all those music theory geeks:

Donizetti for the Holidays

For something truly light and sweet for your holiday musical feasting the Metropolitan Opera offers Donizetti's bel canto comedy La Fille Du Regiment as the penultimate opera of the year.
It's plot centers on the diverting and the virtuosic. During a military skirmish a noblewoman complains of being delayed in her travels. The Duchess of Krakenthorp then after talking to the soldiers takes notice of the regiments mascot, Marie, the Daughter of the Regiment. It seems that she was found by the company an abandoned child and they took in the orphan and made her one of their own. It seems she also possesses the manners of the military men and the Marquise is determined to take her in hand, explaining that she believes her to be her sisters long lost child. There is also the matter of a budding romance with a Tyrolean local, Tonio, that the Marquise is determined to end and replace with an aristocratic connection. But,this regimental daughter proves a harder case than the Marquise had bargained for and she rebels at the attempts to tame her and transform her through a crash course in etiquette. Besides,Tonio is a virtuoso tenor role with nine high C's, how can a girl resist? 
By the time of Marie's removal to Berkenfeld Castle the soldiers have decided that it's time to revolt and reclaim their daughter. In the middle of her forced marriage the troops march into the castle, with her lover leading the charge, intent on bringing her back into the regimental fold. Tonio's virtuosic and touching declaration of love changes everything and the Marquise confesses that is acting out of selfishness and shame: "She" is the long lost mother of this very headstrong and egalitarian girl. The Marquise then announces that Marie will be allowed to marry Tonio to the astonishment and scandal of the aristocratic guests.
Tune in this Saturday at 11 am for a very tasty French confection and a perfect compliment to friends and food and the celebration of the season, Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment, here at 11 am on KPAC and KTXI.  
by Ron Moore

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Soundtrack Review: "War Horse" and "Tintin"

Steven Spielberg has asked John Williams to score almost every single movie he’s ever directed since “Jaws,” which won Mr. Williams his second Oscar, and his first for Best Original Score.  It’s a working relationship that has lasted nearly 40 years, and given us some of the most memorable melodies of our time.
This holiday season, Spielberg is back with an unprecedented feat. He’s releasing two movies right on top of one another. “The Adventures of Tintin,” an animated adventure based on the Belgian comic, opens today, and “War Horse,” a period drama set in England and based on a stage play, opens on Christmas Day.  Williams was employed once again to create a unique atmosphere for each film.
Williams’ score for “War Horse” is sequenced on the soundtrack album programmatically. The early cues are pastoral, and evocative of the Dartmoor countryside. The music is ripe with Celtic influences, and a friend of mine even picked out a quote from an old Irish sea chantey. There are few big themes established, but the mood is set as a young boy takes in a steed named Joey.  Midway through the album, the mood turns more somber, as Joey is placed into service.  A solo trumpet passage is faintly evocative of a similar device in “Saving Private Ryan.” The biggest payoff for Williams fans comes in the final three tracks of the album, “The Reunion,” “Remembering Emilie,” and “The Homecoming.” All three are rich with those big melodies one expects from Williams.
For “The Adventures of Tintin,” Williams calls on his early jazz influences (he once played in a combo as Johnny Williams) and the grand scores of Korngold and Waxman that some say Williams built his career on aping. Personally, I think that Williams has at least distinguished himself from those other composers, even if there is a similarity. “Tintin” opens with a jazzy sound reminiscent of 1950s television sleuths, with a drummer using brushes to keep things hopping. Williams opens the orchestra up to allow unique colors like accordion and harpsichord to steal the spotlight.
I played the second track cold on the day the CD came in to the library at KPAC, and I wasn’t disappointed by the short and sparky “Snowy’s Theme,” representing Tintin’s loyal dog. Vertical runs by the orchestra are echoed by a solo piano at a fast clip. This is “Raiders”-esque high adventure, folks, and it’s a lot of fun.
Williams goes for mystery with some cues, and humor in others, such as a “shattering” guest turn by Renee Fleming.
Both “War Horse” and “Tintin” are welcome additions to the Williams canon, and “War Horse” seems a likely candidate for an Oscar nomination.

--Nathan Cone

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Smart piano playing

Turns out Siri can do more than just tell you where the nearest coffee shop is, or if your flight will be on time! Siri can play piano!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Live from NY, it's Ludwig van Beethoven!

This weekend put Beethoven in the pop culture spotlight on Saturday Night Live:

We're looking forward to the Beethoven Festival next month, no word about Triangle Sally appearance in SA yet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday surprise

The San Antonio Symphony has been busy lately, Holiday Pops and Family concerts, Beethoven Festival coverage on KLRN, Food Bank benefit concerts and Saturday afternoon, the San Antonio Symphony Players Association gave shoppers a gift of their own at the La Cantera Food Court:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy birthday Ludwig!

All of San Antonio is celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven next month, and we're happy to honor the Bonn master as well!
This is the Cypress Quartet in the finale of Beethoven's last string quartet:
Tonight, KLRN will air a special with the San Antonio Symphony about the Beethoven Festival:

Travel impressions and the Heart

It was a German thing to travel to Italy. The artist Albrecht Dürer was the first during the renaissance and the changes in his art and the stories he told when he returned made an Italian Pilgramage a part of any serious artist's young life. Goethe did it as well as Richard Strauss centuries later.

While Franz Liszt wasn't German, he was a great reader and eager to see the sights experienced by Goethe and Chateaubriand, so Italy was on his "to do list". While Liszt was a relatively young man he was growing up fast and by the end of his time in Italy several things became apparent. One, his life with Marie D'Agoult would have to change, her aristocratic arrogance and lack of understanding of his artistic temperament was pushing Liszt away from her. And in 1837 the composer found a new love, one that appreciated him and one he could actually help. It was his homeland Hungary and when disaster struck, Liszt left his family with friends and dashed off to Vienna to raise money for the flood victims and tour the country he left behind but had not forgotten.

On the Piano this Sunday the Années de pelerinage books II and III. A musical document that not only entertains, but shows the listener an artist in transition from the young lover full of optimism to an older man wise with experience and his bitterness of heart.

Hear the last program of my "Liszt jahr" this Sunday at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Evolution of Butterfly

 It is difficult to believe that anything as warm, (apparently) cohesive and beloved as Puccini's Madama Butterfly grew in fact  from sources as the diverse and seemingly incoherent and unrelated as the fragments of  Frankenstein's monster and just as miraculously that at the distance of over a hundred years audiences all over the earth still cry, "It's alive!"
Always looking for the "next thing " the Italian Puccini, with little English found himself in London to oversee the Covent Garden premiere of Tosca and, like any good tourist,took in the theatre.In this case an American play by a man named Belasco.This play itself taken in part from from a short story by another American, John Luther Long. Puccini sat and listened knowing almost no English and "felt" the plot from what he saw on stage.He was said at the end to rush backstage in tears, embrace Belasco and propose that he be given the rights to turn it into an opera.This emotional beginning gave way to years of inspired drudgery. Through struggles with his own marriage, he lived with his wife- to -be for almost two decades before they married, colored by his philandering and her jealousy perhaps he saw the plot clearly. In the midst of these arguments,followed by building a house for his growing family and then wrecking a new car in an accident that could have killed him, he began work. He called on the help of diplomats who had lived and traveled in Japan;acquired recordings of Japanese music and met Japanese artist then traveling in Italy. The librettists Giacosa and Illica added and added drawing on novels then popular at the time dealing with the subject, in French. Arguments flared as the final structure saw the composer and the librettists at odds. Three acts or two long acts; to open the first act in America or Japan? How culpable was each character to be in the precipitation of the final tragedy? How sympathetic was each principal to be or how flawed; how much was it to be a study in character or cultural clash of East and West? By the opening at Scala these questioned still remained  unanswered.The premiere was a fiasco, but the composer's faith held. Incredibly, as in the case of that other monster, lightening did finally strike. The corrections,  adjustments and cuts that went on for years eventually came together and the result was one of the world's most beloved musical classics.
Please tune in for this week's Met presentation of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. This Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI. 
by Ron Moore

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Straight from the diva?

Host John Clare was just in NYC, and caught up with his classmate Joyce DiDonato...who shared this rehearsal moment:

You can see Joyce at the Met in HD this next month, on January 21st!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Would Tchaikovsky Do?

Do you think Peter Illich would approve?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Genghis Barbie Holidaze

If you liked their Grinch last year, you'll love Genghis Barbie's newest video:

They have a new holiday album out now.

Better than Aunt Tillie's slides of Hawaii

It's natural to bring back knick-knacks and souvenirs from our travels but recording these new impressions into music that would last for centuries was an unheard of concept when Franz Liszt started composing his different versions of his musical impressions of Switzerland in the 1830's.

This was a great period for the composer, through massive amounts of talent and hard work Liszt was becoming a creature of his own invention and the freshness and audacity of his new approach to piano music shows in his Années de pèlerinage: Suisse.

Follow the creative path Liszt forged in this groundbreaking work on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Inside Look at Carnegie Hall

This Saturday, American Public Media’s special “Carnegie Hall Live” series continues on KPAC with a vocal recital featuring soprano Karita Mattila, accompanied by Martin Katz. Mattila dazzled audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of “Salome,” and she’ll be bringing that same intensity to works by Poulenc, Debussy, Marx, and Aulis Sallinen live from the stage of Carnegie Hall, which is celebrating its 120th season this year.

Earlier this fall, TPR’s Nathan Cone traveled to New York to experience the hall for himself, and took along his trusty hand-held microphone recorder. As you read on below, click the hyperlinked text for audio from his tour, and more links.


Despite having visited New York on a number of occasions, I had never been to a Carnegie Hall performance before attending the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique on November 16. Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner led the ensemble in an all-Beethoven program with the Egmont Overture offering a taste of grand things to come—the Seventh and Fifth symphonies of Beethoven followed.

Gardiner’s handling of the Seventh was terrific; the final Allegro movement almost had me leaping out of my seat! Never have I heard such energy in a live performance. Furthermore, individual parts in the ensemble were easily discernable to the ear. It gave me a deeper appreciation for Beethoven’s mastery. Gardiner also breathed new life into the Fifth Symphony, emphasizing its rhythmic propulsion. If you missed it, you can listen to the whole concert at this link, and read a full review online from the New York Times.

Following the concert, I spoke to many audience members who remarked on the sound of the hall. The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique easily filled the 2,804 seat auditorium with their performance.

Later that night, I visited for a short time with Fred Child (at left, APM) and Jeff Spurgeon (WQXR), co-hosts of the broadcast. Their broadcast booth is a tiny room up a winding staircase on the opposite side of the recital hall. Their monitor? A 13-inch closed-circuit television feed. But the sound mix is great!

The next morning, our tour guide, Elliot Kaback, a college librarian, singer, and longtime supporter of Carnegie Hall, enthusiastically shared the history of Carnegie Hall with our group. He recounted how he used to come hear concerts at Carnegie Hall as a young man, and how there used to be storefronts along the lower level at one time, alongside the entrances to the hall.

The main hall that everyone knows simply as “Carnegie Hall” is just one of three recital halls at the 120-year-old venue. Weill Recital Hall is a 268 seat auditorium that often features debut performances by musicians just finishing their schooling at Julliard or other music schools. Zankel Hall was actually the first hall to open to the public in 1891, but was converted into a movie theater in the 1950s. In the late 1990s, that operation was shuttered, and now the 599-seat hall offers cutting edge performances. According to Kaback, the hall always sells out its bookings, because New Yorkers love new ideas. But Zankel is also wired as an online classroom, and students from around the globe can experience lectures and performances live from Zankel.

Carnegie Hall is unique in its construction. It’s one of the last large buildings built in New York to use masonry construction, and there is very little wood in the hall itself. The structure is all iron and steel, because Andrew Carnegie was a steel tycoon, and “this was all his stuff,” as Kaback noted. Carnegie was also futuristic; in the 1880s, he had the foresight to place his hall in between 56th and 57th streets in Manhattan. Although you might have seen animals wandering the streets in the early days of the hall, less than a decade after it was built, Carnegie Hall was in literally in the center of New York, an area we now know as Midtown. The two towers on top of the hall used to be rented out to artists, musicians, and teachers; now they are being renovated into rehearsal and administrative space.

The Main Hall was designed by a man named William Tuthill, an architect and cellist whose assignment by Carnegie was to study the great concert halls of Europe. What Tuthill did was to basically take the European halls he saw, and – in an eminently American move – super-size it. Carnegie Hall’s Main Hall holds 2,804 patrons, and though its height can seem intimidating, it still feels intimate inside.

Incidentally, although we can thank Andrew Carnegie for footing the bill for Carnegie Hall, it was actually a family of German immigrants, the Damrosch family, who initiated the idea of a permanent concert hall. Walter Damrosch conducted the first performance at the hall on May 5, 1891.

One auspicious debut performance at Carnegie Hall came in 1943, when Leonard Bernstein stepped in to conduct the New York Philharmonic after Bruno Walter came down with the flu. Bernstein, who had been up partying the night before, was asked by the musicians to simply keep time and let them do the work, but they – and the audience – soon realized they were in the presence of greatness.

Carnegie Hall has played host to a variety of performers over the years, including the Beatles, Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, and countless classical premieres. I could really feel the history in the hall while visiting. It is our pleasure to share the Carnegie Hall Live series in this special 120th anniversary season with you on KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM. Live broadcasts are an important part of radio history in the making, and we hope you’ll join us!

--Nathan Cone, Director of Classical Programming

Future Carnegie Hall Live concerts on KPAC 88.3 FM:

Saturday, December 10, 2011, 7pm: Karita Mattila, soprano
Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 7pm: Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Saturday, February 25, 2012, 7pm: Berlin Philharmonic, piano
Saturday, March 3, 2012, 7pm: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Thursday, March 15, 2012, TBA: L’Arpeggiata
Sunday, March 25, 2012, 1pm: Les Violins du Roy
Friday, April 27, 2012, TBA: Pavel Haas Quartet
Wednesday, May 23, 2012: Cleveland Orchestra
Tuesday, May 29, 2012: Lang Lang, piano

Monday, December 5, 2011

Soundtrack Review: My Week With Marilyn

“My Week With Marilyn” is drawn from the memoirs of a lowly assistant that shepherded the actress around Britain while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The film features a soundtrack largely written by Conrad Pope, but incorporating a main theme written by Alexandre Desplat. Desplat’s music, called “Marilyn’s Theme” on the soundtrack, is built on a rising, then falling five note motif that evokes some of the star’s fragility. Lang Lang performs the solo piano part on the title track, as well as throughout the soundtrack, whenever cues call for the theme to reoccur.

Some of Pope’s music has a churning, buoyant urban restlessness that indicates things are happening on screen. But over time, that sound becomes a little tiresome. I preferred Pope’s quieter, more melodic cues that feature either woodwind soloists playing longer lines, or the aforementioned piano theme by Desplat. One of my favorite tracks is “Arthur’s Notebook.” Arthur, in this case, refers to playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe’s new husband in 1956. He had to leave for work while the two were on honeymoon in England, and Marilyn was left alone.

The soundtrack also includes a few period hits of the time, including Nat King Cole and Dean Martin, and features Michelle Williams vocals on “When Love Goes Wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “I Found A Dream,” by Richard Addinsell (known for his ‘Warsaw Concerto.’). Although no one can match Monroe’s unique voice, Williams holds her own. I suspect the effect works even better on screen!

--Nathan Cone

USAF Band of the West Sax Quartet in the TPR Studios

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cypress String Quartet live in the TPR Studios, playing Griffes

Cypress Quartet is live at 1pm today!

Cypress Quartet warming up in our studios

And you thought cooking was hard…

Don't tell a French food addict that you've enjoyed "authentic" Bouillabaisse because that will start a fight. It seems that even in Marseilles everyone has a different idea as to how the recipe should go. When it comes to music, at least as far as pop music is concerned, we know how the performance should go because we all heard the same recording with the original artist. That doesn't work too often in classical music since the original artists have long since joined the choir invisible.

On the Piano this Sunday Claude Debussy's Preludes, not quite with the original artist, but with a great pianist who studied these light and elusive works with the composer himself.

Hear Debussy, one step removed on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Looking at Ludwig

As we get closer to Ludwig van Beethoven's birthday this month and the Beethoven Festival next month, we thought it would be fun to focus on the Bonn master. Here is maestro Riccardo Chailly discussing Beethoven's first three symphonies:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Concert at San Fernando Cathedral

Annual event offers somthing for everyone
by Valerie Cowan

Thursday evening’s (12/1/11) Holiday Concert at San Fernando Cathedral in the San Fernando Cathedral (115 Main Plaza) is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. With the ambiance of the downtown area and Riverwalk during the Christmas season, the chilly weather, and the beautiful acoustics of the San Fernando Cathedral filled with familiar holiday tunes, who could ask for more?

Presented by the San Fernando Cathedral Historical Centre Foundation, the evening’s lineup includes performances by the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music Chamber Singers and Concert Chorale alongside members of the orchestra at the University of Texas. The concert will take place at 7:00 p.m. and a reception will follow at 8:15.

The holiday concert has been a tradition at San Fernando Cathedral for six years. The Executive Director of the Historical Centre Foundation, Amy Nieto, said it is well-liked by audiences of all ages.

“It’s just a wonderful way to kick of the holiday season,” Nieto said.

The vocalists will perform a variety of songs including familiar holiday tunes, both secular and sacred.

Nieto said the concert serves as a fund raiser for various ministries of the cathedral, which includes a clinic and assistance to the needy.

Tickets are $35 each and include an invitation to the reception, and complimentary valet parking. Tickets may be purchased at the event or ahead of time over the phone at 210-576-1365 or via email (

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hall o Famer

The Grammys have announced albums for 2012 that will enter the Hall of Fame. Highlighting diversity and musical excellence, the collection acknowledges both singles and album recordings of all genres at least 25 years old that exhibit qualitative or historical significance. Through a tradition established nearly 40 years ago, recordings are reviewed annually by a special member committee comprising of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. With 25 new titles, the list currently totals 906 and is displayed at the GRAMMY Museum®.

The sole classical album this year is:
Serge Koussevitzky, cond.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
RCA Victor (1940)
Classical (Album)

I also thought it was cool living in South Texas, seeing this song make it this year:

Gene Autry
(June Hershey & Don Swander)
Decca (1942)
Country (Single)

Monday, November 28, 2011

RIP Ken Russell

Sad news about film maker Ken Russell. He was known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his controversial style. Russell was criticised as being over-obsessed with sexuality and the church. His subject matter was often about famous composers, or based on other works of art which he adapts loosely. Russell began directing for the BBC, where he did creative adaptations of composers' lives which were unusual for the time. He also directed many feature films independently and for studios.
Russell died in a hospital on Sunday, November 27th following a series of strokes, his son Alex Verney-Elliott said Monday. "My father died peacefully," Verney-Elliott said. "He died with a smile on his face."

The opening of his Mahler film:

And the full version of his movie on Tchaikovsky:

Here is an interview with Russell about Lisztomania coming out on DVD back in 2009:
-host John Clare

Sunday, November 27, 2011

EPS wins Grawemeyer!

With all the musical controversies in Louisville, it's great to have some good news come from Kentucky - the 2012 Grawemeyer Awards are announced this week!
The Grawemeyer Awards are five annual prizes given in the fields of music, political science, psychology, education and religion. They were founded by H. Charles Grawemeyer to help make the world a better place.
The Prize for Music Composition goes to Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto. Read a review of it's premiere here, first performed in LA in 2009.
Listen to an interview host John Clare had with the Director of the Music Panel, Marc Satterwhite from the University of Louisville, about how the awards are decided, a little history and an official announcement: mp3 file

Salonen wrote these notes about the concerto:
I wrote my Violin Concerto between June 2008 and March 2009. Nine months, the length of human gestation, a beautiful coincidence.
I decided to cover as wide a range of expression as I could imagine over the four movements of the Concerto: from the virtuosic and flashy to the aggressive and brutal, from the meditative and static to the nostalgic and autumnal. Leila Josefowicz turned out to be a fantastic partner in this process. She knows no limits, she knows no fear, and she was constantly encouraging me to go to places I was not sure I would dare to go. As a result of that process, this Concerto is as much a portrait of her as it is my more private narrative, a kind of summary of my experiences as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50.
Movement I
The violin starts alone, as if the music had been going on for some time already. Very light bell-like sounds comment on the virtuosic line here and there. Suddenly we zoom in to maximum magnification: the open strings of the violin continue their resonance, but amplified; the light playfulness has been replaced by an extreme close-up of the strings, now played by the cellos and basses; the sound is dark and resonant.
Zoom out again, and back in after a while. The third close-up leads into a recitative. Solo violin is playing an embellished melodic line that leads into some impossibly fast music. I zoom out once again at the very end, this time straight up in the air. The violin follows.
Finally all movement stops on the note D, which leads to…

Movement II
Pulse I
All is quiet, static. I imagined a room, silent: all you can hear is the heartbeat of the person next to you in bed, sound asleep. You cannot sleep, but there is no angst, just some gentle, diffuse thoughts on your mind. Finally the first rays of the sun can be seen through the curtains, here represented by the flutes.

Movement III
Pulse II
The pulse is no longer a heartbeat. This music is bizarre and urban, heavily leaning towards popular culture with traces of (synthetic) folk music. The violin is pushed to its very limits physically. Something very Californian in all this. Hooray for freedom of expression. And thank you, guys!

Movement IV
This is not a specific farewell to anything in particular. It is more related to the very basic process of nature, of something coming to an end and something new being born out of the old. Of course this music has a strong element of nostalgia, and some of the short outbursts of the full orchestra are almost violent, but I tried to illuminate the harmony from within. Not with big gestures, but with light.
When I had written the very last chord of the piece I felt confused: why does the last chord – and only that – sound completely different from all other harmony of the piece? As if it belonged to a different composition.
Now I believe I have the answer. That chord is a beginning of something new.

Alex Ross wrote this in the New Yorker:
...Salonen offered a big new work of his own: the Violin Concerto, written for the fearless young virtuoso Leila Josefowicz. When Salonen announced that he was giving up the Los Angeles job, he said that he wanted to devote more time to composing, and the strength of his latest pieces suggests that he has not made a foolish choice. (His other conducting gig, at the Philharmonia Orchestra, in London, takes less of his time.) Salonen the composer is more openly expressive than Salonen the conductor...

Anthony Tommasini wrote this in the NY Times about Salonen's Violin Concerto:
In a program note about his new Violin concerto, a 30-minute work for in four movements, he writes that it is in some ways a "summary of my experiances as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50." If that sounds like a big agenda for one piece, the concerto comes across as a rhapsodic, inspired and restless work, too immediate to weigh down listeners with philosophical musings.

Josefowicz has a rich history with Salonen, here she is playing part of a solo violin work, Lachen verlernt, Salonen wrote for her:

You can see a list of previous Grawemeyer Composition winners here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

French Connections…

Your friends are the literary glitterati of Paris and you know the piano and little else - so what do you do? Self improvement is an important part of becoming a well rounded individual and if you were Franz Liszt in the 1820's he started a massive campaign of self education, reading every book he could find and it worked too, not only in educating a young man, but providing a wealth of new vistas for musical exploration.

On the Piano this Sunday a look at Liszt in those important years in Paris where as a young man he strived to complete himself and by doing so provided himself with projects for decades to come.

Find out about the Literary Liszt this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, One From the Heart

Musicologist point out that the works of Beethoven's last period are a final reckoning in the aftermath of a time of crisis. Besides dealing with the question of supporting his nephew there was the reality of his increasing deafness. This meant he could neither competently conduct nor play the piano, in fact he was now a page turner at many of his own concerts; associates informed musicians to ignore his time keeping as he could hear neither the performance nor the applause.The lucrative days of the performer were now a thing of the past.He was getting older and he was suffering from diminished capacities of performance but greater competency of composition. These tensions reach a peak in the final phase that begins with the late sonatas and the Diabelli Variations,then comes the Missa Solemnis.

Beethoven had asked friends and associates to rummage through their great libraries for works of the choral past,especially the music of Palestrina. He had an opportunity and a great occasion in the elevation of his friend, pupil and patron Archduke Rudolph to archbishop of Olmutz.The work took much longer than Beethoven ever intended and like many compositions of this period grew to gigantic proportions, negotiations with multiple publishers were ongoing over the four years of composition. Beethoven was pressed for cash and seriously in debt,but did not allow this to alter his rigorous and time consuming compositional method.Finally,so anxious were friends and patrons to hear this new work that they sent him an open letter in the winter of 1823-24, literally begging him for a public performance of the new sacred work.By spring of 1824 it was completed bearing the inscription " From the heart- may it return to the heart."

Please tune in to this season's final broadcast of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera as we head into the Met opera season on Dec 3 with this special holiday feature of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Leonard Bernstein conducting and the heaven storming soprano of Edda Moser.That's this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI and Happy Holidays.

host, Ron Moore

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daniel Catan's Il Postino on Great Performances

It was early 2011 when John Clare first asked me about contact information for the Mexican born composer Daniel Catan. John wanted to approach Daniel about writing a short piece for San Antonio based Soli Chamber Ensemble. Fast forward a few months, to April, and I saw the opportunity to introduce John to Daniel, face to face. Daniel had been in Austin on a special project at UT, doing some teaching while working on a commission from the UT Opera Theatre. At this same time, the University of Houston Opera was mounting a performance of Daniel's adaptation of the film Il Postino. Postino had premiered in Los Angeles in September of 2010 to rave reviews.

I had known Daniel Catan for a number of years, but had only recently met him in person for an interview. We hit it off immediately, "like old friends" as Daniel said. Thus I was not surprised that Daniel was eager to get me tickets for the Houston performance of Il Postino. I picked up John the afternoon of April 8 for the drive over to Houston. As we entered the foyer to Moores Opera House, on the campus of the University of Houston, I half expected to see Daniel. He wasn't there, but the tickets were. As John and I entered the theater, I continued to scan the crowd for the familiar faces of Daniel and his wife, harpist Adriana Puente. No luck, nor was Daniel present at the post-performance reception. I supposed he had been detained in Austin for one reason or another, that his busy schedule had kept him from Houston on that Friday evening.

"Next time," I told John. "Next time you will get to meet him." Sadly, there would be no next time. My phone rang the following day with news that Daniel was missing. The next day's news was devastating. Daniel had passed away on April 8, the same day we were to have met him in Houston.

This personal connection makes all the more poignant the broadcast this Friday evening of the Los Angeles Opera's performance of Il Postino. If you love opera in the grand tradition, with soaring melodies and lush harmonies, this is for you. Il Postino will appeal to your heart, your soul, and your intellect. Need another reason to tune in to KLRN November 25 at 8 o'clock? Here it is:

Speaking of Catán after his death, Placido Domingo (who plays the role of Pablo Neruda in the opera) remarked, “To have lost a composer of his stature at the very height of his powers is a devastating loss to the world of classical music. Daniel Catán was one of the great opera composers of our time, beloved by audiences and especially by the musicians who had the privilege of performing his incredible work.”

Top Ten Thankful Classical Songs

We love Top Ten lists just as much as the next guy, so here goes our Thanksgiving Edition! (click on the title to hear an example!)
#10. Leonard Bernstein: Turkey Trot (Divertimento)
#9. Trad, arr Carmen: Turkey in the Straw
#8. The Cranberries: Zombie (performed by the Poteet Orchestra)
#6. Philip Glass: The American Four Seasons
#4. Samuel Barber: First Essay
#3. Ralph Vaughan-Williams: March of the Kitchen Utensils (The Wasps)
#2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Shepherd's Song: Happy and thankful feelings after a storm (Symphony #6 "Pastorale")

and the Number One Classical Thanksgiving Song

Monday, November 21, 2011

Check out Charles

You might have heard him on From the Top (or seen him on the first TV show of FTT!) or heard Charles Yang last year play the Four Seasons with the Mid Texas Symphony.
He's recently recorded a video of Queen:

and previously covered Michael Jackson:

Now see CHARLES YANG - “classical violinist with the charisma of a rock star” - playing in a unique, one-time performance, at KIDS' CLUB – New Braunfels, Tuesday, November 22, from 3:30 – 4:30.
The Kids' Club is located at 169 South Hickory in New Braunfels. Thanks to our friends at Mid Texas Symphony for making this performance possible!

Cello remains

Music is magical. Besides artists studying music, scientists actually study how music changes the world. There are accounts of it making us smarter, healing and then there are mysteries:

But when it came to playing previous concertos, and learning new pieces of music, he had such no problem leaving doctors stunned.
Discussed at the Society for Neuroscience conference for the first time this past weekend, scientists say this case study suggests memory is more complex and autonomous than previously thought and that music could be the key to helping people with memory problems learn new skills in life.

How does music affect you? Are there memories you have with musical performances or performing? What music are you looking forward to over the holidays?

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Mahler was that?

Our friends at Tone Deaf Comics have done it again, this time with a funny but accurate Mahler Map!

Éljen a Magyar!

It is hard to believe that Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, long associated with lighthearted entertainment like children's cartoons could be thought of as an act of defiance.

Franz Liszt lost touch with his homeland in his youth, but when he heard of the disastrous floods of 1838 he made sure to help as best as he could and in doing so he reestablished a connection to Hungary that would last the rest of his life.

To explore this transformation from Lion of the Parisian salons to Hungarian Hero tune in to the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Verdi's Don Carlo , Power and Passion

There are essentially two Don Carlo's (if you'll allow me) of Giuseppe Verdi. I don't mean that one is in French and the other Italian. Historians and musicologist are manic about the fact that this is untrue, there is a work," Don Carlos " (francophone's are insistent on this) originally written in French for the Paris Opera that was so vast (5hrs and change, they say) it's richness so prodigal it obscured the works greatness. It was then" translated into Italian " and cut to various shapes and sizes, depending on opera house, singers available and appreciation of or boredom with ballet. It was a Behemoth, a lumbering monster. Variant openings, duets and trios and choruses to burn, ballet music that was insisted on at the time and now exist largely as a separate concert work and most importantly a great psychological/ musical narrative frame, the reason for all this elaboration and development. History, written very large indeed, and turned into gorgeous music. A combination of Schiller's stage drama and European history in the Spanish Golden Age. What most of us know runs between two and a half to three hours, does not have a ballet, does not start in a forest in France but a tomb in Spain. In the background to all this is a subtext at once old and new of European history, the battle of reactionary politics and the spirit of the Reformation, this background then weaves this ideological struggle into a love story of great power and the reason for the courageousness of the speeches of Posa and Carlo/Carlos.

In all the combinations that followed (between 1867 and 1884) in whatever language, what remained and the reason for the operas growing fame, long or short, was that the passion and power of the essential human drama shone through. Hypocrisy, jealousy, reaction and revolutions of thought; the inevitable wars of generations, court intrigue, threats of murder and blackmail - the human condition and music of breathtaking scale and inspiration.It is the longest and most ambitious music that Verdi would ever write.

Join us this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of a new and very special interpretation of Don Carlo, live from the Met with Franco Corelli and Leone Rysanek this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ft Worth Taxi Drivers take note!

Another Stradivari violin is in Fort Worth, to be played by the Associate Concertmaster of the Ft. Worth Symphony - read more here. Here's to it not being left in a cab, smashed by accident or left outside to be made into a cd cabinet!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Twelve tone commercial

There's nothing to be afraid of this weekend at the San Antonio Symphony...don't be frightened by the name Alban Berg. Here's a video to watch about the Second Viennese School to set your mind at ease:

Just a few years ago, Hilary Hahn recorded Schoenberg's Violin Concerto, that really did become an iTunes hit. She made this video:

She also did a whole series on Schoenberg:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Worst News Imaginable…

What would that be for you? For Ludwig van Beethoven it was confirmation that his hearing, "the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in highest perfection" was now eroding. How could this supreme master of sound be reduced to shouting "speak louder for I am deaf" and still have the respect of those around him?

In his Heiligenstadt Testament, Beethoven agonized about his self-exile from humanity and the misunderstandings of those who perceive him as stubborn, haughty or misanthropic. The searing nature of this confession is so personal and discouraging that some experts thought of it as a first draft of a suicide note to those that would have found him. As reduced as Beethoven was by his illness he did find a way out that was more positive for humanity, music.

Could Beethoven compose with such weighty matters depressing him? The answer is yes, his dear art and its alchemy turned base anger and frustration into art. Hear Beethoven's unique piano sonata in d minor "the Tempest" this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano. Along with a sterling performance, we will give a listen to several musicians and their approach to this masterwork.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Classical Spotlight: Peter Lieuwen

This next week SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents Quantum Change at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. On the program is Peter Lieuwen's Overland Dream.
John Clare had a chance to speak with Peter about the new work in his studio outside College Station:

Clare was also on hand this summer at the world premiere this summer in Arlington:

The Perils of Young Goethe

--- the Story ---
The German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had recently finished his law studies and was committed to visit a relative in the small town of Wetzlar. Previous to his travels he fell in with a circle of like minded young men of great promise, but no particular direction, among them a K.W. Jerusalem, destined to be for a while,secretary to a nobleman. Arriving in the town Goethe was invited to a ball at which he met and fell desperately in love with Charlotte Buff, only to discover that she was already promised to another. This commenced a long and desperate agony of youthful introspection, brooding,communions with nature, a deluge of letters and thoughts of suicide. Goethe at intervals fled the city fearful that he would do harm to himself if he were too long near the young Charlotte.

From what would for endless generations of young lovers be no more a rite of passage in their sentimental education for the poet became emblematic of the travails, confusions and 'sorrows' of an entire generation of romantics. While considering these thoughts Goethe is informed that his one time dinner companion Jerusalem, like himself, had suffered just such a loss of love. But, Jerusalem found no outlet for his despair and committed suicide. Combining his own romantic failure, Jerusalem's fatal end and the psychological/ romantic trials of his own life, Goethe fashioned one of the greatest romantic novels ever written. In doing so (as he wrote) "saved" his own life, exorcised his obsession, discovered his vocation and won a world wide reputation with the publication of The Sorrows of Young Werther.

---the Music---
In 1886 Jules Massenet went to Bayreuth to see a performance of Parsifal and there was a stopover in the town of Wetzler. Massenet's publisher was accompanying on the return to Paris and on the stopover purchased and presented him with a copy of the novel by Goethe. The result was one of his most passionate, lyrical and popular creations for the theatre. Please tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of Massenet's Werther, featuring Jose Carreras and Frederica von Stade as the doomed lovers,this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


On Tuesday, November 8, the American Music Center and Meet The Composer officially completed their merger to become New Music USA.

Though the opportunities and challenges of 2011 could not have been imagined in 1939 at the time of AMC’s founding, nor even in 1974 when Meet The Composer first appeared on the scene, the core principles of both great organizations still ring clear and true. AMC was founded on a belief that access to information and active promotion could unlock the inherent power and promise of American music. A similar conviction guided MTC: that by giving creators of new work the opportunity to engage with their communities—and compensating them in a fair way—the landscape of new music could be changed forever.

At this moment we truly feel the energetic legacy of the people who have acted on these principles over the decades, beginning with Aaron Copland (above) and his colleagues in the 1930s and John Duffy and his colleagues in the 1970s. We honor their dedicated work, knowing the greatest tribute we can offer them is a commitment to look forward as they did to the possibilities of a new day.

And it is a new day. We have the fortune to be living in a time of explosive creativity and lightning-quick change. The kaleidoscopic range of music-making all around us defies labels and categories, both in terms of the way it sounds and the way it reaches listeners. As the spectrum of that kaleidoscope broadens, it reveals more and more ways to get people involved and excited by what we do. Let’s be clear: that public connection is the pathway to our bright collective future.

New Music USA is designed to build upon the combined and interconnected strengths of AMC and MTC. Its mission to increase opportunities for composers, performers, and audiences will be realized through two basic kinds of activity: Support and Promotion. By providing financial and other support it will enable composers and other musical artists to create the new work that is the beating heart of our musical culture. And through its strong and evolving new media dimensions it will seek relentlessly to bring more attention and engagement from a broad audience of potential listeners. We trust that the synergy between these two dimensions will evolve in powerful new ways over the coming months and years.

An institution is only as strong as the people who join together to carry out its mission. New Music USA is fortunate to be governed by a committed Board, activated by a supremely talented staff, and advised by two councils of stellar professionals from the artistic and media worlds respectively. Beyond those institutional borders, though, we see New Music USA as a trust held on behalf of the entire community, the thousands and thousands of us who create, perform, produce, support and listen to new American music. If we can tap into the collective power of that community, the possibilities can be endless.

TPR's own John Clare served on the AMC board from 2010 and is now on the New Music USA media advisory board.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Mark Richter

It was announced yesterday that Mark Richter is retiring. Today he has sent this note:

Dear Friends of the San Antonio Opera,
Effective, November 15, 2011, I will be stepping down as General/Artistic Director of San Antonio Opera. My life has been rich these past 16 years. Helping to build San Antonio Opera from an idea into a major regional opera in the country has been the most gratifying experience in my life. There comes a time when the parent has done all it can do and must let go to follow other passions, as with so many other founders of organizations. After producing 61 operas, my fondest memories have been working with not only the exceptional talent that has performed in San Antonio, but the people who continue to make it all happen. Your opera staff is small, but powerful. They work hard, do many different tasks and receive very little pay and recognition. These professionals are the heroes of the organization.
It has been my great fortune to learn and work with some of our city’s most iconic leaders such as Lila Cockrell, Phil Hardberger, Edith McAllister, Nelson Wolff, Bruce Bugg and Jeanie Wyatt. I support them as they have supported me. My admiration goes out to all patrons and members of past boards that have supported and continue to support the opera through the years. This has always been your opera company and my work helping the company succeed is but a reflection of the generosity you have shown during these 16 years. Please continue this support as I join your ranks as an enthusiastic patron of the opera.
Things have certainly come full circle these past years, evidenced by watching adults that were introduced to opera through the company’s education programs, now returning to San Antonio as accomplished opera singers, as well as opera supporters and season tickets holders. All of my goals and wishes for the company have come to fruition, including finding a permanent home for the opera. Knowing that this will happen in 2014 at The Tobin Center fills my heart with pride. Most importantly, the goal of making San Antonio a regional spotlight for opera, again, after a 50 year tradition set by the San Antonio Symphony, has also been accomplished. My concentration has always been on finding the best voices to sing for our dedicated patrons. Many of these operatic talents are tomorrow’s superstars, such as the mega talent we have been fortunate in presenting in our city, such as Placido Domingo, Andre Bocelli and Jose Carreras. Concerts such as these have garnered national acclaim for San Antonio.
My emotions and respect run very deeply for the incredible musicians that accompany each opera, some of whom have played in the opera orchestra for 15 years. The opera is extremely fortunate to have such loyal talent in the pit. It has been my great honor of working with some of our city’s fine vocalists through the years, especially the opera’s very talented and hard working chorus. These passionate singers give so much and do it entirely for the love of the art. There have been friendships made with agents, artist managers and fellow opera associates through the years. My greatest hopes are they remain strong and productive, as new leaders of the opera continue to enhance the reputation of producing with high standards of excellence.
The decision to leave the San Antonio Opera was a difficult one to make, but the desire to pursue other passions and avenues in my life is a powerful calling. At 26, my ambition chose a door to enter which has led me to a treasure of filled with music and friends. Now at 43, there is an excitement hoping that the next door in my life will be as wonderful as the last. I may be leaving San Antonio Opera, however it will always and forever be close to my heart.

Best Wishes,
Mark A. Richter
Founder Emeritus