Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Domingo preview

A sneak peak for tomorrow's Con amor a San Antonio with Placido Domingo:

Placido in San Antonio

Domingo and Clare

Tomorrow the San Antonio Opera presents Placido Domingo, Con amor a San Antonio at the AT and T Center.  The varied program includes arias, mariachi, zarzuela and more with guest soprano Ana Maria Martinez and a full orchestra.
Host John Clare spoke to Domingo about his lengthy career, new works and returning to San Antonio.  Listen to their conversation here. {mp3 file}

Friday, May 27, 2011

Danzones of Arturo Marquez

Danzones of Arturo Marquez on This Week's Itinerarios

Shall we dance? The music will certainly be dancing to the alluring and at times exotic rhythms of the Cuban-Mexican danzon on this week's edition of Itinerarios, KPAC's weekly program of music with Latin American roots. Of course, Marquez' signature Danzon No. 2 will be present, but there will also be the lesser known side of Arturo Marquez, a composer of chamber music, concerted works and, of course, danzones.

Itinerarios airs every Sunday evening at 7 o'clock on Classical Oasis KPAC-88.3fm. Listen online at tpr.org.


Bell with John Clare after a San Antonio appearance
Joshua Bell has been appointed Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields! Bell is the first person to hold the title since Sir Neville Marriner, who founded the Orchestra in 1958. With three weeks already scheduled for the 2011-12 season, including an extensive US tour, Joshua Bell will double his time with the Orchestra over the course of his initial three year contract, as well as taking responsibility for the artistic direction of the Orchestra.
Joshua’s appointment is a natural progression of the particularly warm relationship that he has with the musicians of the Academy and UK audiences: “I have felt a particular affection for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields ever since I made my very first concerto recording with them under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner when I was just 18 years old. Since then the orchestra has come to feel like family to me, as we have shared so many cherished moments together both musical and personal. Over the past several years I have begun to explore the great symphonic repertoire with the ASMF and I am thrilled that I will have the opportunity to continue this collaboration under the official title of Music Director.”
The appointment of a Music Director has been made possible financially by the three-year sponsorship from leading global technology company, Siemens. In response to news of the appointment, Andreas J. Goss, Chief Executive, Siemens plc and North West Europe, said: “Our sponsorship of the Academy of St Martin the Fields is an important partnership for Siemens. The Academy is one of the leading chamber orchestras in the world and has achieved its reputation with the pioneering leadership of Sir Neville Marriner. We believe that the appointment of the exceptional violinist, Joshua Bell, as Music Director, will strengthen this world-class position. We have enjoyed working with the Academy and look forward to continuing to support the orchestra as this exciting new chapter in their history unfolds.”
Anna Rowe, Chief Executive of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields said: “This is an extremely exciting appointment for the Orchestra. Joshua is an incredible musician and his work with the orchestra is truly inspirational. We are looking forward to developing the orchestra’s potential with Joshua as our Music Director.”
The recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize and named 2010 Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America, Joshua Bell has recorded more than 36 CDs and garnered numerous awards including the Mercury, Grammy, Gramophone and Echo Klassik Awards. Joshua came to international prominence at the age of 14 when he made his orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Riccardo Muti. His breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty has continued to enchant audiences worldwide for more than two decades. He records exclusively for Sony Classical.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world’s most celebrated chamber orchestras. More than 50 years since its formation, the orchestra continues its relationship with founder Sir Neville Marriner, whose early concerts with the Ensemble were directed from the leader’s chair. More recently the Academy has developed a successful partnership with internationally renowned pianist Murray Perahia, who has been Principal Guest Conductor since 2000. The concept of the conductorless ensemble however has remained the guiding principle of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ artistic policy and, over the years, has been strengthened through Artistic Directors, Iona Brown and Kenneth Sillito. The orchestra also performs regularly with violinists Julia Fischer, Julian Rachlin, Janine Jansen and Anthony Marwood, with whom the ensemble has formed strong bonds.
Sir Neville, who in 2009 was given a ‘lifetime achievement’ award at the Grammy’s (and has just celebrated his 87th birthday), is delighted to retain his association with the Academy of which he is now Life President: “The Academy has been the core of my musical life and has given me considerable satisfaction. Since 1986, when Joshua first played with the Ensemble, I recognised in him a kindred spirit, and I am sure he will feel the same as I do about the Academy. His appointment is in tune with the founding principles of the Academy.”

The best of both worlds…

Operas are long, in a foreign language and hard to follow, but they have great tunes! How can one get the very best out of these behemoths and still have time for dinner? This problem was solved in the 19th century when great pianists would arrange the memorable tunes from popular operas and play them in concert. Franz Liszt did not invent the opera paraphrase, but he perfected it and became the genres greatest practitioner.

Liszt "borrowed" some of the three handed effects of the piano virtuoso Sigismond Thalberg, when he said to him, "I have copied all your traits" "yes replied Thalberg, there are Thalberg passages in your Norma that are positively indecent!" Liszt was explicit when it came to telling a story in music, he had a way of getting the absolute best out of a melody and when it came to opera his amazing technique and imagination caught fire in a way that could drive an audience wild.
On the Piano this Sunday part two of Liszt at the Opera where the music of Bellini, Verdi, Meyerbeer, Mozart and Wagner get the virtuoso treatment from Franz Liszt. Tune in at 5 this Sunday afternoon on KPAC and KTXI. - host, Randy Anderson

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Classical Bob Dylan

Today is the 70th birthday of Robert Allen Zimmerman, known as Bob Dylan.  A prolific singer/songwriter, poet and painter, Dylan has inspired generations of other artists.  A composer who has written music for his poetry is John Corigliano.
Host John Clare spoke to Corigliano about his Mr. Tambourine Man, Seven Poems of Bob Dylan...
John Clare: "Two people I would not put together, Bob Dylan and John Corigliano but there’s a lovely singer involved. How do those inspirations kick start? Was this something that came about with the singer? Was it something that someone said oh, check out these songs?"

John Corigliano and John Clare
 John Corigliano: You're talking about Mr. Tambourine Man - a cycle of seven poems of Bob Dylan that I set to music with out any knowledge of his music. And the reason this took place is because Sylvia McNair and Carnegie Hall asked me to write a large song cycle. And Sylvia said really want to be an American writer the poet and I agreed. She said it would be wonderful to get an American who speaks to people today. And you know what? Every great poet speaks to people today, I mean you know Emily Dickenson speaks today. But I thought is there anyone outside of our kind of cultural elite living? Is there someone who speaks to everybody who’s also very, very good? And someone said to me you should check out the lyrics of the song of Bob Dylan because they really poetic and very good. And so I sent for a book of just his lyrics, a big thick book. I went through them and indeed a lot of them were wonderful, some were not, but you know that’s fine. And I went through them and I went through them and I finally put them together into a seven cycle song. The unusual thing and people tend not to believe me in this is that I didn’t really know the music to Mr. Tambourine Man or Blowin' in the Wind. Now when I say that I might have heard it in the sixties or whenever it was done at a coffee shop while I was talking to somebody. But it didn’t pull my ear into its’ world and therefore I never really heard it. I’m not saying this to condemn him because God knows you know he’s considered a great composer by many people and I won’t take that away from them. But it didn’t excite me the way for example the Beatles did. When I heard their music I stopped and there where so many things they would do doing that were really wonderful for the composer...there were interesting harmonically, rhythmically and phase lengths and other ways that I was really fascinated. Never got that from the Dylan songs in those days, so I didn’t know them.

So I took these lyrics or poems - they are wonderful poems, and I was setting them as I would set you know Emily Dickson or Goethe. I was just setting them as a composer of my world setting words I thought were very important. And the result of that was a song cycle that some people love and some people don’t want to hear. I know a lot Dylan people who don’t want to hear this piece. They think it’s strange because we always think of the sacrilegious part - oh say how dare you play Mozart with a pop thing or whatever - and it’s always the classical people. I have found that the folk, pop people can be very ridged about the fact that you are taking Dylan into your world. I don’t think I would have minded if I had a pop version of my music but that’s not what I am. I simply wrote and reflected the words. Another thing about it is Dylan like many folk composers, he wrote an melody and his emotional tale kinda rides over the melody. It isn’t reflected in the melody so he’ll write, he’ll have the same music per verse in which many things happen and many different emotions are displayed - they don’t get reflected in the music.

And I understand that and that’s fine and I appreciate and respect that. But one of the things about art music whether it’s St. Matthew Passion or something else is the idea that these words can be reflected in this music and that’s what I did. So it will be music that will have three different kinds of listeners. One is a novice who will listen to it and say I love these words and I see this music means something or it doesn’t to me. One will be a Dylan supporter who will say I don’t want to hear it because it’s not right to do that. And the third person will be who love Dylan who also get a fascination out of listening to a piece in which both things are happening. That is they hear my piece and they hear Dylan’s piece at the same time. And it’s very interesting for audiences. They really like it...to play these pieces because Blowin in the Wind, they hear the Dylan song and my song at the same timed because they know Dylan so well that when the words happen it just goes into those . But than they hear my cadences and my world and its different and they find that interesting. And I find that interesting abstractly too."

Monday, May 23, 2011

They coulda used Biber

It didn't make it to the show, but I'm glad they taped it:

Enjoy Mozart, Bach and Biber on KPAC and KTXI, your classical oasis!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Classical Spotlight: First Look

This weekend the San Antonio Chamber Choir performs a program entitled "Let there be light." A world premiere by Timothy Kramer is a new five movement work called Lux Caelestis.  Host John Clare caught some of the dress rehearsal of the new work:

And the best Fingerwork wins

Back before students could travel all over the world to learn from different teachers, there were differing schools of piano playing. The most well known was the Russian school and the French school was another. The Gallic school was characterized by little use of the sustaining pedal, clean and vigorous fingerwork (very honest, this) and a good feel for dynamics. This elegant method sounds like a great approach to the music of the baroque, doesn't it?

On the Piano this Sunday two young French pianists play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. From a dazzling Chromatic Fantasy to a beautifully structured Toccata, and the program ends with Bach's own concerto for solo keyboard. Hear Bach a la Francaise this Sunday a 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cello there!

Over the past two years, David Finckel has been posting Cello Talks, his innovative, one-of-a-kind series of short videos that cover a remarkably wide range of topics relating to David's vast knowledge of the cello and cello technique. The videos have been filmed on the road by David in a multitude of locations, ranging from Japan to Russia to Scandinavia and even one in-flight from 30,000 up in the sky! Cello talks have attracted an exuberant and devoted following around the globe.
To commemorate the Cello Talks, a website (http://www.cellotalks.com/) has been created where you can search all the videos by topic. The videos can also be found on David and Wu Han's blog, their YouTube and Vimeo channels.
Here is the first one:

Talk 1: Introduction from David Finckel and Wu Han on Vimeo.
And the most recent one:

Talk 100: Bridges and Strings from David Finckel and Wu Han on Vimeo.

Record for records

Are you a fan of historic recordings? Don't mind a few pops to hear your favorite artist of yesteryear?
The new National Jukebox website of historic recordings that the Library of Congress and Sony Music made available for free streaming on the Internet has logged more than 1 million page views and more than 250,000 streams in less than 48 hours since it went live Tuesday morning, a library spokeswoman said last week.
The project has opened up the library’s archive with an initial posting of more than 10,000 pre-1925 recordings from the Victor record label, now under the Sony Music umbrella. The recordings span jazz, blues, ethnic folk, gospel, pop, spoken word, comedy and other genres dating to the early 20th century.
Sony has given the Library of Congress blanket permission to make the recordings accessible to the public, retaining the rights to issue any of them in the future for commercial release.
We like the Mischa Elman recordings and who isn't a Caruso fan?
Check them out for yourself here.

Live! From NPR

Miss the Classical Live! "Spring For Music" concerts last week?  Hear them, and many others, online at http://www.nprmusic.org/.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Website of a Thousand

May 18th, 2011 will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler. Today, Mahler’s works are performed and recorded frequently and enjoy an esteemed place in any orchestra’s standard repertoire. In 2010 Deutsche Grammophon and Decca celebrated the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth with the Mahler150.com website, and the site continues to honor Mahler this year. In addition, DG will release a rare archival recording of the composer’s Das Lied von der Erde featuring Fritz Wunderlich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in a performance led by Josef Krips.
The Mahler 150 website, http://www.mahler150.com/, is devoted to the composer and his music and offers full-track streaming of the complete Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Mahler catalogs featuring some 180 symphony recordings. Additionally, the comprehensive out-of-print section of over 60 albums includes important recordings that have become virtually unobtainable and legendary performances that are being made available for the first time digitally via the DG Web Shop. Simply select a symphony at the top of the site and then enjoy listening to a wide variety of recordings, both historic and recent. Listeners can compile their favorite playlist of Mahler recordings or simply sample DG and Decca’s library of great recordings.
As part of last year’s celebrations, DG and Decca asked listeners to vote for their favorite performances of the nine symphonies and unfinished 10th. The votes were tallied and the results were then turned into a box set, Mahler: The People’s Edition. Fully programmed by the general public, this unique box set allowed fans to make their voices heard as part of the Mahler celebration.
Deutsche Grammophon pays special honor to the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death with a rare recording of Das Lied von der Erde. This live recording, taken from a sold-out concert during the Vienna Festival at the Musikverein on June 14, 1964, features Josef Krips leading the Wiener Symphoniker with soloists Fritz Wunderlich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Released for the first time on CD, this recording comes from a unique source in the Krips family archive: a copy of the original ORF (Austrian Radio) tape which is no longer to be found. Saved from the vaults and lovingly restored by the expert engineers at the Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin, it is a marvel of singing from two great soloists and a great conductor who were all closely associated with this work. The album will be available May 24, 2011.
Recent releases have included Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Adagio from Symphony no. 10 (DG: Boulez, Kozena, Gerhaher), Des Knaben Wunderhorn (DG: Hampson, Wiener Virtuosen), Bernstein’s Mahler (DVD: featuring selected movements from each symphony), Mahler: The Symphonies (DG: Bernstein, various orchestras – complete collection) as well as Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a live performance (DG: available as a digital album and a DVD).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Like a Phoenix rising…

Poor Geirr Tveitt, the Norwegian composer that lost nearly 300 compositions in a fire that engulfed his residence in 1970. Through years of study, restoration of the singed manuscripts and notating music by listening to recordings, a number of his most important works are being reclaimed.

On the Piano this Sunday a recording of one of Tveitt's most shimmering pieces, the Aurora Borealis for piano and orchestra. Here is music that conjures up the majesty of the flaming sky above an autumn landscape. Also an introduction to the composer with his first concerto composed as a student in Leipzig.

The Piano, hear it this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Doc Lang

Today, the 28-year-old international piano megastar Lang Lang received the Honorary Doctorate Degree from The Royal College of Music in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a performer and a philanthropist supporting the next generation of musicians, on the occasion of HRH the Prince of Wales’ annual visit to the RCM. Lang Lang is the youngest and the first Chinese individual to be distinguished with this high honor.

The ceremony took place at the Britten Theatre of the Royal College of Music in London, followed by a brief concert at the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall. As HRH the Prince of Wales arrived at RCM, the stage curtain rose and the brass fanfare welcomed the Royal party onto the stage. Lord Winston, the Chairman of the College, read the citation for Lang Lang, whereupon HRH Prince Charles conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Music and presented him with the scroll. Composer James MacMillan and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen received their Honorary Doctorate Degrees alongside Lang Lang.

RCM’s decision to award the degree to Lang Lang celebrates the 40 million Chinese children inspired to learn classical piano. As one of the world’s most renowned pianists, whose performance at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics brought him to the attention of five billion people worldwide; Lang Lang is viewed as a symbol of China’s future. In 2004, Lang Lang was appointed International Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Four years later he launched the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to nurture young talent, introduce underserved communities to classical music, and cultivate the audiences of tomorrow.

SOLI Dance Party

SOLI Chamber Ensemble performs tomorrow night at Blue Star Contemporary Arts Center. The unconventional program is called SOLI Dance Party and includes works by DBR, Piazzolla, Jimi Hendrix, and John Mackey.
Here is last night's performance of Airbag by Radiohead arranged by Christopher O'Riley and DJ Marcus Rubio:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tobin Center Groundbreaking

We're excited about the "remaking" of the Municipal Auditorium to the new Tobin Center for the Performaning Arts.
This morning the official groundbreaking took place. Mayor Juli├ín Castro spoke:

From the San Antonio Symphony, maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing had some fun with tubist Lee Hipp.
(photos by Troy Peters via facebook)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

From the Top: Caught On Camera!

One of our favorite programs on KPAC is From the Top, showcasing America's best young classical musicians.  This week's episode was taped earlier this spring in Monterey, California, during the EG Conference, the premiere gathering place for technological innovators in media and education.  The radio episode was not only taped for broadcast, but filmed and edited, as well.  Now you can see the young musicians you hear on the radio; wait until you see 9-year-old Ray Ushikubo!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring for Music LIVE

Classical Live takes you to Carnegie Hall for Spring For Music, a groundbreaking a festival of seven concerts by North American orchestras and chamber orchestras performing creative, stimulating, and adventurous programs.
These performances will be broadcast by Classical Live on KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM. All broadcasts begin at 7 p.m.

Tonight's concert of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra includes The New Brandenburgs, six works based on Bach's masterpieces. KPAC Host John Clare spoke with composer Paul Moravec (pictured right) about his work on the program, Brandenburg Gate, and how he feels having six new works all together!
Listen to their conversation here.

Looking for Fame in the States

Ask a young person what they want to be when they grow up and often you get the brutally honest answer….famous!

On the Piano this Sunday Four American composers and the hard road to recognition for their art. You will hear music of a man who was born in a log cabin in Oklahoma and how he got to Paris. Then there was the Pianist that gave the first televised piano recital and still no one knew of him. And there was the composer who discovered why falling in love might create better music than romantic sparks. Also, the story of the first famous American musician, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

America and the people and music this country inspires on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Sunday, May 1, 2011

TPR Cinema soundtrack review: Water For Elephants

James Newton Howard’s score for the new film “Water for Elephants” leads the composer down two divergent roads. For most of the score, Howard serenades the listener with brief orchestral fragments. At other times, he’s mimics the big band sound of the 1930s, when the film is set.
Howard is a six-time Academy Award nominee whose best work includes a pounding collaboration with Hans Zimmer for “The Dark Knight” and the score for M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village,” featuring soloist Hilary Hahn. Most of the cues on “Water for Elephants” are not developed enough into themes that I was able to appreciate apart from the picture, but two selections, “Jacob Sees Marlena,” and “Shooting Star,” are good recommendations for iTunes downloads. Both of those are less atmospheric, more melodic.

Howard’s attempts to write jazzy music of the era are sweet, but lack the passion or fire of the real deal. They feel too Hollywood.

--Nathan Cone