John Birge Feature Archive

A stripped-down, touring Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd" is in Minneapolis through this weekend. The show's two stars, David Hess and Judy Kaye, stopped by Minnesota Public Radio and talked with host John Birge about the challenges of starring in a dark, emotionally-draining production while also playing the trumpet and tuba. (02/07/2008)
The Minnesota Opera's production of "Romeo and Juliet" is something of a homecoming for its two stars. Soprano Ellie Dehn grew up in Anoka and tenor James Valenti was a member of the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artists Program. (01/31/2008)
Young, British trumpeter Alison Balsom is looking forward to her first appearance on "A Prairie Home Companion." She's ready to share her dazzling brass technique with the denizens of Lake Wobegon, but admits to some trepidation about making her stage debut as an actor. (01/20/2008)
For the past seven years, Abbie Betinis has been carrying on the family tradition of composing Christmas carols as a holiday greeting. Her new carol is the jaunty "Run, Toboggan, Run." Since 2001 she's been writing carols and sending them out as her annual holiday greeting. (12/21/2007)
The Twin Cities' Summit Hill Brass Quintet has a new CD for the holidays, "Christmas up North." The group stopped by Minnesota Public Radio's studios for a chat with host John Birge, and to play new arrangements of Christmas music from the CD. (12/20/2007)
Since 1998, VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum have sponsored the Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest. This year composers were invited to write carols for chorus and the bell-like sounds of the celesta. Two winners talked with MPR's John Birge about the challenge of writing new music for Christmas. (12/11/2007)
After three whirlwind years with the Canadian Brass, Bernhard Scully has returned to his birthplace as the new principal horn of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He spoke with MPR classical host John Birge. (11/29/2007)
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux is back in the Twin Cities for the Minnesota Opera's production of Rossini "The Italian Girl in Algiers." The Alaskan native stopped by Minnesota Public Radio to sing a couple Neapolitan songs. (11/09/2007)
The bizarre secrets and infidelities of the guests on the Jerry Springer TV show are confessed through song in the Minneapolis Musical Theatre production of "Jerry Springer - The Opera." (10/17/2007)
One of Twin Cities pianist Roderick Phipps-Kettlewell's most important influences is the sound of the human voice. During a visit to Minnesota Public Radio, he spoke with classical music host John Birge and demonstrated how he makes the piano sing. (09/24/2007)
The story behind the creation of Verdi's opera, "A Masked Ball," is just about as interesting as the drama on stage. Verdi expert Philip Gossett says the political climate of 19th century Europe made government censors nervous about an opera based on the assassination of a king. (09/21/2007)
A new Twin Cities Public Television documentary of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's recent European tour is an intimate look at the people behind the music. (09/14/2007)
The Twin Cities' Metropolitan Ballet company is staging Agnes de Mille's original choreography to Aaron Copland's "Rodeo." Paul Sutherland worked with the legendary choreographer for many years and is teaching the dancers to act like cowboys. (06/20/2007)
At the time mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux was growing up in Alaska, she wasn't much of an opera fan. When her mother tuned in the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, she'd turn on the vacuum cleaner to drown out the sound. Now Genaux performs in operas and recitals around the world including, this weekend, the St. Paul Summer Song Festival. (06/08/2007)
In its current productions, Theatre de la Jeune Lune uses operatic music by Mozart to tell subversive stories with a political point of view. Although the narratives are different, the two productions maintain the integrity of Mozart's music, as the cast demonstrates in our studios. (05/16/2007)