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VIDEO: A classical-music take on the 'butterfly effect'

Posted at 12:45 PM on September 17, 2014 by Luke Taylor (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, In the media, Musician stories

A video making the rounds in classical music circles today is this video from the Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition in Odense, Denmark, in which Japanese-born, Chicago-based flutist Yukie Ota remains nearly unflappable throughout her performance, even as a butterfly lands right on her face and remains there, repeatedly flapping its wings, for some time during Ota's performance:

Classical MPR host Alison Young, a former professional flutist, watched the video and had this comment:

"Oddly beautiful and almost sublime that at that particular moment in the music, a perfect little creature would not only land, but decide to stay for a while, on Ms. Ota's face. It's almost mesmerizing to an observer, but the distraction must have been close to unbearable for the performer. Clearly this young virtuoso practiced well, has unshakeable focus and even a sense of humor! She won my heart when she crossed her eyes for a split second to get a clue as to what was up, then made a slight movement to shake off her visitor, followed by simply leaning into the moment until the she could push him aside. Her wry smile at the audience was precious. Good luck, Ms. Ota!!!"

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury may have inspired the expression "the butterfly effect" with his short story "A Sound of Thunder," but this is far from what he had in mind.

As for the effect the butterfly had on Ota? As you can see from the video and as Alison points out, virtually none.

(h/t Jeff Esworthy)


On the Air This Week

Posted at 4:41 PM on September 16, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from September 9 to 16

Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: Austin High School Concert Choir.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Dan Wascoe, retired reporter and columnist for the Star Tribune.
Tuesday, 6:45 pm: School Spotlight: Austin High School Concert Choir.
Wednesday, 8 pm: The Minnesota Opera: Puccini's Manon Lescaut.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Kremerata Baltica play Weinberg, from a recent Schubert Club performance.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Kotzschmar Goings and Comings.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: From the 2014 BBC Proms, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra plays Janacek and Dvorak.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen: Etudes.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature .
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Katie McCurry, Account Representative with Fireman's Fund.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature.


Iconic Choral Organization Finds a New Voice and Logo

Posted at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2014 by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (0 Comments)
Filed under: Choral Music

VE Logo - NEW.png
VocalEssence, which is entering its 46th season, decided to do a little soul searching.  After many months of working on this project, the organization had its brand unveil party yesterday at the place it all started, Plymouth Congregational Church. 

According to a press release from VocalEssence, Executive Director Mary Ann Aufderheide, had this to say, "VocalEssence embarked on journey to explore the core of who we are, what we do, and where we see ourselves in the future...In the end, VocalEssence has found our new voice and direction for the future. And now that we have found it, we want to tell the world about it."

The brand refresh includes a new logo, style guide, a redesigned website and tagline (Together We Sing).

Here is a sneak peek screenshot of the new website
Website photo.png
Check out this video of the VocalEssence Chorus performing at Orchestra Hall


Sorry, Lucy: Beethoven IS on bubblegum cards

Posted at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2014 by Alison Young (0 Comments)
Filed under: Casual Conversations, Classical hosts, Fun finds

Lucy Van Pelt character profile, from 'Peanuts' official YouTube channel.

Cartoonist Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts characters Lucy and Schroeder have a famous exchange in which Lucy dismisses Beethoven's greatness given his absence from bubblegum cards.

We included this well-known exchange in a promo we aired before last week's Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra broadcast. In the comic strip, which we won't republish here but you could probably find on the official Peanuts site, Lucy and Schroeder's conversation goes like this:

LUCY: Everyone talks about how great Beethoven was … Beethoven wasn't so great!

SCHROEDER: What do you mean, Beethoven wasn't so great?

LUCY: He never got his picture on bubblegum cards, did he? … How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubblegum cards?

Turns out Lucy had it wrong.

I found out when listener Doug Palmer of St. Paul, Minn., sent me this email:


I've been intrigued this week by your clever announcement of this weekend's SPCO Beethoven concert, featuring Lucy Van Pelt's declaration that Beethoven never appeared on a trading card. I immediately thought that Beethoven must surely have been included among the 1952 Topps "Look 'N See" series of famous historical and cultural figures that I avidly collected when I was Lucy's age.

But when I googled the old Look 'N See trading card series, I was amazed to find Beethoven absent! The Topps Company only got around to releasing a Beethoven trading card in 2009:

Beethoven on a Topps trading card

I made some fascinating discoveries of Beethoven's appearance in other series, which I'm sharing with you:

Beethoven did indeed appear on a 1927 series of trading cards that accompanied an elixir distributed by the Liebig Meat Extract Company of Belgium:

Beethoven Meat Extract cards

I found that the Rochester NY-based Amenda Quartet distributes Beethoven trading cards at its concerts (too bad it doesn't picture them on its site).

For $10 you may obtain three trading card-sized fine art photo rag prints of this portrait of "Ludpig" from When Guinea Pigs Fly.
[Editor's Note: this item appears to be sold out.]


'Ludpig' by Lesley DeSantis of WhenGuineaPigsFly on Etsy.

Hmm … I'm intrigued by the Amenda Quartet's practice of handing out Beethoven cards at its concerts. Maybe Classical MPR can do that at next year's State Fair? I guess we'll see!


Click on Classical: ​A Faure foray, a rite of Reich, and a toy opera

Posted at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

Strumply Peter 425.jpg

Every Monday morning at 9:15, I visit the Classical MPR studio to talk about some of the stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories Melissa Ousley and I will be discussing today.

If you pick up a compilation of relaxing classical music, odds are that Fauré's Pavane is on there: it's one of the world's favorite pieces of soothing music. But did Fauré mean for it to be quite so​ soothing? Austin Gerth tells the story of the Pavane, featuring a recording of the composer himself playing the piece as captured on piano roll. Take a listen and see whether contemporary interpretations do it justice.

This week, the classical world was buzzing as Philip Glass and Steve Reich — two of the world's most famous living composers, and legends of American music — shared the stage for the first time in years. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is hosting a series of concerts in tribute to the 50-year legacy of Nonesuch Records; among the pieces played was Reich's Music for 18 Musicians​. Jessie Rothwell explores the enduring appeal of Reich's minimalist masterpiece​.

Have you heard of Strumply Peter? He dresses like Mozart on a bender, he's never ever cut his fingernails or combed his hair, and he haunts the dreams of little children who disobey their parents. He's the antihero of a "toy opera" now playing in Minneapolis; I saw this dark and amusing show last week and wrote about it on our website​.


Click on Classical this Weekend

Posted at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2014 by Steve Staruch (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical, Fun finds

Architect Tim Carl of HGA and Production Director Andy Luft of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (MPR photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

As you're browsing the Internet this weekend, perhaps over coffee as you listen to Classical Minnesota Public Radio, here are some must-sees for you:

And now, here's a chance for you to put your thinking cap on: This amazing photo by MPR News' Jeffrey Thompson — it shows a network of scaffolding in place during the Ordway's renovation. There's almost something science-fiction about it. Can you think of a good caption for this photo? Share your best ideas in the comments section below.


Pianos for planes, trains and automobiles

Posted at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2014 by Luke Taylor (1 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, Unexpected Classical

The western departures concourse of London King's Cross railway station (photo © User:Colin CC BY-SA)

In mid-August on the News Cut blog, MPR News' Bob Collins shared this video of a man playing a piano in a departure lounge at Prague's Václav Havel Airport:

The pianist in the video, Maan Hamadeh, was quoted by Lebanon's Daily Star, saying, "I would love to see pianos in all public place[s], especially those where the waiting factor is present."

Inside London's King's Cross/St Pancras railway station, there's a piano that gets a lot of attention. Here's a beautiful video by Richard Moore that captures a day in the life of that very public and very popular piano:

And finally, this piano seems just plopped along the side of the street in York, England. Despite what seems to be a chilly day when this video was shot, this boogie-woogie piano player is not slowed down at all — even though he appears to be wearing gloves!

What do you think of pianos in public places? Would you stop and listen? If you're a piano player, would you be inspired to stop and play? If so, what piece(s) would you perform?


On the Air This Week

Posted at 4:09 PM on September 9, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from September 9 to 16

Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Ed Schaefle, orchestra teacher at Blaine High School in Blaine, Minn.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Penelope Freeh, dancer and choreographer.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Ed Schaefle, orchestra teacher at Blaine High School in Blaine, Minn.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Kantorei sings music by Stephen Paulus, and the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra plays Sibelius.
Saturday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Roberto Abbado conducts two symphonies by Beethoven and the premiere of Urban Gardens by Nicola Campogrande.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Going On Record.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: From Carnegie Hall, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen: Test Pieces written for the Paris Conservatory.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: Austin High School Choir.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Dan Wascoe, retired reporter and columnist for the Star Tribune.
Tuesday, 6:45 pm: School Spotlight: Austin High School Choir.


Click on Classical: Music for eating, for healing, and for relaxing

Posted at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

Moon 425.jpg

Every Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about some of the stories we're featuring on our website. Here's what we'll be discussing today.

You think about the wine to pair with each course at a dinner party--why not think as carefully about the music? Becky Schultz has suggestions for four courses of classical.

Emily Michael talked with pianist Edith Moore-Hubert, who calls herself a practitioner of therapeutic music. Moore-Hubert shares her stories about music's healing effect even in some very difficult settings.

When Sheila Regan needs to relax, she turns to Beethoven's famous Moonlight Sonata — not for its calm, but for its storm​.



Posted at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2014 by Rex Levang (0 Comments)

Have you seen the story about all that data stored in the cloud?

I'm referring, of course, to the piece by the New Yorker's music critic Alex Ross, in which he contrasts his shelves full of CDs with the vast amount of classical music available for listening online. "Yet," he says, "I'm wedded to the wall of plastic."

Full story here.