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On the Air This Week

Posted at 8:50 AM on April 23, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from April 22 to 29


Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: luthier John Waddle.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature.
Tuesday, 8 pm: Choral Hero: Dale Warland's Minnesota Voices.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: pianist Inon Barnatan, from a recent Chopin Society recital.
Thursday, 8 pm: The Metropolitan Symphony and Minnesota Chorale perform Mahler's Resurrection Symphony.
Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Hector Olivera in Concert.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Emanuel Ax plays Brahms with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Sunday, 5 pm: Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen: Why Choral Music?
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight.

(0 Comments)

Beloved as he is in Minnesota, Osmo Vanska still needs a job

Posted at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2014 by Luke Taylor (0 Comments)
Filed under: In the media, Osmo Vanska

It's fair to infer Osmo Vänskä is earning plenty of frequent-flyer points.

In January alone, the former music director of the Minnesota Orchestra conducted the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, the Israel Philharmonic in Tel Aviv, and the Orchestra National de Lyon in its eponymous city in France. A little more than a week ago, Vänskä was in Amsterdam to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. And this week, as the Washington Post's Anne Midgette reports, Vänskä is in Washington, D.C., to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra.


Osmo Vänskä has been seeing his fair share of airports lately (MPR file photo/Minnesota Orchestra)

Freelancing has its benefits. "There is a temptation to think about doing only guest conducting, because you don't need to take all the headaches that the music director has to," Vänskä told Midgette.

But there was a suggestion the man would prefer a full-time job. "I have always had an orchestra," Vänskä said to Midgette, "let's call it my own orchestra, since '85."

In Midgette's article, Minnesota Orchestra Principal Trombonist Doug Wright describes Vänskä as "a good fit" and says life would be "easier and better all around" if Vänskä did return to his former post in Minneapolis. But Wright acknowledges, "Obviously, if he doesn't come back, we will go find a new music director."

Add to this speculation the recent news reported in The Guardian that the Royal Concertgebouw's current director, Mariss Jansons, announced he will resign his position as chief conductor of that orchestra after its 2014-15 season.

Could the prestige of the Royal Concertgebouw, the excellent quality of life in the Netherlands, and the shorter trip back to his native Finland be enticements to Vänskä?

"It's obvious that I am still living with many question marks," Vänskä told the Washington Post's Midgette. "I need to get more answers to those questions. When I get those answers, then it's time to make decisions."

(0 Comments)

Click on Classical: Gregorian chant gets a remix, composers pair up, and listeners pick the best choral work of all time

Posted at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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Every Monday morning at about 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to discuss some of the stories we're featuring on our site. Here are the stories we'll be talking about today.

Among musical genres, Gregorian chant and hip-hop are a pretty unlikely couple. Ricky O'Bannon, though, found a clever interpolation of the traditional Dies Irae chant in "The Second Coming," a rap song by Just Blaze and Julez Santana. The artists didn't sample the chant, they turned it into a beat with a musical twist that underscores the themes of both the song and the traditional requiem. Hear the song, and read Ricky's analysis, here.

Speaking of couples, Garrett Tiedemann noticed that composers are working in duos more and more frequently when composing for film and TV. That's not a common practice among concert composers--though Mozart and Haydn, for example, were good friends, they never shared a musical byline--so why is it becoming routine among composers working in film and TV scoring? Garrett explains why, and lists several pairs of composers whose work you should know.

We're celebrating choral music this month on Classical MPR, and what's a celebration without a little competition? We want to know what the greatest choral works of all time are, and we're asking you to help us choose. Until midnight April 25, you can vote for your top five choral compositions​; on April 30, we'll be counting down the top 25.

(0 Comments)

On the Air This Week

Posted at 4:03 PM on April 15, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from April 15 to 21


Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: the Litchfield High School Dragonaires.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Janet Tollund, travel agent and consultant.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight: the Litchfield High School Dragonaires.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The National Lutheran Choir.
Friday, 10am: Bach's St. Matthew Passion.
Saturday, 11 am: Metropolitan Opera: Arabella, by Richard Strauss.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: An Easter Offering.
Sunday, noon: Handel's Messiah, performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Sunday, 8 pm: From Darkness to Light, with Bob Christiansen and Valerie Kahler.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: luthier John Waddle.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature.

(0 Comments)

Click on Classical: Pops with chops, most popular composers

Posted at 8:36 AM on April 14, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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Every Monday morning at about 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to discuss some of the stories we're featuring on our site. This week we featured two groups with the kind of skills you find in top choirs and orchestras, but who perform pop-friendly repertoire — and have the screaming fans that go with it.

Our choral stream producer Tesfa Wondemagegnehu talked with Brian Newhouse about the vocal group Pentatonix, a five-person a capella group whose fans go wild for their sweet harmonies and energetic covers of songs by the likes of Pharrell, Lorde, and Christina Aguilera. Read the conversation between Tesfa and Brian to learn why choral music geeks are starting to take this fun group very seriously. Also, be sure to visit ClassicalMPR.org tonight — Monday, April 14 — at 7:00 p.m. to follow a live chat between Tesfa and Conspirare co-founder Craig Hella Johnson.

Meanwhile, Sheila Regan profiles Well-Strung, a string quartet that also sings — and dances. They can toss off chamber-music masterpieces, but they typically don't get very far into the likes of Eine klein Nachtmusik ​before breaking into a pop hit like Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." Click here to see them do their thing — and to learn the eyebrow-raising name of the very forthright musical group that some of the group members were performing in when they met.

Can you guess who the most frequently performed composers are? Since 2000, the League of American Orchestras have been keeping tabs on all performances by their member orchestras. Eleanor Peterson lists the top ten composers and​ the top ten most frequently performed works; click here to see what they are. See if you can guess which composer, regarded by many music critics as the greatest musical mind of all time, doesn't even make the top ten.​

(0 Comments)

Casual Conversations Vol. 2 - Craig Hella Johnson

Posted at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2014 by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (1 Comments)
Filed under: Casual Conversations, Choral Music

CHJ and TW.jpg

Please join us for the Live Webcast Interview with Grammy nominated conductor Craig Hella Johnson.



View on YouTube
(there will be a slight video delay)  

Got Questions for CHJ?
Submit your questions below, or tweet them @tesfawon with the hashtag #gotchoir?

We won't be able to get to all of them, but during the last portion of the interview the floor will be open for users to ask CHJ questions.


(1 Comments)

Soundtracks to on-screen adventures

Posted at 12:21 PM on April 10, 2014 by Emily Reese (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, In the media, Programs

Music is an integral part of the gaming experience. Even though the first game, Pong, didn't have music, it wasn't long before every on-screen adventure had its own soundtrack.

In the early days, composers had access to two or three channels that could each produce one sound at a time. As a result, a lot of early scores end up simulating Baroque-era figured bass and early counterpoint. Eventually, gaming technologies caught up with present day. Now, gamers are treated to full orchestral scores, depending on the game itself. Consistently, I'm surprised and in awe of the talented composers who are writing soundtracks for video games.

For instance, Gustaf Grefberg's score for Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is captivating. Grefberg, an unknown quantity to me until I heard this score, works for a Swedish game developer called Starbreeze Studios. For the Brothers soundtrack, he mimicked an old Scandinavian singing tradition called "kulning", used primarily by women to call back the herds at the end of each day. Grefberg's kulning is used to great effect, in a game about family and loss.

Brothers_A_Tale_of_Two_Sons_cover_art.jpg

Peter McConnell wrote a terrific score to Broken Age, demonstrating his love of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring at a moment in the game involving a fairytale-esque sacrifice. McConnell's instrumentation is always a delight — his scores demand musicianship from the performers.

The fandom for video game music is deep and wide. Lately, a handful of string quartet projects have popped up in celebration of that fandom. The Videri String Quartet formed recently in the Boston area, and a project called The String Arcade recorded a string quartet album of game music to raise money for an El Sistema-based after-school program in California.

As always, it's a pleasure to share this music with you, and I look forward to bringing you more in the future!

(0 Comments)

On the Air This Week

Posted at 4:00 PM on April 8, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from April 8 to 15


Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Terry Brau, Band Director, Willmar Senior High School.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Bruce Broquist, baker and singer.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Terry Brau, Band Director, Willmar Senior High School.
Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Opera: Donizetti's Anna Bolena.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The Rose Ensemble, from a performance at St. Olaf College.
Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: guest conductor and composer Eric Whitacre.
Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Andrea Chenier, by Umberto Giordano.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Pipedreams Live! at the University of Kansas.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Houston Symphony Orchestra plays music of John Williams.
Monday, noon: A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: the Litchfield High School Dragonaires.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Deb Tollund, travel agent and consultant.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight: the Litchfield High School Dragonaires.

(0 Comments)

Click on Classical: A tenor speaks out, a soprano breaks out, and a pianist gets locked out

Posted at 8:29 AM on April 7, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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Every Monday morning at about 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to discuss some of the stories we're featuring on our site. Three stories we'll be talking about this morning:

• We've seen extraordinary interest in our "alto's-eye view of choral music" and our "bass's-eye view of choral music" posts — it seems that each section of the choir has been dying to be heard, not just musically but in the form of opinionated essays! This week, Classical MPR's own Vaughn Ormseth weighed in with "a tenor's-eye view of choral music." Despite what one might think, writes Vaughn, "tenors aren't perfect — they're the first to let you know on those blue, blue moons when they fail their own sublime standards. And they attract imitators and wannabes who sometimes imperil their reputation: baritones who can't quite cut it, contraltos who presume mere vocal range gains them admission into the tenor sanctum. Then, too, there's that problematic tenor sub-species: countertenors."

• It's not very often that a soprano becomes nationally famous for not singing, but that's precisely what happened when 29-year-old Sharleen Joynt, a talented up-and-coming coloratura, went on ABC's The Bachelor​. That's the reality show where dozens of women vie for the affection of a single lucky man. Despite being the only professional singer on the show, Joynt didn't want to sing on the show. Find out why — and learn about the decision she made that surprised millions — in Fred Child's fascinating interview.

• Musicians lead crazy lives, and piano soloist Andrew Staupe is no exception. This week, he shared three of his strange but true tales from the road. Read his post​ to find out how Staupe has found himself locked in Latvia, blocked by a volcano, and even interrupted during a recital to be asked to leave the stage.

On the Air This Week

Posted at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2014 by Jennifer Allen
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from April 1 to 8


Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: Wayzata High School Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra.
Tuesday, noon: The April Fools.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Emily Green, co-founder of Young Musicians of Minnesota.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight: Wayzata High School Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The DreamSongs Project.
Thursday, 8 pm: The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, from the Saint Paul Cathedral.
Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: La Boheme.
Saturday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Beethoven, and the world premiere of Become River by John Luther Adams.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: From Harvard Yard.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Brahms and Tchaikovsky.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Schubert and Beethoven.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Terry Brau, Band Director, Willmar Senior High School.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Bruce Broquist, baker and singer
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Terry Brau, Band Director, Willmar Senior High School.