On Now

Listen to the Stream
  • Symphony No. 4 "Naive" 9:09 Franz Berwald
    San Francisco Symphony
    Herbert Blomstedt
    Buy Now
  • Donna Diana Overture 9:01 Emil von Reznicek
    Vienna Philharmonic
    Claudio Abbado
    Buy Now
Playlist
Other MPR Radio Streams
Choral Stream
MPR News
Radio Heartland

You can now listen to Classical and Choral Music on your iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) or Android device.

Blog Archive

April 2014
S M T W T F S
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30      


Master Archive

Authors

Classical Notes is written by your favorite hosts and Classical MPR staff members:

Contact Us

Purchase the Music

  • Buy the music you've heard on-air! Your purchase helps support our classical service.
    ArkivMusic

Services

Classical Notes

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: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: 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

20140408_mystery_composer.jpg

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 Google Hangout (Google account and installed Google Hangout plugin needed)

Click Here


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 (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

tenor.jpg

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.

(0 Comments)

On the Air This Week

Posted at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
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.

(0 Comments)

Free Weekend of Bach?

Posted at 2:30 PM on April 1, 2014 by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (1 Comments)
Filed under: Choral Music

PB.jpg Alright, alright...Minnesota has experienced Philip Brunelle's wizardry for over 45 years, but the man might have outdone himself this time.


Imagine this musical party...

Friday Night:  World-class concert pianist plays Bach's Goldberg Variations

Saturday Night: Chamber music festival featuring Bach's "Hunting" Cantata and songs from the Ana Magdalena Notebook

Sunday Morning: Bach's Cantata 79, Gott, der Herr, ist Sonn' and Schild.

Sunday Afternoon: Critically acclaimed organist plays a concert of festive organ works by Bach.

Best part about all of this...the party starts this weekend and its FREE


Minsoo Sohn (pianist) playing Liszt


Christopher Houlihan (organist) playing Widor


I don't know about you, but I will definitely be going to at least one of these Bach festivities.  The wizard has struck again...


Schedule of Events
Bach Page 2.png (1 Comments)

Click on Classical: Quintessential Beethoven, a surprising lesson, naming chamber groups

Posted at 8:25 AM on March 31, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

Voyager Golden Record 2.jpg

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:

• I grew up in awe of my father's 85-record Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: a near-complete set of the composer's works issued by Time Life in 1970 to celebrate Beethoven's 200th birthday. I've resolved to listen to every single record in the set at least once by the time Beethoven turns 250, and to hold myself to it, I'm writing a blog post for every record. This week, I write about the most quintessentially BEETHOVEN piece in the set.

• When Ellen Blum Barish went to hear an Edgar Meyer concert at Northwestern University's beautiful Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, she was distressed to hear a repeated clicking sound. Was it the heating system acting up? Was someone flicking a pen or tapping their seat? She was so distracted, she pulled up her jacket collar to try to focus her ears. Finally Ellen's husband went to tell an usher about the sound — and the two of them learned a surprising lesson about tolerance.

• Moorhead french hornist Gwen Hoberg and a few of her colleagues recently founded a brass trio--but what to name their group? They looked at other chamber group names and brainstormed ideas that included the Red River Brass Trio, Valves and Slides, the Joyful Brass, Flood of Sound, the Loki Trio, Tundra Brass, the Bohemian Brass, and even — in tribute to the revival of Cosmos — the Sagan Trio. Eventually, they all agreed they'd found the perfect name for their northerly ensemble.

Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection: Symphonies 4 & 5

Posted at 3:29 PM on March 29, 2014 by Jay Gabler (4 Comments)
Filed under: Ludwig van Beethoven

Voyager Golden Record 2.jpg

The first Beethoven that I knew as Beethoven was the opening of the fifth symphony, the four-note tattoo that's one of the most famous figures in all of music. I first recall hearing it on a Time-Life record — not this album in my dad's Beethoven Bicentennial Collection, but one of those flimsy little plastic records that you were supposed to weight with a penny and put on your turntable to sample the sound of a collection being advertised.

In this case, it was a classical collection featuring, of course, the mighty Beethoven. The sampler record opened with a few bars of the fifth symphony, then a stentorian announcer was heard. I don't remember the exact words he used, but the gist was that if you didn't own Beethoven's greatest hits, you were missing out on THE MOST PROFOUND MUSIC EVER CONCEIVED BY THE MIND OF MAN.

Not the most welcoming invitation to classical music, but that's the impression that generations have been given by an approach that takes Beethoven's mighty work as its calling card. As well-worn as the work has become, it hasn't lost its power to overwhelm. Majestic as the entire work is, its ferocious opening movement is particularly indelible: it's one of the passages in Beethoven's repertoire where even a 21st century listener can readily hear how the composer raised the stakes for all of music.

Beethoven composed the fifth in his mid-thirties, a period when his deafness was increasingly troubling him. In popular myth, the insistent theme of the first movement represents fate knocking at the composer's door. To say...what, precisely? "The bad news is, you're going to lose your hearing. The good news is, you're going to become an immortal pillar of the musical arts. Sorry, did I come at a bad time?"

At least the reviews were good. Though the initial performance went poorly, E.T.A. Hoffmann later praised the score: "How this wonderful composition, in a climax that climbs on and on, leads the listener imperiously forward into the spirit world of the infinite!" That makes it sound like a candidate for inclusion in Kubrick's 2001. It wasn't, but it did get sent into the stars: the symphony's first movement appears on the Voyager Golden Record in company with the likes of a Brandenberg concerto movement, the Queen of the Night's aria from Mozart's Magic Flute, and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."

In all of Beethoven, there may be no composition so definitively BEETHOVEN as this. The Ode to Joy may be even more famous, but it's not the first piece you think of when you picture the composer's glowering visage. That's the fifth, speaking across the centuries with an urgency that seems unlikely ever to diminish.

Previously in Blogging the Beethoven Bicentennial Collection:
Symphonies 3 & 4
Symphonies 2 & 3
Symphonies 1 & 2

(4 Comments)