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Click on Classical this Weekend: stories of instruments

Posted at 5:00 PM on November 21, 2014 by Steve Staruch (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

Manuel Rosales built the organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in conjunction with a design from architect Frank Gehry. The organ turns 10 years old this month. (Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC)

This weekend, take some time to look into stories about three wonderful instruments: the bassoon, the guitar and the pipe organ.

The bassoonist's view of the orchestra

This weekend, the Minnesota Orchestra honors the career of longtime bassoonist John Miller, Jr., celebrating 44 years of performance. In the run-up to the concerts, the first of which will air on Classical MPR on Friday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m., Miller's fellow bassoonist Norbert Nielubowski has written a delightful essay on the bassoonist's view of the orchestra. You'll laugh and you'll learn.

Celebrate Minneapolis-born guitarist extraordinaire, Sharon Isbin

Sharon Isbin's new box set of CDs, entitled 5 Classic Albums is featured on New Classical Tracks this week; you can even enter for a chance to win a copy of the box set. What's more, Sharon is the subject of a new documentary called Sharon Isbin: Troubadour, which we just found out will air on Twin Cities Public Television on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at 9:30 p.m. Get a sense of what the documentary is about by watching the trailer.

A great big pipe organ turns 10 years old

Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It's also home to a 6,000-pipe organ, which celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend. In fact, Michael Barone, host of American Public Media's Pipedreams, is on his way to Los Angeles this weekend to host the festivities. We can't all travel to Los Angeles, but thanks to John Rabe at our sister station KPCC in L.A., we can take a virtual tour of the organ with this slideshow.

Have a great weekend!


This is beautiful ... what IS it?

Posted at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2014 by Jodi Gustafson (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds

Görkem Sen (YouTube)

Musician Görkem Sen plays some beautiful, atmospheric music on an … instrument of some kind. No idea what the instrument is. Do you know?

Here's the video, posted to YouTube:


Rachel Hutton weighs in on #Grapegate

Posted at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2014 by Luke Taylor (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, In the media

Grapes ready for harvest (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

By now you've probably heard about what's been dubbed #Grapegate — the story in which the New York Times posits that something called Grape Salad is the signature dish of a traditional Minnesota Thanksgiving.

Problem is, pretty much nobody in Minnesota has heard of Grape Salad.

Today, Minnesota Monthly editor Rachel Hutton — whom you hear every Friday morning with John Birge on Classical MPR's "Moveable Feast" — went on New York public radio station WNYC's The Takeaway to speak to host John Hockenberry. "As a Minnesota foodie," the show's website puts it, "[Rachel] explains why New Yorkers have such a hard time understanding the food of the Midwest."

At the top of the interview, Hockenberry describes Grape Salad as someone familiar with the recipe. "John, I'm impressed that you've heard of Grape Salad," Rachel says, "because everyone else that I've talked to seems to have never heard of it before."

In the course of the conversation, Rachel describes how she contacted her mother to get to the bottom of this mysterious dish. Later, she and Hockenberry speculate on Grape Salad and other recipes for Thanksgiving. "We maybe should embrace the grape," Rachel suggests, "maybe people could make this recipe for Thanksgiving and enjoy it."

Listen to the complete interview here; it runs just a bit more than four minutes:


Flying with instruments is touch and go

Posted at 6:00 AM on November 20, 2014 by Valerie Kahler (1 Comments)
Filed under: Musician stories

Time for Three (Neilson Barnard)

Whenever there's a news story about a musician who has experienced trouble getting on a plane with his or her instrument, someone usually asks me if I've ever had a problem flying with my cello.

I'm happy (?) to report that I don't have a $100,000 instrument and don't play for a living, so I can put my virtually-indestructible carbon-fiber "travel" cello into a beat-up case with a bunch of padding (old beach towels), send it through as checked baggage, and restring it upon landing.

Professional musicians with precious instruments don't have that luxury. Add to that the confusing lack of consistency between airlines; the choices seem to be:

  • Buy an extra seat.

  • Don't buy an extra seat — carry it on.

  • Pack it in a travel case and check it.

But … what works with one airline doesn't necessarily work with the next; for example, the Strad reports on the latest travel blues experienced by the ensemble Time for Three:

US Airways has once again denied access to a member of string ensemble Time for Three with his instrument. Double Bassist Ranaan Meyer (pictured) was told by the airline's supervisor and shift manager at Los Angeles International Airport that he would not be permitted to fly home to Philadelphia with his bass after appearing on television show 'Dancing with the Stars' on Monday night.

After being told he would not be on the flight, Meyer posted this message to YouTube:

Fortunately, Meyer was eventually able to get home:

Do you travel with an instrument? What challenges have you faced? Any advice to share? Post in the comments section below.


On the Air This Week

Posted at 4:49 PM on November 18, 2014 by Jennifer Allen (0 Comments)
Filed under: On the air

Highlights from November 18 to 24

Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Steven Schmitz, Director of Bands, St. Louis Park.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: amateur bassoonist Kate Cimino.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Steven Schmitz, Director of Bands, St. Louis Park.
Tuesday, 8 pm: Lucerne Festival: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.
Thursday, 3:15 pm: Regional Spotlight: Rossini, played by the Minnesota Sinfonia.
Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: A Celebration of Bassoon, and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: With Praise and Thanksgiving.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in works by Schumann and Brahms.
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Dvorak's Serenade for Strings, and Beethoven's 6th Symphony.
Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight.


Click on Classical: A skiing violinist wipes out, a hall is de-named, and giving thanks

Posted at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

Vanessa Mae 425.jpg

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

Remember when violinist Vanessa-Mae put her music career on pause to pursue a lifelong dream of competitive skiing? Well, there's no word on whether she's planning to pick her violin up again, but her skiing career has ended ignominiously — for at least four years.

When electronics magnate Avery Fisher donated $10.5 million in 1973, Lincoln Center promised to name the New York Philharmonic's home after Fisher "in perpetuity." Perpetuity, it seems, has now come to an end.

'Tis the season to give thanks, and hornist Gwen Hoberg asked some of her colleagues who they were feeling thankful for. They named teachers, students, and fellow musicians — but Gwen herself named an unsung hero of the orchestra​.


Watch out for flying bow

Posted at 11:30 AM on November 15, 2014 by Luke Taylor (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds, Musician stories

Violinist Nicola Benedetti (courtesy the artist)

While rehearsing Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, violinist Nicola Benedetti's bow flipped out of her hand.

Benedetti took it in stride and with a good sense of humor; she shared the video (embedded below) on her social media channels, sharing this comment on her Facebook page:

"Whoops! Little accident before tonight's performance. All is well with the bow though, don't worry! Nicky"

Given her commitment to music education, it stands to reason Benedetti would have no problem sharing a little blunder like this with her fans.

Benedetti and the RSNO perform in concert tonight, Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. Minnesota time) at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall.

Here's that 10-second blooper from the rehearsal:


Where Medieval and Metal meet

Posted at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2014 by Daniel Nass (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds

Medieval art by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1338)

It's not often that you hear the word "metal" affiliated with the word "medieval."

However, Stary Olsa — a Belarusian music ensemble known for their interpretations of medieval folk music on traditional instruments — recently covered a decidedly un-medieval tune from Metallica's 1988 LP ...And Justice For All. This recent clip is from a television show called Legends Live, and demonstrates the odd (but somehow satisfying) combination of instruments and techniques from the 1400s with metal music of the 1980s. Here is Metallica's "One":


Batman through the music of the Piano Guys

Posted at 12:15 PM on November 14, 2014 by Suzanne Schaffer (0 Comments)
Filed under: Fun finds

How do Utah's Piano Guys create a video that revisits 50 years of Batman music and Batmobiles? Watch the video below, and you'll experience:

Over 100 tracks of cellos!

Mod piano!




I admit, I was disappointed not to see Michael Keaton make a guest appearance.


Minnesota Orchestra has a sense of humor about the name their CEO shares with a famous film director

Posted at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: In the media

Kevin Smith Minnesota Orchestra.jpg

When it was announced yesterday that Kevin Smith would become the Minnesota Orchestra's new president and CEO, Minnesotans who hadn't been closely following Smith's career found their heads turning. Wait, that Kevin Smith? No, not the director of Clerks and Chasing Amy, the longtime leader of the Minnesota Opera.

I made a joke about the name via the @LocalCurrent Twitter account, and the Orchestra responded with a tongue-in-cheek tweet referencing a quote from Clerks. Given that a little confusion is inevitable, it's nice to know the Orchestra isn't averse to having some fun with it.