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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: September 7, 2006 Archive

In Company With Ives

Posted at 2:19 PM on September 7, 2006 by Bob Christiansen (1 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

"Are my ears on wrong?" said Charles Ives to his nephew, and I repeat in response to the movie musical list. Not that I quibble with any that are on it, but I will send up a quiet, lonely voice in favor of "Moulin Rouge." It can stay at number 25, that's fine, but I found it surprisingly entertaining in a totally offbeat way.

It certainly can't translate to the community theater circuit, because so much of it involved computer enhancements and scenes that only work with modern video techniques. For that reason it doesn't really fit into the standard genre of movie musicals. I'm also finding that too much time and culture change have passed to let me really enjoy those old classics. Not that I'm jaded, I just find the sensibilities of the 30's and 40's stilted and uncomfortable.

Or maybe my ears are on wrong and I just love the unlovely, like "Ishtar...yes, Ishtar." I liked that too, though not enough to want to own the dvd.

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Performance Today moving to Minnesota

Posted at 4:49 PM on September 7, 2006 by Don Lee

Colleagues are asking me what I think of the news that American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio is acquiring National Public Radio's classical music program Performance Today. They're asking because I produced Performance Today for 14 years, until 2002.

I could go on, but my reaction boils down to this: NPR's commitment to cultural programming in general, and classical music in particular, has been flagging for years. While I'm sad for the former colleagues who will no longer have jobs with PT, I'm happy for the program itself. It will find a far more sympathetic home at MPR.

BBC Proms: arrival in London

Posted at 5:04 PM on September 7, 2006 by Brian Newhouse (1 Comments)

Producers Silvester Vicic and Lauren Rico are in London with host Brian Newhouse preparing for MPR's Last Night of the Proms (LNOP) broadcast. Tune in Saturday at 1:30pm! It's part-serious, part-silly, and just about every Brit near a TV or radio stops whatever he or she is doing for it. Oh, and a few million other people around the world join in via the BBC, too.

There's a Russian thread running through this year's LNOP, and the stars of the show are going to be two of Russia's hottest musical exports of recent years, violinist Viktoria Mullova and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Here are a few snaps from the MPR staff as they get ready for Saturday's show.


Host Brian Newhouse and producer Lauren Rico quickly set up in a back office of the BBC for a Last Night of the Proms interview.


Composer Colin Matthews and Brian Newhouse. Matthews scored a major coup for a contemporary composer this year: no fewer than five pieces performed throughout the Proms season. During our Last Night of the Proms broadcast, we’ll hear his brilliant concert overture, Vivo.


Producers Lauren Rico and Silvester Vicic at Maida Vale, home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers.


Producers Silvester Vicic and Lauren Rico in violinist Viktoria Mullova’s kitchen. The kitchen table was the site for our interview. She’ll be featured in the Last Night broadcast playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2. As we finished, BBC engineers swooped in to set up for their own interview.


Mullova is just coming off of a summer break from performing to spend more time with her three school-aged children. These bikes in the backyard of her London home got a lot of use.


Thank heaven for little girls… Two Londoners on their way home from school prove that they are indeed perfectly capable of saying “stinky cheese.”


Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky picking up after his kids in the backyard of his London home. He’ll be the star in the Last Night of the Proms broadcast, singing Verdi and Borodin arias, as well as pulling a Union Jack flag from somewhere within his tux and waving it while he sings the Toreador’s Song from Carmen. The crowd, guaranteed, will go absolutely nuts.

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How to Fix the Last Night of the Proms

Posted at 9:28 PM on September 7, 2006 by John Birge
Filed under: The blog

The Guardian
Friday September 8, 2006

"We all like to moan about the Last Night of the Proms: its cliches and its jingoism. We asked the experts to play artistic director and tell us how - or if - they would change it."

So begins this article, and note that one of the "experts" weighing in here is Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra partner Douglas Boyd, who opens their season this weekend.

Speaking of the Last Night of the Proms, note that one of this year's star soloists is violinist Viktoria Mullova, who will be in Minneapolis next week to open the Minnesota Orchestra season.

Stupid Mozart Tricks

Posted at 9:54 PM on September 7, 2006 by John Birge

David Letterman Stupid Human Tricks: A guy rollerblades past rows of tuned wine bottles, hitting each bottle and playing Mozart's 40th Symphony. Must be seen to be be believed!

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