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Category Archive: Click on Classical

Click on Classical: Stimulate your brain, confessions of an amateur, and how many ways you can hold a violin

Posted at 8:30 AM on July 28, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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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 this morning.

Can classical music stimulate your creative brain? Writer Cinda Yager believes it can. Before a day of writing, she likes to go for a walk while listening to classical music, and she says the music inspires creative thinking that might not have happened in silence. Click here to listen to a few of the pieces Cinda finds particularly invigorating for her brain.

Suzanne Shumway took up the clarinet in her high school marching band, and at age 53 she still plays. That doesn't mean she's a virtuoso, though: she admits that she's a musical amateur, but she's proud of that. Click here to learn why Suzanne believes music is for everyone — not just the pros.

Now imagine you are​ a professional violinist, and you're posing for a promotional photo to advertise an upcoming concert or recording. How do you pose? Specifically, how do you hold your violin? I dug through Classical MPR's photo archives this week, and found that violinists have become very creative in how they feature their fiddles in promotional photos​.

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Click on Classical: Sopranos speak out, reports from the Range, and rock meets Bach

Posted at 8:30 AM on July 21, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

Our writer Gwen Hoberg was up at the Northern Lights Music Festival on the Mesabi Iron Range last week, and she filed a series of "Reports from the Range" sharing her experiences. In the series's final post, she took her horn to the top of a ski hill and, figuring that to be about as close to a mountaintop as Minnesota offered, tried to sound some famously majestic horn calls from the classical repertoire.

Some of the most widely-read posts ever published on our site are our "section's-eye view" essays: tongue-in-cheek appraisals of the choral experience from different sections in the risers. The four-part series concluded this week with "a soprano's-eye view of choral music," written by leading lady Sonja Tengblad.

Guns N'...Rosenkavalier? In a show coming to the Mill City Museum on July 21 and 23, baritone Andrew Wilkowske performs some of the greatest hits of recent decades in his "opera voice." You have to hear — and see — this to believe it.​

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Click on Classical: Holst and hops, funny music, and an eight-year-old piano star

Posted at 8:38 AM on July 14, 2014 by Jay Gabler (0 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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With John Birge at the Northern Lights Music Festival, I'm joining Alison Young this morning to talk about what's on the Web this week. Here are the stories we'll be discussing.

Bells Brewery has announced plans to release a series of beers inspired by the planets — but not just the planets, by Gustav Holst's Planets orchestral suite. That means there will be seven beers to correspond to the suite's seven movements, starting with a Mars double IPA and ending with a "mystical stout" for Neptune.

Can classical music be funny? Cinda Yager says yes, and shares a few pieces she considers LOL-worthy​ — including one surprising selection from Beethoven's oeuvre.

On Saturday, a Minneapolis boy attracted hundreds of people to his front-porch piano recitatl — with the help of a neighbor who saw eight-year-old Dylan Spoering's handmade sign and created a Facebook event to spread the word. We shared live video of the show, which you can watch here.

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Click on Classical: Polytonal pyrotechnics, Google Glass at the opera, and a "Lawn Mower Opus"

Posted at 8:17 AM on July 7, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

In keeping with the Independence Day holiday last week, Jessie Rothwell wrote about Charles Ives's Fourth of July — a movement of the composer's New England Holiday Symphony​ that was inspired by Ives's own memories of community celebrations. Jessie explains why it resonates with her own childhood in Washington, D.C., and mentions some other musical odes to pyrotechnics — including one gone dangerously wrong.

Meanwhile, in Vienna, Virginia, Wolf Trap Opera is putting Google Glass on stage. Tech journalist David Pogue will be serving as a non-singing chorus member in a July 25 production of Carmen​, using his digital eyewear to capture photos and video that audience members will be able to peek at during the opera. What other opera characters could use this high-tech headgear? I have a few suggestions.

I also wrote about Brad Peterson, a Minneapolis man who was inspired to write a symphonic song over the "ground" — that is, the bass tone — of a neighbor's lawnmower. You have to hear (and see) this to believe it.​

Click on Classical: A Composer Quest, a "House of Cards," and the resurrection of a legend

Posted at 8:27 AM on June 30, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

A new joint project by local film organization MNKINO and the podcast Composer Quest is pairing filmmakers and composers to create original short films inspired by the theme "quest." Created as an experiment in cross-pollination between the worlds of DIY movies and music, the exercise will culminate on August 14 when the films will be premiered — with scores performed by a live orchestra. Read Sheila Regan's report to learn more about this challenge, and what historic St. Paul venue will be the site of the films' premiere.

Garrett Tiedemann interviewed Jeff Beal, the composer who's written music for both — soon to be all three — seasons of the acclaimed Netflix drama House of Cards. Not only does Beal discuss the nuts and bolts of writing for this innovative series, he talks about how he's hoping to present House of Cards​ music on the concert stage in hopes of attracting new audiences to orchestral music. He also reveals how his House of Cards score has taken inspiration from Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

Fans of the BBC Proms — the summer concert series hosted at the Royal Albert Hall and elsewhere in London — will recognize, perhaps even venerate, the name of Sir Henry Wood, the Proms' founding conductor. A new application by BBC Music Magazine​ allows music fans to put themselves on the cover of the magazine, posing with a bust of Sir Henry. Click here to see some of our Classical MPR staff pictured with the great musician, and listen in next month as we broadcast a number of concerts from what's considered by some to be the greatest classical music festival in the world.

Click on Classical: A new record store, music for mutants, and hearing composers' voices

Posted at 8:23 AM on June 23, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

This week our writer Nina Slesinger reported that a trio of collectors plans to open a new store in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis; the store will feature books, posters, and records. Classical music — including vintage 78s — will be a specialty of the store, thanks to John Kass, owner of one of the largest private record collections in the area. The store will have a wry name; read the story to find out what it is.

Music for mutants? That was the challenge facing John Ottman, composer of the score for the new hit movie X-Men: Days of Future Past​. Garrett Tiedemann interviewed Ottman, a man of many talents who also edited the film. Though he's writing music for big-budget blockbusters, Ottman explained why when it comes to music in movies, sometimes less is more.

What does it mean when someone refers to a composer's "voice"? In an essay, Cinda Yager offered her view of how composers use distinctive styles, textures, and tones to create a sound that's distinctly theirs. Read her essay, and hear samples of music to see if you agree with her about the "voices" of Shostakovich, Sibelius, and Brahms.

Click on Classical: Saying goodbye to a conductor and hello to a new concert hall

Posted at 8:09 AM on June 16, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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Each Monday morning at 9:15, I go on Classical MPR to talk about stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories Melissa Ousley and I are talking about today.

After several years with the Minnesota Orchestra, associate conductor Courtney Lewis has just led his final subscription concerts as he prepares to move to new jobs at the New York Philharmonic and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. This week, Lewis spoke with our writer Matt Beckmann. Lewis told Matt about why he has a passion for music education, and what he's going to miss about Minnesota.

Though we're saying goodbye to Courtney Lewis, we're about to say hello to a brand new 1,100-seat concert hall at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Built to replace the 300-seat McKnight Theater, the new hall is designed to provide an optimal setting for classical concerts. This week the Ordway and its partners announced the name of the new hall and provided renderings of how it's going to look when it opens in February.

The buzz of the classical world last week was the appearance of a very special guest vocalist with the Seattle Symphony. Renee Fleming? Bryn Terfel? No, it was 50-year-old Seattle native Anthony Ray, better known by his hip-hop moniker: Sir Mix-a-Lot. He joined the symphony for a performance of his ribald 1992 hit "Baby Got Back," in an arrangement by Gabriel Prokofiev — ​yes, Sergei's grandson. Watch video of the performance, if you dare!​

Click on Classical: Tenor on TV, "Vexations" 'til dawn, and why you should support music you don't like

Posted at 8:23 AM on June 9, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

Photo courtesy ABC

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

Soprano Sharleen Joynt made a splash last season on ABC's The Bachelor, so opera fans were excited to see a tenor among the men competing for Andi Dorfman's heart on the new season of The Bachelorette​. Unlike Joynt, Bradley Wisk didn't hesitate to sing...and that might have helped to sink his stint on the show after just a few episodes. I recapped the drama.

Northern Spark is an all-night arts festival that will take place this year in Minneapolis on the night of June 14 — and classical music will be part of the mix. Specifically, Satie's Vexations will be played for a stretch of nine hours by nine different pianists at Northrop Auditorium. Read about how artists in Berlin and Mumbai will be interacting with this event in real time — and note Michael Barone's comment about what might have been the most recent local performance of this epic piece.

Should you support music you hate? In a compelling essay​, David Lindquist makes a case for why a little music that's not to your liking might turn out to be a very good thing for classical music as a whole.

Click on Classical: Are iPads the future of classical music?

Posted at 8:27 AM on June 2, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

Every Monday, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about some of the stories we're featuring on our website. Here are the stories we'll be discussing today.

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This week, classical music lovers were buzzing about a new Apple campaign that has Esa-Pekka Salonen extolling the virtues of the iPad as a tool for both consuming and creating orchestral music. A TV clip starts with Salonen having a moment of musical inspiration while shaving, then creating an entire violin concerto in a 60-second flurry with the help of his beloved iPad. Another video, on Apple's website, has Salonen recommending an app called The Orchestra. I downloaded the app and gave it a spin; here's how that went​.

Before there were iPads, of course, people had to discover classical music on the radio, on record, and even IRL. Local writer Cinda Yager writes about her personal journey of discovery from the turntable to the concert hall. "Since childhood," she writes, "classical music has opened my imagination for play."

This was also the week that, sadly, we lost the great writer and activist Maya Angelou. Our choral stream producer Tesfa Wondemagegnehu wrote about two pieces of choral music inspired by Angelou, including Rosephanye Powell's Still I Rise (inspired by the title of one of Angelou's most famous poems) and Minneapolis composer Jake Runestad's Why the Caged Bird Sings ​(a setting of the text of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar poem that provided the title of Angelou's autobiography). Hear these pieces, and see them performed, in Tesfa's post.

Click on Classical: Music in the schools...and in the stacks

Posted at 8:26 AM on May 27, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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This holiday week, I'm joining John Birge on Tuesday (instead of Monday) morning at 9:15 to talk about a few stories that have recently been published on our website. Here are the stories we'll be talking about today.

This week we published two articles about music education in Minnesota. David Lindquist profiled the Mirandola Ensemble, who were just named among Classical MPR's Class Notes artists for the coming school year. Click here to read why the group's Scott Sandersfeld considers kids the "ideal audience" for their Renaissance choral music. Also this week, Sheila Regan wrote about El Sistema Minnesota, the local arm of the global music education organization that originated in Venezuela. Read her post to learn how inner-city kids in Minneapolis are learning to love — and play — classical music from a very young age.

But hey, school's out! Heading to the beach this summer and packing some books? Emily Michael, a singer and writer, suggests some very readable nonfiction books for people who love classical music. Emily's especially interested in music and the brain, and she recommends books that get at the question of whether music is "hardwired" into our minds or whether it's, as one scientist argues, "auditory cheesecake" that's totally peripheral to neural functioning.

Click on Classical: The most influential film composer of our time, a royal-patron wish list, and Dylan sings Rachmaninoff

Posted at 8:23 AM on May 19, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

When you think of movie music, names like Korngold and Hermann and Williams come to mind — but Garrett Tiedemann argues that the most influential composer in film today is the man who scored The Dark Knight, Inception, and, yes, The Lion King. You'll have to click here to learn this composer's name, but Garrett points out that he's virtually defined the sound of the big-budget action blockbuster today, and — like so many great composers — he's a great teacher, mentoring the composers of music for Shrek and the Transformers series. Those may or may not be your favorite movies, but if you're a fan of film music, you should know this composer's name.

Meanwhile, Gwen Hoberg daydreams about having a royal patron — like Wagner, Haydn, and Handel did. What would you do if you had a royal patron who was dedicated to supporting your musical endeavors? Gwen's tongue-in-cheek "patron wanted" ad offers her services as an arranger of Top 40 hits in the style of Liszt, among other musical pursuits she would happily undertake if provided with underwriting.

Also this week, Bob Dylan released a new single. Why is that newsworthy for classical music fans? Because the song's melody was written by Rachmaninoff. That's right, Dylan released his version of "Full Moon & Empty Arms," a 1945 song best-known in a version by Frank Sinatra. Co-writer Ted Mossman made a specialty of appropriating melodies from the classical repertoire and turning them into pop songs; in this case, he cribbed the theme from the third movement of Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto. Listen to Dylan's take on it here.​

Click on Classical: History through music in Minnesota, and "pro-pot" classical concerts in Colorado

Posted at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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Every Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about the stories we're featuring on our website. This week, Sheila Regan wrote about two local shows that tell history through music.

Now playing at the History Theatre just down the street from us at MPR, The Working Boys Band tells the true story of a band created in Minnesota at the turn of the twentieth century to help uplift working youth — kids who would work in factories, and then go hang out at pool halls — through music education. Music education is a top priority for us at Classical MPR, and our staff have been raving about this show, composed by the late Hiram Titus.

Coming up this Saturday, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota will perform Let My People Go!, an eclectic oratorio by Donald McCullough that's subtitled A Spiritual Journey Along the Underground Railroad. Read Sheila's preview to learn why this concert — which will feature Classical MPR's own Tesfa Wondemagegnehu as a soloist — has been a decade in the making.

Also this week, Classical MPR's Luke Taylor writes about an upcoming series of concerts the Colorado Symphony Orchestra that, as Luke puts it, gives a new meaning to the term "high notes." Cannabis is legal in Colorado, and Edible Events — identified by the Denver Post​ as a "pro-pot promoter" — is organizing a series of bring-your-own-pot concerts that are being billed as fundraisers for the orchestra, which will play a "themed program of classical music" at each show. You can have fun guessing what pieces that might include; read Luke's post​ to learn what kind of new audiences the orchestra's executive director expects these concerts to attract.

Click on Classical: "Messiah" controversy, musical homes, and the standing o

Posted at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2014 by Jay Gabler (1 Comments)
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

Most listeners hear Handel's Messiah​ as a joyous celebration of the life of Christ, but one musicologist has discovered what he describes as a disturbing anti-Judaic subtext. Michael Marissen took a close look at the libretto assembled by the composer's friend Charles Jennens, and Marissen argues that the text was edited to underline anti-Judaic readings of the prayers and Bible passages, readings that were then common among Christian theologians. I wrote about Marissen's argument, and why the scholar says he still loves Handel's music.

Our contributor Gwen Hoberg is about to become a homeowner for the first time, and she says that what she's most excited about is the music she's going to make there. Read her essay to learn about the various ways Gwen is planning to bring music into her new house, and how she's managed to practice french horn in her apartment for the past ten years without a single complaint from the neighbors.

Also this week, Gwen transcribes a conversation with her fellow horn player Kayla Nelson in which the two discuss the perennially controversial topic of standing ovations. The two agree on something that many audience members have observed but which we don't as often hear from performers: there are way too many standing Os in classical music today, they say. Read Gwen's post​ to find out what they'd rather have audience members do instead of jumping to their feet.

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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
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.

Click on Classical: Pops with chops, most popular composers

Posted at 8:36 AM on April 14, 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. 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.​

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.

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

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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:

• 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.

Click on Classical: The real Vivaldi, "Sherlock" and "Anchorman," choral magic

Posted at 8:32 AM on March 24, 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 fun and fascinating stories we're featuring on our site. Four stories we'll be talking about this morning:

Musicologist Susan Orlando has been working for years to raise awareness of Antonio Vivaldi and to make his work available through the Naïve label's Vivaldi Edition; when complete, the Vivaldi Edition will include performances of over 450 Vivaldi manuscripts held at the National University Library in Turin. This week, Gwen Hoberg spoke with Orlando about Vivaldi's struggles (he had persistent breathing problems), and misconceptions about his life (the evidence doesn't support portrayals of the composer, who worked with an orchestra of young women, as behaving inappropriately towards them), and the enduring appeal of this beloved musician.

Garrett Tiedemann conducted two tag-team interviews with pairs of film composers: David Arnold and Michael Price, composers of the music for the BBC series Sherlock; and John Nau and Andrew Feltenstein, composers of the score for Anchorman 2. Both pairs of interviewees play off each other with good humor and lend insight into the process of composing for such popular entertainments. Arnold and Price also field a few questions from our audience, including a question about what music best captures "focused madness."

David Lindquist, a local singer, writes with fascination about the phenomenon of live choral music​: specifically, the way that audience members hear a unified sound while the singers are each worrying about producing specific pitches. Of course, no two listeners have exactly the same experience either. "How strange and wonderful it is," writes David, "that in a hall filled with 1,500 people, 1,500 singular experiences occur simultaneously during a performance."

Click on Classical: Bass ace, Poe premieres, chamber fiddle

Posted at 8:26 AM on March 17, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

• Anna George Meek's "alto's-eye view of choral music," published last month, quickly became one of our all-time most-read articles on ClassicalMPR.org. We've now followed it up with "A bass's-eye view of choral music" by Jim Ramlet. Jim says "it's not all beer and Skittles in the back row," and describes a Rachmaninoff performance that sent the entire second bass section down to a low B flat, earning an audience member to spontaneously volunteer what Jim calls "the best review ever."

• The Fargo-Moorhead Opera has been a going concern for almost 46 years, but they've never produced a world premiere--until this month, and now they're staging two on March 28 and 30. Austin Gerth writes about the opera's decision to stage full productions of Buried Alive and Embedded: two short operas inspired by the writing of Edgar Allen Poe. The operas, commissioned by New York City opera incubator the American Lyric Theatre, were composed by Jeff Meyers with co-librettist Quincy Long. "Why would you not come?" says Fargo-Moorhead Opera director David Hamilton. "It's cool, it's new, it's something different. It's a way of showing that we're not just this little city in the frozen tundra with nothing to do."

• There's a lot you can do with a violin, and Orange Mighty Trio member Zack Kline is holding a summer camp designed to teach kids how to bridge Beethoven and bluegrass. In what Kline is calling a "chamber fiddle camp,"​ kids will learn how to combine music theory and classical techniques with improvisation and folk playing. Sheila Regan talks with Kline about his innovative approach.

Click on Classical: Coffee with Chopin, opera without sight, musicians who brew

Posted at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

• If you could have coffee with Frederic Chopin, what would you ask him? That's a question that tenth-grader Leora Eisenberg asked herself in an essay published on our website. "What am I supposed to say to the man who wrote my favorite music? Do I just come out and say it: 'How am I ever supposed to be able to play your Fantasie-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor? Or, maybe, 'Who do you think does the best rendition of your Waltz 64 op. 2? Kissin or Rubinstein?'" She ultimately decides that's a silly question: it's Kissin, obviously.

• Emily Michael, of Jacksonville, Florida, is a singer and music lover who is legally blind and works to teach self-advocacy and independent living skills to other people with blindness and visual impairments. She wrote about the experience of going to see an opera — specifically, Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro — and bathing in the performers' characterizations as expressed through their voices, not their bodies.

• If you've attended an event at Minneapolis's Boom Island Brewing Company, you might have been surprised to hear a french horn call — as sounded by Kevin and Qiuxia Welch, the married couple who own the brewery and also both happen to be former professional french hornists. Gwen Hoberg talks with the Welches​ as well as with Joe Schlefke, a man who left a successful conducting career to teach English in Mexico. Wherever careers might lead, Gwen finds, if you're once a musician, you're always a musician.

Click on Classical: Future of classical, video game folk music, and "Mozart in the Jungle"

Posted at 8:02 AM on March 3, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

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

• There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the future of classical music: so say conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, record company executive Jeff Van Driel, composer Dan Gawthrop, and MRP staff members who contributed to a feature we've just published. The last word goes to Emily Green, a co-founder of the Young Musicians of Minnesota: "We're excited for the very same reasons that previous generations were: The diversity of classical music. The surprises that come in each movement, with each different piece. The escape from everyday life that music provides. The careers that it creates. The memories it makes. And lastly: the people that it brings together."

• For composers, is video game music the new folk music? Ricky O'Bannon looks at the way that composers today are creating symphonic pieces that incorporate themes and tunes from video game music, and likens the practice to "nationalist" composers of the Romantic era who incorporated folk music from their homelands into their compositions.

• Amazon is streaming the debut episode of their Web series Mozart in the Jungle​, based on the 2005 memoir by oboist Blair Tindall. The show portrays classical musicians' lives as being full of sex, booze, and bad decisions: does that reflect reality? Not according to pianist Andrew Staupe, who says he almost wishes it did!

Also, congratulations to Steven Price, winner of an Academy Award for his Gravity score. Last year, Garrett Tiedemann interviewed Price about the challenges of writing this thrilling music.

Click on Classical: Slighted scores, a classical workout, and brutal honesty

Posted at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2014 by Jay Gabler
Filed under: Click on Classical

Hunger Games 2.jpg

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

• Five film scores were nominated for Oscars this year--which leaves hundreds more that didn't make the cut. What were the best scores that the Academy failed to recognize this year? Garrett Tiedemann lists 11 worthy contenders, including a score with wall-to-wall marching band (Randy Newman's Monsters University); a score composed by the film's writer, director, and star (Shane Carruth's Upstream Color); and the score to one of the year's biggest hits (James Newton Howard's Hunger Games: Catching Fire​).

• Gwen Hoberg plays french horn with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, which means she needs to practice...but she also has errands to run, calls to make, and computer updates to install. She decided to keep a practice journal to help herself stay on task...read excerpts from her "brutally honest" practice journal, which she calls "an experiment in accountability."

• Gwen also likes to work out, and she has a list of classical music that she likes to listen to while she sweats. She shared it with her friend Jason, who cued the music up while he pumped iron. Among the selections: Holst's Mars, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, and Storm from Britten's Four Sea Interludes​.