Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by Noel Morris
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of music’s most loved, most influential, and most polarizing composers. With his music dramas, Richard Wagner boldly abandons convention; he pursues a vision that reaches beyond 19th century concepts of structure, harmony, orchestration (even inventing new instruments); beyond social mores—beyond anything that might bind or inhibit human expression.
In the end, Wagner sounds like Wagner—if nothing else, he is limited by his own voice; but it is at times a glorious voice, infused with humanity and a most exquisite yearning; it is a voice that continues to ripple across the ages, and shape the way people write music today.
Tune into WFMT all day on Wednesday, May 22nd to hear commentary, and a sampling of the legacy of Richard Wagner.
Monday, May 20, 2013 by Noel Morris
Hear Live from WFMT, Mondays at 8:00 PM
A WFMT favorite “comes home” to perform on Live from WFMT. The Ukrainian-born pianist, Inna Faliks, was brought to the U.S. at the age of 10 by her mother. She was a student of the late Emilio del Rosario, who shepherded many of Chicago’s most gifted piano students; Ms. Faliks later served as assistant to Mr. del Rosario.
Around the studios of WFMT, Ms. Faliks is admired for her warmth and superb musicianship.
See a video of Inna Faliks:
Friday, May 17, 2013 by Noel Morris
Hear the legendary Mahalia Jackson with Studs Terkel, Friday at 10:00 PM
Little “Halie” Jackson was a singer for as long as she could remember, but some folks at church didn’t think so. In fact, they were troubled by the liberties she took with the good old hymns. When her mother died, the care of 5-year-old Halie and her brother, Peter, went to extended family. There were thirteen of them living in a three-room home on Pitt Street in New Orleans. When she was 16, the family decided Chicago was a better place for young Mahalia. At her first Sunday service in Chicago, she sang a solo and was immediately recruited for the Greater Salem Baptist Church Choir. The Johnson Gospel Singers spotted her next; she began touring across the city with them. In 1929, at the age of 18, she began working with “The Father of Black Gospel Music,” Thomas A. Dorsey.
In 1950, Mahalia Jackson became the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall. Two years later, she sat down with Studs Terkel to reflect on her life. Hear that conversation on The Best of Studs Terkel, Friday at 10:00 PM.
Friday, May 17, 2013 by Cydne Gillard
When my fellow students, Keryn, Zack, and I (Bridget Rodino) arrived in Moscow, we were greeted by some familiar faces, which included Cydne, Matt, Professor Weil, and his wife, Vivian Weil. Alas, Matt Honegger’s trip was nearing its end. I had never been out of the United States, so Matt had a lot of great suggestions and advice. One of his best pieces of advice was to “approach as many situations as possible with a sense of humor.” It made being in a foreign country easier to adapt to. With our small knowledge of Cyrillic, Matt quizzed us on the various portraits of composers that line the inside walls of Tchaikovsky Hall. His wealth of knowledge amazed us; he gave us a wonderful introduction to Russia as we boarded the train and helped our immersion into the Easter Festival Tour experience.
While eating dinner, Maestro Gergiev stopped by our table to say hello. He was so friendly, welcoming, and warm.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Carolyn Paulin
Hear concerts on-demand.
Nestled in a neighborhood bounded by Pulaski on the west, Kimball on the east, Devon on the north and Foster on the south, is Northeastern Illinois University. NEIU is a commuter university; and the students reflect this ethnically diverse area. Take a walk in the neighborhood and you’ll see devout Orthodox Jews on the way to Shabbat services, women in beautiful Indian dress, Pakistani cab drivers, and college students in jeans and T-shirts. But perhaps you didn’t know that NEIU is a mecca for the arts.
The University has a first rate visual arts curriculum, with gallery shows by students and visiting artists throughout the year. The music department is thriving: there are at least two fully staged operas each academic year, which are presented in the Auditorium. Virtually every week there may be a student or faculty recital in the Recital Hall. And the monthly Jewel Box series, which WFMT broadcasts with host Carolyn Paulin, brings in nationally and internationally renowned performers; and provides a showcase for the music department’s talented faculty.
We have four concerts; check here for a new concert each week.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Cydne Gillard
We had a few hours before the concert to walk around Moscow and Red Square which was only a few blocks away from our hotel. As we began walking, we realized that many of the streets were closed for the holidays. The streets in Moscow are so wide, 8-10 lanes, that you have to go underground in order to cross them.
Security was tight and many of the entrances/exits had been blocked off so the police could manage the flow of people. At first it seemed we might be trapped, but we eventually found our way through the maze and into Red Square.
Coming into the Russia, we had been told about the Eastern Orthodox Easter Festival; what we didn’t know, however, was that May 9 is “Victory Day,” a huge national holiday celebrating the end of World War II. The Square was decorated for the parade earlier that day with large banners covering buildings throughout the square. It was a festive atmosphere with people singing and celebrating on the square. The crowds would ebb and flow as people paused to sing along, and then went on their way.
Eventually we looped around back to the hotel where we were sent directly to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory for the Mariinsky orchestra concert. It was a beautiful concert. The Gavrilin War Letters included a full choir, boys choir, and soloists. Denis Matsuev performed the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with ease, and was convinced to perform an encore before the end of the first half. They ended the concert with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, playing with immense passion and clarity. Matt Honegger put it the best when he said, “It feels unreal to be sitting here in this hall at the conservatory where Tchaikovsky attended, listening to his music and looking up at his portrait on the wall.”
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Cydne Gillard
Khristos voskrese! This is the Orthodox Easter greeting (it means “Christ is Risen!”). We arrived in Moscow on Easter morning, after spending our first night on the Moscow Easter Festival Train. Just from our hotel window, we could count some thirteen churches dotting the city’s skyline – and the town reverberated with the sounds of ringing bells. Nothing we saw in St. Petersburg prepared us for this cosmopolitan metropolis. Wide boulevards crisscross the city, which is itself a series of concentric rings. Aside from dozens of ancient and ornate churches, the city boasts monumental Stalinist architecture, grand nineteenth century buildings, such as the Bolshoi Theater, and enormous public squares. Although both the Kremlin and Red Square were closed for the holiday – and for Victory Day preparations – we were able to see the Kremlin Wall and the outside of St. Basil’s cathedral, a huge, candy-stripped onion domed church commissioned by Ivan the Terrible. We also saw Kazan Cathedral, on the edge of Red Square, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Voistinu Voskrese!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 by Noel Morris
Wednesday at 9:00 PM
In an exclusive conversation recorded for the WFMT Radio Network, the acclaimed soprano Angela Gheorghiu discusses with Jon Tolansky her brand new CD she has entitled Angela Gheorghiu – Homage to Maria Callas: Favourite Opera Arias, which EMI Classics releases in November.
In her conversation, Angela Gheorghiu speaks about the very wide range of styles and characters she sings on the new disc, which contains opera arias by Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Bellini, Leoncavallo, Saint-Saëns, Catalani, Bizet, Giordano, Cherubini, Massenet and Cilèa.
Hear Angela Gheorghiu discussing Saint-Saens’ treatment of the biblical character, Delilah:
Download MP3 (right-click and choose save as to download)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 by Noel Morris
The Tuesday Night Opera presents Tannhäuser at 8:00 PM.
The iPad is popping up in unexpected places. One person was spotted reading Bach’s B Minor Mass in the box seats at Symphony Center—this while Riccardo Muti, four soloists and the CSO Chorus were singing their hearts out. Artists are starting to use the iPad on music stands in place of sheet music: no more page turns (the music scrolls according to the desired tempo), and it’s a compact method of transporting a music library.
In the past, only the most diehard music fan would think of procuring the score to a favorite piece. Scores are not sold in many places; they’re unwieldy, and even intimidating if one is unaccustomed to looking at lots of notes. It’s easy to get lost, but the rewards are enormous. There is something about seeing the composer’s craft unfold before your very eyes that’s inspiring, even thrilling. After all, a performance is but an interpretation of what’s on that page. A listener who’s looking at the notes, starts to hear musical lines that may not be emphasized by a particular conductor (not that they necessarily should be).
Tonight at 8:00 PM, you have the opportunity to try your own hand at this. Wagner’s Tannhäuser is the Tuesday night opera.
Here is the score; now get ready.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 by Cydne Gillard
Пасха – Orthodox Easter
As I, Zack Ellis*, prepared to pack my bags to travel with the Mariinsky Orchestra, I learned a lesson about the serendipity of life. In a small hamlet 4,500 miles from Moscow, a monastery called St. Tikhon’s keeps Russian Orthodox traditions alive in Pennsylvania. On May 5, I had the pleasure of attending their midnight Easter service, and received an early dose of Russian culture.
Unlike western churches, Russian Orthodox still follows the Julian Calendar. This often results in their Easter being celebrated several weeks after the Catholic Easter. This year, it happened to fall on May 5. The service began shortly before midnight.
Everybody in attendance held a lit candle as we stood in the nave of the church. The lights were dimmed, and we gathered around a funeral shrine dedicated to Christ. The deacon spoke and the choir sang a somber chant before we formed a funeral procession outside. An iron bell tolled while we circled the church three times. Upon returning to the door, the deacon climbed the steps and issued a proclamation in Church Slavonic: “Христос воскресе! (Christ is risen!).” The congregation responds: “Воистину воскресе! (Truly, He is risen!).” This was repeated in Greek and English due to the makeup of the congregation. The choir sang and this joyous exchange took place several more times before we re-entered the church.
The nave had become bright and cheerful. In place of the funeral shrine were bright celebratory icons of the resurrection. Bathed in light, we could see the icons and imagery upon the iconostasis – the decorative wall between the nave and the sanctuary. The priest began the hymn, “Christ has Risen from the dead, by death trampling upon Death, and has bestowed life upon those in the tombs,” and the congregation joyously sang this motif throughout the service. This progressed to the church’s traditional liturgy.
Many people fast for forty days prior to the holiday, giving up meat, eggs, and cheese in a test of self-discipline. Upon conclusion of the service, everybody met in a hall and we broke the fast. Meat and cheese abounded. The celebration continued through the night, and the congregation retired before sunrise.
Easter festivities often continue long after the holiday. Such is the case for the Mariinsky Easter Festival. Music and celebration transcend national boundaries. Although we ventured to the far side of the world, we still feel connected to home.
*Zack Ellis is an undergraduate at Northwestern University