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Archive for April, 2014

Lunchtime Live


On the first Monday of each month, Chicago Chamber Musicians brings in some of Chicago’s top chamber players for a free concert at Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center. Sometimes it’s string players, sometimes it’s woodwinds, others may be brass, or even a mixture—whatever the repertoire requires of this musician co-op. WFMT is there to broadcast

Joyce DiDonato, Susanna Phillips at Intermission

Joyce DiDonato

This week’s Metropolitan Opera Broadcast brings on Joyce DiDonata as, what else? —A radio host.

Just last month, DiDonato was on-stage at Chicago’s Civic Opera House singing a trouser role, giving her “considerable all,” as John von Rhein put it. The coloratura (a singer who is good at negotiating a lot of notes

Passion According to John, Bach

"The Crucifixion," 1627 by Francisco de Zurbarán, Art Institute of Chicago

When he prepared his father’s obituary, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach counted the composition of 5 passions—the musical telling of the suffering and death of Jesus. Three are lost. What remains is treasured: the St. Matthew Passion and the St. John Passion.

With each storyteller, Matthew or John, the tone, the details and the emphasis diverge

Hear it Twice, Live and on the Radio

Pianist Roger McVey

PianoForte Salon Series Airs Friday at 10:00 pm
Pianist Roger McVey comes from Idaho to play a Chicago piece—Defensive Chili by Marc Mellits, whose titles read like a WXRT playlist: Beatles Trip, Baby Chicken, Just Noise, Zombie in a Penguin Suit. Mellits calls his style eclectic, with “driving rhythms and soaring lyricism.” Defensive Chili is a grooving work for solo piano. McVey adds to that a contemplative

Baroque&Before: to Stockholm

Pulpit and King's Gallery designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder

Thursday’s edition of Baroque&Before features music by J.S. Bach, Jean-Marie Leclair, and Jean-Philippe Rameau. The music was recorded live at the Stockholm Early Music Festival; they call it “the largest international event for historical music in the Nordic countries.” The festival is held annually in Stockholm’s Old Town

Streaming Alan Gilbert


First there was the 45, then there was MTV, the Walkman, the CD, and the iPod; now…?

New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert gets it: his job description isn’t the same as his predecessors’. YouTube boasts having more than 1 billion unique users every month—that’s one in seven people worldwide. Viewership exceeds a staggering 6 billion hours

Observing Spring Holy Days


[Passover and Easter] The Spring Equinox, which was March 20 this year, signals transition in many cultures. The Druids call it Alban Eilir, which means the light of the Earth. To Iranians and Zoroastrians it is called Nowruz—New Year’s Day according to the Persian calendar. Many Spring festivals throughout the northern hemisphere share common themes: rebirth, the egg, light, the lamb

In a Pastoral Mood


Certain professions don’t fire the imaginations of Classical composers: wheelwrights, stonemasons, potters, or lamplighters, for example. Sailors, on the other hand, speak to one’s wanderlust. Teachers and nursemaids show up in music about nurture—as do barkeeps. Shepherds evoke a sense of freedom

Period Instrument Primer

Luigi Boccherini cradling a Baroque cello with his calves

Today’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert welcomes three players who specialize in using period instruments (though prized instruments like the Stradivari were made in the 17th and 18th centuries, they’ve been rebuilt to modern specifications).

Dueling Composers

Franz Joseph Haydn, 1792

How Haydn came to write his masterpiece (and fun facts from Carl Grapentine):

Handel’s Messiah hasn’t seen a minute of obscurity since the day it was born—Dublin, Easter, 1742. Messiah snowballed throughout the 18th century. Singers and choruses clamored for sheet-music; some well-meaning persons made re-orchestrations (one of whom was Mozart). Haydn had to confront Messiah head on.