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Archive for May, 2014

Hot Line-Up: North Shore Chamber Fest

Pianist Alessio Bax c. Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Year round, WFMT presents top tier chamber concerts from distant places: Santa Fe, Lincoln Center, Salzburg. Next week, that festival spirit is happening on Chicago’s north shore. The North Shore Chamber Music Festival brings together some of music’s biggest names for a more intimate kind of music-making – duos, trios, quartets, etc.

Vivica’s Vivacious Vivaldi

Vivica Genaux, c. Christian Steiner

She’s a headliner in opera houses around the world. WFMT presents coloratura Vivica Genaux who has sung the role of the fiery Rosina in The Barber of Seville with 21 different companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, on the next Baroque&Before. Chicagoans heard her with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan in February. The voice of this American mezzo is

Web Exclusive: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Perhaps the expression Renaissance man (or woman) is overused; it dilutes the impact of those who truly earn that designation: Maya Angelou was one.

At the time of her passing on Wednesday morning, 86-year-old Maya Angelou was professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Early in her career, she worked as a dancer with Alvin Ailey

Euclid Quartet: An In-House Favorite

Euclid String Quartet

WFMT has its proverbial water cooler; there’s the usual banter about Hawks’ games and the weather, but these workers are first and foremost music-lovers. When a new group comes on one of WFMT’s multitudinous live broadcasts (Rush Hour Concerts, Impromptu, Live from WFMT etc.) – in between

Butterfly: “Not to Be Missed”

Stefano Secco and Patricia Racette, c.Dan Rest

At least, that’s what The New York Times said of Patricia Racette’s Madama Butterfly in 2008. In the aftermath, it’s not surprising Lyric Opera would engage her for their production, even if she could only do half the run. It’s one of those cases of an artist forming a union with a part that transcends everything one knew about the opera; like peering into a precious gem, giving it a quarter turn, and seeing something

Happy Birthday, Wagner


On Thursday morning, celebrate the 201st birthday of Richard Wagner with Carl Grapentine.

Starting at 6:00 am, the Wagner wingding opens, not with Ride of the Valkyries – mercifully that doesn’t come until after 8:00 am – but with the Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger; hear a rare piano sonata

Jessye Norman at WFMT

Dramatic Soprano Jessye Norman

Legendary soprano Jessye Norman played DJ at WFMT on Monday. In town to speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Ms. Norman stopped by to “Guest Host” – choose the music and chat about it with Kerry Frumkin. They talked about her career which includes five Grammy Awards, and about life as an international performer. At one point she told Kerry she doesn’t like to listen to opera when she relaxes. She prefers

Exclusive with Lyric’s Mother Abbess Christine Brewer

Christine Brewer c.Robert Kusel

Web Exclusive with Christine Brewer – Home for Christine Brewer is a Mississippi River town, not far from the corn fields she picked as a girl. Even as she jets around the world for roles like Isolde, or the Mother Abbess in Lyric Opera’s The Sound of Music, Ms. Brewer keeps southern Illinois close

Hear Sir Andrew with New York Philharmonic


The torso rising from the pit – sounds like several opera characters, right? Though it could just as easily be the conductor. From a podium tucked below the stage, the opera maestro must drive the orchestra as well as the chorus and singers, while those performers contort themselves into every position not conducive to singing (combat, dying, crouching, kissing etc.). For all of the skill required of the opera conductor – some combination of musician, expert at non-verbal communication, and traffic cop

Studs Terkel’s Day Job


For decades it was the daily ritual of Studs Terkel to hop Bus #146 and pad into a cramped office at WFMT. Flanked by towers of books and newspapers—an antique typewriter at its epicenter—Studs would prepare for his radio guest who might be getting ready to march on City Hall or might be designing a library or singing in an opera. Each day the show aired, Studs effectively chronicled American culture, something he did at WFMT for 45 years