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November 2014
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On WFMT

The “Monk and Hooligan” Poulenc

Francis Poulenc

It was one of Poulenc’s friends, the noted music critic Claude Rostand, who came up with the description that stuck: “le moine et le voyou.” That comment in a 1950 edition of Paris-Presse translated as “the monk and hooligan.” It was Rostand’s attempt at capturing the extremes in Poulenc’s musical personality. This is not to say the composer’s mind was chaos, only that it was his nature to shift

Why Live Music on WFMT?

Mack Sisters

Spinning CDs is a simple way to keep a radio station on the air. The performers, the production values, and the performances are all certainties. The operation of a CD player is reasonably predictable. With services like radio, Pandora, and Spotify offering a steady stream of great music, why then do people continue to buy tickets to live concerts?

Major Newcomer to Radio’s Saturday Opera

RiccardoMuti

He’s not exactly new to opera; some think he’s the greatest living Verdi conductor (Levine fans, avert your eyes). Riccardo Muti is as celebrated as he is hard to get. After a lifetime on the podium, the 73-year-old maestro doesn’t need opera companies to satisfy his artistic appetite. He does fancy expanding the repertoire of his symphony orchestra to include opera. Enter the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Director Mike Nichols and WFMT

Award-winning director and writer Mike Nichols

Today the world is remembering the life and work of writer and director Mike Nichols, who died suddenly on Wednesday at the age of 83. In a career that spanned over six decades, he won nine Tony Awards and an Academy Award for Best Director for the 1967 blockbuster “The Graduate.” Around the offices of WFMT, Mike Nichols is remembered for being among the pioneering forces in the early days of this radio station

Corigliano’s “AIDS Symphony,” 25 Years Later

Corigliano

By the time John Corigliano presented his First Symphony in 1990, America had witnessed years of hate speech directed at those most vulnerable to AIDS. AIDS patients lived in fear of persecution. Their right to privacy was pitted against a perceived threat to public safety, while research and public education were only just beginning to make inroads against the disease.

Romeo and Juliet in Drag?

Giuditta Grisi played the first Romeo in Bellini's opera

Remember John Madden’s film Shakespeare in Love in which men had to play all the women’s roles due to Elizabethan standards of decency? In opera, that tradition swings both directions. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has captured the imaginations of many composers; the story is timeless, even as a readers’ biases change – and they’ve changed a lot. When Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli composed his opera on Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo e Giulietta (1796), his image of Romeo

Bass-ic Instincts: From Porgy to Wotan

Eric Owens as Porgy, c. Todd Rosenberg

Eric Owens has the versatility and commanding stage presence that make a company want to choose operas with meaty roles that he can sing. He was the title character in Handel’s Hercules at Lyric in 2011. He sang the role of Rusalka’s father, Vodnik, last season, and stars in Porgy and Bess, which opens Monday

Midwestern Composer, Impressario, World-Class Opera

Composer and Michigan Opera Theatre founder, David DiChiera

David DiChiera did not work his way up through the ranks; he created the ranks. He is a composer and visionary who founded two opera companies; bought a derelict theater (and hosted a formal dinner in it), and is helping to rejuvenate the city of Detroit. Mr. DiChiera seems to have a gift for breathing life into big ideas.

The Language of Pierre Boulez

Pierre

Just about everyone in the classical music world holds Mr. Boulez in the highest esteem, though some might add to that a hint of perplexity. Barbara Jepson in The Wall Street Journal put it this way,”[He is a] pioneering composer of thorny modernist works.” She then argues “Why Pierre Boulez’s Répons Is a Masterpiece.”

Cellist Lynn Harrell’s Chicago Roots are Showing

Lynn

In August of 1965, Billboard magazine printed a recap of the Ravinia festival, which had opened on a 40-degree evening in the middle of June. Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky had conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that summer. “Ravinia perennial” Elizabeth Schwarzkopf sang; their 29-year-old music director Seiji Ozawa conducted, and Ella Fitzgerald