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October 2014
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A Marvelous Marathon of Opera

Renee Fleming as the Countess in "Capriccio"

Renee Fleming as the Countess in "Capriccio"

Operathon 2014

For one day every year, WFMT suspends the typical Saturday fare in order to wallow in the lusciousness of opera – and it’s not just anything opera, it’s Lyric Opera of Chicago; the organization that is so central to bringing the world’s greatest singers and directors to Chicago’s proscenium. Not only does Lyric enrich the spirit of local opera lovers, but they share their bounty with a national audience through the WFMT Radio Network. Lyric has helped put Chicago on the map as a music capital, by fostering an environment where young musicians can receive the best instruction and carry with them the pride of this Midwestern town – wherever their careers take them.

For WFMT, Operathon is an opportunity to share with our audience the boundless creative energy of a world class opera company. Roger Pines, dramaturg at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and co-host of the WFMT opening night radio broadcasts, organizes Operathon to highlight some of the performers who share their talents with the people of Chicago. Roger’s singular knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm go into every minute of Operathon, offering a rich selection of recordings and behind-the-scenes chats with a parade of opera luminaries.

This year, co-hosts Roger Pines and Suzanne Nance welcome Renée Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Amber Wagner, Anne Sofie von Otter, Ward Stare, Bo Skovhus, Amanda Majeski, William Burden, Ana María Martínez, Michael Black, Robert Falls, Quinn Kelsey, Asher Fisch, and more.


Roger Pines and WFMT’s Suzanne Nance











William Burden, Renee Fleming, and Audun Iversen star in “Capriccio”

Operathon Highlights (subject to change)

8:00-11:00 am

Mozart: Don Giovanni, Act I, “Fin ch’han dal vino”
Rodney Gilfry (title role), Orchestra of Opernhaus Zürich/Nikolaus Harnoncourt

9:30 am – Stephanie Blythe is our on-air guest!

Gilbert and Sullivan: The Mikado, Act II, “Alone and yet alive”
Stephanie Blythe (Katisha – SB returns to Lyric this season as Azucena/Il trovatore)
Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis


Amber Wagner

10:15 am – Amber Wagner is our on-air guest!

Wagner: Lohengrin, Act II, “Euch Lüften”
Amber Wagner, Michaela Schuster, Greer Grimsley; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

11:00 am- 12:00 noon

Pepe Martínez and Leonard Foglia: Cruzar la cara de la luna, “Siempre estoy aqui”/“I’m always here” Cecilia Duarte, Brittany Wheeler; Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, c. Pepe Martínez

11:15 am – Anne Sofie von Otter is our on-air guest!

Kurt Weill: One Touch of Venus, “Foolish Heart”
Anne Sofie von Otter; North German Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Wlad Marchulets: Klezmer tune written for his grandmother

Pepe Martínez and Leonard Foglia: Cruzar la cara de la luna, “El padre de mi padre”
Cecilia Duarte; Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, led by Pepe Martínez

EricOwens(courtesy of San Francisco Opera)_AdinaAaron

Eric Owens and Adina Aaron will star as Porgy and Bess

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, Act II, “I Got Plenty o Nuttin”
Eric Owens; San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra/John DeMain

12:00 noon-1:00 pm

12:00 pm – Renée Fleming is on-air guest!

Strauss: Capriccio, “Kein andres, das mir so im Herzen loht”
Renée Fleming; Michael Devlin; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

1:00–2:00 pm

1:00 pm – Amanda Majeski call-in

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Quintet
Amanda Majeski; James Morris; Jamie Barton; David Portillo; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Wagner: Tannhäuser , Act II, Entrance of the Guests
Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Ferdinand Leitner

2:00–3:00 pm

2:15 pm – Ward Stare is our on-air guest!

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, Act I, “A Woman is a Sometime Thing”
Eric Greene and soloists; San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra/John DeMain

2:30 pm – Bo Skovhus is our on-air guest!


Bo Skovhus and Anne Sofie von Otter

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Onegin’s Act I aria
Bo Skovhus; English National Opera Orchestra/James Conlon

Wagner: Die Walküre, Act I, “Winterstürme”
Johan Botha; Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Christian Thielemann
Verdi: Il trovatore, Act II, Anvil Chorus
Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Bruno Bartoletti

3:00–4:00 pm

3:00 – Ryan Opera Center as on-air guests!

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, Act I, “Summertime”
Ryan Opera Center alumna Nicole Cabell; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Mozart: Don Giovanni, Act II, “Non mi dir”
Marina Rebeka; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Speranza Scappucci

4:00–5:00 pm

Bizet: Carmen, Act III, Duet, “Je suis Escamillo, Toréro de Granada”
Kyle Keletsen; Yonghoon Lee; Netherlands Opera Orchestra/Marc Albrecht

Donizetti: Anna Bolena, Act I Finale
Dame Joan Sutherland, Paul Plishka, Stefania Toczyska, soloists; Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Richard Bonynge

4:30 pm – William Burden is our on-air guest!

Barber: Vanessa, Act I, Anatol’s aria, “Outside this house”
William Burden; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin

Strauss: Capriccio, “Kein andres, das mir so im Herzen loht”
Joseph Kaiser; Renée Fleming; Russell Braun; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

5:00–6:00 pm

Wagner: Lohengrin, Act II, sc. i, Ortrud’s meeting with Elsa
Amber Wagner; Michaela Schuster; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades, Act III, Gherman’s Gambling Scene aria
Misha Didyk; Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona/Bertrand de Billy

5:30 pm – Ana María Martínez is our on-air guest!
Gounod: Faust, Act III, “The Jewel Song”
Ana María Martínez; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Verdi: Il trovatore, Act IV, “Mira d’acerbe lagrime”
Sondra Radvanovsky; Mark Delavan; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Bruno Bartoletti


Daveda Karanas, Amanda Majeski, and Brandon Jovanovich will star in “The Passenger”














6:00-7:00 pm

6:15 pm – Michael Black is our on-air guest!

Strauss: Capriccio; “Moonlight Music”
Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Also hear music from Tosca, Carousel, and Porgy and Bess.

7:00-8:00 pm

7:00 pm – Robert Falls is our on-air guest!

Hear music from Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, Il trovatore, and more!

8:00-9:00 pm

8:00 pm – Quinn Kelsey is our on-air guest!

Hear music from Anna Bolena, Tannhäuser, Il trovatore, and more!

9:00-10:00 pm

9:00 pm – Asher Fisch is our on-air guest!

Puccini: Madama Butterfly “Humming Chorus”
Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Asher Fisch

Mozaer: Le nozze di Figaro, Act III, “Hai già vinta la causa”
Mariusz Kwiecien; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

Mieczysław Weinberg: The Passenger, Act II finale (Marta’s aria)
Elena Kelessidi; Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Teodor Currentzis

10:00–11:00 pm

Hear music from Capriccio, The Passenger, Anna Bolena, and more!

The Danish String Quartet Warms Up at WFMT

Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola and Frederik Øland, violin

Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola and Frederik Øland, violin

WFMT Impromptu, Thursday at 4:00 pm

There’s been a lot of buzz around these boys lately. The New Yorker, NPR’s Performance Today, and The Washington Post all have taken note of the quartet that began a residency at Lincoln Center this fall. They are the Danish String Quartet, a group of guys who met as pre-teens at music camp in Denmark, and have been best friends and musical collaborators ever since.


Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen

The Danish String Quartet is in Chicago to play a concert at the University of Chicago on Friday evening. They are playing a WFMT Impromptu on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 pm.

Here’s the program for Friday’s concert:

Haydn: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5 
Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen: the extinguishable (US premiere) 
Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D. 887


Danish String Quartet

Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin

Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin







Danish Day with the Danish String Quartet

The Opera in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen Architects

The Opera in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen Architects




About the Danish String Quartet

“We are three Danes and one Norwegian cellist, making this a truly Scandinavian endeavor. We are often joking about ourselves being modern Vikings – perhaps a touch more harmless than our ancestors – we are not pillaging cities or razing the English coastline! We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard.


The Danish String Quartet

On Thursday, October 9 at 4:00 pm, WFMT welcomes the Danish String Quartet, four friends who have been playing soccer and string quartets together since they were young boys. They are currently in residence with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Two, and are in Chicago to give a concert at the University of Chicago on Friday evening. Their CD titled Wood Works, an album of Nordic folk tunes arranged for string quartet, was chosen by Lisa Flynn for a feature on WFMT’s The New Releases.

In honor of the Quartet’s visit, WFMT will feature Danish artists and composers throughout the day on Thursday.


Midday with Lisa Flynn

10:00 am hour
Traditional Danish Folk Songs:
Five Sheep
Four Goats
Sonderho Bridal Trilogy, part 2
Danish String Quartet, Dacapo 8.226081.

Nielsen: Maskarade Suite
Swedish Radio Sym/Esa-Pekka Salonen, CBS MK-44547

Carl Nielsen

Carl Nielsen was the seventh of twelve children. His mother liked to sing folk songs. His father, a house painter, was an amateur trumpet and violin player.

“The ninth of June 1865 was a hard day for my mother, but also a happy one. My parents lived in a little cottage in the middle of a field in Nørre-Lyndelse on Funen. The nearest community is called Sortelung. My mother was alone at home with some of her younger children when she felt the first birth pangs. It was very painful, and she went outside, put her arms around a tree and banged her head against its trunk. This is why I think she must have felt very happy and relieved when at last I made my entry into this world.”

—Carl Nielsen

DanishComposers11:00 am hour
Riisager: Primavera Overture, Op 31
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Bo Holten, Dacapo 8.226147

Norgard Winter Hymn (sung in English)
Estonian Phil Chamber Choir/Paul Hillier, Harmonia Mundi HMU-907331

Knudåge Riisager

Knudåge Riisager was a student of Albert Roussel in Paris,and became a prolific composer of ballet music.

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

Egeskov Castle, Denmark

12:00 pm hour
Gade: Overture, Echoes of Ossian, Op 1
Danish National Radio Sym/Dmitri Kitayenko, Chandos CHAN-9075


DanishComposersLumbye: Queen Louise Waltz; The Copenhagen Steam Railway Gallop
Danish National Radio Sym/Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Chandos CHAN-9209

Afternoons with Kerry Frumkin

1:00 pm hour
Nielsen: Symphony #4, Op 29, The Inextinguishable
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis, Virgin Classics 91210-2

Niels Gade

Niels Gade began his career as a violinist in the Royal Danish Orchestra, though his reputation as a composer spread quickly. Mendelssohn conducted his First Symphony with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.



Copenhagen Concert Hall opened in January 2009. The architect was Jean Nouvel.

2:00 pm hour
Buxtehude: Sonata in C, Op 1/5
Trio Settecento, Cedille CDR-90000114

Bach: Toccata and Fugue in d, BWV 565
Hannes Kästner, o (Thomaskirche, Leipzig), Capriccio 10035

Nielsen: Little Suite for Strings, Op 1
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra/Iona Brown, Virgin Classics 45224-2


Dietrich Buxtehude

Dietrich Buxtehude was an organist and composer, pre-dating J.S. Bach by around 50 years. His birth year and nationality are in dispute. Some say he was Danish, others that he was German; this is due in part to disputes over the territory in which he was raised. His year of birth is around 1637/9. His birth name was Diderik, but he took the German version of Dietrich later in life while working as an organist in Germany.



Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, home of the Royal Danish Ballet

3:00 pm hour
Holmboe: Recorder Concerto, Op 122
Michala Petri, r; English Chamber Orchestra/Okko Kamu, RCA 62543-2

Wagner Tannhäuser: “Wie Todesahnung…O du mein holder Abendstern”
Bo Skovhus, br; English National Opera Orchestra/James Conlon, Sony SK-60035

4:00 pm hour
Impromptu: Live from Levin Studio, the Danish String Quartet

Emerging from “Cultural Black-out”

Evacuating the paintings of London's National Gallery

Evacuating the paintings of London's National Gallery


Dame Myra Hess plays a wartime concert

Live broadcast on Wednesday at 12:00 pm

On Wednesday, October 8, WFMT and the International Music Foundation commemorate the 75th anniversary of the wartime concerts at London’s National Gallery, which served as a beacon for Londoners through the brutal years of WWII. Wednesday’s concert features the Schubert String Quintet played by the Arianna String Quartet with cellist Nicole Johnson.

How it began

Imagine the walls of the National Gallery stripped bare, a city of 8.6 million people shrouded in darkness; theaters, cinemas, museums – all shuttered. As England entered the Second World War, authorities quickly took measures to remove cultural assets, while reducing the potential for civilian casualties by strictly enforcing black-outs and quashing the city’s nightlife. Kenneth Clark, the director of London’s National Gallery called it a “cultural black-out.” Clark recalled the eerie stillness of the National Gallery, “Every picture had been taken away, but the frames remained and multiplied the general emptiness with a series of smaller emptinesses. When I returned to the Gallery, after the first all-absorbing task of evacuation was more or less safely over, I walked round those large, dirty, and (as it turned out) ill-proportioned rooms, in deep depression.”

Mr. Clark didn’t require any arm twisting when the piano soloist Myra Hess suggested using the gallery for occasional lunchtime concerts. It was Clark who suggested making it a daily event, Monday through Friday.

A bombed-out room at London's National Gallery

A bombed-out room at London’s National Gallery



The 1:00 pm concerts would cost a shilling, to be applied to the Unemployed Musicians Fund, and repeated on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:00 pm for the price of two shillings. Steinway loaned them a piano, free of charge.

The first concert took place 75 years ago, on October 10, 1939. It came together so quickly that Dame Myra recalled expecting only 40 or 50 people; instead there were around 1,000, with more being turned away at the door. The concerts continued every weekday, even during the 267-day Blitzkrieg. During the daylight bombings, the musicians and public withdrew to the Gallery’s basement. In all, 1,698 concerts were given over a period of five and a half years.


A wartime concert in Room 36 of the National Gallery


For her immeasurable gift to wartime Londoners, King George VI made Myra Hess Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1941. Following the War, Myra Hess resumed her international career. When she died in 1965, Dame Myra Hess left her estate to a fund benefiting young artists, with a requirement that they perform outside metropolitan areas.

It was in that spirit of creating opportunity for young artists, and increasing public access to high quality performances, that Chicago’s Al Booth established the weekly Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, free of charge, at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Cross-Pollination in Chicago Yields Black Oak Ensemble

Goran Ivanovic, Desiree Ruhstrat, Aurelien Pederzoli, and David Cunliffe

Goran Ivanovic, Desiree Ruhstrat, Aurelien Pederzoli, and David Cunliffe

Live broadcast, Tuesday at 7:00 pm

It’s like seeing old friends get together to make a new couple. Two members of the Lincoln Trio join a Spektral Quartet violinist – but he’s playing viola – and a Chicago guitarist who’s collaborated with Fareed Haque: they are the Black Oak Ensemble. Composed of Goran Ivanovic, guitar; Desiree Ruhstrat, violin; Aurelien Pederzoli, viola; and David Cunliffe, cello; this group is brand new. Its website is “coming soon,” and their Facebook page launched a week ago.

The Black Oak Ensemble’s inaugural visit to WFMT takes place on Tuesday, October 7 with a playlist suitable for a classy nightclub.

The live broadcast will be hosted by Suzanne Nance and starts at 7:00 pm.

Here’s an introductory Q and A with violinist Desiree Ruhstrat and WFMT’s Noel Morris:

Q. How did you get together?

A. Goran, David, and I occasionally got together to do concerts when we could fit them in. About a year ago, the four of us started hanging out, and “for fun,” after dinners and a bottle or two of wine, we would start putting some tunes together. We did it as a hobby, but then in June decided we might take it a little more seriously, and put a program together. We did our first unofficial concert in June at the Women’s Club for the Stradivari Society, and our official “outing” was at the Cliff Dwellers in August.


The Black Oak Ensemble

Q. What are your plans?

A. There are many venues with no piano and our programming is very eclectic, catering to many different audiences. Goran brings his club and ethnic music knowledge. We blend it with our classical knowledge – not that the music is simplified, but it is presented in a relaxed manner while keeping the content at a very high level. We are looking forward to putting a season together for next year, although every one of us is very committed to our respective groups. This is a way for us to broaden our musical audience by bringing an eclectic mix – or as you well put it: “a playlist for a classy nightclub.”

Q. How did you pick the name?

A. A big black oak tree sits in front of our house.

Ludwig Van Beethoven Serenade Op.8 for violin, viola and cello
Desiree Ruhstrat, Violin
Aurelien Pederzoli, Viola
David Cunliffe, Cello

Goran Ivanovic: Keltai
Goran Ivanovic, Guitar

Enrique Granados: Danza española
Goran Ivanovic, Guitar
David Cunliffe, Cello

David Ludwig: Lindy’s Tango from April Variations
Goran Ivanovic, Guitar
Desiree Ruhstrat, Violin
David Cunliffe, Cello

Manuel de Falla: I. El Pano Moruno and III. Asturiana from Siete Canciones
Goran Ivanovic , Guitar
Desiree Ruhstrat, Violin

Astor Piazolla: La Calle 92
Aurelien Pederzoli, Viola
David Cunliffe, Cello

Astor Piazolla: Libertango
Goran Ivanovic , Guitar
Desiree Ruhstrat, Violin
Aurelien Pederzoli, Viola
David Cunliffe, Cello

Manuel de Falla/Kreisler: Danse Espagnole
Goran Ivanovic , Guitar
Desiree Ruhstrat, Violin
Aurelien Pederzoli, Viola
David Cunliffe, Cello

Next Up at Lyric: Capriccio

Renee Fleming as the Countess in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Capriccio," c. Ken Howard

Renee Fleming as the Countess in Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Capriccio," c. Ken Howard

Monday at 7:15 pm

What would steal your heart: a love sonnet or a string sextet?

Two rivals, a poet and a musician, clamor for the affections of a capricious Countess in Richard Strauss’s 1942 opera Capriccio.

Each according to his talents, the suitors offer gestures of undying love (a Sonnet and the opening String Sextet); which Strauss parlays into a heated debate among a six-member ensemble – which is the greater art: words or music?

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Capriccio is set in 1920s Paris, and filled with flirty repartee written by Clemens Krauss and the composer.

Renée Fleming is the Countess, though she doesn’t claim victory for her own character: “My feeling is that Strauss has the last word…It ends with the horn solo; and that was his father’s instrument. That’s how he started his career and his life – through his father being a great instrumentalist – so I think he says, ‘Sorry, I get the last word and the answer is music.’”

According to Lyric Opera, Capriccio has some of Strauss’s most luscious music. It’s a favorite of many Strauss aficionados. Renée Fleming remembers falling in love with the piece while she was training in Frankfort:




Bo Skovhus, Anne Sofie von Otter, and Peter Rose





Was Capriccio an act of civil disobedience?

According to Danish baritone Bo Skovhus, who sings the role of the Count, the near octogenarian Strauss was under pressure to write something to rally the war effort in Nazi Germany. “They hoped that he would write, you know, something about heroes and German soul, and then he writes a piece about nothing: ‘what is more important: words or music?’” Mr. Skovhus argues, “that really shows what he thought about the whole situation during the War, Richard Strauss, he didn’t want to take any part in anything of it.”



Capriccio runs through October 28th at the Civic Opera House. Listen to WFMT’s opening night broadcast on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm. Listen online and view the subtitles at


William Burden, Renee Fleming, and Audun Iversen




Countess: Renée Fleming
Clairon: Anne Sofie von Otter
Count: Bo Skovhus
Flamand: William Burden
Olivier: Audun Iversen
La Roche: Peter Rose

Lyric Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis
Original Director: John Cox
Revival Director: Peter McClintock

Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble Live


Monday at 12:15 pm

Longtime principals of the Chicago Chamber Musicians continue the first Monday tradition of giving free lunchtime concerts in downtown Chicago. Trumpeters Charles Geyer and Barbara Butler will sit down with french horn player Gail Williams to play the bookends of the brass repertoire: arrangements of Renaissance and early Baroque pieces, as well as works by Chicago composer Stacy Garrop and Ithaca College composer Dana Wilson. Gail Williams will perform Wilson’s Musings for horn and piano, a work she commissioned and premiered in 2003.

Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble will be joined by pianist Rachael Kerr.


Charles Geyer and Barbara Butler, trumpets; Gail Williams, horn; Rachael Kerr, piano


Chicago Composer Stacy Garrop, c. Bill Billingham












This concert series takes place on the first Monday of the month with members of the Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble performing in Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center. WFMT presents this concert live, starting at 12:15 pm with host Candice Agree.



Canzonets, Madrigals, Catches and Glees (arr. Verne Reynolds):

Jones: O, I Do Love
Weelkes: The Nightingale
Boyce: Epitaph
Morley: Arise

Stacy Garrop: Trumpets of Jericho (2013)

Dana Wilson: Musings for horn and piano(2003)

Astor Piazzolla: Tanti Anni Prima(Ave maria)

Robert McGrath: 3 Bagatelles

Relevant Tones Features Arvo Pärt

Estonian composer Arvo Part

Estonian composer Arvo Part

Saturday at 5:00 pm

His fans say his music is “outside time.” Estonian composer Arvo Pärt reaches back to the ancient; to the mystical, contemplative style of twelfth century composer Hildegard von Bingen; while evoking colors and harmonies that are strikingly modern.

Though many of the world’s music-lovers are divided by genre, which points to age, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.; the followers of Arvo Pärt wash over those barriers. One of those devoted followers is Icelandic pop icon Björk, who sat down to interview him stating, “Arvo Pärt is a so-called serious composer who, in a very sensitive way, has got the whole battle of this century inside him.” She said to him, “I like your music very, very much because you give space to the listener. He can go inside and live there.”

This week’s edition of Relevant Tones takes you into the sound world of Arvo Pärt, exploring his vocal and instrumental works.

More on Arvo Pärt.

Panufnik at 100


He was one of the leading Polish conductors and composers of his time – but his was a time defined by brutality and oppression. For five years, Andrzej Panufnik’s homeland was occupied by the Nazis. Jewish Poles, Polish intellectuals, religious and political leaders were murdered; the Roman Catholic majority was classified as untermensch, inferior people. Polish property deemed vital to Germany was requisitioned.

Under those conditions, Andrzej Panufnik quietly resisted Nazi occupation. With a ban on public concerts, Panufnik and his recital partner Witold Lutosławski played two-piano arrangements of classical works in cafés. Together they managed to organize some concerts for charity and played others illegally. Panufnik also wrote patriotic songs that were taken up by the Polish resistance.

Toward the end of the War, all of Panufnik’s manuscripts, including two symphonies, were destroyed in the chaos of the Warsaw Uprising.

After the War, it was Andrzej Panufnik who helped bring music back to the Polish people, resurrecting the orchestras in Kraków and Warsaw.

panufnikSadly, this did not signal better times. By the end of the 1940s, Polish composers had a new bully to contend with: the Soviets. Prominent artists like Panufnik were pressured to conform to the party’s official artistic guidelines, called Soviet Socialist Realism. Panufnik found the new dictates unworkable and defected to England in 1954.

For a time he worked as the chief conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before devoting his energy full time to composition. He became a British citizen in 1961.

In his homeland, his voice was once again extinguished – this time because he was a defector. His music was banned in Poland until the end of the Soviet era. In 1990, at the end of his life, Andrzej Panufnik made a return visit to Warsaw to attend performances of 11 of his works.

He was knighted in 1991, the year of his death, for his service to music in the United Kingdom.

September 24, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Andrzej Panufnik. To honor the occasion, WFMT presents a special concert from the European Broadcast Union featuring Panufnik’s Sinfonia Elegiaca on Friday at 8:00 pm.

Also this weekend, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti presents Panufnik’s Concerto in modo antico with principal trumpet Christopher Martin as soloist.

About Concerto in modo antico

Early Polish music has remained quite unknown to the worldwide musical public in spite of the fact that there were many composers who wrote both ecclesiastical and secular works. Unfortunately, due to Poland’s most tragic history with its numerous foreign invasions, little of this music survived, and virtually none is available for performance.

In my Concerto in modo antico I tried to fill this gap, and make use of fragments of vocal and instrumental work by 16th and 17th Century Polish composers, whose work I discovered during my research, I endeavored to recreate as near as possible the true period style…My main intention was to bring alive the spirit of Poland at that time, and to make use of these precious fragments which otherwise would have remained lifeless on the bookshelves of libraries.

—Andrzej Panufnik

A Grande Dame, Dame Kiri at Ravinia

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Skypes with composer Jake Heggie from her home in England

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Skypes with composer Jake Heggie from her home in England

Ravinia Recital, Monday at 8:00 pm

Composer of Operas

Composer Jake Heggie wrote a song cycle for Dame Kiri and accompanied her at the piano at the 2014 Ravinia recital

The city of Chicago has long had a love affair with superstar New Zealander Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. First appearing in A German Requiem with Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 4, 1978, the soprano went on to record the Mahler Symphony No.4, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Verdi’s Otello with the CSO and Solti.


See the program and view a history of Kiri Te Kanawa with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of the CSO Rosenthal Archives

Ms. Te Kanawa, who was named Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982, celebrated her 70th birthday this year – though she’s shown no indication of slowing down. Over the summer, she embarked on a 70th birthday gala tour, giving recitals across Australia. When she made an appearance on Downton Abbey as the turn of the century opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, producer Gareth Neame told The Telegraph the whole crew rushed to hear her sing, “It was the sight of all these tough electricians and grips and all the people you see on a film set with tears in their eyes…”

Dame Kiri actively provides assistance, masterclasses, and training to young singers through her own New Zealand-based foundation, as well as through the Georg Solti Accademia and other young artist programs, including Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute (see video below of a 2012 masterclass at Ravinia).


Kiri Te Kanawa sings Amelia in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 1996-96 “Simon Boccanegra”

Over her 40-year career, her associations in Chicago have spread across the city: she sang Arabella, Così fan tutte; Don Carlo, and Simon Boccanegra at Lyric Opera, as well as a much-acclaimed solo recital for Lyric. She’s also made numerous appearances at Ravinia.

This past summer, the Ravinia Festival honored Dame Kiri’s 70th birthday with a song cycle by San Francisco-based American composer Jake Heggie. WFMT will present a broadcast of that recital, including Mr. Heggie’s settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, and songs by Richard Strauss on Monday, September 29 at 8:00 pm. WFMT’s Kerry Frumkin hosts the program.

SADKiriTe Kanawa1

Sir Andrew Davis conducting Kiri Te Kanaw