Tuesday, March 10, 2015 by WFMT
The world-renowned Kronos Quartet stopped by WFMT to perform a live concert on Impromptu Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm. For a podcast of the broadcast, click here.
In anticipation of their visit, the ensemble’s founder, violinist David Harrington, spoke with WFMT about their current and upcoming projects, which include performances across the United States, the release of a new album, and an upcoming music festival. He also gives us a preview of what listeners will be lucky to hear live from the WFMT studio later this week.
You’ve been very busy recently, can you tell us about some of your recent and upcoming engagements?
We just came from New York City. We played at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night [March 7, 2015] and it was really a high point for us because we were able to perform with forty-five young players from a program called Face the Music. We are mentoring and coaching these junior high and high school kids and they joined us for our American premiere of Merlijn Twaalfhoven’s On Parole. We ended the concert with music of Aleksandra Vrebalov playing her piece called Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 which we are playing on this tour and features a film by Bill Morrison. Five Serbian Orthodox monks joined us for that concert. They came all the way from Novi Sad, Serbia and it was just unbelievable to have them join us. We had performed together in Serbia in November, and I never thought we would be able to do it again, but to bring that sound, that ancient sound – it’s like 1200 years old – was wonderful and their singing was incredible. Aleksandra had incorporated their work into her piece and to have them join us in the United States was really thrilling. As we’re touring, there’s all sorts of music that we are encountering and that we are playing. We’ll be at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana [Tuesday, March 10, 2015], and later we’re at the Harris Theater in Chicago with Laurie Anderson, and then we move on to the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee in a couple months. We’re artists in residence at Big Ears and it’s really a cool festival, I can’t wait to be there. It’s non-stop music from the morning through the night. We’re doing – I think – five or six concerts in three days. I’ll be DJing and meeting with composers and of course I will be coaching young groups. I think we’re performing with six or eight of our collaborators, so it’s really a festival and we’re looking forward to it very much.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Laurie Anderson that is coming up at the Harris Theater in Chicago?
I first met Laurie Anderson about 30 years ago and the very first time I met her I asked her if she might write for Kronos, so I’ve wanted this to happen for all of these years. She’s come to many of our concerts, and we’ve come to many of hers. I think it’s about three years ago now that it eventually all worked out. It was the right time for her and the right time for us, so we started rehearsing together and experimenting and improvising and planning. Over the course of about a year, or maybe even more than that, this amazing experience began to be assembled. It was really something marvelous and we have been performing with Laurie for the last several years. As you know, she’s a very distinctive voice in music and in performance, and to be able to share the stage with her is just wonderfully inspiring and I think her music is so beautiful and poignant. I was just watching a video about climate change and her piece is called Landfall and it has to do with Hurricane Sandy and the effect it had on Laurie herself and New York City and many people, of course. The piece didn’t start out that way but then that hurricane happened during the composition and it became incorporated into the work in a very organic and beautiful way.
Besides Laurie Anderson, you’ve collaborated with so many exciting artists over the years. Are there any artists with whom you have always wanted to collaborate?
There are many people from the past that I wish we could’ve worked with. Jelly Roll Morton comes to mind and recently we found a way to incorporate his recorded performance of Dead Man Blues into a performance, so we restructured the past! There’re all sorts of people doing things now who I’d love to work with. You know, the time we live in right now is so dangerous and there’s so many awful things on the one side. But we can also celebrate the possibility for new exploration, and that’s what I like to think Kronos is all about.
Speaking of new exploration, your new album Tunda Songs is released today, March 10, 2015.
I was so happy to be a part of this. We premiered Derek Charke’s piece on Saturday night [at Carnegie Hall]. Tundra Songs is a work that was written for us […]. It’s a continuing relationship. Basically everything we’re doing these days is something that I hope we can continue as long as possible. For example, Terry Riley… Actually, I am happy to announce today, so you’re the first to hear about it. Kronos Presents the Terry Riley Festival will celebrate 80 years of Terry Riley in San Francisco this June. At the moment, we’re continuing our planning to celebrate not only what Terry has brought to Kronos but also to music.
What music will you be sharing with us in the studio later this week on Impromptu, and how did you select the repertoire?
We wanted to do something that was going to jump out of people’s car speakers and their home radios and wherever it is they hear music. We thought we would open with Michael Daugherty’s piece Elvis Everywhere. I think Elvis Everywhere celebrates the world-wide phenomenon of Elvis and the affect that Elvis has had on American culture. Then, we move on to music by one of America’s greatest musicians, and there are five extant recordings of her work, her name is Geeshie Wiley and we’re playing Last King Words, recorded initially about 1930, and which is to me just one of the iconic pieces of American music. From there we’re going to move to music by Omar Souleyman who is a great Syrian singer and wedding musician. He plays the coolest weddings, you should check the out on YouTube! We’re playing his song called I’ll Prevent the Hunters from Hunting You. From there we’re going to play one of our favorite songs called Tusen Tankar or A Thousand Thoughts, and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I have ever encountered. It’s from Sweden. Then we’ll play music by Rahul Dev Burman the great Bollywood film composer. I think of him as the Schubert of Bollywood music. Schubert on one hand Stravinsky on the other. The colors are unparalleled, it’s just amazing. We did an album of his music with his widow who is the most recorded artist in history and her name is Asha Bhosle. That was a power couple if there ever was one! Then we’ll play music by Tanburi Cemil Bey, the Ottoman composer from Turkey – his Evic Taksim which was recorded just before World War I, it’s just astonishing music. Then we’re going to end the set with a Clint Manesell piece that we’ve never played on the radio. I don’t know if it’s ever been played on the radio. We’ve never done it live and I don’t know if it’s ever been played, it’s called Death is the Road to Awe from The Fountain. It should be an action packed hour of music and we’re looking forward to it very much.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 by WFMT
You’ve come to know Peter Van de Graaff’s voice by listening to Through the Night with Peter Van De Graaff and as WFMT’s chief announcer. But, did you know you can also hear Peter’s voice on some of the world’s most prestigious stages? As a bass-baritone, Peter has performed with leading orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and has collaborated with today’s most esteemed conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Bernard Labadie, and Paul Hillier. Right now, Peter is gearing up to perform the title role in Telemann’s Don Quichotte with the Haymarket Opera Company, a new organization devoted to ancient opera in Chicago. The ensemble, led by Craig Trumpeter, features some of today’s most sought-after early music specialists including harpsichordist and two-time Grammy Award nominee Jory Vinikour. As a prelude to each performance of the opera, Vinikour will perform C. P. E. Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Harpsichord with HOC’s period orchestra. Peter tells us more about his work off mic and on stage in this upcoming performance of Don Quichotte.
Peter, when you haven’t been busy in the studio, where have you performed this season?
I did Beethoven 9th Symphony with the Wichita Symphony and Oak Park/River Forest Symphony, Messiah with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, I gave a fascinating poetry reading/performance recital with Inna Faliks. We’re looking forward to the Schumann recital in the Schumann home in Leipzig in May, followed by recitals in London and Holland.
Haymarket Opera Company is new to Chicago though has already made a big impact. In which of Haymarket’s previous productions have you appeared?
This will be my third production with them. I was in La descente d’Orphée aux enfers and Dido and Aeneas. Being a radio announcer leaves me little time for singing, so I have to choose my engagements judiciously and, although I do very little opera because of the time demands, I do make an exception with this excellent company!
Haymarket has already presented a diverse range of early opera. How did the company select Telemann’s Don Quichotte?
Craig Trompeter [HOC General Director] has been talking about it for awhile. I know that he is attracted to the extremely high quality of music and theatricality of the piece. When we realize that it was Telemann’s last opera, we know that he brought one of the most fecund careers to its end with it-all of his past experience.
What have you learned about Telemann through your own encounter with this music?
Not only his inexhaustible creativity, but also his amazing sense of humor! It’s interesting that the first half of the opera is just Don Quichotte and Sancho Panza alone. Telemann has written some incredibly fun music for the two to sing-some truly funny arias about Don Q.’s dreams of chivalry and Sancho’s donkey & mishaps, etc. Telemann is a real master of capturing characterization. He is known for his instrumental music, but he was a very, very fine operatic composer. I have sung one other Telemann opera, Pimpinone […], but this work has only served to deepen my appreciation for him as one of the Baroque’s greatest.
What are other upcoming performances or projects to which you are looking forward?
Beyond the three European recitals in May, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to perform an all-Grieg recital in his home as part of the WFMT trip to Scandinavia in August. Come join us!
More About Don Quichotte
A comic tour de force with a delightfully rich score that includes piccolo, bassoon, drums and trumpets, this production will be one of Haymarket’s most ambitious yet. At the age of 80, Georg Philipp Telemann composed Don Quichotte to the witty libretto of his 20-year-old friend Daniel Schiebler. The story is drawn from one of the greatest works of all literature, Miguel de Cervantes’ The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. The Don, a retired country gentleman who has gone mad reading too many chivalric novels, sallies forth into the Spanish countryside to make his name as a knight-errant. Accompanied by his wise-cracking squire, Sancho, he happens upon the wedding festivities of the wealthy herdsman Camacho and Quiteria, the land’s most beautiful shepherdess whose father has forbidden her to wed her true love, Basilio.
Monday, March 9, 2015 by WFMT
The International Chamber Artists led by pianist Patrick Godon stop by the studio Monday March 9, 2015 at 8:00 pm to perform a program of works by Poulenc, Beethoven, Paul Schoenfield, and Chicago composer Eric Malmquist. Scored for soprano and chamber ensemble, Malmquist’s new piece If You Travel Far Enough is ICA’s first commission. Read the composer’s notes about the work, take a sneak peek at his score, and follow along as you listen to the ICA perform Live from WFMT with Kerry Frumkin.
I have lived my whole life thus far (just over twenty-nine years) in various locales in Illinois. I was born in the rural town of Morris (once the largest grain exporter in the world), educated in mid-sized city Bloomington, and was married and currently reside in Chicago. I have sipped in bars and driven past barns and lands from Woodstock to Vienna, and despite its dysfunctions the state remains very special to me.
When I was approached to write this piece, from the very start Susan Licciardi’s texts were to be the core and inspiration of the work. Susan spent her childhood in Galena, then lived much of her early adult life traveling and learning about the world. In the end she settled in Chicago, what she has called “the perfect city to live in” and has left these texts as a memoir of her experiences. Her work, Bars and Barns, is a deeply affecting collection of reminiscences on the locales she has visited in her time.
In writing the music, I wanted to try and do justice to Susan’s vision and experiences as well as reflect on the things I have learned myself over the years of residing in the Midwest and traveling beyond.
This music was commissioned by Patrick Godon and the International Chamber Artists in Chicago. Of special note – it is their very first commission. I am deeply honored and humbled to have been entrusted with this distinction.
Songs within each set should be performed with little or no pause between them. There should be short pauses in between sets.
The full score is formatted so the pianist can perform from it. Movements with large forces are in score order (woodwinds, brass, piano, voice, strings) while smaller forces are in the order below. Empty staves are omitted to reduce the systems per page and overall page count.
There is also a version available for soprano, cello, and piano, which also serves as the soprano’s score.
If it’s interesting or helpful to know, the songs are each in a different pitch center of the scale (in order: F, D, B, A-flat, C, G, E-flat, A, F-sharp, E, D-flat, B-flat). “Bars” is loosely based on fourths, “Barns” on thirds, and “Land” on fifths.
Performers are encouraged to perform individual songs, sets, or selections from this work.
Saturday, March 7, 2015 by WFMT
Tenor Yonghoon Lee will replace Jonas Kauffman in today’s performance of Bizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Kauffman canceled his performance of Carmen Wednesday, March 3, 2015, as he was suffering from the flu and unable to travel to New York earlier in the week.
Kauffman’s two scheduled appearances in the role of Don José were some of the most highly-anticipated performances in the Met’s 2014-15 season. Tickets in the Grand Tier for Wednesday’s performance were being sold online for as much as $999.75 each.
Lee sang the role of Don José in Kauffman’s place for Wednesday’s performance, which marked the 1000th performance of Carmen at the Met and featured mezzo soprano Elīna Garanča in the title role.
Click here to listen to Lee perform LIVE Staurday, March 7 at 1:00 pm Central and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Friday, March 6, 2015 by WWCI
Saturdays at 4:30 pm beginning March 7
WFMT audiences will hear a new voice on Saturday afternoons starting March 7: renowned bass-baritone Eric Owens, one of the most sought-after American opera singers today.
A newly minted Chicagoan, Eric is joining us to host a new weekly series, Eric on Opera, focusing on vocal his favorite music from opera to jazz and more. Eric will share music that has influenced him the most, explore different themes in opera, and invite friends and colleagues from the opera world to join him in the studio.
Eric will be starring in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s ambitious production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle over the next few years, and it is a major coup for WFMT that he will be sharing his artistry with our audiences as well. Welcome to WFMT, Eric!
More About Eric Owens
Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in orchestral, recital, and operatic performances, Mr. Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice, and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.
Mr. Owens begins his 2014-2015 season by rejoining Sir Simon Rattle, Peter Sellars, and the Berlin Philharmonic for highly anticipated performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Lucerne Festival. Additional performances of the production take place at The BBC Proms festival and New York’s Park Avenue Armory as part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Mr. Owens opens his operatic season by returning to Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he has been appointed as their Community Ambassador, for performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess directed by Francesca Zambello. He will also appear in his title role debut of Der fliegende Holländer with the Washington National Opera conducted by Phillipe Auguin. Owens makes additional role debuts this season as King Philip II in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Opera Philadelphia, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth at the Glimmerglass Festival where he returns as an Artist-in-Residence.
Symphonic highlights of the season include performances of Verdi’s Requiem with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges with the Swedish Radio Symphony under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen. Mr. Owens and Mr. Salonen then bring L’enfant et les sortileges and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, in which Mr. Owens makes his role debut as Golaud, to the United States for performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Owens can also be seen in performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Mr. Owens began his 2013-2014 season in Berlin, performing in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Berliner Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle. After mentoring the next generation of opera stars at the American Singers’ Opera Project at the Kennedy Center with friend and collaborator Renée Fleming, Mr. Owens appeared as Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera. He made his role debut as Vodnik in Rusalka at Lyric Opera of Chicago at the start of 2014. In the spring, Mr. Owens joined what director Peter Sellars called his “dream cast” of Handel’s Hercules with the Canadian Opera Company as the title role alongside Alice Coote, David Daniels, and Richard Croft, followed by his return to Wolf Trap Opera as their 2014 Artist in Residence. 2013-2014 also saw a duo recital with soprano Susanna Phillips presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Mr. Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he performed the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Doctor Atomic was later recorded and received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Mr. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño.
Mr. Owens’s career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut in Norma; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, and La Bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; and Ariodante and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera. He sang Collatinus in a highly acclaimed Christopher Alden production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass Opera. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Mr. Owens has sung Sarastro, Mephistopheles in Faust, Frère Laurent, Angelotti in Tosca, and Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Jackie O (available on the Argo label) with that company. Mr. Owens is featured on two Telarc recordings with the Atlanta Symphony: Mozart’s Requiem and scenes from Strauss’ Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten, both conducted by Donald Runnicles. He is featured on the Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree. Mr. Owens has been recognized with multiple honors, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, second prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.
A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Owens began his musical training as a pianist at the age of six, followed by formal oboe study at age eleven under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University, and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music. He currently studies with Armen Boyajian. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 by WFMT
Composer and former-Chicagoan Jonas Tarm was shocked to learn that his piece “Marsh u Nebuttya” commissioned for the New York Youth Symphony will not be performed as scheduled on Sunday, March 8th at Carnegie Hall. The nine-minute piece, which means “March to Oblivion” in Ukrainian, includes a musical quotation of “Horst-Wessel-Lied,” the Nazi party anthem. Tarm’s symphonic work also includes a quotation from the anthem of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Born in Estonia, Tarm moved to Chicago at the age of 10, and was featured on WFMT’s Introductions when he was still a senior at Highland Park High School in a two-part program that aired in 2011 and 2012. Now 21, Tarm is a junior at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Tarm was selected to compose a new piece as part of the orchestra’s First Music program. Shauna Quill, the Symphony’s Executive Director explained in a statement issued on the organization’s website that, “He was chosen last spring for the commission from among a strong group of candidates by an impartial panel of seven composers and music educators. The new piece he created in response to receiving the commission received its first hearing when it was given to the orchestra to rehearse in December.”
After “Marsh u Nebuttya” premiered last month at the United Palace Theater, one audience member in attendance issued a letter of complaint to the Symphony signed “a Nazi survivor.”
The New York Youth Symphony has long been committed to supporting works by living composers. Its First Music composition series has commissioned over 137 composers since 1984, and the organization is also dedicated to training the next generation of young composers through its own Composition Program.
Quill said, “Our mission at the NYYS is to educate and inspire young musicians, composers, and conductors. We also encourage creativity within a culture of mutual respect and honesty,” and that the “decision to remove a commissioned work from Sunday’s performance was not a decision taken lightly. It was a highly unusual step for us – one which was taken thoughtfully.”
Svetlana Mintcheva of the National Coalition Against Censorship, has attacked the Symphony’s decision to cancel the performance as an attempt to “sanitize contemporary art,” in the New York Times.
Quill stated that Tarm had not discussed the reference to “Horst-Wessel-Lied” with the organization until she spoke with him on the phone Monday, March 2, 2015. “Without this information and give the lack of transparency, we could not continue to feature his work on the program.”
Late Thursday afternoon, March 5, 2015, the National Coalition Against Censorship issued a follow-up statement urging the Symphony to, “to reverse the last minute decision to cancel the Sunday Carnegie Hall performance of Jonas Tarm’s “Marsh u Nebuttya” (“March to Oblivion”) and proceed with the program as previously planned.”
“While some members of the audience may have traumatic associations with the march, the same might be true of any artwork referencing painful moments in history,” the statement continued. “There is nothing that can damage the credibility of a cultural institution as much as act of censorship. Cultural institutions can play a crucial role in promoting understanding and peaceful dialogue in a world of conflict, but only if they stand up to pressure groups from all sides.”
Tarm stated in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that, “This piece is not to provoke anyone, it’s to evoke, to make people think and feel.” He maintains that the piece is about “conflict, totalitarianism, and nationalism.”
Was the New York Youth Symphony right to cancel this performance? Listen to some of Tarm’s original compositions that aired previously on WFMT, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 by WWCI
Friday, March 6 at 12:00 pm
Hear a special birthday tribute to composer Frédéric Chopin, as award-winning young pianist Weiwen Ma plays his Polonaise in F sharp minor op.44, a selection of his Etudes and Mazurkas, and Scherzo No.4 in E Major op.54. Weiwen is a native of Shanghai, China.
The PianoForte Salon Series is hosted by Dave Schwan, broadcast live from PianoForte studios on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 by WFMT
J’nai Bridges shared some exciting news with WFMT in her dressing room at the Lyric Opera of Chicago before a performance of “The Passenger.” In the opera, Bridges portrays Vlasta, a Czech Jew imprisoned in Auschwitz. The mezzo-soprano explains why she is passionate about this production and what’s coming up next for her. If you heard Bridges live at the Lyric or in our broadcast, share your comments with us below!
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 by WWCI
Thursday, March 5 at 8:00 pm
Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) was music director of the New York Philharmonic from 2002 through 2009. Tonight, join us as the Philharmonic pays tribute to the distinguished conductor and composer in this birthday retrospective which will include works by Beethoven, Berg, Respighi, Mahler, and Lutoslawski, as well as one of Maazel’s own compositions, The Giving Tree.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 by WFMT
It is with profound sadness and a deep and personal sense of loss that I have to share the news that our beloved Continuity Director and Copywriter, Susan Bohlin, passed away this morning after a long and valiant struggle. Throughout it all she consistently demonstrated grace, patience and up until just several weeks ago looked forward to coming to work every day, seeing us all, and doing her job. Although I have very limited details at this time, I’d like to share what her daughter, Kaitlyn, posted on Caring Bridge.com 23 hours ago:
“Last night, Su was moved to palliative care. She has fought long and hard and beautifully, and now our goal is to make her last days as comfortable as possible. Right now, her family is with her, giving her all the peace, prayers, and love that you have sent her along this journey. We are so grateful to be with her. Thanks for being with us in spirit at this time. Please continue to hold Su and us in the light.”
Su will be missed greatly.
-Paul Ansell, Director of Sales WFMT