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December 2014
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Daniil Trifonov Live from Carnegie Hall

Daniil Trifonov, c. Dario Acosta

Daniil Trifonov, c. Dario Acosta

Tuesday at 7:00 pm

With an exclusive recording contract on Deutsche Grammophon, and engagements with the world’s top orchestras, one would think Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov was beyond taking piano lessons. He’s not. That is, he’s not one to miss opportunities to grow and expand his abilities, which are formidable, in spite of a hectic touring schedule.

Composition is also an important area of expression for this 23-year-old artist, so he stops by the Cleveland Institute of Music for lessons, and time with his piano teacher, Sergei Babayan. In April of this year, he premiered his First Piano Concerto at the Institute.

Daniil Trifonov’s ascent into the ranks of major artists has been meteoric since he walked away with gold medals from both the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions, just weeks apart in 2011. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in February of 2013 and returns to the storied venue for a recital on Tuesday, December 9; a concert which will be broadcast live by WFMT starting at 7:00 pm.


Daniil Trifonov at Carnegie Hall


BACH Fantasy and Fugue for Organ in G Minor, BWV 542 (trans. for piano by Franz Liszt, S. 463)

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

LISZT Transcendental Etudes, S. 139








Hear Philip Glass Quartet LIVE

American composer Philp Glass

American composer Philp Glass

Live from WFMT, Monday at 8:00 pm

WFMT’s weekly recital series, Live from WFMT, welcomes the Spektral Quartet on Monday to perform music by Stravinsky, Rands, Beethoven, and Glass.

Composer Philip Glass says when he first started composing, it was for string quartet. Admittedly, those were student pieces which he later discarded. Though only five are known to the public, Mr. Glass has written eight in all. He wrote his first published quartet in 1966, but didn’t return to the form until 1983 when he wrote incidental music for a dramatization of Samuel Beckett’s Company.

Company is a haunting tale of an old man who is lying alone in the dark when a ghostly voice pays him a visit, one that knows intimate details of his life.

Mr. Glass reworked Company’s incidental music for a concert piece, calling it String Quartet No.2, Company.


The Spektral Quartet: Russell Rolen, Doyle Armbrust, Clara Lyon, Austin Wulliman

Performers often comment on the intimate, introspective, and profound nature of the string quartet. Philip Glass says: “In an odd way, string quartets have always functioned like that for composers. I don’t really know why, but it’s almost impossible to get away from it. It’s the way composers of the past have thought and that’s no less true for me…It’s almost as if we say we’re going to write a string quartet, we take a deep breath, and we wade in to try to write the most serious, significant piece that we can.”

Philip Glass was born in Baltimore in 1937 and has become one of today’s most prominent composers. He’s also one of America’s most recognizable composers, thanks to his distinctive use of motoric rhythms and gradually unfolding textures, popularly known as minimalism. He’s written scores for dozens of films, including The Thin Blue Line, The Truman Show, The Fog of War, The Hours, and The Illusionist.

The Spektral Quartet started playing together in 2010. They are in residence at the University of Chicago and are activist musicians, pursuing new compositions and innovative ways to bring music to new communities. They’ve formed wide-ranging traditional and non-traditional partnerships in the creative arts, including with Rush Hour Concerts and comedian Dave Chappelle.

Live from WFMT airs weekly at 8:00 pm and is hosted by Kerry Frumkin.


Stravinsky: Concertino

Bernard Rands: String Quartet No.2

Beethoven: String Quartet No.15 in A minor, Op.132

Philip Glass: String Quartet No.2, Company

Lyric’s Anna Bolena

Sandra Radvanovsky will star as Anne Boleyn

Sandra Radvanovsky will star as Anne Boleyn

Anna Bolena LIVE, Saturday at 7:15 pm

“Divorced, Beheaded, Died,
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived”

It was the fate of six women, one after another, to produce heirs for Henry VIII. On the chopping block were not only women’s heads, but a royal dynasty, the sanctity of the Church, and the unity of a people. With such enormous forces at work, history often overlooks the intimate spaces from which they explode, but for this tale by Gaetano Donizetti. His 1830 opera Anna Bolena portrays Henry’s travails from the perspective of one wife who loves another.

The historical Henry VIII had fought long and hard to be with Anne, his Queen’s lady-in-waiting. He begged his wife, Catherine of Aragon, for his freedom; he petitioned the pope for an annulment. When neither would budge, Henry married her anyway.

Donizetti picks up the story as Henry begins to stray – except this time, divorce isn’t enough. Anna Bolena is an opera about betrayal, anguish, and courage; a private story based on one of history’s most public break-ups.

According to bass John Relyea, singing the role of the villain is anything but dull:



Last summer, John Relyea sang the role of Figaro in James Conlon’s “The Marriage of Figaro” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival. Mr. Relyea is back in Chicago to sing the part of a less sympathetic creature: Henry VIII.

With an international opera career and an exotic name like, Sondra Radvanovsky, it might surprise people to learn that the star of Lyric’s Anna Bolena is a Chicago native; she’s from Berwyn, to be exact. Ms. Radvanovsky has made more than 160 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, and will be adding all “three queens” to her credits there – that is the three Tudor queens staged in opera by Donizetti.

Given that Anne Boleyn was a living, breathing person, Ms. Radvanovsky says she felt compelled to find out as much as she could about the historical figure:


Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Anna Bolena runs through January 16. WFMT’s live broadcast of Lyric’s opening night performance begins on Saturday, December 6 at 7:15 pm.
More on Lyric’s Anna Bolena.

Opera Singer Selfies, the Met’s Barber

Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee and Christopher Maltman (Rosina, Count Almaviva, and Figaro)

Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee and Christopher Maltman (Rosina, Count Almaviva, and Figaro)

Metropolitan Opera broadcast, Saturday at 11:00 am

Last season, Lyric Opera of Chicago fans cheered Isabel Leonard as the sassy Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. The American mezzo brings it back this weekend (see dress rehearsal video) in the Metropolitan Opera’s Barber of Seville. The Saturday broadcast kicks off a new season of weekly performances from the Metropolitan Opera. The role of the crafty barber, Figaro, will be sung by Christopher Maltman, the suave British baritone who sang Don Giovanni at Ravinia last summer with James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. American tenor Lawrence Brownlee sings Count Almaviva.

The Met’s Barber will be led by Michele Mariotti who made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut last season in their production of Barber of Seville. Maestro Mariotti is the son of Rossini scholar Gianfranco Mariotti, and grew up around the opera house where Rossini himself worked. more


A tweet from tenor Lawrence Brownlee (center) with Paata Burchuladze (left)


Tenor Lawrence Brownlee tweets about playing Count Almaviva, who disguises himself as a drunken soldier to get close to Rosina

The role of Rosina’s lecherous guardian Don Basilio is being sung by Paata Burchuladze.

Italian bass Maurizio Muraro (Bartolo) has sung Beaumarchais’ doctor in both Mozart’s and Rossini’s operatic renditions of the plays at the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Muraro has sung Dr. Bartolo in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro more than 30 times at the Met.

This week’s opera broadcast begins an hour earlier than usual at 11:00 am.


Tenor Lawrence Brownlee tweets his homage to Sir Gabriel, a donkey who pulls Figaro’s cart in the Met production


Live Lunchtime Recital


Friday at 12:00 pm

She studied with Seymour Lipkin and Richard Goode, and was hired by James Conlon to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It’s clear from the company she keeps, Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute has the goods. Last month, she played at the Ravinia Festival with musicians from the Marlboro Festival, and is returning to Chicago this week for a recital at the PianoForte Foundation, the monthly Salon Series concerts.

Praised for her “commanding technique, refined temperament and persuasive insight” by The New York Times, Ms. Jokubaviciute will be focusing that musicianship upon a program ranging from J.S. Bach to Brahms to Janacek to contemporary composer Tristan Murail.

The Salon Series concerts are free and open to the public. WFMT’s live broadcast of the lunchtime concert begins at 12:00 noon on Friday.


J.S. Bach: Chorale preludes transcribed for piano by F. Busoni
Ich rufe zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639

Leos Janacek: Piano sonata 1.X.1905
Predtucha – Foreboding
Smrt – Death

Tristan Murail:  “Cloches d’adieu, et un sourire”

J. Brahms: from Fantasien, Op 116
Capriccio in D minor
Intermezzo in A minor
Capriccio in G minor
Intermezzo in E major

Leos Janacek: from “On an overgrown path” Book I:
Nelze domluvit! – Words Fail!
V placi – in Tears
Sycek neodletel! – The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away!

Acclaimed A Cappella Ensemble LIVE on WFMT


Wednesday at 1:00 pm

WFMT welcomes men’s a cappella group Cantus for a live studio concert. The nine voice ensemble hails from the twin cities, but brings to WFMT a program of music ranging from South Africa to Japan to America to Germany.

In October, Cantus released a CD called A Harvest Home and embarked on a tour featuring songs about harvest time and giving thanks. They’re presently giving Christmas programs, and one entitled “All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” which features songs surrounding the incredible Christmas eve ceasefire that happened spontaneously between German and allied troops, chronicled in the 2005 film Joyuex Noel.


WFMT engineer Joshua Sauvageau adjusts a microphone

Dave Schwan will host Wednesday’s Impromptu with Cantus, which will include inventive arrangements of “Simple Gifts,” “Waltzing Matilda,” and the Irish tune “Dúlamán.” This will be Cantus’s only Chicago area performance this season.

Cantus warms up at WFMT

Teatro Regio at the Harris and on WFMT

Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy

Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy

Wednesday at 6:50 pm

Producing opera is a 400 year old occupation for Italians. They’ve exported the scores of Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini to theaters worldwide, not to mention performers like Pavarotti and Toscanini. They’ve erected sumptuous opera houses; and in spite of their tendency to burn down (Teatro Regio burned in 1936), Italians maintain traditions in an unbroken line directly back to the composers. In such vital and energizing environs, it seems they have been slow to leave. According to Teatro Regio Torino, inaugurated in 1740, Wednesday’s concert in Chicago’s Harris Theater marks the company’s first appearance in North America.

The Teatro Regio Torino production of “Guglielmo Tell” by Gioachino Rossini; directed by Graham Vick; costumes by Paul Brown; photo by Ramella & Giannese

Teatro Regio presents a concert performance of the final opera of Gioachino Rossini: Guillaume Tell, a french language opera composed by Rossini in Paris in 1828. The opera tells the story of a Swiss rebel who leads his people against their Austrian oppressors. Although Guillaume Tell depicts a fourteenth century folk hero, the subject of popular uprising tripped the censors in both France and in Italy, causing cuts and delays in productions of the opera. It was a year before the French premiere took place. An Italian translation of Guillaume Tell followed in 1831.

“I think Rossini, with great sensitivity, felt the changes that were taking place around him. So he decided to leave the scene but does so with the mastery of a “coup de théâtre”, showing to the world, through William Tell, that if he wanted, he could have made it a landmark in the eighteenth century melodrama.”

—Gianandrea Noseda

Angela Meade

American soprano Angela Meade sings the role of Matilde


Luca Salsi singing Macbeth with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2013, c. Todd Rosenberg

The Teatro Regio Torino presents the Italian version of Rossini’s final opera, Guglielmo Tell. Baritone Luca Salsi, who sang the role of Macbeth in Riccardo Muti’s performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, sings the title role of Guglielmo Tell. Washington state native Angela Meade sings the role of the Habsburg princess Matilde; and Iowa native, tenor John Osborn sings Arnoldo. Gianandrea Noseda, the outgoing music director of Teatro Regio Torino conducts these performances, which will include stops in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Toronto, and at Carnegie Hall.

WFMT will go to the Harris Theater on Wednesday, December 3 at 6:50 pm to present a live broadcast of the concert performance of Guglielmo Tell. The 3-hour broadcast will be followed by Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin at 11:00 pm.

Chanticleer LIVE on Tuesday


Tuesday at 2:00 pm

They’ve become as much of a holiday tradition at WFMT as they have at “Fourth Pres.” Tuesday afternoon, WFMT presents an Impromptu with the male a cappella ensemble Chanticleer.

When the San Francisco-based group files into the Fay and Daniel Levin Performance Studio, there are always lots of friendly hugs and introductions, but they’re quick to get down to business. One of the singers with perfect pitch gives them pitch and they start singing. During the sound check, assistant artistic director Kory Reid will duck in and out of the performance studio, listening from a few feet away or standing behind engineer Eric Arunas in the control room. He makes suggestions to the performers, corrects a diction or pitch issue, but the rest is up to the twelve singers. Through eye contact, nodding, or raising the shoulders as they breathe, these virtuoso vocalists gel into one of the most celebrated ensembles in the business.

Kerry Frumkin hosts Tuesday’s Impromptu of music and conversation starting at 2:00 pm. More on Chanticleer at WFMT.




Ryan Opera Center’s Holiday Program

J'nai Bridges

J'nai Bridges

Monday at 6:00 pm

(repeated Sunday at 11:00 pm)


The Ryan Opera Center Ensemble

Members of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center take WFMT listeners on an unusual journey through seasonal music on Monday evening. The recital offers holiday fare by the ever-popular John Rutter, but includes pieces you’re not likely to hear in shopping malls or telecasts or community concerts.

Benjamin Britten wrote a cycle of eight songs called Winter Words on a set of poems by Thomas Hardy in 1953. Ryan tenor Jonathan Johnson sings three of the songs.

Lyric Opera Orchestra violist Frank Babbitt joins J’nai Bridges and Craig Terry for an unusual trio of viola, voice, and piano by Brahms. Brahms wrote the two songs for his old violinist friend Joseph Joachim and Joachim’s wife, mezzo-soprano Amalie Schneeweiss. When the couple began to quarrel, Brahms offered the songs, hoping they would perform them together and reconcile; alas, they didn’t. The resulting Wiegenlied, however, is a sweet and tender cradle song for the newborn Christ child.

The program also includes works by Reger, Mozart, and Handel, as well as Gounod’s Ave Maria, composed over Bach’s C Major Prelude (see music below).

Hear the Ryan Opera Center’s Music for the Holidays program, Monday at 6:00 pm on WFMT.


Tracy Cantin and Craig Terry

Rutter: What Sweeter Music

Mozart: Vesperae solennes de confessore, Laudate Dominum
Tracy Cantin, soprano
Craig Terry, piano

Brahms: Two Songs for Alto, Viola, and Piano, Op. 91
Gestillte Sehnsucht (Stilled Longing)
Geistliches Wiegenlied (Sacred Lullaby)
J’nai Bridges
Frank Babbitt, viola
Craig Terry, piano


The first nine bars of Gounod’s “Ave Maria:” the piano part is by J.S. Bach (the C Major Prelude from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier). Gounod wrote the vocal line above Bach’s keyboard piece.

Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria
Jesse Donner, tenor
Craig Terry, piano

Max Reger: Maria Wiegenlied
Laura Wilde, soprano
J’nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano
Craig Terry, piano

Britten: Winter Words
“At Day-Close in November”
“The Choirmaster’s Burial”
“Before Life and After”
Jonathan Johnson, tenor
Craig Terry, piano

Handel: Messiah
“Thus Saeth the Lord”
“But Who May Abide”
Bradley Smoak, bass

Handel: Messiah
“Comfort Ye”
“Every Valley”
John Irvin, tenor
Craig Terry, piano

Handel: Messiah
“Hallelujah” chorus
Ryan Opera Center ensemble
Laurann Gilley, piano

Double Reeds Live at Cultural Center

Hand-made bassoon reeds

Monday at 12:15 pm

Two members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s woodwind section step to the front of the stage for a free concert at the Chicago Cultural Center on Monday. Bassoonist Dennis Michel and oboist Michael Henoch play works by Casimir Théophile Lalliet and David Diamond with pianist Kay Kim, part of Chicago Chamber Musicians Ensemble‘s First Mondays series. The monthly lunchtime concerts are free to the public.


Oboist Michael Henoch


Bassoonist Dennis Michel

Michael Henoch was a student of the legendary CSO principal oboe Ray Still, and joined the orchestra in 1972, playing second oboe to his teacher. Dennis Michel joined the CSO in 1998 and heads the woodwinds department at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

WFMT’s live broadcast of the Chicago Chamber Musicians’ First Monday concerts begins at 12:15 pm.