"The Most Important Concert of My Entire Life"

More than one listener in our region will be familiar with pianist Karl Paulnack–he spent part of his career here, and has appeared on Saint Paul Sunday.

He now works at Boston Conservatory, and a speech he made there the other day has been getting attention and circulating around the Internet. Read the whole thing here–including his account of “the most important work I have ever done”: a recital in a Fargo nursing home.

"Delirious Vitality": MN Orch Wows 'Em in London

Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra opened their European tour in London’s Barbican Hall this past Tuesday and the reviews were quite good.

Edward Seckerson of The Independent focused on Osmo and the good effect he’s had on the orchestra. He sensed the orchestra “raising its game, pushing its boundaries, and playing to the limit of its possibilities.”

Martin Kettle of The Guardian focused on violin soloist Joshua Bell, but had compliments for Osmo and the orchestra, too.

Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph was excited by the orchestra’s “thrilling sound.”

Write your own review! You can hear that concert for yourself, tonight at 8 on Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

Michael Barone on discovering the Pipe Organ

Pipedreams host Michael Barone shared this with me after a ‘Pipe Organ Discovery Day’ at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Michael says the kids are always enthusiastic, but sometimes the responses of some of the adults are equally gratifying, such as this one from Margaret Gohman:

“You may appreciate this story about my participation as an adult

facilitator during Saturday’s ‘Pipe Organ Encounter.’ What moved me to

tears was a young boy, I would guess him to be about seven years

old, playing on the chapel organ J. S. Bach’s Prelude in C from

The Well Tempered Clavier. He was playing it so nicely, sustaining those

half notes in the beginning of each measure very well. And of course at the

organ those notes continue to sound, giving him a different experience of

the piece, perhaps what Bach had in mind. I was moved to tears thinking

that the music of Bach, and hopefully, all organs and organ music, will go


It was very moving to me to think that a child so young had learned this

piece so well and that he was having the chance to play it on the organ, in

particular at that beautiful instrument. And I was hoping a spark will be

lit in him, as it is in so many of us, to love the organ and its music.

I might add that at one point he stopped, and said something like, ‘Oh, I

don’t know what the notes are here.’ And I reached into my brain and ear

and said, ‘Oh! You’re doing really well; it goes like this.’ And I showed

him the notes in that measure and he was able to play them and go on and

finish the whole piece! So it was that sense for him and for me that this

piece of music isn’t just any old thing, but that you can go places and

another musician, in my case a much older one, will know what you’re doing

and you’ll be able to communicate with each other.”

MN Orch E-tour

The Minnesota Orchestra opens their European tour tonight in London. You can follow them across the continent over the next several days via their “Etour” website here.

Listen for MPR’s broadcast of tonight’s concert this Friday night at 8.

Why Osmo Vanska is like a Football Coach

The Minnesota Orchestra has a series of “away games” this week, as they embark on their European tour.

First stop is London’s Barbican, and a preview article in Thursday’s Guardian newspaper compares music director Osmo Vänskä (favorably!) to the best sort of sports coach.

One irritation: the author, Andrew Mellon, more than once refers to the orchestra as “the Minnesota boys.” Perhaps he’s not aware that modern orchestras now recognize the talents of women musicians, and that the Minnesota Orchestra in particular is about one-third female!

Short but Sweet–Your Help Requested

When we sent out a note to Classical MPR staff asking for short pieces that still had a lot to offer, we got some interesting responses, from Bach to Peter Maxwell Davies –you can read about them here.

You can get into the act too. Is there a short piece (say 10 min. or less) that’s a favorite of yours? Tell us what it is, in all its brevity–and tell us why it’s special–and we’ll put your responses in the hopper for this week’s “short” edition of Friday Favorites.