On the Air This Week

Highlights from July 31 to Aug. 7

Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest: Osmo Vänskä leads an all-Beethoven program, including the Violin Concerto with Erin Keefe

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The Artaria Quartet plays Shostakovich

Friday, 8 pm: The Mozart Festival, Part 1

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Going on Record

Sunday, noon: From the Top

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: From this year’s BBC Proms: the Juilliard Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music, led by John Adams

Monday, 7 pm: Roll Credits

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Passing the baton to carry the torch

Here’s Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, putting down his baton to carry the Olympic torch, to the strains of his recording of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

I was fascinated to learn on NPR that the tradition of the Olympic Torch procession comes not from antiquity, but rather was invented by the Nazi Party for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It’s ironic: the same Nazi association makes it taboo to perform Richard Strauss’ 1936 Olympic Hymn, yet the torch procession has become an institution.

Esa-Pekka Salonen carries the Olympic Torch from Philharmonia Orchestra on Vimeo.

Must-Listen: Unraveling Bolero

“Unraveling Bolero” by Anne Adams

Another great story from the folks at RadioLab. This one is about the amazing connection between Ravel’s most well-known work “Bolero,” and a woman, Anne Adams, who quit her job to become an artist — a painter — full time. She worked on a piece that ascribed colors, size and depth to the notes and their duration in “Bolero.”

The painting was called “Unraveling Bolero”; what’s most interesting is that both Adams and Ravel appear to have suffered from the same medical issues that caused them to lose their memories.

An enthralling listen; well worth 20 minutes of your time.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from July 24 to 31

Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest: Music of the Strauss family, and a “concerto to end all concertos,” the Concerto Popolare by Franz Reizenstein

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Paula Gudmundson, flute, and Leah Siltberg, piano

Friday, noon: Live from the BBC Proms in London, Beethoven’s Ninth

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Organ Plus

Sunday, noon: From the Top

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Berlin Philharmonic, in a program including Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony”

Monday, 7 pm: Roll Credits

Roll Credits: 07/23/2012

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John Barry – Out of Africa

John Barry, conductor

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Richard Rodgers – Carousel: June is Bustin’ Out All Over Ballet

Alfred Newman, conductor

20th Century Fox Orchestra

Richard Adler/Jerry Ross – The Pajama Game: Steam Heat

Hal Hastings, conductor

Original Broadway Cast

Dave Grusin – On Golden Pond: Main Theme

Erich Kunzel, conductor

Cincinnati Pops

Irving Berlin – Alexander’s Ragtime Band: Heat Wave

Henry Mancini – Hatari: Baby Elephant Walk

Henry Mancini and His Orchestra

Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown – Singin’ in the Rain: Singin’ in the Rain

Lennie Hayton, conductor

MGM Studio Orchestra

Harold Arlen – The Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow

Herbert Stothart, conductor

MGM Symphony Orchestra

John Williams – Jaws: Theme

John Williams, conductor

Boston Pops Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein – West Side Story: Cool

Johnny Green, conductor

Studio Orchestra

Frank Loesser – Neptune’s Daughter: Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Georgie Stoll, conductor

MGM Studio Orchestra

New Classical Tracks – 1612 Italian Vespers Bonus Content

Not all of the content from an episode of New Classical Tracks makes the audio cut. Here is further information and interviews relating to the new disc, 1612 Italian Vespers.

For their latest recording, 1612 Italian Vespers, the ensemble I Fagiolini (‘Little Beans’) worked with their music director Robert Hollingworth and music historian Hugh Keyte to reconstruct Giovanni Gabrieli’s Magnificat. It’s a unique, mysterious piece of music — a piece of music that totally stretches the expected and accepted musical boundaries established in the 16th century — and Hollingworth talks about the beginning of the reconstruction here:

Making an audio recording outside of a traditional recording studio can be a challenging experience. You can’t control the twittering of birds, the sound of cars zipping by, and, in the case of Robert Hollingworth and I Fagiolini, the police sirens. Over three days in January, the group gathered at St. John’s Church, Upper Norwood, in London to record 1612 Italian Vespers and Hollingworth says those police sirens were out in full force.

Part 1:

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Part 2:

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In the Georgia mountains to judge a harp competition, day 3

(Young harp artists await the judge’s results. I was the non-harp-playing judge, but my input was said to be invaluable!)

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I’m sitting in a rocking chair outside listening to a cacophony of unfamiliar birds and watching the sky turn pink over the mountains. The day flew by as nine more contestants played their programs that included a super cool piece by harpist David Watkins, Firedance which we heard a total of six times and all really superbly played. I imagine the music is just so fun to make, a young musician can’t stop practicing! If you watch the video, check out the stopped scale all in one hand at about 2:40 – amazing!

Today I was a surprised that we were pretty far apart in what we saw as the top players. I continued to look for musicality, a real understanding of the phrases and a commitment to the music while many of my colleagues wanted to hear clean and polished technique. Always a challenge of course.

(“Family style” Southern cooking for the last night. This vegan took food just for show!)

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I’ll be back Monday and playing one of Judy Loman’s discs, probably a piece by her teacher, the famed Carlos Salzedo. See you soon!

In the Georgia mountains to judge a harp competition, day 2

(Beautiful Raburn Gap, Georgia)

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We heard eight young harpists today and the level was amazingly high. My favorite piece was Spiders by British composer Paul Patterson. Exciting and thrillingly played by the first place winner in today’s division.

(The Judge’s Table)

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What was curious to me was how a musician needs to weigh out attaining flawless technique, not having a single memory slip and remaining poised and focused all while taking the risks needed to be an artist. This is not just about playing perfectly – and as a judge the performance that grabs me is one that is clean but is committed with the musician saying somethinf to me through their music.

It was a grueling day and we have more tomorrow. I am becoming a better listener and have a bunch of harp CD’s to share with you on-air when I return!

Sellar Stages Bach

I don’t know how I missed this back in April, but thanks to Fresh Air for their feature on Tuesday reviewing the latest production of Peter Sellars.

A new DVD has been released of The Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle, Mark Padmore, Camilla Tilling and Thomas Quasthoff along with several choirs, performing a semi-staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Sellars is known for staging operas in unusual venues, from Handel’s Orlando in space to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in a luxury New York apartment. He’s collaborated with John Adams and Kaija Saariaho. And who could forget his role as Dr. Ohara in the TV series Miami Vice.