New Classical Tracks – American Flute Quintets Bonus Content

Carol Wincenc - American Flute Quintets (Bridge 9373)

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, American Flute Quintets by Carol Wincenc

Flutist Carol Wincenc has been teaching for more than 40 years and she says she has a lot of fun doing it. She also has a lot of fun exploring different ways of teaching her students about flute technique. And she says you can learn a lot about flute technique simply by learning more about… the violin:

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Below, watch Wincenc literally waltz her point across to one of her students during a recent masterclass:

Flutist Carol Wincenc was great friends with a true legend in the flute world: Jean-Pierre Rampal. She had just begun working with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra when she met Rampal for the first time — an experience she says she will never forget.

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Below, the great Jean-Pierre Rampal, in concert with the great… Miss Piggy:

Postcards from Debussy: Day 4

Inspired by Debussy’s 150th birthday anniversary this week, every morning at 8:30 we’ll play a composition by Debussy inspired by some specific place. Today we find him in at the museum. After hearing Souvenir du Louvre, there’s also L’Isle Joyeuse (“The Joyous Isle”), Debussy’s musical interpretation of a famous painting there: L’Embarquement pour Cythere (“Voyage to Cythera”):


This painting is one of Antoine Watteau’s favorite subjects, known as fêtes galantes (“scenes of gallantry”), in which elegant court ladies and gentlemen pass their time in pleasant dalliance among trees and shrubbery. Cythera was the island where Aphrodite (goddess of erotic love) first stepped after being born from the seafoam.

The State Fair Singers!

It is understood that Minnesota holds a very strong grip on the world of choral music, both nationally and internationally. With our world-renown professional and collegiate choirs, fabulous public school programs, and choirs with a message we have carved our name in choral history. We live in a special place, and it is our depth that is so remarkable.

Here at Classical MPR we have made an official commitment to the choral community in Minnesota. We started by creating an on-line choral stream with hours and hours of non-stop choral music from around the world. We will bring to the Twin Cities the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the King’s College Choir (Cambridge), and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir with a commission by Edie Hill. In the future we will continue to nurture that relationship by creating collaborative programming and content.

This summer at the State Fair Classical MPR thought, given our choral initiative, that it would be appropriate to incorporate several vocal acts, including VocalEssence, the Minnesota Boychoir, and members of the Minnesota Opera. But something was missing…so when I was approached by Brian Newhouse and Daniel Gilliam at MPR to discuss other ensembles to incorporate, I responded immediately with the idea of a young-adult chamber choir. They asked, “Does anything like that exist?” Knowing of nothing I said, “No, but I will create it.”

And so here we are, The State Fair Singers with me, Sam Kjellberg, the aspiring conductor. We will sing a short program of music by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, and a short hymn by the great Thomas Tallis. It’s a simple concept – young-adults between the ages of 22 and 27 singing together, all coming from fabulous collegiate choral programs – Concordia (Moorhead), Luther, Saint Olaf, the University of Minnesota, and Yale. This project has been the seed to something we hope to continue through the next several years, or until we’re too old to be considered “young-adults.” (…but “youth” is a mindset, right?…)

The name seems a little narrow and constraining, and in some ways it is, but even with the name attached, this group has hopes of being a symbolic gesture for the future of choral music and classical music in general. It is my opinion that Classical Music must focus on keeping its youthful vigor and innovation alive and well. I hope that ensembles with this sort of youthful energy, determination, and initiative will continue to be heralded for years to come!

Come at check us out at the State Fair!!!

August 27-29th, 2-3pm

September 3, 2-3pm

All at the Minnesota Public Radio booth on the corner of Judson and Nelson!

Postcards from Debussy: Day 3

Inspired by Debussy’s 150th birthday anniversary this week, every morning at 8:30 we’ll play a composition by Debussy inspired by some specific place. Today it’s his piano piece, “Pagodas.” And what do Pagodas and the Eiffel Tower have in common? This:


The Eiffel Tower was the symbol of the 1889 Paris World Exhibition, where Claude Debussy experienced the revelation of the amazing music of the Javanese Gamelan. It’s a story well-told in detail here, but hear the results in this performance of “Pagodas.”

Phyllis Diller: Composer and Harpsichord(!)

Props to my colleauges Lynne Warfel and Tom Crann for pointing out that before the late comedienne Phyllis Diller ever considered a career in comedy, she wanted to be a classical musician. She played piano as a girl, and after graduating from high school in Lima Ohio, Phyllis Diller went to Chicago to study piano at Sherwood Music Conservatory of Columbia College. She still played in her private life, and owned a custom-made harpsichord, which once appeared on Liberace’s variety show:

She was a pretty good composer, too!

Postcards from Debussy: Day 2

Inspired by Debussy’s 150th birthday anniversary this week, every morning at 8:30 we’ll play a composition by Debussy inspired by some specific place.

Today it’s his piano prelude called “The Hills of Anacapri.”

Capri is an island in the Bay of Naples off the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula. It’s famous for its gorgeous scenery, delightful climate, and luxurious vegetation. There are two small towns on the island, Capri and Anacapri. Some say that Debussy’s title actually came from the label on a bottle of wine. But that won’t keep us from taking a tour.

First, listen to Debussy’s music, then take a guided tour:

Debussy and art

Claude Debussy did not appreciate being referred to as an impressionist composer. In 1908 he effectively said knock it off!

“I am trying to do ‘something different’- in a way realities- what the imbeciles call `impressionism’ is a term which is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics.”

This painting was made when Debussy was eight years old in 1870. If you look at it while listening to his Nocturnes, I think you might hear the music completely differently!


Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot “The Wounded Eurydice” – Minneapolis Institute of Art