On the Air This Week

Highlights from December 30, 2014, to January 6, 2015

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Katie McCurry.

Thursday, : 10 am: New Year’s Day from Vienna 2015.

Thursday, 3 pm: Regional Spotlight.

Saturday, noon: The Metropolitan Opera: Hansel and Gretel, by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: The Organist’s Yearbook.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in music by Beethoven and Mozart.

Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Sibelius, Beethoven, and Frank Martin’s violin concerto with soloist Baiba Skride.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.

Eine kleine Katze Musik

This Mozart doll, owned by Fred Child, might get cats’ attention (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

In this YouTube video, three Sphynx cats appear to bob their heads in time to Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”

The visual stimulus ultimately proves too irresistible for one of the cats, bringing the video to an abrupt finish.

Some harmless Internet fun for your afternoon:

Click on Classical: Best TV music of 2014, Mozart in the Jungle, and an Oscar-season controversy

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Every Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about stories we’re featuring on our website. Here are the stories we’ll be discussing today.

Last week Garrett Tiedemann listed the ten best film scores of 2014, and this week he lists his ten favorite TV scores of the year. Composing music for TV series, Garrett notes, demonstrates “what composers can do when given 13 hours — instead of two — to work with.”

Speaking of movie music, the Oscar nominations will be announced soon — but we already know that the nominations for best original score won’t include percussionist Antonio Sanchez’s acclaimed music for Birdman. Why? Because, the Academy has declared, Birdman simply contains too much classical music.

If you have time off over the holidays, here’s a show you can binge-watch: the first full season of Mozart in the Jungle is now streaming on Amazon.

Vanska and Keefe announce engagement

Erin Keefe and Osmo Vänskä (photos by Lisa Marie Mazzucco and Eric Moore)

Heartwarming news for the holidays from two members of the Minnesota Orchestra: According to their personal Facebook accounts, Music Director Osmo Vänskä and Concertmaster Erin Keefe are engaged to be married.

We look forward to hearing more beautiful music from the Minnesota Orchestra in the coming year. Our next Minnesota Orchestra broadcast is Friday, Jan. 16, at 8 p.m., when Vänskä conducts a Future Classics concert.

On the Air This Week

Programming highlights from December 23 to 30

Tuesday, 10 am: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Handel’s Messiah.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.

Tuesday, 7 pm: Rose Ensemble: And Glory Shone Around.

Wednesday, 9 am: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from Cambridge, England.

Wednesday, 11 am: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

Wednesday, 5 pm: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (repeat).

Wednesday, 7 pm: Carol with Classical MPR.

Saturday, 12 noon: The Metropolitan Opera: Verdi’s La Traviata.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Holiday Highlights.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in music of Beethoven and John Adams.

Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.

'Mozart in the Jungle' full season now streaming on Amazon

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Here’s your holiday TV binge, classical music fans: today, Amazon released the full first season of Mozart in the Jungle, their new original series based on the controversial 2005 memoir of oboist Blair Tindall.

The series stars Lola Kirke as a character based on Tindall: a talented young musician who lands a spot in a major orchestra in the midst of a leadership transition from a revered veteran conductor (Malcolm McDowell) to a hot young firebrand (Gael Garcia Bernal). A pilot episode was successful enough that Amazon commissioned an entire first season, which is now available for Amazon Prime members to watch online. (The pilot is still free to all.)

The new season will surely reignite debates over just how veridical the show’s picture of the classical music world is. Tindall portrayed the world of high-powered classical musicians in the 80s and 90s as being rife with sex, drugs, and back-stabbing; all of the above make appearances in the series, which is set in present-day New York City. Pianist Andrew Staupe, writing for Classical MPR, called the show entertaining but “laughably absurd”; some readers responded that Staupe just wasn’t going to the right parties.

Click on Classical: Blissfully melancholy Christmas, best film scores of 2014, and music for silents

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Every Monday morning at 9:15, I join John Birge on Classical MPR to talk about stories we’re featuring on our website. Here are the stories we’ll be discussing today.

‚ÄčNot all holiday music is joyful — and cellist Edward Kelsey Moore is just fine with that, he writes in an essay titled “I’ll have a blue Christmas, thank you very much.”

What were the best film scores of 2014? Garrett Tiedemann lists his top ten, including a superhero movie, a period drama, and at least one you may not even have heard of.

Of course, in the silent era, film scores were performed live — and sometimes, they still are. Garrett highlights five local groups who are rediscovering the lost art of playing live music to accompany silent movies.

Click on Classical this Weekend: Blue Christmas, Abbie Betinis and Robert Ball

Abbie Betinis with The Fairlanes a cappella group. (MPR photo/Mike Pengra)

It’s been another great week of content on Classical MPR’s website; here are three items you may have missed, but you’ll want to browse as you’re enjoying some quiet time over the weekend:

Sad holiday songs need love, too

Come late December, not everyone is enchanted by Andy Williams singing about how “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” That’s certainly the case for author and cellist Edward Kelsey Moore. In his latest essay for Classical MPR, Moore writes about how his love for the melancholy Yuletide tunes began with a first-grade recital. Moore’s essay is called “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas, Thank You Very Much.” It’s a really good read; I think you’ll enjoy it.

Listen to a brand-new carol

Abbie Betinis continues a tradition begun in 1922 by her great grandfather, Bates Burt. who would write a new carol each year at Christmas. For the past 14 years, Abbie has been kind enough to share and premiere her carol on Classical MPR. Hear what Abbie has written, and hear her perform it with vocal ensemble The Fairlines, right here.

An even deeper appreciation for music

Each Tuesday on Music with Minnesotans, I invite a guest into the studio to talk about his or her life along with his or her favorite music. This past Tuesday, my guest was Robert Ball, an EMS at Hennepin County. Bob embraces all that classical music has to offer — and he even shares how a piece by Mozart helps him when he is saving lives.

Have a great weekend!

New York Polyphony's 'Sing Thee Nowell' nominated for Grammy Award

New York Polyphony performing in Minneapolis in December 2011 (MPR photo/Tom Campbell)

New York Polyphony have announced that their album, Sing Thee Nowell, has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance category. It’s the second Grammy nomination for the ensemble, who last received the honor for their 2013 album, Times Go By Turns.

Back in December 2011, New York Polyphony made their Twin Cities debut with a concert in Minneapolis. Perhaps it’s fitting NYP earned a Grammy nomination for a Christmas album; the group first came together because of Christmas music and its first album was a collection of Yuletide songs. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about the group in 2011, after interviewing one of the ensemble’s founding members, Geoff Williams:

… it was, after all, Christmas music that launched the ensemble. The four men had first met while singing in church choirs in Manhattan. “We knew immediately how much we enjoyed singing together and we talked over beers every now and again how we should try to form something, but nothing really came of it,” Williams recalls.

That changed in 2006, when Malcolm Bruno, a producer friend of Williams, asked Williams if he might be able to put together an ensemble for a Christmas program. Williams and his friends recorded some tracks for Bruno and quicklv realized their sound merited further exploration. Those original tracks became the critically acclaimed album, I Sing the Birth, released on Avie Records. “We had a record deal and an album before we’d actually sung for anyone live,” Williams says.

Sing Thee Nowell includes arrangements by longtime NYP collaborator Andrew Smith and was recently featured in Classical MPR Assistant Music Director Jennifer Allen’s holiday-album roundup.

New York Polyphony shared this video on the making of Sing Thee Nowell:

On the Air This Week

Highlights from December 16 to 23

Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Amy Giddings, K-6 Music Specialist from Duluth, Minn.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Robert Ball.

Tuesday, 7 pm: Concordia Christmas.

Tuesday, 8:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Amy Giddings, K-6 Music Specialist from Duluth, Minn.

Wednesday, 7 pm: Light and Gold: Christmas with Eric Whitacre.

Wednesday, 8 pm: Archive on the Radio: An Archive Christmas Sampler.

Thursday, 3 pm: Regional Spotlight: Holiday music from regional choral and instrumental groups.

Thursday, 7 pm: St. Olaf Christmas Festival.

Friday, 4 pm: Carol with Classical MPR and The Singers.

Friday, 7 pm: Chanticleer Christmas.

Saturday, 11 am: The Metropolitan Opera: Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

Saturday, 7 pm: Candles Burning Brightly.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: From Heaven Above.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of London.

Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.

Monday, 7 pm: Wonder Tidings.

Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans.

Tuesday, 7 pm: School Spotlight.