James Galway's ten best album covers

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One of the pleasures of the new collection of James Galway’s RCA releases is that each of the 71 CDs (and two DVDs) is packaged in an individual sleeve featuring the original album art. I’ve taken the liberty of selecting my ten favorite covers from among the many gems.


10. The Wayward Wind (1982)

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While most of Galway’s covers show the soloist in formal duds for the concert hall, for this collection of pop tunes (which has a special place in my heart) we get the casual Galway, outfitted in flannel, jeans, and (as seen on the back cover) cowboy boots. “Relax,” he seems to say. “It’s Saturday morning. Pour a cup of Folgers, have a seat in the Adirondack chair, and let me treat you to a little number I like to call ‘Smoky Pines.'”


9. James Galway Plays Nielsen (1987)

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Ready for the height of the yuppie era, Galway rocks a natty suit and poses next to a minimalist vase of tulips. (On the back cover, he turns and seems to serenade the flowers.) If Patrick Bateman owned a James Galway album, this would be the one.


8. Un-Break My Heart (1999)

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Silver fox in full effect.


7. Mozart: The Two Flute Concertos (1982)

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In this backlit portrait, Galway’s legendary golden flute seems to be emerging directly from his trachea.


6. Song of the Seashore and Other Melodies of Japan (1980)

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The Great Wave Off Kanagawa can’t swamp Sir James. Psych!


5. John Corigliano: Pied Piper Fantasy (1987)

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Galway got into character for the cover of this world premiere recording. Despite the family-friendly theme, this may be the most avant-garde composition in Galway’s solo recording career, a percussive and dramatic fantasy on the ancient legend.


4. Nocturne (1983)

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It’s night time — but we don’t need to sleep, Galway seems to suggest as he leans against a balcony railing in front of a red-lit room, sporting a pristine white tux with his flute uncased and at the ready.


3. Wind of Change (1994)

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Though his coiffure stays firmly in place, Galway’s jacket flaps out behind him as he plays his flute, thus doubling down on the literal depiction of this metaphorical album title.


2. Annie’s Song (1979)

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The album that definitively established Galway as a crossover artist gets a psychedelic collage treatment, with flutes forming the stalks of flowers. Imagine what that blazer would run at your local vintage shop.


1. Sometimes When We Touch (1980)

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“It was the music of Chuck Mangione that started this record turning,” explains Ralph Mace in a liner note. Feels so good!

On the Air This Week

Highlights from December 2 to 9

Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Tim Buzza, Music Specialist at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: George Kellerman and Jenna Seal.

Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Tim Buzza, Music Specialist at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis.

Thursday, 7 pm: Advent Voices with Lynne Warfel.

Saturday, 11 am: The Metropolitan Opera: The Barber of Seville.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Sunshine in San Diego.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Berlin Philharmonic with conductor Simon Rattle, from the 2014 Berlin Music Festival.

Sunday, 3 pm: The St. Olaf Christmas Festival.

Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Clarinetist Martin Frost plays Mozart.

Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Dr. Dan Yoon.

Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight.

Michael Barone charmed 'em in Los Angeles

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For all who couldn’t be there, Pipedreams host Michael Barone charmed the heck out of about 2,500 people at a standing-room-only Walt Disney Concert Hall on the night of Sunday, Nov. 23.

Michael BaroneThe organ celebrated its 10th anniversary that evening, and Michael, who’d been part of a consulting group for its original design, was master of ceremonies. He was masterful: funny, encylcopedically (yes, I just made that up), knowledgeable, passionate, and kept spinning the wheel of organists who came out to do increasingly dazzling things with the Disney keyboard.

For star power, Cameron Carpenter capped the evening, but St. Paul’s Aaron David Miller stole the show with a jaw-dropping improv on the Superman theme, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” an original tune just submitted to him, and a few others.

At the party in Los Angeles, it seemed it was the stars from St. Paul — Michael Barone and Aaron David Miller — who shone brightest!

You can read more about the event in this recap by the Los Angeles Times‘ Mark Swed.

This Arrangement of Silent Night Can't Be Missed

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I got this video sent to me by my choral partner in crime (B-House). We were fortunate enough to have Pentatonix in our studio earlier this year and hope to collaborate with them again in the near future. We wish everybody a fantastic holiday season and hope this video gets you in the holiday spirit like it did for us!

After checking out this video, please listen to our 24/7 choral stream for more amazing music.

The complete Chico Marx piano collection

The Marx Brothers, photographed in 1931; top to bottom: Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo. (Ralph F. Stitt / U.S. Library of Congress)

There was a time when piano playing was fun. I stumbled across this online the other day and it was the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in a long time. I wonder if Lang Lang and Murray Perahia have mastered the pistol trick?

Click on Classical: A new choral festival, a new ensemble, and new people (a.k.a. babies)

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

Last week brought some big news for Minnesota’s many fans of choral music: there will be a new choral music festival next year, with events across the state from April 10 to May 10. On April 11 and 25, there will also be a Fringe-like series of mini-shows in the Twin Cities. Sheila Regan has the scoop on the Northern Voice Festival.

Garrett Tiedemann profiled a new experimental classical ensemble based in Los Angeles. Wild Up are a 24-member ensemble committed not just to tackling new work, but playing it in new ways for new audiences. Read more about wild Up, and see them in action.

What classical music would you play for your baby? Barber’s Adagio for Strings? Probably not an obvious choice, with its somber tone and cinematic connection to the Vietnam War — but David Hollins says his toddler loves it. That’s just one of the reasons, he says‚Äč, that when it comes to introducing kids to classical music, there are no rules to follow: just let them have fun with it.