All posts by Rex Levang

On the Air this Week

Highlights for March 17 to 24

Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight: Litchfield Dragonaires.
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Actor George M. Calger
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight: Litchfield Dragonaires.
Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Opera: Manon
Thursday, 3 pm: Regional Spotlight: Kremerata Baltica
Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra, Carousel
Saturday, 9 am: Bach’s Birthday Bash – live broadcast
Saturday, noon: The Metropolitan Opera: Manon
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Spring’s Bach.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Orchestra of the Swan – Kenneth Woods, conductor
Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.
Monday, 7:30 p.m. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, live from the Cathedral of St. Paul
Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature
Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans
Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature

Marin Alsop keeps her parents’ instruments playing

Conductor Marin Alsop
Conductor Marin Alsop (Adriane White)
About a year ago, conductor Marin Alsop experienced what she herself called a “nightmare double whammy” — the death of her mother, and then her father, within less than two weeks.

Both of her parents were string players, who owned fine old instruments.

As reported in the New York Times, Alsop has now found a way for those instruments to play on. She’s loaned them to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which she conducts. Alsop says that when she hears her parents’ violin and cello, “the sound is like their voice, in a way.” Read the full story here.


Have you seen the story about all that data stored in the cloud?

I’m referring, of course, to the piece by the New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross, in which he contrasts his shelves full of CDs with the vast amount of classical music available for listening online. “Yet,” he says, “I’m wedded to the wall of plastic.”

Full story here.

Orchestra Rehearsal with Conductor Ferenc Fricsay

August 9 is the 100th birthday of the conductor Ferenc Fricsay (1914-63). Along with many recordings, he left behind a fascinating documentary for German TV, showing how conductor and orchestra work together in rehearsal.

For about 40 minutes, we see Fricsay rehearsing — a long time, but you can dip into it at any point. The music is familiar — Smetana’s “Moldau” (or “Vltava”), but Fricsay is totally engaged, despite his poor health: always bringing out some interesting detail, or encouraging or correcting the players, or indulging in some poetic metaphor (“The panther is ready to leap!”).

At the end of the documentary, at about 44:00, you’ll see the finished performance.

Met Labor Dispute: Writers Weigh In

The labor situation at the Metropolitan Opera continues to be tense and uncertain. Last week, it seemed as though a lock-out might be coming any day. That did not come to pass–so far at least–but the disputes between management and unions about budgets, salaries, and decision-making are anything but settled.

Here’s one take on things, from Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times. (And among the reader comments, there’s one from a Saint Paul writer, who identifies himself as Garrison Keillor.)

Met Opera Cancels "Klinghoffer" Broadcasts

Today the Metropolitan Opera announced its plans to cancel its broadcasts of John Adams’s opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

The opera is based on an actual event–the killing of Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew, by Palestinian terrorists. According to a statement from the Met, the cancellation comes amid concern that the broadcasts could be used to fan anti-Semitism.

The Met had planned an HD broadcast to movie theaters, and a Saturday radio broadcast. Though the broadcasts will not take place, live performances in the fall of this year will go forward.

Criticizing the Critics

Mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught (photo courtesy IMG Artists)

Here’s the story that’s been tearing up the Internet in the last day or so — at least in the classical music department. It even shows up on the News Cut blog from MPR’s Bob Collins.

The Irish singer Tara Erraught recently appeared in the title role of the opera Der Rosenkavalier. As Bob notes, “five different male writers used stocky, chubby, puppy-fat, scullery maid, unsightly, and unappealing to describe her ‘performance.'”

Did the critics cross a line? Were their editors asleep at the switch? Would a male singer have been treated differently?

As this summary in The Telegraph suggests, opera singers, music writers, and the opera-loving public have not been slow to join the debate.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

San Diego Opera Rides Again

If you follow the classical headlines, you might remember that earlier this year, the San Diego Opera announced that it was shutting its doors, in the face of some sobering financial figures.

Good news today: the board of the organization has rescinded that decision. More details here.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Feb. 25 to Mar. 4

Tuesday, 7:15 am: Teacher Feature: Rikka Dick, elementary school music teacher at Pine Island Public School.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Work coach Jim Early.

Tuesday, 7:15 pm: Teacher Feature: Rikka Dick, elementary school music teacher at Pine Island Public School.

Tuesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Opera: Doubt, by Douglas Cuomo.

Wednesday, 7 pm: Carnegie Hall Live: The Vienna Philharmonic.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Mendelssohn, from the Alexandria Festival of the Lakes.

Thursday, 8 pm: The American Spiritual Ensemble, recorded live in St. Paul.

Friday, 8 pm: Carnegie Hall Live: The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Saturday, 11 am: Metropolitan Opera: Borodin’s Prince Igor.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Wonder Woman Wilma.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Jukka-Pekka Saraste leads the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Monday, noon: Learning to Listen.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Haydn: The Seasons.

Tuesday, 7:15 am: School Spotlight.

Tuesday, 5 pm: Music with Minnesotans: Educator and graphic artist Tim Sheie.

Tuesday, 7:15 pm: School Spotlight.