Category Archives: New Classical Tracks

Olive Oil and Opera

Tenor Bryan Hymel (photo by Dario Acosta)
Tenor Bryan Hymel (photo by Dario Acosta)
Tenor Bryan Hymel surprised patrons with live, impromptu singing at his favorite Italian grocery in New Orleans.

Bryan Hymel grew up in New Orleans, La., and like many people from that region, Hymel’s surname is French.

But it turns out Hymel also has Sicilian heritage, as he describes in the video below, produced by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Celebrating his Italian roots, Hymel turned up at Central Grocery, his favorite Italian grocer in New Orleans, where he sang for customers as they shopped and as they enjoyed fresh sandwiches from the deli:

Given his roots, is it possible that Hymel is genetically predisposed to sing French and Italian songs so well? Perhaps; after all, Hymel’s debut recital album, Héroïque, features his performances of a number of heroic tenor roles of French opera. The album is featured on this week’s New Classical Tracks.

New Classical Tracks Extra: Lara Downes

So, what does it really mean to be an exile? That’s a question pianist Lara Downes tries to answer with her latest recording. Exiles’ Café is a collection of 19th and 20th century solo piano works written by composers in exile, composers longing for home, and composers reflecting on their respective journeys. This is what Downes has to say about the recording:


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There’s more to the story, though, as there often is. Lara Downes wants to hear the stories of other exiles — contemporary exiles — and she wants to share those experiences with as many people as possible. The Exiles Project is an interactive micro-site designed to collect and share individual stories of exile.

Visit the site and submit your own experiences or reminiscences of exile, displacement and discovery. Be a part of The Exiles Project — a way to explore the narratives of exile on both universal and personal levels. Submit your story here.

New Classical Tracks: Modern Mandolin Quartet – Americana Bonus Content

Modern Mandolin Quartet - Americana

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, Americana by the Modern Mandolin Quartet.

The Modern Mandolin Quartet welcomes this holiday season the same way they’ve welcomed almost every holiday season since they first started playing together in 1985 — with a special arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite that they’ll include on some of their upcoming concerts. Here’s what two of the group’s founding members, Paul Binkley and Dana Rath, have to say about this music (which was arranged for them by a former member of the MMQ — Mike Marshall):

New Classical Tracks: Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II Bonus Content

Chilly Gonzales - Solo Piano II

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, Solo Piano II by Chilly Gonzales.

Musician Chilly Gonzales, a performer who often appears on stage in a bathrobe and slippers, has taken it upon himself to, as he says, “rehabilitate the white keys.” The white keys, he says, get a bad rap. “They mostly sound like fairy tales when you play them,” Gonzales remarks. “A lot of the very saccharine music you’ll hear in film scores these days… It kind of comes from tinkling away on the white keys.”

In his quest to rehabilitate those white piano keys, Gonzales shifts the range of the piano to something unexpected in a piece titled, appropriately enough, White Keys. Suddenly, according to Gonzales, you’re hearing “very, very low, dark stuff that you could never really imagine would sound like a white key piece.”

And he wants to help the listener appreciate what he’s done. So, he created one of his Piano Visions — a video on his website — so anyone can see just exactly how he’s using the white keys. Take a look:

WHITE KEYS from SOLO PIANO II from Chilly Gonzales on Vimeo.

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:

New Classical Tracks – Exploring the Viola Bonus Content

Kraus: Viola Concertos - David Aaron Carpenter, viola/Tapiola Sinfonietta (Ondine 1193-2) (Courtesy of Ondine)

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, Kraus: Viola Concertos by David Aaron Carpenter.

American violist and violinist David Aaron Carpenter was in the midst of his final exams at Princeton University a few years ago when he got the news that he’d be performing with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. And Carpenter says it wasn’t your average performance. Not only was he filling in for a violin superstar — Maxim Vengerov — he also WASN’T going to be playing a concerto by Beethoven or Brahms or Mozart. Instead, Carpenter had to learn a NEW concerto, the Viola Tango Rock Concerto, written especially for Vengerov by composer Benjamin Yusupov.

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And even after all the training and practice — Carpenter says there was no avoiding an unfortunately altercation during one of the performances:

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That’s David Aaron Carpenter. Take a look at his performance of the Yusupov Concerto below — though no violists were harmed in this particular performance! (The electric violin/viola starts around 1:34 and the dancing starts around 4:03!)

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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