Barney Sherman

Classical Music Host

Barney Sherman joined Iowa Public Radio member station KSUI in fall 2001 as Classical music host. In his role with Iowa Public Radio, Barney hosts weekday and Sunday afternoon Classical programs. He has written about music in books for Oxford and Cambridge University Presses and in articles for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Early Music, and many other publications. Another topic he has written about is Iowa, for The Atlantic (and for Iowa Public Radio!).

Ways to Connect

Chris Wahlberg, courtesy San Francisco Symphony

When the San Francisco Symphony appointed the American conductor, composer, and pianist Michael Tilson Thomas as its music director, the chemistry was perfect from the start. The orchestra and "MTT" inspired each other creatively, and conveyed the artistic excitement to listeners. That was in 1995, and since then the orchestra has gained even more international renown than it already had, winning the most prestigious international prizes, including the Gramophone Award, France's Grand Prix du Disque, Japan's Record Academy, and no fewer than 11 Grammy Awards.

Tim Schoon, University of Iowa

Our classical request show debuted in March, and it was so much fun that we plan to bring it back monthly. The next edition will air live on Friday, April 28th, from 2 PM-4 PM. What pieces would you like to share with other Iowa listeners?  Send your requests to classical-request@iowapublicradio.org  by Thursday, April 27th. Please ask for not one but two pieces, in case one of your choices has been broadcast recently. Thanks! 

Barney Sherman

A number of you have asked about the Spring Silent Drive spot featuring some of IPR's youngest supporters:

EUYO YEC 2015 (c) Peter Adamik.jpg at wikimedia.com

Join Barney from 2-4pm today (Friday) for the inaugural spin of IPR Classical's monthly request show. Your requests filled up the two-hour playlist quickly, with welcome favorites and neglected delights. Tune in to hear what you and other listeners chose!

Peter Adamik By Euyo editor - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46860288

Is there a classical piece you'd love to share on Iowa's airwaves? Now you can. IPR's monthly classical request feature will debut on Barney's show on Friday, March 31st, from 2-4 PM, and it's easy to participate. Here's how:

 1.) Send your request by email to classical-request@iowapublicradio.org by midnight, Thursday, March 30th.

Monika Rittershaus / per OTRS - Pressestelle der Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker

At 4 PM Sunday or 7 PM Monday, tune in for a Carnegie Hall concert of Beethoven's 4th and 6th ("Pastoral") Symphonies by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle. After 16 years as principal conductor in Berlin, Rattle is heading home next year to the UK for a new post with the London Symphony Orchestra. But first he and the Berlin wanted to do the Beethoven cycle, and here's a chance to hear part of it in concert!

Lou Brutus at Wikipedia

Just how much is classical music about classics? According to the 2016 Mega-Meta-List, about 80%. Yes, I'm joking when I answer a complex, subjective question with a number (trust me, it was funny in Douglas Adams), but quantifying the unmeasurable is sort of what the meta-list project does.

Since 2014, I've collected every best-classical-releases-of-the-year lists I could find online, entered their choices into a spreadsheet, hit "sort," and published the results as a "mega-meta-list" (with a tip of the hat to econoblogger Tyler Cowen, whose "Fanfare Meta-List" gave me the idea in the first place). This year, I found more sources than ever, a total of 70, since Google Translate let me use lists from 10 languages other than English.

Michael Daugherty at http://michaeldaugherty.net

Hearty congratulations to Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty on winning not one but three Grammy Awards, for an album that includes a work written for Iowa and first broadcast on IPR. The album, Tales of Hemingway (Naxos 8.559798), won "Best Classical Compendium" for Daugherty and for the performers, the Nashville Symphony led by Giancarlo Guerrero.

In 2007, I read that the "dispute about classical recording is whether it is dying or dead," but in 2016 it seemed as frisky as kids swarming a playground. So many albums came out that trying to winnow them to a "best-of-the-year" list could make you empathize with an Ivy League admissions officer. Yet the challenge didn't daunt hundreds of critics worldwide, and their choices were fascinating. In recent years I've been aggregating all the lists I could find into a "meta-list," and I wasn't ready to stop just yet, so ... welcome to IPR's 2016 Classical Mega-Meta-List!

In 2016, Berlin and Paris released new Beethoven sets, but if you want classical music that hasn’t been recorded 100 times, you really ought to give Iowa a try. So when Charity Nebbe invited me to share favorite releases of 2016, I focused entirely on our state. As I mentioned to her, Iowa orchestras play awesome Beethoven (you can hear them on IPR's Symphonies of Iowa ), but in studio albums, Iowa musicians tend to explore less-traveled byways.

Courtesy of Oleg Timofeyev

After listening through new Iowa classical music releases from 2016, Iowa Public Radio host Barney Sherman says that Iowa tends to excel in classical genres and ensemble types that are a off the beaten path and under performed  in major metropolitan areas.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Sherman about his favorite new Iowa classical music for 2016. During this hour, we also hear about some of best new folk music for 2016, curated by Karen Impola, host of Iowa Public Radio's The Folk Tree and University Concert.

Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Hancher

At its 1892 premiere, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker went over like a stocking full of coal. St. Petersburg critics called it a "failed experiment" and "an insult." Only in Cold War America did it become the Christmas ballet, and while that process began in San Francisco, what made it a national tradition was a refugee who had danced the Nutcracker as a teenager in Russia, George Balanchine.

CREDIT BY LOLWHYNOT3498 - OWN WORK, CC BY-SA 4.0, / Wikimedia

We're not sure what to call them - "long-forms"? "essays"? - but some IPR posts take extra time to explore the landscape of classical music and what it tells us about our world. IPR's new Classical Barn page lets you find these posts quickly and easily. Click on the link to explore for yourself!

As promised, here's a follow-up to Part 1 and Part 2 of Halloween classical treats, based on your suggestions:

Photo by Henryk Kotowski / Wikimedia

Iowa Public Radio’s staff has no idea whether Bob Dylan will show up to collect his Nobel Prize in Literature. (We realize he's been to Stockholm before - the photo is from a gig there in 1996 - and that he's accepted major awards, like this one in 2012, but this time?

Frans Jansen

Wednesday at 7PM is your chance to hear a concert featuring a great new South African soprano and a young woman who is the talk of the conducting profession. Lithuanian conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla just took the reins of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; at 29, she is its first woman Music Director (a post previously held by Sir Simon Rattle and Andris Nelsons). Mirga.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

The long-running public radio program A Prairie Home Companion will sound much different beginning this Saturday, as new host Chris Thile takes the reins on a permanent basis.

Des Moines Metro Opera

"An ideal introduction to the art form.... the most cogent [Manon] in memory" - that's what Opera News said about Des Moines Metro Opera's "meticulously crafted" Massenet. Hear it Saturday at 8PM or Sunday at 3PM on IPR's "Operas in October" series, hosted and produced by Jacqueline Halbloom.

The Iowa floods of 2008 destroyed thousands of structures, including the University of Iowa's Voxman Music Building. The University decided to construct a new one, and - after eight years of work - it opened just this week. The new Voxman is better than its predecessor in every way. Its acoustics and aesthetics are both state-of-the art, its interior design makes collaboration easy, and its location couldn't be more convenient (it's at the corner of Clinton and Burlington in downtown Iowa City).

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association

 When an international jury picked the world's 10 best orchestras, three American groups made the cut - and now you can hear one of them, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, every Wednesday at 7 on IPR Classical. The orchestra took a gamble in 2009 when it hired the youngest music director in its history - Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, then just 28 - and that bet more than paid off. Together Dudamel and the orchestra have won major music awards and enjoyed a chemistry so "right" that the contract was extended to 2022.  

John Frantzen

Tune in at 5PM to hear the Quad City Symphony premiere a work written for them by Maquoketa native John Frantzen  - broadcast on the nationally syndicated show, Performance Today with Fred Child. The piece is called "Beyond a Wild Dream," and Frantzen wrote it for the QCSO's 100th anniversary season; music director Mark Russell Smith conducted. Frantzen has won many awards for his music, has been performed at Carnegie Hall and by the Philadelphia Orchestra, and has written a piece you want to hear - tonight!

 When Martha Argerich plays piano, says Alex Ross, her “rivals become mere fans” and critics find their “well of superlatives running dry.” She combines qualities "seldom contained in one person":   "brain-teasing technical agility" meets "an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music....

http://nisom.com

Did the Tonys last night whet your appetite for more Broadway? Tune in at 1PM today when ChamberFest Dubuque comes to IPR Classical's studios to give a preview of this year's concerts - and that includes a "Sound of Broadway" gala tonight in Dubuque. Singer Sarah Ellis, a Tristate native now touring with a Tony-winning show, joins notable pianist Carlos Avila (who will also play Gershwin) and Dubuque native Bridget Pasker (who will play Dvorak on her cello for us).

Janette Beckman (copyright Trio Settecento)

Violin superstar Rachel Barton Pine is in the headlines because a pilot refused to let her carry on her Guarneri -but that precious instrument is only the most famous of her fiddles. Rachel is also a master of its Baroque and Renaissance predecessors, and she brought one to Ames for a concert of Italian Baroque music with her Trio Settecento.  You can hear the result on this week's University Concert.

Simon Estes Foundation

  In the 1970s, Simon Estes - the son of an Iowa coal miner and grandson of slaves - was triumphing in Europe's most legendary opera houses. He starred at La Scala, Covent Garden, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, and the  Bayreuth Festival (where he was the first male of African descent to sing lead roles).  But here in his home country, top opera companies ignored him, and the reason was obvious: race. That slight could have embittered almost anyone, but not Estes. What saw him through was guidance from his mother - advice she had first given him when he was a child in Centerville, Iowa.

Phil Mauss

Red Cedar Chamber Music is marking its 20th anniversary with a first-ever passing of the baton. The founders of this unique cultural resource, Jan Boland and John Dowdall, will retire -  but only after they searched carefully for the right successors. They eventually settled on another husband/wife team, cellist Carey Bostian and violinist Meira Kim, and happily, the Iowa City couple accepted the offer.

anonymous4.com

When critics chose their favorite classical disks of 2015, they mentioned hundreds of albums at least once, several more than once, and a select few way more than that.  To get the details, my annual "mega-meta-list" tallied 67 best-of-year lists, which included over 160 writers from around the world.

copyright Marco Borggreve (jaapvanzweden.com)

If you could use an extra Wade Goodwyn fix - or just want to hear an American orchestra that is thrilling critics worldwide - join us Wednesday nights at 7 for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in concert. The orchestra's extraordinary music director, Dutchman Jaap van Zweden, kicks off the series tonight with Mahler's First Symphony (including the extra "Flowers" movement), preceded by Ravel's sparkling, soulful Piano Concerto played the noted French-Sephardic pianist Helene Grimaud. And NPR's Dallas correspondent, Wade Goodwyn, hosts the weekly broadcasts. Tune in!

Today's output of classical albums is (pardon me while I scribble on the back of an envelope) something like triple what it was a generation ago.

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