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!).

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Tune in this afternoon and evening to hear the glorious Gil Shaham on record and in concert. The Israel-born, Illinois-bred violinist leads the International Sejong Soloists in Mendelssohn's Octet - surely the greatest work ever written by a 16 year old - on Barney Sherman's show. Then, on Performance Today, he plays the Butterfly Lovers Concerto, written in China in 1959.  When a friend introduced him to the work a few years ago, his friend burst into tears because the music was so emotional.  Hear Shaham play it, and see if it moves you, too.

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Join us Sunday at noon or Monday at 7 pm for the premiere of "American Gothic," composed for Orchestra Iowa by the multiple-Grammy winning Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty. It's inspired by the art of Grant Wood, who spent most of his life in Iowa. Also on the broadcast is Dvorak's 7th Symphony and music of Rachmaninov. Music director Tim Hankewich conducts.

Dan Rest, via Lyric Opera of Chicago

Giuseppe Filianoti is "the pre-eminent lyric tenor of his generation"; Željko Lučić has triumphed around the world in Verdi. Hear their interpretations of the jester-capped glory of the Verdi repertoire, Rigoletto, this Saturday. Of course, the treacherous triangle at Rigoletto’s core requires a heartrending soprano, and Lyric has one: the Uzbekistan-born, Tchaikovsky Gold Medal-winning Albina Shagimuratova, making her Lyric debut. 

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Wait, where's the conductor? Not in front of the conductor-free Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Hear this virtuoso group in a recent Carnegie Hall appearance playing Schubert's Fourth Symphony, preceded by Elgar's Serenade for Strings and Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. Thursday's Performance Today also brings us other talented artists playing Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg and more.

Larry Fink from

Wait, where's the conductor? Not in front of the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Hear this virtuoso group in a recent Carnegie Hall appearance playing Schubert's Fourth Symphony, preceded by Elgar's Serenade for Strings and Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. Also on Thursday's Performance Today are other talented artists playing Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg and more.

Stephane de Bourgies, from Columbia Artists Management Inc.

American pianist Nicholas Angelich has been called "the finest Brahms player of his generation," and the brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon are renowned on violin and cello. Tune in this afternoon to hear the three perform a work of Brahms's youth that he rewrote in old age: his soaring, lyrically rich Piano Trio. no. 1.

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Join us Tuesday at 7 for Copland's glorious Symphony no. 3 (with a finale based on "Fanfare for the Common Man"), Barber's Piano Concerto (played by Garrick Ohlsson), and Jennifer Higdon's "All Things Majestic." In this 2011 work, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Higdon explores the natural wonders of Grand Teton National Park. Robert Spano conducts the Cincinnati Symphony on this SymphonyCast broadcast.

Tune in this afternoon to hear a sample of the art of Jamie Barton - the Georgia farm girl who yesterday won the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World crown.

Quad City Symphony Orchestra Facebook page

2013 was the 100th anniversary of the riotous premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Join us Monday at 7 PM to hear the Quad City Symphony Orchestra perform it, and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, led by music director Mark Russell Smith. The concert was recorded at the Adler Theater in Davenport and is part of IPR's Symphonies of Iowa series.

Dan Rest, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Tune in Saturday for Wagner's comic masterpiece, "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg," in a production featuring some master singers, including Bo Skovhus as Beckmesser, Johann Botha as Walther, and the illustrious Wagnerian James Morris as Sachs (one of his signature roles). The Lyric Opera of Chicago production is conducted by music director Sir Andrew Davis.

Credit: Robert Schultze/ Mat Hennek/ DG from

When Hélène Grimaud isn't playing the piano, her passion is the wolf conservancy she co-founded. It liberated her, she writes: after conceiving of it, "I had become a wild woman." That wildness may be part of what make Grimaud a great Beethoven interpreter. Hear her in Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 5, (known as "The Emperor") Friday afternoon on Barney Sherman's program.

1982: Viktoria Mullova is the USSR's violin sensation, winning the gold in the Tchaikovsky Competition. I983: she puts her state-owned Stradivarius on her hotel bed in Finland, dons a blonde wig to fool her KGB minders, and escapes to Sweden. Since then, she's been on of the supreme violinists - and she regularly crosses artistic borders. She has just re-recorded the Bach concertos, and this time she plays a Baroque violin. Sparks fly. Hear one of the concertos - a reconstruction recorded for the first time - on Barney Sherman's program at around 3 this afternoon.


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Tune in tonight at 7 to hear the legendary Carlos Kleiber conducting one of his signature works, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony live in concert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The broadcast features other Concertgebouw legends in this composer: Eduard van Beinum, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Kubelik, and Riccardo Chailly each conducting one movement of the Second Symphony, and Mitsuko Uchida, Claudio Arrau, and Murray Perahia each playing one movement of the Third Piano Concerto.

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They seemed  opposite: Mstislav Rostropovich, the fiery Soviet cellist, Benjamin Britten  the cool-tempered English composer. But they shared uncompromising convictions about social issues and musical genius. On Wednesday's Performance Today Coleman Itzkoff, - PT"s Young Artist in Residence - brings to life music that Britten wrote for Rostropovich.


"Ethereal, it glitters like stars millions of light-years away" - that's Distant Light, by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. Tune in Tuesday at 7 PM to hear the world premiere by the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Gustavo Dudamel. Also on the program is Mozart's Posthorn Serenade and Marriage of Figaro overture.

Eugene Alcalay's web page.

Tune in Monday at 7 PM to hear the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra in a program of Russian Romantics. Tchaikovsky's glorious Piano Concerto no. 1 features Romania-born guest artist Eugene Alcalay, who was praised by Leonard Bernstein for his “outstanding talent as both a performer and composer." The orchestra, led by music director William Intriligator, also performs Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture and Capriccio Espagnol.

Photo by Carolyn Cruz/The Cliburn

Tune in tonight at 5 PM to hear the sensational pianist Vadym Kholodenko - who triumphed this week at the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas - in his victory performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 21 (the one with the beautiful "Elvira Madigan" slow movement). Leonard Slatkin conducts the Fort Worth Symphony. Also on the program is another highly acclaimed young pianist, Conrad Tao, performing one of his own compositions.

Dan Rest, via Lyric Opera of Chicago

Anna Netrebko as Mimi, Joseph Calleja as Rodolfo,  Elizabeth Futral as Musetta -  you can't find a better cast for La Boheme today than the one we'll broadcast Saturday at noon from Lyric Opera of Chicago. Critic Lawrence Johnson praised  Netrebko's "gleaming vocalism, dramatic acuity, and personality-plus stage charisma," and found Calleja to be "on an equally inspired level."

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Tune in Thursday to hear the New York Philharmonic perform Copland, Stravinsky, Shostakovich - and Marsalis. Jazz-influenced works by Aaron (the  Clarinet Concerto), Igor (Ragtime) and Dmitri (Tahiti Trot) precede the Symphony no. 3 (Swing Symphony) by Wynton, who brings his Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra along to join Alan Gilbert and the orchestra.

Clive Barda, courtesy of

Tune in tonight at 7PM to hear Yevgeny Sudbin - at 32 "hailed as potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century"- perform Beethoven's Third Concerto with musicians famed for Beethoven, the Minnesota Orchestra with Osmo Vanska. Then Vanska conducts a work he's famed for, the Second Symphony of his fellow Finn, Jean Sibelius. Opening this concert is a new work by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. The concert comes to us via SymphonyCast.

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Tune in Sunday at noon or Monday at 7 PM to hear the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony and Jason Weinberger in "The Planets Reimagined" - Holst's masterpiece along with a new rendering by artist Garry Kelley. The concert was recorded on April 27 as part of IPR's Symphonies of Iowa series.

Dan Rest, via Lyric Opera of Chicago

Unhappy childhoods are each unhappy in their own way. For Hansel and Gretel, things look grim but turn out sweet; for Elektra... not so much. Hear both stories in great German operas this Saturday from the Lyric Opera of Chicago: Richard Strauss's Elektra, with Christine Goerke in the title role, and Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, with Elizabeth DeShong and Maria Kanyova as the siblings and Jill Grove as the witch.

Steve Bowbrick via

Tune in tonight at 7 as Andras Schiff - one of the world's supreme Bach interpreters - leads the final concert in the "Bach Variations" Festival of the New York Philharmonic. The Hungarian pianist/ conductor (a winner of the prestigious Bach Prize) leads two of the Bach keyboard concertos from the piano, and also conducts Mendelssohn's String Symphony no. 9 and Schumann's Symphony no. 4. 



"I could tell he was no joker," wrote Wagner about the young Brahms playing the Handel Variations for him. For Wagner speaking of a rival, that was high praise, and for the rest of us, the work sounds outright amazing. Hear an inspired performance of the Handel Variations Wednesday afternoon on Barney Sherman's show. Also on the program: an ethereal evocation of ancient Greece by Debussy.

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Tune in Tuesday at 5 pm as Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic, in a concert performance of Haydn's Symphony No. 90. Rattle loves all of it - including  the joke at the end, which still gets a laugh when it's done right (and it is!). Also on the program: Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Concertgebouw in Mozart's "Haffner" Symphony. Earlier, on Barney Sherman's program, Ivan Fischer conducts Beethoven's 7th and Richard Goode plays Mozart's 27th Piano Concerto.

Des Moines Symphony Orchestra

Join us tonight at 7 to hear the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and Drake Choir and Drake University/Community Chorus perform Orff's stirring Carmina Burana. Also on the program: Krommer's Concerto for Two Clarinet featuring DMSO's astounding clarinetists, Gregory Oakes & Clarence Padilla. The concert celebrates the 75-year partnership of Drake and the DMSO, which began in 1937 as the Drake/Des Moines Symphony. Music Director Joseph Giunta conducts, and soloists are Carrie Ellen Giunta, soprano, Christopher Pfund, tenor, and Robert Orth, baritone.

Dan Rest, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Never mind that he's having a late-life crisis: Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" just wants a little respect. Hear this genuinely hilarious comic opera Saturday at noon from the Lyric Opera of Chicago. A stellar cast is headed by  ldebrando D’Arcangelo and Marlis Petersen.

courtesy of Sophia Ahmad

Tune in Saturday at 7AM or Sunday at 6PM to hear a group of Iowa musicians celebrate the 75th birthday of Philip Glass with a concert (part 1 of 2) that conveys the range of his music. Pianist Sophia Ahmad (you might know her as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra) plays the Orphee Suite; pianist Kris DeWild plays Love Divided By; Edwin and Francine Griffith perform Hymn to the Sun (from Akhnaten); saxophonist Colin Young plays Gradus; and The Rex Repeter Quartet plays a movement from his Third String Quartet.


She was once called "the greatest violinist you've never heard of" - but since then she' s won many major awards. Hear Isabelle Faust play the Brahms Concerto on Barney Sherman's show in the afternoon, and then the two Bach violin concertos on the New York Philharmonic broadcast at 7 pm. Discover why the New York Times says, "her sound has passion, grit and electricity but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the music's hidden strains of lyricism."

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Wednesday, May 29 is the 100th anniversary of the first performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and while it no longer causes riots it still sounds radical, wild, and fresh. Hear it - introduced by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross - in the 6 PM hour of Performance Today.  In the afternoon Barney Sherman will play part of it in the version Stravinsky first published, for piano four hands.