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

Tonight at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the award-winning composer Laura Kaminsky, painter Rebecca Allen, physicist Robert Davies, and The Fry Street Quartet will join forces for an interdisciplinary exploration of climate change called The Crossroads Project. It's part of a

Orchestra Iowa

Mozart was 23 when he wrote a concerto so rich that not even he would ever surpass it. It's for Violin and Viola (K. 364) and when Orchestra Iowa performed the work recently,  instead of bringing in touring soloists, they shined the spotlight on their own  first violinist Luke Witchger and principal violist Lisa Ponton.  They were amazing:

Just an ordinary weekend in Iowa: Sure, if you were in London you could hear the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's Beethoven and Bruckner, and next weekend, see Sadler's Wells dance a Stravinsky double-bill. But think of the traffic and the cost of living! Meanwhile, here in Iowa? This month's Iowa Arts Showcase, which you can hear Saturday at 11 or 5, gives some in-depth background, but meanwhile  - check it out:

Greg Helgerson

When someone shouted "Osmo, come home,” it touched off "five minutes of clamorous applause, which quickly turned rhythmic." That demonstration was in Minneapolis this weekend, says the New York Times, which adds: "since management lifted its 16-month lockout of the players" of the Minnesota Orchestra "over a contract dispute, in January, the musicians have typically been greeted as conquering if

Travel back in time tonight to hear the WCFSymphony's re-creation of  a Mozart soiree, recorded live at Waterloo’s newly-restored Brown Derby Ballroom. The elegant interior was the perfect setting for an array of Mozartian gems, culminating in the Symphony no. 40. Soloists included soprano Suzanne Lommler and Artistic Director Jason Weinberger on clarinet. Jacqueline Halbloom hosts this Symphonies of Iowa broadcast.

IMG artists

Join Jacqueline Halbloom to hear about four musical events coming up in Iowa next month:

  • The Metropolitan Chorale's 60th Anniversary Concert
  • The Iowa recital of the 2013 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist, Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko
  • The UI School of Music's Die Fledermaus at the Englert
  • The Des Moines recital of award-winning French classical guitarist Judicael Perroy

It's Bach's Birthday! - or is it? The calendars in Eisenach on the day of his birth read March 21st, but back in 1685 Thuringians were  still using the Julian calendar, so our equivalent date is "March 31st," ("equivalent" in being about ten days after the vernal equinox). But old habits die hard, especially addictive ones, and Bach is by far my primary addiction. How about if we just party for ten days?

Iowa's orchestras are commissioning works about Iowa; but how can music without words convey anything about a place? Some examples:

Photo by Ciuin Ferrin; used with permission

Two masters of the Russian 7-string guitar, Oleg Timofeyev and Vadim Kolpakov, came into our studios last November to play original and traditional music. They told Barney Sherman about composing Roma music in Moscow, performing with Eugene Hutz at Madonna's birthday party, and reading a scene in Dostoevsky that connects Roma and Klezmer musicians. And they demonstrated the special sound and style of their instruments.

Sean Henri from Wikipedia

I’ve put it off all week, but the public clamor is getting overwhelming…um, would you believe a single email?... so: On to the follow-up! In my last post, I explained why my trusty ideas about “what makes music classical” now seem confused, and I promised to follow up with a more viable approach. Here's a start. I don’t want to oversell it; at best, it’s only part of the answer. But for me, it helps clear at least some of the fog. 

Barney Sherman

If you missed the in-studio live set of Renaissance music by Fathom, not to worry - Fortune has smiled on you! You can listen to the mp3 with the widget below or to a WAV file at this link.  The group performed music written from the 1400s through February, 2014 (by Mary Larew, a native of Iowa and member of Fathom), all of it focused on the theme of Lady Luck. The six members of Fathom each have distinguished careers in early music (and in some cases, new music as well). They are:

Orchestra Iowa

Join us Sunday at noon or Monday at 7PM as Orchestra Iowa performs "the apotheosis of the dance" - Beethoven's wildly inspired Seventh Symphony - preceded by two neglected Italian masterpieces. Nino Rota is best known for his film scores for Fellini and Coppola, but was even more important as a concert composer, and double-bass virtuoso Volkan Orhon shows what we've been missing in the Divertimento Concertante. And Giuseppe Martucci's Nocturne is an inexplicably neglected beauty, as Tim Hankewich and the orchestra demonstrate in this concert recorded at the Paramount in Cedar Rapids.

triosettecento.com

Join us Saturday at 7AM or Sunday at 6PM to hear selections from the Ames concert by one of today's leading Baroque ensembles, Trio Settecento. Violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine, cellist/ gambist John Mark Rozendaal, and harpsichordist David Schrader perform music of the Italian Baroque as guests of Ames Town and Gown. The broadcast is part of our University Concert series.

Samantha West from nadiasirota.com

Tune in during tonights' 7PM hour as a groundbreaking artist combines her viola and her iPad to create music that's hard to classify  (but of amazing beauty). Nadia Sirota is performing this weekend with the wcfsymphony and Jason Weinberger  - but also works with Arcade Fire, My Brightest Diamond, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi and other hard-to-classify artists. She's part of a new wave for which there's no adequate word quite yet - but you can catch it tonight! Al Schares hosts this Live from Studio One broadcast.

Tune in at 3pm for a live in-studio concert of Renaissance music by the NY-based group Fathom.  Its six members, including two Iowans, have distinguished careers in early music (and in some cases, new music as well). They are:

nadiasirota.com

At 4 PM Tuesday, go behind the scenes at Iowa Public Radio's studios on the UNI campus for a live taping with wcfsymphony soloist and musical explorer Nadia Sirota. IPR on-air personalities will lead you on a tour of the recently renovated studios, followed by a talk-and-play taping with Nadia (to be broadcast later). Sirota is a leading new music advocate, who next weekend will perform “beautiful music of a higher order than anything else you will hear this year,” with the wcfsymphony.

Orchestra Iowa

If you missed wcfsymphony’s deeply moving commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the pogrom that marked the beginning of the Final Solution, join us for a rebroadcast Monday night. On the broadcast, music director Jason Weinberger (who conceived of and organized the event) tells Jacqueline Halbloom about his grandparents, all four of whom survived Nazi camps.

Quick: define “classical music.”  It may sound easy, but most of my attempts have been dead ends. They don't get you to much of the music. Later I’ll discuss a definition that I think works - it covers everything, and helps explain why classical music matters to us. But first let me give you a tour of some of the blind alleys.

Des Moines Symphony

Hear Joe Giunta and the Des Moines Symphony in Ralph Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and a lesser-known gem, based on Scottish folk melodies, Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy. The soloist in the Bruch is the award-winning young Japanese violinist Fumiaki Miura. Also on the program: Wagner's Rienzi Overture and Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier suite. The broadcast, on Sunday at 12 noon and Monday at 7PM, is part of our Symphonies of Iowa series, produced and hosted by Jacqueline Halbloom.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Richard Strauss scored "Die Frau ohne Schatten" for, count 'em, 164 instruments; the percussion alone include "glass harmonica, 4 timpani, 5 Chinese gongs, cymbals, snare drum, rute, sleigh bells, bass drum, tenor drum, big field drum, triangle, tambourine, 2 castanets, tamtam, whip (slapstick), xylophone, glockenspiel, bells, 2 celestas." Budgets alone would make performance rare, as do scenery challenges (like a golden waterfall and, we're not making this up, children singing out of a frying pan).

Schmidt Artists

Doctors told 15-year-old violin prodigy Augustin Hadelich he would never play again. A tractor fire at his family's farm had badly burned his upper body, including his bowing arm. But after many months of physical therapy Hadelich came back - and now, at age 29, he has won top international awards, been entrusted with two consecutive Stradivarius violins, and earned praise from critics like Alex Ross, who wrote in The New Yorker that Hadelich has not only "fast-fingered brilliance" but also "the musicality and freewheeling fantasy that...

Wikipedia

Join us tonight at 7 to hear Orchestra Iowa principal players delight with masterpieces for horn by Haydn and Mozart and a supreme works for string by Brahms. Principal horn Andy Harris shines in a Divertimento by Haydn and the Horn Quintet by Mozart; he's joined by the orchestra's new concertmaster Luke Witchger and by Karla Galva,  violist Lisa Ponton, cellist Carey Bostian, and double-bassist Volkon Orhan. Then five strings players come together for the masterpiece that Brahms meant to be his final work - his  String Quintet no. 2.

Orchestra Iowa

Tune in Sunday at noon or Monday at 7PM as four Orchestra Iowa members perform overlooked gems by Mozart, Schubert and Faure. They start with an unfinished String Trio by the teenage Schubert, continue with a Piano Trio in C major that Mozart wrote while working on his "Jupiter" Symphony, then come together for a powerful Piano Quartet in G Minor by Faure, his second. The four superb soloists -  violinist Xian Meng, violist Lisa Ponton, cellist Carey Bostian, and pianist Miko Kominami  - were recorded last September as part of IPR's Symphonies of Iowa series.

Heartland Concert Artists

Join Jacqueline Halbloom at 5PM as Iowa Arts Showcase finds out about the Tallcorn Jazz Festival, a Kurt Weill show with poetry by Langston Hughes, and more.  We'll hear about the festival from a headliner, Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera, and from Chris Merz, UNI's Director of Jazz Studies. Celeste Bembry of UNI (who toured worldwide with the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers) fills us in on Black History Month, and Bernard McDonald of Simpson tells us about their upcoming production of Weill's Street Scene.

Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera

How do you top a Super Bowl triumph? Renee Fleming does it by returning to a signature role - the love-struck sprite Rusalka in Dvorak's beautiful opera. Saturday at noon you can hear it live from the Metropolitan Opera on IPR  - OR watch it live in HD video in theaters in Ames, Cedar Falls, Davenport, Dubuque, Des Moines, Grinnell, and Iowa City.

Photo by Ciuin Ferrin; used with permission

With all eyes on Sochi, here's a little IPR extra for the ears: two masters of the Russian 7-string guitar, Oleg Timofeyev and Vadim Kolpakov, who came into our studios last November to play original and traditional music. They told me about composing Roma music in Moscow, performing with Eugene Hutz at Madonna's birthday party, and reading a scene in Dostoevsky that connects Roma and Klezmer musicians. And they demonstrated the special sound and style of their instruments.

Dennis Callahan

Last year,  Jeremy Denk won a MacArthur "Genius" fellowship, published a memoir in the New Yorker, signed a contract with Random House to expand that article into a book,  and - oh, yes - won a place on IPR's "Favorite Classical CDs of 2013" list for his recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations." All of this makes us eager to hear him play one of Mozart's most celebrated piano concertos, no. 25 in C major.

The wcfsymphony took risks in this year's season opener - and they worked! Hear the result as conductor Jason Weinberger solos on clarinet in Steve Reich’s pulsating New York Counterpoint, Iowa-born pianist Conor Hanick plays John Adams’ Century Rolls, and the orchestra rocks Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory and Ravel’s Bolero. Hear the concert Monday at 7PM on Symphonies of Iowa, hosted by Jacqueline Halbloom.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Anthony Minghella, after directing "The English Patient" and "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," turned his talents to Puccini's "Madame Butterfly"  - that "cross-cultural tragedy" of "devotion and irresponsibility and misunderstandings willful and innocent." Few operas are as difficult to bring off and Minghella's spare production made it "take wing." Hear it from the Met today at noon.

Andy Doe, properdiscord.com

Last month on Talk of Iowa, IPR’s Charity Nebbe hosted four Iowa music directors–

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