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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Join us Thursday at 7PM as the New York Philharmonic performs two masterpieces of Benjamin Britten to honor his centennial. In both works, Britten took his texts from great English poets: Tennyson, Keats, Blake and others in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, and Milton, Blake, Spenser, Auden among others in the Spring Symphony. Alan Gilbert conducts, and the soloists include soprano Kate Royal and tenor Paul Appleby (fresh from his success at the Met in Nico Muhly's Two Boys).

American Public Media

The perfect Christmas music continues December 25th  on IPR Classical with: Chanticleer at 8AM; the St. Olaf Christmas Festival at 9AM; Stile Antico singing luminous Elizabethan music of Thomas Tallis and Willian Byrd at 11, followed by Chicago’s Music of the Baroque at noon with glorious music not just from the Baroque but also from modern Estonia and England. Then, at 2PM, hear a complete Handel “Messiah” from Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society led by Harry Christophers.

Morehouse College

At 10AM, hear this year's "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" live from King's College, Cambridge on IPR Classical. Then, at 11 AM, the Tallis Scholars - celebrating their 40th anniversary - present a beautiful concert from Boston. At noon, hear this year's Christmas at Luther, recorded in Decorah. But wait, there's more!


Join us at noon to hear Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" from the Des Moines Metro Opera. This modern classic tells the story of a poor mother and her crippled son, Amahl, discovering the healing power of love while giving shelter to the three Wise Men. This Performance Iowa broadcast was recorded on December 6-7, 2013, with Pierce Mansfield as Amahl, Julie Makerov as Amahl’s mother, and Todd Thomas as King Melchior.

Join us Monday at 7PM to hear Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, recorded earlier this month in Cedar Rapids, featuring Orchestra Iowa in collaboration with Ballet Quad Cities. Earlier, at 3 PM, tune in for "A Carol Festival" from Valparaiso University, followed at 4 by "Glad Tidings of Great Joy," with music of Bach, Purcell, and others from Medieval Germany through Baroque Germany, all performed by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis and the Early Music Institute of the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, directed by Paul Elliott.

When I spoke with Charity Nebbe about favorite classical CDs of 2013, time was short, so I cut my list to 10 that I thought might appeal to the widest range of listeners. But my actual list is much longer.


Host Charity Nebbe is joined by IPR music host Barney Sherman to talk about the top classical music of 2013, and Karen Impola talks about some of the best folk music of the year.  Listen to some excerpts and a little info about the artist and performances. Scroll down for the full list of selections.

Barney Sherman's top classical music: [NOTE: Barney's complete list of 28 CDs can be found at this link]:


Tune in Thursday at 7PM for the first of several "Messiahs" this month on IPR - this one a highly praised concert by the New York Philharmonic under Gary Thor Wedow. The New York Times called it "excellent, with "a fleet, lithe orchestral performance, aptly complemented by the buoyant singing of the chorus." The Times also raved about some of the soloists, and said that "the audience, standing for the Hallelujah Chorus, applauded and cheered at the end of that section."

Noah Henscheid, from

Join us Monday at 7PM as Jason Weinberger and the wcfsymphony perform Christmas (and other) music of Bach, Handel, and Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The Bach includes selections from his cantatas and his Christmas Oratorio, plus the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 with Kathleen Sihler and Ute Brandenburg on violas. Music from Handel's Messiah and Charpentier's Noëls round out the festivities. Guest vocalists include Jeff Brich, Elizabeth Bieber, and Kaethe Henning.

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Tune in at noon to hear how Verdi improves on Shakespeare in the comic masterpiece Falstaff,  premiered when the composer was 80.  James Levine conducts Falstaff better than anyone else, and Robert Carsen's new Met production (updating the action to postwar England) is winning raves, as is Ambrogio Maestri - the 6' 5" Italian baritone who, says, the New York Times, "simply owns the role of Falstaff."

Lauren Farmer

Join us tonight at 6 PM to hear a new work written for the Dallas Symphony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The composer is Conrad Tao, the 19-year-old  American pianist/composer whose first CD is one of our picks-of-the-year. The work is titled The World Is Very Different Now and is performed by the Symphony and its music director, Jaap van Zweden.

Its' been a great year for classical CDs! At 10:30, Barney Sherman will share ten (plus one) of his picks of the year with Charity Nebbe on Talk of Iowa - and playing many more than ten on his show every afternoon. If you have any particular favorite classical CDs of the year, please let us know!

Michael O'Brien Photography from

Join us Monday at 7PM for "A Journey Through the Nutcracker." James David Jacobs goes behind the scenes of Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker, uncovering the secrets of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece with conductor Jonathan McPhee, cast members, and the audience at the Boston Opera House.

© St.Petersburg Contemporary Music Center "".

Join us Tuesday at 7PM to hear Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto played by Midori, and the "Fairytale Poem" for orchestra by one of today's great composers, Sofia Gubaidulina, in a concert from the Houston Symphony. The Russian master wrote her "Fairytale" during the Soviet era; its hero is a piece of chalk - who stands for "the creative artist's destiny." Also on the program is Rachmaninov's Symphony no. 2. Conducting is Andres Orozco Estrada, the young Columbian violinist and conductor whom Houston recently chose as its next Music Director.

Dan Jahn Photography

Tune in Sunday at noon to hear the Des Moines Metro Opera recital of Sarah Jane McMahon on Performance Iowa.  Sarah has sung recently with the San Francisco Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, and Wiener Konzert Haus, in addition to singing opposite Placido Domingo in a gala concert. She has received The New York Times Kolozsvar Award for her performance as Galatea in Handel's Acis and Galatea and received their praise as "the most polished and flexible singer in the cast" and a "silvery-voiced soprano." 

Mathias Borth/ DG

Tune in Sunday at 2PM as the legendary Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini performs the Mozart Piano Concerto no. 21 (the best-known of them all) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by music director Riccardo Muti. Also on the program is Schumann's Symphony no. 3, "The Rhenish," and music of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Haydn.

Ken Howard/Met

Saturday at noon hear the Metropolitan Opera return to IPR with Verdi's Rigoletto.  Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, says the New York Times, brings "tragic stature" to the "oppressed" title character; he "claims this role on his own terms, infusing phrases with dusky richness and shaping melodic lines with  elegance." As his daughter, Irina Lungu conveys "restlessness and sensual yearning" with a voice of "bloom and warmth." Matthew Polenzani is the Duke, and the 35-year-old Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado makes what the Times calls "an auspicious Met d

c Mina artistbilder (courtesy Askonas Holt)

Join us tonight at 7 as soprano Miah Persson - a renowned interpreter of Bach and Mozart - sings Bach's dazzling Cantata 51 (with trumpet soloist Philip Smith) then joins a team of star soloists as the New York Philharmonic gives a "glowing" performance of Mozart's Requiem under Bernard Labadie (the adjective comes from The New York Times).

Marco Borggreve, courtesy

The Philadelphia Orchestra is back in its glory, and its 38-year-old music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a big part of the reason.  Tonight at 7, hear the inspiring Canadian and the fabulous Philadelphians in a recent Carnegie Hall appearance. They perform Ravel's La Valse, Szymanowski's Violin Concerto (with Leonidas Kavakos), and the Shostakovich Fifth.

Houston Grand Opera

Join us at noon for the opera that changed music: Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. As Tristan is no less than Ben Heppner, "open-hearted, in robust and thrilling voice… His Tristan is less a hero and more a tortured, troubled soul, filled with longing, pride, and confusion." As Isolde is Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, who "fascinates by her ability to combine vocal beauty with dramatic force."

Margaretta Mitchell (used by permission)

Join us Friday night at 7 to hear one of the most talked-about works of the decade, John Adam's The Gospel According to the Other Mary.  Adams and his collaborator Peter Sellars, the path-breaking director, combine New Testament stories with contemporary Latin-American poetry, the approach they pioneered so successfully in El Niño. In this performance, Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. PLEASE NOTE: To accommodate the full broadcast on Friday night, Exploring Music will begin an hour later than usual, at 10 PM.

Roger Mastroianni courtesy Arts Management Group

Tonight from 5-9 PM you can hear concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Bach, and Vivaldi, in live concert performances by some of today's great soloists. First, during Performance Today, Dame Mitsuko Uchida performs Mozart's radiant Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, conducting the Cleveland Orchestra from the keyboard. Then Argentine legend Martha Argerich solos in Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 2 and Schumann's Piano Concerto.

Noah Henscheid courtesy wcfsymphony

Join us Monday at 7PM to explore The Planets, with the music of Gustav Holst  and insights from artist Gary Kelley and music director Jason Weinberger, who conducts the wcfsymphony. This Symphonies of Iowa rebroadcast was produced and hosted by Jacqueline Halbloom.


Tune in Sunday at 2pm as the Chicago Symphony explores Brahms. The esteemed Dutch maestro Bernard Haitink conducts the First  Symphony, and the phenomenal French brothers Renaud Capuçon on violin and Gautier Capuçon on cello perform the Double Concerto. The program begins with Haydn's so-called "Clock" symphony.

Friday is both the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and the 100th birthday of one of the greatest composers, Benjamin Britten. Join Barney Sherman and Fred Childs for music written by Britten (including the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and the Gloriana Courtly Dances, among others) and recordings showing his greatness as conductor and pianist in the music of Bach, Mozart, and others. Also, Fred has audio of the announcement of Kennedy's death to the audience at the Boston Symphony concert that afternoon - it is powerful - and Barney has the music played thereafter.

Felix Sanchez, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera

Join us Saturday as Trevor Pinnock conducts Mozart's "Don Giovanni" from the Houston Grand Opera. Adrian Eröd is the Don, Veronika Dzhioeva is Donna Elvira, and Morris Robinson is the Commendatore.

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If you like the rich, warm sound of the cello, tune in Thursday at 7 to hear a concerto for not one but three of them, by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The performance features three exceptional cellists - Alicia Weilerstein, Daniel Muller-Schott, and Carter Brey - and the New York Philharmonic led by Charles Dutoit. Also on the program is music of Ravel, and his orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

amandabhslater from

If you like the rich, warm sound of the cello, tune in Thursday at 7 to hear a concerto for not one but three of them, by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (you might remember him from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey). The performance features three exceptional cellists - Alicia Weilerstein, Daniel Muller-Schott, and Carter Brey - and the New York Philharmonic led by Charles Dutoit. Also on the program is music of Ravel, and his orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Does anyone today play Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto better than Joshua Bell? Join us tonight at 7 to hear him with the Houston Symphony in a recent concert performance (also on the bill is music of Vaughan Williams, Elgar, and Mussorgsky, conducted by Lawrence Foster).

Oleg Timofeyev

Join Barney Sherman Monday at 2PM as two of the world's foremost Russian guitarists perform LIVE in IPR's studios. Oleg Timofeyev is renowned internationally both as a performer and as a musicologist who has rediscovered lost repertory. Vadim Kolpakov is one of the most prominent Russian Roma (Gypsy) 7-string guitarists of our time; previously he was lead musician of the Moscow Roma Theatre Romen, where he performed as a guitarist, composer, vocalist, dancer and dramatic actor.