In May, Simon Estes came to IPR to talk about his life and work, and one hour seemed way too short! His history is extraordinary: his grandparents were slaves, his father was a miner in Centerville, IA , then a major coal town, and he grew up to become one of the world's greatest opera singers. He broke many color barriers, including becoming the first black man to sing lead roles at the Bayreuth Festival (founded by Richard Wagner to showcase his operas). Dr.
Star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gave the 2014 commencement address at Juilliard Friday — and it's a memorable one, both for her words and by DiDonato's own example as someone whose own career began under low heat.
Violist Nadia Sirota - a leading advocate of new music, and former student of Jason Weinberger - recently joined the WCFSymphony to perform "beautiful music of a higher order than anything else you will hear this year" - works written for her by Judd Greenstein and Daniel Bjarnson. Then Weinberger led the orchestra in the sumptuous (but violin-free) Serenade no. 2 of Brahms. Hear the concert on Symphonies of Iowa, Sunday at 12 noon or Monday at 7 PM on IPR Classical.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.