NPR’s Anastasia Tsioulcas just wrote a scathingly brilliant post about the “fat-shaming” of the gifted Irish mezzo Tara Erraught by a plague of British critics, who sounded like teenage boys as they dissed not Erraught's singing but the supposed flaws of her body.

Andrew Eccles

When sworn enemies shrug and say, “What was THAT about?” it’s worth noticing, especially when they add, “You know, you’re making some good points.”  Something like that may be happening in classical music performance.

Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Avery Fisher Career Grant Winner, violinist Bella Hristova, soloed with the Des Moines Symphony in April of this year. She performed Beethoven’s magnificent Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61.

Bella is the guest artist on this week’s edition of Iowa Public Radio’s Symphonies of Iowa series featuring the Des Moines Symphony’s Giunta Conducts Beethoven: Eroica concert.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

In 1950 famed architect Franck Lloyd Wright completed constructing one of his most comprehensive Usonian-styled homes called Cedar Rock. The house, perched high above the Wapsipinicon River is located in the Cedar Rock State Park outside of Quasqueton. Agnes and Lowell Walter, former owners of the Iowa Road Building Company, commissioned Wright to build a “modest home to be designed and built on a limestone bluff” on the Wapsi River. Lowell wanted to show that a beautiful house could be constructed in his home town without having to go to Florida or California.

Join us tonight at 7PM to hear the wcfsymphony premiere a work by Decorah-based composer Brooke Joyce and perform Mahler's First Symphony. Below are my impressions of the April concert (which I posted here on April 9th) - tune in and see what YOU think!

Yuri Vedenyapin

Before there was "Who's on first?" there was the similar routine, "Weinstein? Einstein!" by the Yiddish standup team Dzigan & Schumacher.

Yuri Vedenyapin

Russian-born singer/scholar Yuri Vedenyapin - a renowned expert in Yiddish folklore - will be in our studios Wednesday with Russian-guitar virtuoso Oleg Timofeyev to introduce us to the little-known repertory of Russian songs in Yiddish.

As you dust off your gardening gloves for some May planting, let Iowa Public Radio sow a few upcoming arts-event seeds on the Iowa Arts Showcase. May’s line-up includes:

· UNI’s Assistant Professor of Piano Dmitri Vorobiev and Associate Professor of Piano Sean Botkin as they discuss the inaugural Midwest International Piano Competition

David Andrako

Even I am a little stunned by how exciting, original - and abundant - the classical concerts are in Iowa this weekend. Here's a list (and please let me know if I've missed something! I'll add it - bsherman at

Greg Helgerson

When the 16-month lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra ended in January, the orchestra had no conductor. Music director Osmo Vanska,  whose conducting had propelled the orchestra to international fame, resigned last year in support of the musicians, and without him... well, what exactly was Plan B?


It MAY be SHAKEspeare's BIRTHday, SO they SAY, and WHAT muSIcian can reFRAIN from PLAY? That is (to drop the iambic pentameter) from the fun of listing favorite Shakespeare-inspired classical works? Below are a couple of lists from other sources, followed by my own additions and comments. What would make YOUR list? Let us know on our Facebook page or on twitter @IPRClassical, or by email (  - and whatever you choose, Happy Shakespeare Day!

Join us Thursday afternoon to hear one of the great musicians of our time, Simon Estes, as he tells us about his extraordinary work as a musician, humanitarian, and educator. Born in Centerville, IA, where his father worked as a coal miner, Estes was the first black male artist ever to appear at the Bayreuth Festival (he is one of the rare singers  to triumph in all of Wagner's major operas) and has sung lead roles with all of the world's great opera houses and orchestras.

Orchestra Iowa

The 2008 Cedar Rapids flood literally capsized the Paramount Theatre's Wurlitzer organ, leaving it badly damaged. But a coalition restored the historic instrument to its full glory, and Orchestra Iowa unveiled it this March in a triumphant concert that you can hear rebroadcast tonight at 7PM on IPR Classical.

Careful writers think twice before using superlatives, but it's safe to say that Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is the greatest musical work ever written for Good Friday services. It is sometimes called “the opera Bach never wrote,” but I doubt it,  in part because Bach calibrated it for use in Leipzig’s liturgy, and in part because, as musicologist/performer John Butt once told me, it goes far beyond Baroque opera in its musical, dramatic and psychological complexity. 

Samantha West

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. 


Barney's phone

What led three awesome soloists - Julia Bullard (viola), Hannah Holman (cello), and Susanna Klein (violin) -  to form an ensemble, and why did they call it "Trio 826"? Hear the answers, and examples of their superb playing, in the live session they broadcast from IPR's studio last fall.

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

KT Kim /

Back by popular demand from last season, Iowa Public Radio presents the Symphonies of Iowa series, showcasing the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra’s Grieg Piano Concerto and Mahler 5 concert on Sunday, March 30 at noon and Monday, March 31 at 2 p.m. On this program, the Des Moines Symphony presents one of the most beloved and recognizable works of all time, Greig’s Piano Concerto, performed by guest artist and Van Cliburn Silver Medalist Joyce Yang.

Stay dry this April as Iowa Public Radio kicks off another Iowa Arts Showcase. This month our features include:

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:

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, it's hard to escape the allure of the Emerald Isle, with its rolling heaths, swirling jigs, frothy beer and curious legends. While we can't afford to fly you to Dublin we can offer this humble St. Paddy's Day puzzler. Score high and be rewarded with the pot 'o gold at the end of the rainbow. Mess up and yours is a sad bowl of soggy Lucky Charms.