Classical Iowa

Classical Iowa showcases classical music - from artists and concerts across the world to local artists and performances here in Iowa. Hosted by Barney Sherman, Jacqueline Halbloom, and Curt Snook, Classical Iowa shares the world of classical music with you. Have a question or a comment? Contact Us.

10:16 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Bach's Passions: Guides from NPR & More

John Butt, OBE, Gardiner Chair of Music at the University of Glasgow and Music Director of the Dunedin Consort

Careful writers think twice before using superlatives, but it's safe to say that Bach’s Passions are the greatest musical works ever written for Good Friday services. They are sometimes called “the operas Bach never wrote,” but I doubt it,  in part because Bach calibrated them for use in Leipzig’s liturgy, and in part because, as musicologist/performer John Butt once told me, they go far beyond Baroque opera in their musical, dramatic and psychological complexity. 

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10:05 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Trio 826 Residency: the IPR Studio Session

Trio 826 in IPR's Studio One in Cedar Falls, Nov. 13, 2013
Credit 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.

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10:26 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Concert review: wcfsymphony takes us there...

Composer Brooke Joyce of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
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10:31 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Art Joins Science in "Crossroads Project"

Composer Laura Kaminsky

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

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12:51 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

OI Shines in LvB, Dmitri, Barber & Mozart

Luke Witchger, the violin soloist in the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, K. 362
Credit 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:

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10:57 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Is This London (or Paris)? No, It's Iowa!

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:

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3:43 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Happy Bach's sort-of Birthday!

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?

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10:51 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Iowa Orchestras Make Music - about Iowa

Composer Jacob Bancks (of Augustana College in the Quad Cities)

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

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3:14 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Dr. Larsen - Reflecting on 42 Years of DMMO Opera History

Credit Des Moines Metro Opera

This year marks the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 42nd Festival Season.  The season includes Verdi’s La Traviata, Dead Man Walking by Heggie, and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory. New this year will be their 2nd Stage Series presentation of Peter Brook’s Tragedy of Carmen, a riveting pared-down version of Bizet’s Carmen.

The Des Moines Metro Opera was founded in 1973 by Robert Larsen as Artistic Director and Douglas Duncan as Managing Director. Today it is regarded as one of the leading Summer Opera Festival Companies in America.

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8:23 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Post 3: What Makes It "Classical," pt. deux

Paul McCartney at Carnegie Hall for the U.S. premiere of his award-winning 2006 oratorio "Ecce Cor Meum" (Behold My Heart).
Credit 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. 

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Classical Music in the Afternoon
7:08 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Hear Fathom's In-Studio Renaissance Set

Fathom in IPR's Studio One in Cedar Falls, February 28, 2014
Credit 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:

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10:27 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Blog Post 2: Just What IS "Classical Music"?

Duke and Trane from the cover of their LP together. That these two giants were artists is disputed by exactly no one!

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.

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Classical Music in the Afternoon
7:29 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Roma/Russian Guitar Session by "Zingaresca"

Oleg Timofeyev and Vadim Kolpakov ("Zingaresca") performing in conjunction with O Porrajmos Education Society in Cedar Rapids
Credit 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.

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9:27 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

My First Blog Post: "Not Dead Again"

Andy Doe's chart on "the crisis of classical music" - since 1324
Credit Andy Doe,

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

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