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.

Rachel Barton Pine, who performed recently in Ames as part of the period-instrument group Trio Settecento, has just released her first recording with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner - and last week, she talked with me about it. The set includes all of Mozart's concertos for violin and it's outstanding. In 0ur interview, she talks about why each concerto is a mini-opera, the value of writing your own cadenzas, the lessons a "modern-instrument" player can learn from playing period instruments (although she uses her modernized Guarneri  on this set), and more.

operaomnia

[UPDATED Jan 18: Expanded to include 36 publications and over 100 critics - yielding some new rankings:] What were the best classical releases of 2014? Don't ask me!- or any one person alone. After all, thousands of releases came out last year, and nobody had the time or money to listen to every contender. Besides, we're more likely to hear about artists from our own necks of the woods. And that neck is defined not only geographically but also musically, since most critics have specialized tastes and expertise. 

Editor's note: it's a pleasure to offer another in our series of classical reviews by IPR's panel of guest experts - this one by Dubuque native, cellist, author, & Boston Public Radio producer Will Roseliep (who started doing radio at the University of Iowa and also worked for IPR).

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Jean Sibelius "created Finnish national identity in music." Asked to characterize their culture, Finns "invariably mention… ‘our Sibelius.’” But

I was working on a post about a cultural puzzle - why is it that over half of America's favorite Christmas songs were written by my people, the Jews?  Before I'd finished the first draft, NPR's Here & Now aired a segment on the topic, "A Goyische Christmas to You" (here's a link):

Margareta Mitchell

In 2014, two American composers whose name begin with "John" and end with "Adams" were surprised to find themselves in front-page headlines. John Luther Adams says he never imagined winning a Pulitzer, and John Adams says he never imagined the intensity of 

uri-golomb.com

In an exclusive for IPR Classical, Israeli musicologist Uri Golomb reviews a milestone album by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt, who started recording all of Bach's keyboard works in 1994. The resulting cycle won major acclaim and awards, but she says she "purposefully put off" Bach's final keyboard work, The Art of Fuguefor last.

public domain/ wikipedia

As promised, the classical Halloween countdown continues - thanks for your input!  Earlier, I posted eight picks; here are five more classical scares to bring the count up to 13. (And in the next post I'll add those you suggested.)  Here are some youtube versions. Again, if you have any other candidates, let me know at classical@iowapublicradio.org  or at our Facebook post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3702908

It's that time again! If you have any classical-music Halloween favorites, write to us at classical@iowapublicradio.org. Here are a few possibilities to get the conversation started; in Part 2 I'll post a few more later, bringing my total to 13.

When the Folias Duo came to Iowa, the husband-wife pair's first stop was Cedar Falls, where they played a live set in IPR Classical's Studio Two. They'd been on the road for seven hours, but their zest was irresistible. Try it: here's a video of their IPR performance of Cumparsita Vals,  a waltz-time reimagining of the classic tango La Cumparsita by Argentine composer Pablo Aslan:

http://www.davidfinckelandwuhan.com/

Iowa's orchestras, choirs, bands, & operas are awesome, but let's not forget our chamber music! Tune in 7AM Saturday or 8PM Sunday to hear two recent highlight from the Ames Town & Gown Chamber Music Association, now in its 65th season.

http://ledouxclaude.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/une-annee-nouvelle-rencontre-avec-erin-gee/

In what ways could music relate to the human voice without Auto-Tune or even, necessarily, language - or, for that matter, even singing? New classical CDs are exploring a fascinating range of possibilities, and several are either by or about Iowans. In reverse chronological order, here are five standouts:

He would have cranked up his radio louder and louder as his hearing got worse, but there's no doubt that if public radio had existed, Beethoven would have been an addict. And according to Jan Swafford, "People who knew Beethoven said politics was his favorite subject." So in addition to IPR Classical, I'd bet LvB would have had a preset for IPR's News/Talk stream. Do you seriously think this man would have missed an episode of All Things Considered?

simonestesfoundation.org

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.

In my post Is Parity Time Here for the Classical Violin? I mention a list I put together of classical solo violinists born after 1970, which I said illustrates my thesis that the field has attained gender parity. I mentioned, however, that the list is provisional - the best I could come up with from my perch in northeast Iowa - and that I welcome your input. Let me know what I missed, but meanwhile, here's the list:

http://www.midoriandfriends.org/

To paraphrase my previous post, if you think women have it bad in classical music, take a look at supposedly contemporary arts like film, literature, rock, jazz, blues, and country

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Listen below to a podcast of a live set from our studio Monday featuring four stellar young musicians from ChamberFest Dubuque.  Dubuque native Michael Gilbertson founded the festival in 2009; since then his compositions have won the Israel Prize and major awards from ASCAP and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and have been performed by the Washington National Opera, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, a

Join us Monday at 7 PM to hear the Quad City Symphony in Beethoven, Brahms, and ... Bancks. In March, the orchestra premiered a work by local composer Jacob Bancks specifically about the Quad Cities.

At first glance, it seems that compared to other arts, classical music has an unusual degree of male dominance.  But a careful look suggests that its gender balance is not at all exceptional.

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.

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 iowapublicradio.org):

www.dunedin-consort.org

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. 

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:

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:

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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