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!).

Ways to Connect

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

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).

Schmidt Artists

Doctors told 15-year-old violin prodigy Augustin Hadelich he would never play again. A tractor fire at his family's farm had badly burned his upper body, including his bowing arm. But after many months of physical therapy Hadelich came back - and now, at age 29, he has won top international awards, been entrusted with two consecutive Stradivarius violins, and earned praise from critics like Alex Ross, who wrote in The New Yorker that Hadelich has not only "fast-fingered brilliance" but also "the musicality and freewheeling fantasy that...


Join us tonight at 7 to hear Orchestra Iowa principal players delight with masterpieces for horn by Haydn and Mozart and a supreme works for string by Brahms. Principal horn Andy Harris shines in a Divertimento by Haydn and the Horn Quintet by Mozart; he's joined by the orchestra's new concertmaster Luke Witchger and by Karla Galva,  violist Lisa Ponton, cellist Carey Bostian, and double-bassist Volkon Orhan. Then five strings players come together for the masterpiece that Brahms meant to be his final work - his  String Quintet no. 2.

Orchestra Iowa

Tune in Sunday at noon or Monday at 7PM as four Orchestra Iowa members perform overlooked gems by Mozart, Schubert and Faure. They start with an unfinished String Trio by the teenage Schubert, continue with a Piano Trio in C major that Mozart wrote while working on his "Jupiter" Symphony, then come together for a powerful Piano Quartet in G Minor by Faure, his second. The four superb soloists -  violinist Xian Meng, violist Lisa Ponton, cellist Carey Bostian, and pianist Miko Kominami  - were recorded last September as part of IPR's Symphonies of Iowa series.

Heartland Concert Artists

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.

Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera

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.

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.

Dennis Callahan

Last year,  Jeremy Denk won a MacArthur "Genius" fellowship, published a memoir in the New Yorker, signed a contract with Random House to expand that article into a book,  and - oh, yes - won a place on IPR's "Favorite Classical CDs of 2013" list for his recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations." All of this makes us eager to hear him play one of Mozart's most celebrated piano concertos, no. 25 in C major.

The wcfsymphony took risks in this year's season opener - and they worked! Hear the result as conductor Jason Weinberger solos on clarinet in Steve Reich’s pulsating New York Counterpoint, Iowa-born pianist Conor Hanick plays John Adams’ Century Rolls, and the orchestra rocks Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory and Ravel’s Bolero. Hear the concert Monday at 7PM on Symphonies of Iowa, hosted by Jacqueline Halbloom.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Anthony Minghella, after directing "The English Patient" and "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," turned his talents to Puccini's "Madame Butterfly"  - that "cross-cultural tragedy" of "devotion and irresponsibility and misunderstandings willful and innocent." Few operas are as difficult to bring off and Minghella's spare production made it "take wing." Hear it from the Met today at noon.

Andy Doe,

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

94 Years After Death, Maud Powell Wins Grammy

Jan 26, 2014
Maud Powell Society

This year at the Grammy Awards, Lifetime Achievement awards are going to bands like The Beatles and The Isley Brothers — long overdue, you could say. But they look like young punks next to another Lifetime Achievement recipient: Maud Powell.

Courtesy the artist

Join us tonight at 7 PM as Joseph Giunta begins his 25th season leading the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra with an all-Russian program. It features his favorite post-Romantic symphony - Rachmaninov's Second- plus the return to Des Moines of  Ilya Yakushev, a prize-winning Russian pianist, who plays Prokofiev's scintillating Third Concerto. The broadcast is part of our Symphonies of Iowa series, produced and hosted by Jacqueline Halbloom.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Flu kept Russian mega-diva Anna Netrebko from opening the Met's "Elixir of Love" earlier this month - but she's back, and, says the New York Times, she's "right in the zone, singing with plushness, brilliance and spontaneity. She truly inhabited the role of Adina." And Netrebko's ex, bass-baritone Erwin Schrott, "stole every scene he was in" as the quack doctor who tries to peddle snake oil in her little town.

Join us at noon for a live sneak preview of Opal, by Iowa’s own Robert Lindsey-Nassif - who has composed eight new songs  for his acclaimed musical and re-orchestrated it for its Midwest premiere (at CSPS in Cedar Rapids). Jacqueline Halbloom will host Robert and members of the cast; they'll perform selections and tell us more about the story of Opal Whitely, who was orphaned in a shipwreck and raised in an Oregon lumber camp, and grew up to be a well-known nature writer.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

Join us Sunday to hear Bizet's Carmen in the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre's new production live from the Paramount. Iowa native Janara Kellerman sings the title role of the gypsy seductress, Alok Kumar plays the love-struck Don José, and baritone Philip Torre appears as the toreador Escamillo. Music director Daniel Kleinknecht conducts Orchestra Iowa, and Jacqueline Halbloom hosts this live Performance Iowa special. 

Felix Broede via Deutsche Grammophon

Tune in at 5 PM Tuesday to hear the pianist everyone is talking about playing Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven - and to learn how to pronounce his name! Rafal Blechacz (who won all five first prizes at the International Chopin Competion in 2005) was just named the 2014 Gilmore Artist. What's unique about this $300,000 award, given every four years, is that recipients don't even know they are under consideration until they win. Also, in the second hour of PT, hear Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra perform Beethoven's Second Symphony at Carnegie Hall.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Join us Saturday at noon to hear the Met production everyone's talking about: a Klimt-inspired update of Johann Strauss Jr.'s screwball farce "Die Fledermaus." A new English translation features jokey rhymes and topical swipes, and Broadway's Danny Burstein brings on the shtick as Frosch, the tipsy jailer. This being the Met, you can count on glorious voices and, from the orchestra, a "honeyed tone" (New York Times).

Saverio Truglia from

If you haven't discovered our Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center broadcast Saturdays at 1oAM, you might want to check out this week's broadcast of Czech masters. First, the pioneering Bohemian Bedrich Smetana is represented by his Piano Trio- written in memory of his eldest daughter - played by acclaimed violinist Cho-Liang Lin and husband and wife David Finckel and Wu Han. Then the adventurous Moravian Leos Janacek is represented by his Second String Quartet - his "manifesto on love" - performed by one of the world's foremost string quartets, the Pacifica.

first chair promo

Join us Thursday at 7PM as Esa-Pekka Salonen - the Finn who resigned as conductor of the LA Philharmonic so he could get back to composing - leads the New York Philharmonic in Ravel's Mother Goose, the Sibelius Fifth Symphony, and Salonen's own Violin Concerto. The soloist is MacArthur "genius" Leila Josefowicz, who premiered the work in LA. The Sibelius, said the New York Times, was "revelatory" and the Salonen? It was "inspired." Hear it for yourself!

Uwe Arens courtesy Universal Music Group

Join us Wednesday at 7PM as Julia Fischer - a great violinist and superb pianist - shows yet another skill, conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in Richard Strauss's profound Metamorphosen and Arnold Schoenberg's Transfigured Night. Oh, yes - she also plays the violin, soloing in the first violin concertos of both Bach and Mozart, and in some Paganini solo caprices.

Matthew Murphy from

Join Fred Child Tuesday at 6PM as the ever-innovate Imani Winds come into the studio to perform a work by member Valerie Coleman, "Red Clay and Mississippi Delta," as well as music by Wayne Shorter and Jason Moran.  There's also some terrific Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and more!

Orchestra Iowa

Tune in Monday at 7PM to hear a musical high point of 2013: Orchestra Iowa's world premiere of "American Gothic," which it commissioned from composer Michael Daugherty. A Cedar Rapids native who has won international fame and multiple Grammy awards, Daugherty took his inspiration from the art of another Cedar Rapids native, Grant Wood. Orchestra Iowa is just now releasing a CD of the work, but you can re-audition the concert premiere on this Symphonies of Iowa rebroadcast, which also includes the Dvorak 7th Symphony and Rachmaninoff's The Rock. 

Harald Hoffman/ Deutsche Grammophon courtesy Askonia Holts

Join us at 2PM for our weekly broadcast from Austria's Salzburg Festival. Today's artists are the Simon Bolivar Quartet - an internationally renowned product of "El Sistema," the Venezuelan charity that uses classical-music training to "rescue young people in extremely impoverished circumstances." On the program is Ravel's gentle String Quartet, Shostakovich's powerful Eighth Quartet, and more - including some encore Mozart from pianist Alfred Brendel.

Lyric Stage Company, Dallas, TX

Join host Jacqueline Halbloom for this month's Iowa Arts Showcase at 11Am or 5PM. Her guests include Iowa native Robert Lindsay-Nassif, speaking about his acclaimed Off-Broadway musical, Opal, to be produced this month in Cedar Rapids.

Music of the Baroque

Tune in Saturday at noon as Julie Taymor's innovative production of "The Magic Flute" returns to the Met - conducted by master Mozartian Jane Glover in her Met debut. (She is only the third woman to conduct there.)

LA Philharmonic

Join us tonight at 7 as our  weekly Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcast moves to a new time: Friday night. We're starting with an exceptional concert: the noted Finnish composer /conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen leads what may be our greatest orchestra (the CSO) in what may be the greatest symphony (the 7th) written by Salonen's greatest compatriot (Sibelius). Also, Yo-Yo Ma joins for the Cello Concerto by the great Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, with whom Salonen worked closely for decades.

Dario Acosta, from

Join us Thursday at 7PM as the New York Philharmonic performs Appalachian Spring and An American in Paris, and baritone Thomas Hampson sings Copland's Old American Songs - and selections from Broadway musicals.

Julian Bullitt c/o Boston Baroque

Continue New Year's festivities at 2PM on IPR Classical with Boston Baroque's annual Bach New Year concert from Cambridge, MA. The music this year includes the Brandenburg Concertos no. 3 and 4, plus the lovely Wedding Cantata and the delightful Coffee Cantata. (Spoiler alert: the father relents and gives his daughter permission to drink this radical new beverage!) Martin Pearlman conducts the ensemble he founded 40 years ago.

Tune in now for Iowa Public Radio’s special New Year's broadcast of FRANKENBOY!  from the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. This children's work by  Iowa composer Robert Lindsey-Nassif tells the story of Melvin Frankenstein and his first day at Transylvania Middle School. It delights children while teaching them about avoiding bullying and tolerating diversity.