Classical

For a New Year's Eve change of pace, join us at 4PM for "A Season's Griot," public radio's only nationally syndicated Kwanzaa program. Acclaimed storyteller Madafo Lloyd Wilson hosts this annual one-hour celebration of the tales and traditions of African-American and African peoples. Then, at 7PM tune in for Paul Winter's annual Winter Solstice celebration concert from New York City.

As we kick off the New Year, Iowa Public Radio’s January Iowa Arts Showcase takes you behind the scenes with guest stage director Bill Ferrara as he shares his take on the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Bizet’s Carmen. A classic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge, the gypsy seductress Carmen, sung by Iowa native Janera Kellerman, tires of her soldier lover Don José in favor of the handsome toreador Escamillio.

c Simon Fowler, courtesy Harrison-Parrott

Join us Sunday at 2PM to hear Susanna Mälkki, the Finnish conductor who recently became the first woman ever to conduct at La Scala (they are inviting her back), in what critics called "easily the most impressive" Chicago Symphony debut of recent seasons. She conducts Debussy's La Mer (a specialty of hers), music for Shakespeare's The Tempest by her countryman Sibelius,  and .…but all shall be well  by the noted English composer Thomas Adès. And MacArthur "genius" Leila Josefowicz joins as soloist in Stravinsky's Violin Concerto.

Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Join us at noon for a live broadcast of "Tosca" from the Met. The production was booed when it premiered in 2011, but reworking has turned it into a success - largely because of Sondra Radvanovsky, whose "luminous performance breathed life" into the production, according to the New York Times. It called her Floria Tosca a "multidimensional, fiercely individual portrayal, grounded in her voice [which is] elegant and blooming." It also praised conductor Marco Armiliato for "shaping a dramatically animated and expressive performance."

St. Olaf College

If you missed this year's St. Olaf Christmas concert, it was so good that we're reprising it Friday at 7 PM - join us! The LA Philharmonic, usually heard at this time, will be moving to a new weekly slot: check this space as we announce it as well as some exciting new programs starting in January!

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

Kick off the New Year with Iowa Public Radio’s special broadcast of the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s Young Artist production of FRANKENBOY!  by Iowa composer and librettist, Robert Lindsey-Nassif. Robert is the recipient of several awards for his Off-Broadway productions. FRANKENBOY! tells the story of Melvin Frankenstein and his first day at Transylvania Middle School. 

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Join us Thursday at 7PM as the New York Philharmonic performs two masterpieces of Benjamin Britten to honor his centennial. In both works, Britten took his texts from great English poets: Tennyson, Keats, Blake and others in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, and Milton, Blake, Spenser, Auden among others in the Spring Symphony. Alan Gilbert conducts, and the soloists include soprano Kate Royal and tenor Paul Appleby (fresh from his success at the Met in Nico Muhly's Two Boys).

American Public Media

The perfect Christmas music continues December 25th  on IPR Classical with: Chanticleer at 8AM; the St. Olaf Christmas Festival at 9AM; Stile Antico singing luminous Elizabethan music of Thomas Tallis and Willian Byrd at 11, followed by Chicago’s Music of the Baroque at noon with glorious music not just from the Baroque but also from modern Estonia and England. Then, at 2PM, hear a complete Handel “Messiah” from Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society led by Harry Christophers.

Quad City Symphony Orchestra's Facebook page

On Iowa Public Radio’s Symphonies of Iowa series’ encore broadcast Monday, December 30, 2013 at 7 p.m., Maestro Mark Russell Smith leads the Quad City Symphony in the 100th anniversary performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which was first performed in 1913. This completes Maestro Smith’s cycle of Stravinsky ballets, which included Petrushka in 2009 and the Firebird in 2010. They also perform Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Featuring:

Mark Russell Smith, music director

Morehouse College

At 10AM, hear this year's "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" live from King's College, Cambridge on IPR Classical. Then, at 11 AM, the Tallis Scholars - celebrating their 40th anniversary - present a beautiful concert from Boston. At noon, hear this year's Christmas at Luther, recorded in Decorah. But wait, there's more!

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Join us at noon to hear Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" from the Des Moines Metro Opera. This modern classic tells the story of a poor mother and her crippled son, Amahl, discovering the healing power of love while giving shelter to the three Wise Men. This Performance Iowa broadcast was recorded on December 6-7, 2013, with Pierce Mansfield as Amahl, Julie Makerov as Amahl’s mother, and Todd Thomas as King Melchior.

Orchestraiowa.com

Join us Monday at 7PM to hear Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, recorded earlier this month in Cedar Rapids, featuring Orchestra Iowa in collaboration with Ballet Quad Cities. Earlier, at 3 PM, tune in for "A Carol Festival" from Valparaiso University, followed at 4 by "Glad Tidings of Great Joy," with music of Bach, Purcell, and others from Medieval Germany through Baroque Germany, all performed by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis and the Early Music Institute of the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, directed by Paul Elliott.

When I spoke with Charity Nebbe about favorite classical CDs of 2013, time was short, so I cut my list to 10 that I thought might appeal to the widest range of listeners. But my actual list is much longer.

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Tune in Thursday at 7PM for the first of several "Messiahs" this month on IPR - this one a highly praised concert by the New York Philharmonic under Gary Thor Wedow. The New York Times called it "excellent, with "a fleet, lithe orchestral performance, aptly complemented by the buoyant singing of the chorus." The Times also raved about some of the soloists, and said that "the audience, standing for the Hallelujah Chorus, applauded and cheered at the end of that section."

Noah Henscheid, from wcfso.org

Join us Monday at 7PM as Jason Weinberger and the wcfsymphony perform Christmas (and other) music of Bach, Handel, and Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The Bach includes selections from his cantatas and his Christmas Oratorio, plus the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 with Kathleen Sihler and Ute Brandenburg on violas. Music from Handel's Messiah and Charpentier's Noëls round out the festivities. Guest vocalists include Jeff Brich, Elizabeth Bieber, and Kaethe Henning.

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Tune in at noon to hear how Verdi improves on Shakespeare in the comic masterpiece Falstaff,  premiered when the composer was 80.  James Levine conducts Falstaff better than anyone else, and Robert Carsen's new Met production (updating the action to postwar England) is winning raves, as is Ambrogio Maestri - the 6' 5" Italian baritone who, says, the New York Times, "simply owns the role of Falstaff."

Lauren Farmer

Join us tonight at 6 PM to hear a new work written for the Dallas Symphony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The composer is Conrad Tao, the 19-year-old  American pianist/composer whose first CD is one of our picks-of-the-year. The work is titled The World Is Very Different Now and is performed by the Symphony and its music director, Jaap van Zweden.

Its' been a great year for classical CDs! At 10:30, Barney Sherman will share ten (plus one) of his picks of the year with Charity Nebbe on Talk of Iowa - and playing many more than ten on his show every afternoon. If you have any particular favorite classical CDs of the year, please let us know!

Michael O'Brien Photography from flickr.com

Join us Monday at 7PM for "A Journey Through the Nutcracker." James David Jacobs goes behind the scenes of Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker, uncovering the secrets of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece with conductor Jonathan McPhee, cast members, and the audience at the Boston Opera House.

© St.Petersburg Contemporary Music Center "reMusik.org".

Join us Tuesday at 7PM to hear Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto played by Midori, and the "Fairytale Poem" for orchestra by one of today's great composers, Sofia Gubaidulina, in a concert from the Houston Symphony. The Russian master wrote her "Fairytale" during the Soviet era; its hero is a piece of chalk - who stands for "the creative artist's destiny." Also on the program is Rachmaninov's Symphony no. 2. Conducting is Andres Orozco Estrada, the young Columbian violinist and conductor whom Houston recently chose as its next Music Director.

Dan Jahn Photography

Tune in Sunday at noon to hear the Des Moines Metro Opera recital of Sarah Jane McMahon on Performance Iowa.  Sarah has sung recently with the San Francisco Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, and Wiener Konzert Haus, in addition to singing opposite Placido Domingo in a gala concert. She has received The New York Times Kolozsvar Award for her performance as Galatea in Handel's Acis and Galatea and received their praise as "the most polished and flexible singer in the cast" and a "silvery-voiced soprano." 

Mathias Borth/ DG

Tune in Sunday at 2PM as the legendary Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini performs the Mozart Piano Concerto no. 21 (the best-known of them all) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by music director Riccardo Muti. Also on the program is Schumann's Symphony no. 3, "The Rhenish," and music of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Haydn.

Ken Howard/Met

Saturday at noon hear the Metropolitan Opera return to IPR with Verdi's Rigoletto.  Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, says the New York Times, brings "tragic stature" to the "oppressed" title character; he "claims this role on his own terms, infusing phrases with dusky richness and shaping melodic lines with  elegance." As his daughter, Irina Lungu conveys "restlessness and sensual yearning" with a voice of "bloom and warmth." Matthew Polenzani is the Duke, and the 35-year-old Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado makes what the Times calls "an auspicious Met d

c Mina artistbilder (courtesy Askonas Holt)

Join us tonight at 7 as soprano Miah Persson - a renowned interpreter of Bach and Mozart - sings Bach's dazzling Cantata 51 (with trumpet soloist Philip Smith) then joins a team of star soloists as the New York Philharmonic gives a "glowing" performance of Mozart's Requiem under Bernard Labadie (the adjective comes from The New York Times).

Marco Borggreve, courtesy www.yannicknezetseguin.com

The Philadelphia Orchestra is back in its glory, and its 38-year-old music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is a big part of the reason.  Tonight at 7, hear the inspiring Canadian and the fabulous Philadelphians in a recent Carnegie Hall appearance. They perform Ravel's La Valse, Szymanowski's Violin Concerto (with Leonidas Kavakos), and the Shostakovich Fifth.

Houston Grand Opera

Join us at noon for the opera that changed music: Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. As Tristan is no less than Ben Heppner, "open-hearted, in robust and thrilling voice… His Tristan is less a hero and more a tortured, troubled soul, filled with longing, pride, and confusion." As Isolde is Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, who "fascinates by her ability to combine vocal beauty with dramatic force."

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of hot chocolate as Iowa Public Radio's December Iowa Arts Showcase outlines details about several holiday musical offerings. John Cook, Minister of Music and Fine Arts at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, and freelance theater director Ron Gilbert share the background behind the church's production of The First Nowell by Vaughan Williams.

Margaretta Mitchell (used by permission)

Join us Friday night at 7 to hear one of the most talked-about works of the decade, John Adam's The Gospel According to the Other Mary.  Adams and his collaborator Peter Sellars, the path-breaking director, combine New Testament stories with contemporary Latin-American poetry, the approach they pioneered so successfully in El Niño. In this performance, Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. PLEASE NOTE: To accommodate the full broadcast on Friday night, Exploring Music will begin an hour later than usual, at 10 PM.

Roger Mastroianni courtesy Arts Management Group

Tonight from 5-9 PM you can hear concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Bach, and Vivaldi, in live concert performances by some of today's great soloists. First, during Performance Today, Dame Mitsuko Uchida performs Mozart's radiant Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, conducting the Cleveland Orchestra from the keyboard. Then Argentine legend Martha Argerich solos in Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 2 and Schumann's Piano Concerto.

Dubuque Symphony Orchestra

Featured on Iowa Public Radio’s Symphonies of Iowa series broadcast Monday, December 2, 2013 at 7 p.m. is the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s encore Classics 5 Russia’s Greatest performance. This performance includes music from three of Russia’s greatest composers. Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor has been praised for its robust melodies, and the Russian Easter Festival Overture and Capriccio Espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov are filled with joy and orchestral color.

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