Classical Music

Interlochen Public Radio is your gateway to news and classical music from Interlochen Center for the Arts. Learn about new music, upcoming performances and more.

You'll want to dim the lights for this video to accompany "VHS," from composer Christina Vantzou. The title implies a primitive digital universe. But in Vantzou's world, it's more of a void — a pitch-black emptiness where a lone figure chases her own barely perceptible reflection.

Violin Virtuosity: Stanislav Pronin

Jul 8, 2014

Violinist Stanislav Pronin paid a return visit to IPR's Studio A and gave a live performance of Nathan Milstein's challenging, "Paganiniana."  We asked Pronin what attracted him to Nathan Milstein's arrangement of works by Paganini. His answer? "It's just fun to play."

It's also a lot of fun to hear!

Sheldon Harnick has been a working lyricist for over 60 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the musical Fiorello! and a Tony Award for Fiddler On The Roof. But he says a career in the theater means writing some songs that, for whatever reason, don't make the show.

"Sometimes, the song was changed because a scene was changed and it no longer accommodated the song," Harnick says. "So, sometimes there had to be a new song."

Brooklyn Rider takes the idea of the string quartet to a new level.  Already champions of new music and fresh approaches, the Brooklyn, NY-based group stretch the boundaries of the classic quartet, adding unusual instruments and other forms of art to the mix.  In their Studio A session, they treated us to terrific, high-energy performances of, "Doina Oltului," a Roma-inspired piece, and, "Ascending Bird," originally arranged for quartet and Persian Fiddle (kamancheh).
 


Chris Gruits, Executive Director of Interlochen Presents, is dropping by Classical IPR twice a week to give updates on upcoming events at the Interlochen Festival.

In today's chat, he fills us in about the upcoming WYSO concert featuring Guest Conductor Carlos Kalmar and Pianist Alessio Bax, and a visit from The Capitol Steps.

For information about all Interlochen Festival Events, visit: tickets. interlochen.org.
 


The year is half over and that means NPR Music and our public radio partners have been obsessing over our favorite songs of the year so far. The full list of 50 songs makes a potent stew ranging from power pop and brash hip-hop to electro-fueled dance music and intimate portraits from jazz vocalists, classical guitarists and folk troubadours.

Tracy Silverman has been called the greatest living exponent of the electric violin. But we're not talking just any electric violin.

Well, this was a new one for Studio A:  a room full of musicians who can assemble and disassemble a saxophone and an M-16 rifle.  The US Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force Band came by to play us some cool arrangements and chat about life as full-time military musicians.


Conductor Julius Rudel, a defining figure in 20th-century opera production, died early Thursday morning. He was 93, and died at his New York home of natural causes, according to his son Anthony Rudel, station manager of Boston classical music broadcaster WCRB. WCRB is part of WGBH and an NPR member station.

Class of 2014: Walk of "Fame"

Jun 25, 2014

  This month, the focus is on Interlochen Arts Academy's class of 2014.  Among the works we'll hear: Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" performed by the Academy Orchestra, an excerpt from Ned Rorem's opera "Our Town" sung by soprano Sage DeAgro-Ruopp, and poet Sojourner Ahebee reads one of her own works.  We'll aslo hear some Durufle courtesy of organist Bryan Dunnewald, and cellist Daniel Blumhard performs a work written for him by classmate Tevan Goldberg.


Most people who attend symphony performances can spot the concertmaster. That's the first chair violinist who enters before the conductor and helps tune the orchestra. But the all important position calls for much more than that — from playing tricky solos to shaping the sound of the string section.

Update Wednesday, June 25, 2014: A representative from Sotheby's tells NPR that the instrument did not sell "at this time."

Wednesday, Sotheby's auction house plans to announce the sale of a rare viola made by Antonio Stradivari. The minimum bid is $45 million. If it sells, it will be the most expensive instrument of any kind in history.

Here's an old musician joke: How do you keep your violin from getting stolen? Put it in a viola case.

Summer has officially breezed in with not only longer days but also sultry nights. There's something about summer nights that inspires composers — perhaps a certain stillness in the air or the allure of a new romance. To mark the changing of the season, test your ears in this nocturnal puzzler dedicated to musical snapshots of warm summer evenings. Score high and turn the air conditioner up a notch. Score low and sweat it out till morning.

In case you've been hiding under a rock (or a patch of AstroTurf), there's a little sporting event underway that has much of the world glued to the television. As the 2014 World Cup blasts into its second week, 32 teams (in groups of four, lettered A-H) continue to battle it out in Brazil.

Carol Jantsch is known for elevating tuba playing to performance art (she's performed Flight of the Bumblebee in full bee suit and advertised her first tuba CD with a rap video). She is also the first woman to hold a Principal Tuba Chair among major orchestras in the United States (in this case, the Philadelphia Orchestra). Jantsch is at Interlochen this week, teaching the Tuba and Trombone Institute.

Jantsch says she thinks of herself as a musician first, and a tuba player second, and she's interested in playing pieces not originally intended for the tuba.  She visited Studio A with accompanist Ellen Sommer-Bottorf and performed a wonderful rendition of Debussy's, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.  If you think the tuba is nothing more than a background instrument that goes oom-pa-pa - you're in for an elegant surprise.


William VerMeulen has had a life full of connections to Interlochen.  His mother came here to attend Music Camp and play the cello in the 1940's, and later, was a participant in our Adult Chamber Music Camp.  He attended Interlochen as a Camper, and then later, as an Academy Student.  He even worked in food service in the cafeteria, and eventually spent three years as an Academy Horn Instructor.  "I've done," he says, " everything you could do at Interlochen, and now to be back is a thrill."


Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

About two years ago, playwright David Henry Hwang turned down an offer to write a play about the brief life and suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen.

But an opera? He couldn't refuse.

"This is a story with big emotions, big primary colors in a way, and big plot events," says Hwang, who wrote the libretto for An American Soldier, a new hourlong opera commissioned by Washington National Opera.

The concerto. It's a musical recipe more than 400 years old but composers still cook with it. And why shouldn't they? We still seem to crave the sound of a virtuosic soloist playing with (and often against) an orchestra. As in centuries past, virtuosos still inspire, and in many cases commission, composers to write some of their best music, which can push an instrument to its creative limit.

Music by Richard Strauss is heard in symphony halls and opera houses across the world. He needs little help to boost his considerable fame. Yet 150 years after his birth, the German composer remains an enigma to some classical music fans and a polarizing figure for others. A perfect candidate, in other words, for a musical puzzler.

Can you hear the wedding bells? June has arrived. Theories vary on why this is the month for marriage. Old traditions like the timing of the harvest season (and pregnancies) might have had something to do with it, or more modern practicalities such as nicer weather and abundant fresh flowers. And then there's the name of the month itself, thought to be inspired by Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

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