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.

The Bee Gees did it. So do Smokey Robinson, Prince and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. They all sing in the high register usually associated with female singers.

Long before summer blockbuster films dazzled us with CGI-enhanced superheroes and villains, audiences got their dose of spectacle at the local opera house, where lavishly costumed singers have walked through monumental sets for centuries.

The Stradivarius violin gets its name from master craftsman Antonio Stradivari. When he died in 1737, his secrets died with him: No one has ever been able to duplicate the sound of the violins or violas he made.

His instruments have taken on a mythical quality. Today they fetch millions of dollars at auctions; Sotheby's will soon auction off a viola that it expects to sell for $45 million.

In 1986, four women gathered in a casual setting to sing through a bit of medieval chant. Little did they know they were launching Anonymous 4, an a cappella ensemble that has spanned nearly 30 years, 20 albums, countless concerts and more than a millenium of music.

Today the group announced that the 2015-16 season will be its last together. But this isn't the first time Anonymous 4 has thought about calling it quits. The group bid a similar farewell in 2004.

Conjuring An Opera With Ten Fingers

May 9, 2014

It's always been a treat to sit down with pianist Louis Lortie. In part because of his sound at the piano — the brightness, purity and clarity of his playing. But all the better to have a conversation with him, too. He is a sober, serious thinker, with an incisive point of view on every piece of music he chooses.

It's not easy being a mom, but it's even tougher for mothers in opera. So often they're completely absent while fathers have leading roles in shows like Rigoletto, La traviata, The Flying Dutchman. When depicted at all, operatic moms are usually under supreme stress. They can be murderous, manipulative or simply mad. Only rarely are they the loving moms who brought us into the world. Here your job is to identify the operas and their mothers. Score high and brag to your own sweet (or stressed) mom. Score low and go to your room without supper.

Twenty-nine gentle measures by Felix Mendelssohn are creating quite a stir — after being lost for more than a century.

Chopin's Music Fills Studio A

May 5, 2014
Interlochen Arts Academy senior Grace (Jiyuan) Zhang
Tim Burke

Interlochen Arts Academy senior Grace (Jiyuan) Zhang recently visited IPR's Studio A to perform the third and fourth movements of Frederick Chopin's Piano Sonata in B-flat minor, Opus 35.   The third movement (known as the Funeral March) was written as Chopin's native Poland was being invaded.  Grace says "it was written for generations - for a country." Grace will continue her studies at the University of Michigan beginning this fall.

Hear an intriguing program pairing John Adams' gorgeous Harmonium with an oratorio by black Canadian-American composer R. Nathaniel Dett — a work whose 1937 premiere was weirdly cut short.

Crimson Tide, The Lion King, Inception, Gladiator — that's just a handful of the many movies that feature award-winning scores by Hans Zimmer. Lately, Zimmer has lent his ear to soundtracks written by a new generation of aspiring film composers.

In much of the country it still feels like summer is a long way off, but it's not too early to plan on hitting the road and hearing great music. From bucolic college campuses in New England to musical rafting trips down the Colorado, these are 10 of the most intriguing classical festivals. And below them is a listing, by region, of many of the best fests. Been to one we missed? Pass along your own advice in the comments section or via Facebook or Twitter.

The great outdoors is a perennial theme in classical music, usually expressed through bucolic or picturesque works. But the Seattle Symphony knew that to appear on Spring for Music — an annual festival of adventurous programming by North American orchestras — it required a more unusual, daring take on this theme.

Coming Soon To Colorado: Wolfgang And Weed

Apr 30, 2014

Colorado Symphony patrons — if they aren't already — are about to have the option of being Rocky Mountain high.

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The most successful polemical art succeeds first as art. Benjamin Britten proved that with his War Requiem.

Born in Kiev a little more than 40 years ago, Valentina Lisitsa came to America in the early '90s to work as a concert pianist.

Vijay Iyer On Q2 Music's 'Spaces'

Apr 24, 2014

Pianist, composer, improviser and 2013 MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer has built a career of making musical connections. Increasingly recognized as one of the most inventive musicians working today, he received an interdisciplinary Ph.D.

Soviet composer Vadim Salmanov is little more than a footnote outside Russia, but his four energetic, skillfully orchestrated symphonies are making a small comeback. Russia's venerable Melodiya label has reissued them in a handsomely packaged double-disc set of live recordings made between 1957 and 1977.

Conducted with burning intensity by Yevgeny Mravinsky, Salmanov's rarely heard music soars off these albums with a sound that is thoroughly Russian yet charged with a certain Soviet-era anxiety.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra At Carnegie Hall

Apr 24, 2014

Conductor Robert Spano leads the orchestra and chorus in Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, music written for the 1962 rededication of the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed in a 1940 air raid.

From as far back as we can tell, music makers have been inspired by the flora and especially the fauna around us. From tooting tunes on actual animal horns and bones, to musical portraits of creatures large and small, performers and composers of all stripes have included critters in their creations. In this puzzler, you must identify the creature depicted in the music.

Jordi Savall has made a career of reviving ancient music. Whatever the age of the songs, though, he doesn't play them as museum-piece recreations, preserved in isolation. Savall takes great pleasure in smashing together music from different times and different cultures.

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