Monday, October 25, 2010
One of today's most respected Puccini sopranos, Patricia Racette tells Midge Woolsey about her ecclectic career that spans verismo to cabaret. And she reveals why she identifies with "complicated, conflicted" characters.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
What touch! Pianist Garrick Ohlsson had an eloquent dialogue tonight with his instrument, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and with all of us listening to his Carnegie Hall performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Ohlsson's fingers on the keyboard managed precise intricacies, each note articulated clearly, but I was so impressed with the way all notes integrated into a vivid, thrilling whole.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I'm curious to know about your memorable CD gift giving and/or receiving moments. What was the CD and why was it a successful gift? Was it romantic? Great music for dinnertime?
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Last weekend I had the pleasure of recording an in-studio performance by composer Van Dyke Parks, which will broadcast on my WNYC show Spinning On Air this Sunday evening at 8 pm. My first exposure to Parks's work was when I heard The Beach Boys song “Heroes and Villains” on the radio while a kid back in the 1960s. Parks wrote the lyrics for that song, and subsequently worked on The Beach Boys’ “Smile” and his own 1968 album “Song Cycle,” and many projects since. Back when I first heard his music I knew it was new, exciting, and different, but I probably didn’t recognize that it was such an effective, natural blend of folk, pop, and classical influences.
Friday, October 08, 2010
Kraft has finally come to New York, carrying with it the local, found-object flavor that composer Magnus Lindberg requires when installing this legacy-defining piece.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
On Thursday morning, composer Magnus Lindberg and the New York Philharmonic held the final rehearsal before the New York premiere of his 1985 industrial work Kraft. That piece features an arsenal of noise-making instruments augmented by various found objects, including scrap metal, an oxygen tank and other junk, all of which were picked up from a Staten Island junkyard.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
If there is an audience for it, what difference does it make if a classical artist decides to cross over into the world of popular music every once in a while? I’ll grant you that it suits some singers better than others, but I really don’t see the harm in it. And, if a few more people get turned on to classical music along the way, why not?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Up until a few weeks ago, you'd hear a generous amount of recordings from pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev. But now that Pletnev is under investigation for child rape in Thailand his voice has been silenced in concert halls and on the radio – in the U.S. and U.K that is. But back home in Russia, and elsewhere his beat marches on. Pletnev founded the Russian National Orchestra 20 years ago and its season kicked off this month as planned with Pletnev on the podium.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The Metropolitan Opera season opens tonight with Das Rheingold, the first opera in Wagner's epic Ring cycle. My guest today is James Jorden, who is most famous - or should I say infamous - for his alter ego La Cieca on the e-zine Parterre.com. He also writes about opera for the New York Post.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Glenn Dicterow has been a concertmaster or associate concertmaster in major symphony orchestras for nearly forty years, thirty of which have been at the New York Philharmonic. He talks with Jeff Spurgeon about the job.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
As our month-long ViolinFest proceeds on WQXR, I’ve been reading about the violin, and talking with some violinists and other violin experts. Curiously for me, though, learning about the violin has not made me interested in the slightest in learning to play the thing. I say “curiously” because usually when I study something, I feel an urge, however small, to experience it. But for some reason, the violin hasn’t grabbed me in the least. It looks not only difficult to learn, but uncomfortable, too. I love listening to it, and deeply admire the people who study it, play it expertly, and understand it. But it’s not for me.
If I were to study a string instrument, it would be the cello. There’s something about its tone quality, its warmth, and the intimacy of holding it in an embrace – as opposed to tucking the violin under the chin, as if it were napkin – that draws me to it. There’s nothing rational about any of this, of course. Speaking of irrational, I also have long had a desire to play the accordion. I love the sweet rusticity of the French bal-musette sound. But the accordion instead of the violin – what’s wrong with me? Please don’t answer that, but do answer this: What musical instrument have you always wanted to play, and why? If you’ve fulfilled your ambition, what was it like to meet the object of your musical desire?
Friday, September 10, 2010
On September 11, 2001, I was home and glued to my TV set, like everybody else. My two main gigs that year were hosting Breakfast With The Arts on A&E and being one of the voice-over guys on CNN. I was not scheduled to shoot for A&E, but I was expected to work for CNN. As the day unfolded it was clear I was not going to get into Manhattan since the bridges were closed. But at that time, I had all the technology I needed to voice for CNN from home. ISDN Lines, still used today, are basically broadcast-quality telephone lines. So late in the afternoon, I was emailed my script and I voiced my pieces. A clip from the night of the attacks is on my web site.