The Down Beat Goes On - But Not Here

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. 

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Junkyard Orchestra

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On a sweltering Friday afternoon, a group of musicians including the Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg piled into a van bound for a Staten Island junkyard. Their task? To find ingredients for the composer's 1985 work, Kraft.

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Opening Night at the Met

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For WQXR's Naomi Lewin, the biggest stars of the Met's opening-night gala were James Levine and the Met Orchestra. If you attended, give us your review.

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James Jorden on the New Opera Season

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 He also writes about opera for the New York Post.

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Deborah Voigt: "I'm Pinching Myself"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Met's new Brünnhilde talked with host Jeff Spurgeon about being both nervous and excited for the new Ring cycle – and about applying her dramatic soprano to cabaret tunes.

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Glenn Dicterow on the Role of the Concertmaster

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.

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Wanna Play?

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?

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A Behind-the-Scenes Recollection

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.

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In Memoriam Erich Kunzel

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Erich Kunzel, long-time conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, died a year ago, at the age of 74. Kunzel wasn’t just Cincinnati’s conductor -- for nearly two decades, he led the National Symphony Orchestra in A Capitol Fourth and Memorial Day concerts on the lawn of the Capitol Building that were broadcast around the country on PBS.

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Turntables and the 'LP Sound'

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My turntable broke about 15 years ago. It was around the time of the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. I went to see the show and came home eager to put on my original cast album to ‘compare’. The turntable died in the middle of the title song. 

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Comments [36]

Taking a Break with Music

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is the last week of the traditional vacation season. I love the terms associated with vacation. To “vacate” means to “get out.”  “Relax” means to “loosen.” We also “take a break,” have “time off,” and “get away.” In all of those words or phrases is the idea of relief from everyday routine, and there are myriad ways to escape quotidian matters.

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Comments [9]

B.Y.O. Popcorn

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomorrow night, the Metropolitan Opera starts its second annual (hopefully, anyway) Summer HD Festival. They’ll be spending the next ten nights out on Lincoln Center Plaza showing operas that were originally beamed live into movie theaters. And it’s free!

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Lenny at 92

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leonard Bernstein was a man of supreme charisma and fantastic talent. A conductor, composer and educator, Bernstein was an undying advocate for composers, new works, new ideas, and the concept of music as a living art in the modern world. For all of these reasons, Bernstein seems a sort of spiritual antecedent to Q2.

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Quintessential New York

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We at WQXR are putting together a very special CD. The theme is New York. So if you live in New York, used to live in New York, wish to live in New York or have heard of New York – we want to know what classical music you’d want on such a recording -- and why?

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Comments [91]

Has Classical Music Made Us Well-Rounded or just Square?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An acquaintance recently said to me, "Terrance, I think you might be too square for her" (referring to a friend of hers). That comment got me thinking about the degree to which one's personality is shaped by vocation.

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Comments [20]

K. Why?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adam Delehanty, who keeps our schedules straight at WQXR, just asked, "This may be a naïve question, but why does Mozart's music all have "K." numbers after it?"  It's a great question.

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Live or Memorex?

Friday, August 13, 2010

I hadn’t even read the ecstatic New York Times review of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Mostly Mozart Festival performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato  yet when I called my Mom, and said I would cheerfully go right back and see it again.  Sitting in the theater, I was thrilled by the imaginative choreography and luminous dancing, and also by the fact that it was all “accompanied” by a topnotch, live performance of a piece by Handel.

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Visual Music

Friday, August 06, 2010

Although I work in the non-visual medium of radio, by training I'm a visual artist. I graduated from art school, and worked for ten years as a graphic designer and illustrator before moving to radio via my lifelong love of music. I think that radio actually is a visual medium, it's just that the associated images are conjured in the imagination of the listener, rather than on paper or on canvas.

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Classical Wedding Bells

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I have to confess that I didn't spend too much time following the story of Chelsea Clinton's wedding. However, yesterday I found myself surfing the Web looking for news of any music that was played during the ceremony.  There was no mention that I could find.

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Comments [73]

Street Musicians

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I have a rule about street musicians. If they make me smile, I give them money. And that goes for subway musicians, too.

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Comments [18]