WQXR Staffers' Favorite Summer Memories
Friday, September 02, 2016 - 09:00 AM
This Labor Day, WQXR will play selected highlights from our favorite live broadcasts recorded during the summer, featuring performances from Caramoor, Lincoln Center, Central Park and more. In conjunction, staffers offered their favorite musical memories from the season. Read on to see what stuck with them, and tell us your favorite moments over the past few months in the comments or tweet us using the hashtag #WQXRSummer.
Annie Bergen, Midday Host
I was thrilled to meet Alan Alda in person and hear about his strong personal connection to Mozart! Also, hearing the amazing pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii perform Beethoven’s Emperor concerto at the Naumburg Bandshell was magical.
Aaron Dalton, Associate Producer
In July, I took my visiting little brother to another concert in another park, to see Stephen Colbert’s bandleader Jon Batiste as part of Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park. Although I wanted to hear more of his old New Orleans trio style, his Stay Human band always put on a good show (and for the QXR crowd, Batiste threw in a few phrases of the "Moonlight Sonata" and "Maple Leaf Rag"). There was a long list of unknown openers, which might have been annoying except that most of them were unbelievably talented teenage prodigies that gave me hope for the future of jazz music. Batiste and Stay Human make it a goal to create a supportive sense of community, which was present both there inside the bandshell and out on the lawn.
Eileen Delahunty, Producer
My favorite musical memory this summer was hands down (no pun intended) sitting in on a conducting workshop with Marin Alsop at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Alsop was funny, clear and generous with aspiring young women conductors, giving them feedback and tips on how to best communicate their musical intentions. It was fascinating!
Elliott Forrest, Afternoon Host
It was just great fun to host the opening concert at Caramoor with Kelli O'Hara and Rob Fisher. My favorite part was Kelli leading a sing-a-long with the audience, encouraging them sing out for the radio audience at home!
Zev Kane, Music Coordinator
Being backstage at Caramoor and seeing Gil Shaham play the Brahms Violin Concerto. He and [conductor] Pablo Heras-Casado jumped up and down before they went on stage, and I could see Shaham smiling while he played.
Merrin Lazyan, Assistant Producer
Just before the summer began in earnest, I had the absolute privilege of seeing Evgeny Kissin playing Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto at Carnegie Hall. Not only is this the most achingly beautiful and deeply powerful piece of music I know, but the event was particularly special because James Levine was conducting the MET Orchestra. Kissin was phenomenal and flawless, as always.
Michael Shobe, Assistant Program Director
Bringing my 18-month-old daughter to the Naumburg Bandshell for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Nobuyuki Tsujii, and Beethoven was a wonderful summer experience. She danced to the Coriolan Overture and paraded around the audience during the Emperor Concerto. We left at intermission when the thunder and lightning started, and listened to the opening of the Fifth Symphony on WQXR in the cab to Grand Central.
Jeff Spurgeon, Morning Host
On the evening of June 14 in Central Park, Ensemble LPR concluded the first of this summer’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts with Ives’s The Unanswered Question. Hearing that quiet work unfold in the open air, with the sounds of nature and the park combining themselves with the borders of the music, made that piece a part of the night in a way that an indoor performance could never have done. It was a very special moment.
There were two other performances that were part of my summer 2016, but will be part of autumn 2016 for WQXR listeners. At the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland in late August, I heard a performance of Debussy, Sibelius, Haydn, Berg and Gershwin, played by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Barbara Hannigan, a well-established Canadian soprano who is also a terrific conductor. What makes her extra special is that she conducts and sings in the same performance. She has incredible star power. But you needn’t take my word for it. WQXR plans to broadcast that concert in November, as well as another concert I attended at the festival, with Marin Alsop conducting the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in a program of Villa-Lobos, Rachmaninoff and the Grieg Piano Concerto with soloist Gabriela Montero. Montero offered one of her trademark improvisations as an encore, and Alsop’s and the orchestra’s enthusiasm for the music engaged everyone in the hall — so much so that the orchestra had to repeat an encore. Two more terrific memories of Summer 2016 for me.