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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Sympathy for the Flute

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 25, 2009
The flute isn't normally considered the underdog of the musical world, but even flutists have some regrets. Things were great up through Mozart, but then the 19th century largely passed them by. Life got better starting with Debussy in the twentieth century, but by then, they’d been neglected by many of the greats, including Beethoven, Schumann, and Dvorak.
Robert Stallman
Robert Stallman

Flutist Robert Stallman is making up for this lost time. He has an album of “New Schubert” – charming Schubert chamber music transcriptions featuring the flute. Listen to a sample track.

In our interview, Robert Stallman talked about this album and his transcriptions, the history of the flute, and his new record label, named for Schubert’s favorite hangout “Bogner’s Café.” Check it out:

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Interview with flutist Robert Stallman


About Robert Stallman
* New Schubert: Works for Flute & Strings
Update 3/2/10: A review by Muruch of Stallman's latest project The Nightingale in Love


I hope that this cool interview makes up for the week of neglect on the blog -- we have been busy! I’ve been listening to coal music, while Jim Lange has started a new blog, and those much anticipated and dreaded holidays have also been sneaking up on us.

Don’t worry, we'll soon be getting back into the swing of things with more interviews (including Johsua Bell, Larry Combs, Professor Lloyd Bone from Glenville State College, and WVU composer-in-residence John Beall), a summary of our favorite albums this year, and yes, even some holiday music. Happy Thanksgiving!

Meet the Maestro: Mitchell Arnold

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 18, 2009

The WVU Symphony Orchestra is playing a concert on Thursday night, featuring Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the year of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Dr. Christopher Wilkinson (interview) will be the narrator.

Dr. Mitchell Arnold
Dr. Mitchell Arnold

They will also perform The Golden Flute by Chen Yi (with flute soloist Francesca Arnone), as well as music by Bernard Hermann and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

The orchestra will be led by Dr. Mitchell Arnold, Director of Orchestral Studies at WVU and conductor of the WVU Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro Arnold spoke with me about the WVU Symphony Orchestra and the music on the concert. We also discussed his musical background as a composer, the developing orchestral conducting program at WVU, and how a conductor is made. Take a listen:

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Interview with Mitchell Arnold

QSF at Concord (interview)

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 13, 2009

“The most important thing is that when we open our cases to play music that we are completely thrilled with the prospect of the joy of music making.”  - Jeremy Cohen, QSF

Tango, Leonard Bernstein, music from cartoons, and Dave Brubeck…just a sampling of the music that eclectic group Quartet San Franciso will be bringing for their first concert in West Virginia on Tuesday at Concord University

Quartet San Fran
Quartet San Francisco

I interviewed violinist Jeremy Cohen from Quartet San Francisco a year or two ago, when their album Whirled Chamber Music was hitting the scene.  Their new album (QSF Plays Brubeck) focuses on the music of Dave Brubeck (an important addition to the “Three B’s” of music in Cohen’s upbringing).

It was really cool to catch up with Jeremy Cohen about their new album, the upcoming concert in West Virginia, and QSF’s unique brand of chamber music. 

Take a listen to our interview to catch up with Quartet San Francisco, or perhaps meet them for the first time:

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Interview with violinist Jeremy Cohen

You can hear QSF play in videos they have posted on their site, and you can also check out our previous interview “Giving Quartet San Francisco a Whirl.”

Quartet San Francisco performs Tuesday November 17 at 8pm at the Fine Arts Building at Concord University (which you already know about, of course, because you’ve been keeping up to date with our November classical calendar, right?) 

Locklair's Rubrics

(News) Permanent link
By Carole Carter
 · November 12, 2009

Dan Locklair (b. 1949) was named the Composer of the Year in 1996 by the American Guild of Organists (AGO).

Locklair, Dan
Composer Dan Locklair

Locklair is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University and Adult Choir Director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, all in Winston-Salem, NC.

In 2007, his music was heard in performances broadcast by many stations, including the nationally-syndicated program, Pipedreams (PRI) and the BBC.


His Rubrics, composed in 1988 and sub-titled “A liturgical suite in five movements,” was inspired by the “instructions” in the Book of Common Prayer. It continues to be his most popular work for organ, commissioned by the Pittsburgh Organ Artists Series.

The fourth movement, “The Peace may be exchanged,” was featured on Pipedreams in January 2002; it was also performed at the funeral for former President Ronald Reagan at Washington National Cathedral.


Dr. Robert Parkins performed movements II (Silence may be kept), IV (The Peace …) and V (The people respond – Amen!) at the dedication of Duke University’s new organ in March of this year.

Locklair received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, so it’s no wonder it appears on the program of fellow alum Peter DuBois  this Sunday at Charleston’s First Presbyterian Church.

Starting in July, DuBois has hosted WXXI’s local 2-hour production of With Heart and Voice for Richard Gladwell who recently passed. (Click here for the Richard Gladwell Facebook Fan site.)


DuBois, Peter
Organist Peter DuBois

DuBois served as Music Director/Organist of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston for 10 years before moving to Rochester to serve at Third Presbyterian Church there and teach at Eastman.

Also included in the Sunday program are works by J.S. Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor and Franck. The recital on the Fisk tracker organ, Opus 79 , is sponsored by the AGO’s Kanawha Chapter .


Links: Charleston Daily Mail story  - Nov. 12, 2009

Love and Loss at the Symphony

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 10, 2009
Grant Cooper
Maestro Grant Cooper

This weekend, the West Virginia Symphony presents a concert called “The Wonder of Love,” featuring Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony and Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer (with mezzo-soprano soloist Audrey Babcock); the concert opens with Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan and Isolde

WV Symphony Artistic Director and conductor Grant Cooper stopped by the studio to talk about the music they will be playing this weekend. 

First, here’s a lovely summary of what this music is all about: 

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Intrigued?  Here’s the rest the interview.  We talked in more detail about the theme of the concert and how it is realized in the music.  At first, we focused on Berlioz’s dramatic Symphonie Fantastique, with some discussion of programmatic pieces and film music:
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The Wonder of Love and Symphonie Fantastique

Maestro Cooper also discussed combining voice and the orchestra to bring Mahler’s tale of love and loss to life:
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Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer

Do you need to experience great love and loss to create this music? How does a group of musicians each with their own stories and experiences come together to give a unified interpretation of these romantic works?  How do age and experience shape our perception of music? Keep listening:
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Love, loss, and romantic music

The West Virginia Symphony presents "The Wonder of Love" this Friday and Saturday at the Clay Center in Charleston.  Be sure to check out our Facebook page for a chance to win tickets to the concert.

Classical music accordion to me

(Just for Fun) Permanent link
By Aran Jenkins
 · November 9, 2009

I am feeling rather whimsical today, so I thought it would be fun to point out some phenomenal classical music played on the accordion!

Aleksandr Hrustevich has become an Internet star with his rendition of Vivaldi’s “Summer” (from The Four Seasons) that he plays on a Russian chromatic button accordion, also called a bayan, with seemingly impossible dexterity.

Hrustevich hails from the Ukraine. The accordion hails, according to some accounts, from as far back as 3000 B.C.
The first instrument to use a vibrating reed principle, which is utilized in the accordion, was the cheng, an instrument invented in ancient China.  It was said to resemble the Phoenix bird; it had a resonating body made of a gourd, a mouthpiece, and up to 24 bamboo pipes.

For more information about accordions and their history visit www.accordions.com . 

You can also visit Hrustevich’s YouTube homepage, where he has several other phenomenal videos posted.

Dancing with the Wheeling Symphony

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 6, 2009
Smith, Andre Raphel
Music Director and Conductor Andre Raphel Smith

Shall we dance? The Wheeling Symphony is dancing with some musical stars, on a concert of dance-inspired music by Ravel and Berlioz tonight at 8 at the Wheeling Capitol Theater.  The symphony will also play Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony No. 8, and pianist Benjamin Hochman will join them to play Schumann’s Piano Concerto. 

At the beginning of the season, I spoke with Wheeling Symphony Music Director Andre Raphel Smith about this concert. Here’s what he had to say about the music:

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"Shall We Dance?" with the Wheeling Symphony

We didn’t have a chance to catch up with their piano soloist Benjamin Hochman, but you can listen to him playing some Beethoven here:

Hochman's first album comes out later this month.

You can also read more about this concert in the Wheeling Symphony's online program notes. If you want keep up with classical music concerts in Wheeling and throughout the state, check out this month's classical calendar.

Previously: Wheeling Symphony & Zuill Bailey

Interview: Violinist David Kim

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 4, 2009
Violinist David Kim
David Kim

Violinist David Kim is the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

He also performs as a soloist. This weekend, he’ll be playing Sibelius's Violin Concerto with the Ohio Valley Symphony, and next fall, he’ll be playing the Brahms Double Concerto with the West Virginia Symphony.

We talked about the music he’ll be playing, his experiences leading the famed Philadelphia Orchestra strings, and the challenges and rewards of studying violin seriously from a very young age. 

Also, we chatted about musical desserts, his recordings, and playing an expensive violin with cheap bows.  Check it out:

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Interview with David Kim

PSO at WVU (minus Slatkin)

(News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · November 4, 2009

Leonard Slatkin had planned to conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra next week in Morgantown. 

But this weekend, Slatkin had a heart attack on the podium while he was conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He was able to finish the concert, and he is currently recovering and reportedly doing well. 

In addition to having to miss out on visiting Morgantown, Slatkin has also cancelled an upcoming performance with the Czech Philharmonic. He’s expected to return to conducting later this month with the Detroit Symphony (where he is currently Music Director). 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will still play at WVU on Tuesday (November 10th). 

Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh will now lead the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring the popular Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy by Tchaikovsky, as well as Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2 (with PSO cellist Adam Liu as the featured soloist). 

Slatkin is supposed to be resting, but it’s hard to get this on-the-go musician to take a break. A spokeswoman for the Detroit Symphony is quoted in the Washington Post as saying “The trick is keeping him off e-mail.”

Turn off the e-mail, and get well soon, Maestro!

All Saints Evensong

(Concert Reviews) Permanent link
By Carole Carter
 · November 3, 2009
St. John's Episcopal Church - Chas
St. John's is located at the corner of Quarrier and Leon Sullivan Way.

I make it a habit to attend
St. John’s Episcopal Church evensongs in Charleston which are held twice a year, around All Saints’ and the first of Lent.

This past Sunday’s offering was outstanding and boasted the largest crowd I’ve ever seen there. While the parish supports this tradition, visitors from many other congregations attend as well.

Vanderford, Brenda Maurice
Director of Music Brenda Vanderford


The repertoire is always Anglican choral music, and Director Brenda Vanderford excels at it, as does her choir.

This music demands skill at singing both chant and a cappella, although some pieces were well accompanied by organist Carol Eich.


Stanford, Charles Villers
Charles Villiers Stanford


C.V. Stanford’s wonderful “Magnificat” and “Nunc dimittis” were lovely.

Soprano Rosemary Cardenas soared over the choir in the former and baritone Ray Shackleford was solid in the latter.

Precenter Wayne Eich negotiated the Versicles well, a difficult task.

I’d never heard the Basil Harwood anthem “O How Glorious is the Kingdom” with its strong unison statements. It gave both choir and organ a chance to shine.

Daley, Eleanor
Canadian composer Eleanor Daley

My favorite was Eleanor Daley's haunting "In Remembrance" from her Requiem, named outstanding new choral composition by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors in 1994.

A prolific contemporary composer, Daley has a gift for melody and text-painting.

"In Remembrance," set to an old anonymous text is beloved by choral singers and audiences as well.



St. Ambrose Choir
St. Ambrose Choir

I’d missed singing the hymn For All the Saints that morning, but was treated to all eight verses as the St. Ambrose Choir recessed. 

The crowning touch of all their evensongs is high tea. A splendid feast of varied finger foods with tea, coffee, and wine is always set afterward for all to enjoy. And there’s an entire table of desserts.

So – if you’re looking for something to do Sunday, February 21, 2010, head over to St. John’s at 5 pm for their Lenten Evensong.


John Cage: A Sense of Humor?

(Commentary) Permanent link
By Jim Lange
 · November 2, 2009

“Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desire out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.” - John Cage

I can’t think of any other composer who has so polarized public opinion as John Cage. I never saw all the fuss and wondered why a piece with only silence, the infamous 4'33'', could infuriate people. One thing people didn’t see was Cage’s delightful storytelling and his wonderful sense of humor.

Cage and Stockhausen

His seminal book Silence is full of essays on new music. His ideas are still revolutionary nearly 50 years after its first publication. The book is also filled with some very funny stories.
Now, you can get these stories online. I read them every day just to start the day off with a smile. Just click on the "Stories>>" link, and a story pops up. You can also load new stories by refreshing the page. Cage would have loved the indeterminate nature of this site.

Cage and Cat
John Cage and unidentified cat (ca. 1990?)
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