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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Serenade and a Smile

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 25, 2009
The Wheeling Symphony’s next concert features violinist Anne Akiko Meyers playing Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, a piece for violin and orchestra, loosely based on the writings of Plato.  Meyers recently told me over the phone about her approach to Bernstein’s music:  
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Wheeling Symphony Music Director Andre Raphel Smith will be conducting the concert.  He shared his thoughts on Bernstein’s split personality, Richard Strauss’s sense of humor, and playing Brahms after an all-Beethoven concert. 

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Smile album
Meyers also has a new album "Smile," that showcases her wonderfully lyric playing on music of Charlie Chaplin, Olivier Messiaen, Franz Schubert, Arvo Pärt, and more (have you heard Jim Lange spinning it on the radio?)  We talked about the music on that album, as well as her choice of violin and some upcoming plans: 
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Here's a brief sample of "Moonlight over the Ruined Castle" 
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and of "Spiegel im Spiegel" [Mirrors in Mirrors] 
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Looking for more? 

* The Dayton Philharmonic's notes include what Bernstein wrote about his Serenade

* Meyers’ website has some more samples of the music 

* Meyers has also done some nice interviews with different angles at the AllMusic Blog and Violinist.com


The Wheeling Symphony will also be accepting non-perishable food items at the concert, to benefit the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling and Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center as part of the Orchestras Feeding America project.  If anyone reading gets to go see this concert, leave a comment with your thoughts on this music and your experience.  Help keep those of us who are too far away to make it keep in touch with Wheeling! 

Cello a Gogo

(News) Permanent link

by Mona Seghatoleslami

“The cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older, but younger with time, more slender, more supple, more graceful.”  -- Pablo Casals

Cello Views

This “beautiful woman” will be featured in two concerts over the next week in West Virginia. 

Richard SherSunday, the cello goes to church.  On February 22nd, the Fairmont Chamber Music Society presents a recital by cellist Richard Sher at St. Peter the Fisherman Church in Fairmont.

The cello then gets to shine in good company.  WVU Cello Professor William Skidmore will be performing Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto in A Minor, with the WVU Symphony.  They play on Thursday, February 26th at the WVU Creative Arts Center.

The WVU Symphony will be conducted by Mitchell Arnold.  In addition to the Saint-Saëns, they will also play Liszt’s tone poem “Les Préludes,” Jean Sibelius’ “Karelia Suite,” and Samuel Barber’s evocative “Night Flight.”  Barber’s tone poem was inspired by his own experiences in the Air Force during World War II and by Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s novel Night Flight (which drew on his experiences flying as a courier for the Aéropostale).

Neon Cello

 Are you going to either of these concerts?  Or perhaps you're a cellist or cello-fan with thoughts to share?  Speak your mind by leaving a comment



Simple Gift

(News) Permanent link

by Mona Seghatoleslami

Over these two weeks, I’ve been buried in announcing, producing documentaries, and fundraising.  I’ve missed blogging, and I feel guilty for not keeping up—will you forgive me if I have a present for you? 


I can give away five free downloads of the music from the inauguration—John Williams’s Air and Simple Gifts, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.  Either leave a comment or send an email to feedback@wvpubcast.org, with "Classically Speaking" in the subject line.  I'll send you a link and a code, and then you can dowload the music for free!

Inaugural Chamber Music

Stay tuned for upcoming interviews, concert previews, random musings, and a “quarterly report” on new CDs we’ve been playing on WV Public Radio.  And if you like what you’re reading/hearing, bring your friends on by to join us.


The musical gift box image was created by Marta Crowe and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Catching Up (and a present!)

(News, Commentary) Permanent link

By Mona Seghatoleslami

Today I realized that the Super Bowl was two weeks ago, and since that post Classically Speaking has been quiet.  A bit too quiet. 

Since then…

Felix Mendelssohn


Mendelssohn turned 200!



     So did Lincoln!    Abraham Lincoln

Grammy Award


the winners of the classical Grammy Awards were announced


       Holl's Chocolate

 we made the Chocolate Challenge goal (thank you!)  


New Satie album


On the radio, we’ve been digging into some new recordings, including music by SatieMozartDevienne, and Corigliano.


Vienna Piano Trio

Also, the Vienna Piano Trio visited Charleston, the Huntington Symphony called on some eligible bachelors of 19th century music, the Wheeling Symphony looked to Motown, while the WV Symphony turned to Broadway, and pianist Evan Mack brought an American music recital to Marshall. 



Present  And...I have a present for you, but it's in the next post!

Listening to the Commercials

(Commentary, Just for Fun) Permanent link

by Mona Seghatoleslami

Yo-Yo Ma Cello SuitesSuper Bowl XLIII logoYo-Yo Ma played cello for the inauguration, but he and JS Bach didn’t manage to make the cut for this year’s Super Bowl. 

Ma’s recording Bach’s Cello Suites was supposed to be used for a Hyundai commercial, but it was passed over in favor of the Smashing Pumpkins (the Bach commercial is now slated to aired during the Academy Awards).  

But all was not lost for classical music being heard during the "big game" this year.  I've collected what I heard in this little list (with links to the videos).

Some adorable critters made off with a bottle of Coke to strains of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf



When depicting a plush office, Monster had their executive listening to a snippet of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma



Sobe turned to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake for their rather odd “Lizard Lake” commercial. 


The NFL’s inspiring ad featuring Usama Young of the New Orleans Saints drew on two classical sources.  They used Edvard Grieg’s “Morning” from Peer Gynt (a staple in many cartoons), as well as the Habanera from George Bizet’s Carmen (this same aria was used last year to advertise Doritos)

Bizet also figured into the Super Bowl landscape before the game.  As I read over on the the WV Symphony Orchestra blog, music students at Carnegie Mellon University sang their love for the Steelers to the tune of the Toreador song.  

There were also two other commercials with tangential classical connections.  This first one is pretty distant, but I noticed that Cars.com’s precocious David Abernathy performs heart surgery in a “crowded opera house.”  


And New York Philharmonic broadcast announcer Alec Baldwin was on too, but he was talking about Hulu instead of Brahms last night. 

That’s what I heard…did anything else catch your ears? 

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