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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

800

 Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 31, 2009
800 picture

Okay, so in the movie they might have been 300, but to reach the goal of supporting West Virginia Public Radio, it's going to take 800 this drive.

As I write this post, we're about half way there. Perhaps some Classically Speaking readers can spare a dime for the classical music interviews, concert news, and information about the music you get from this blog along with the classical music enjoy on the radio? 

Fischer Bach
We do have some classical CDs that we can send you as thank you gifts.  Jim Lange picked out Julia Fischer's new recording of JS Bach Concertos.  He's planning on interviewing Ms. Fischer later this month (we'll be sure to post that interview here!).  You can listen to some samples--no, don't go just buying it there--pledge to WV Public Radio and have us send it to you.  
Anderson vol 3

Being a bit silly, I picked out some light-hearted orchestral music by Leroy Anderson.  I love the beautiful melodies, along with the wacky instruments (typewriters!) and funny titles (Mother's Whistler).  You can read more about Leroy Anderson and this recording in our previous post  "Lighten Up!" 

We have these CDs, a chance to win an iPod loaded with gigs of classical music, and a few other thank you gifts that help out in the community with distribution of food to those in need.  What we also have is the promise to keep providing classical music on the radio and online

For details on the food distribution and to pledge, call 1-800-723-4687.  Oh! and since you're already here online, being one of the 800 is just a click away (don't worry, it's not really liking being part of a doomed Spartan army.  It's a lot more like giving up two minutes and a bit of spare change to support your public radio station.  Trust me.)


Rainy Weekend Planner

(News, Commentary) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 26, 2009
blah

Rain, rain, and more rain this weekend.  So ... besides sitting at home and listening to the radio (which I highly encourage, of course), what are you going to do? 

The Charleston classical scene is very family-friendly this weekend.  The WV Symphony presents “Chaplin at the Symphony” Friday and Saturday nights, and a family concert with an instrument petting zoo on Saturday morning (see our “Funny Business” post for more about the WV Symphony’s guest artist).

Then on Sunday afternoon, the Charleston Chamber Music Society brings the Moscow String Quartet to play Borodin, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich.  At the same time (downstairs from the concert), children aged 2-10 can attend the free ChamberKids event “Arabian Nights.” They’re promising musical storytelling, games, crafts, and a snack.

Nikolaj Znaider

The Pittsburgh Symphony rolls into Morgantown on Saturday, along with violinist Nikolaj Znaider.  They’re bringing music by Erich “The Sea Hawk” Korngold, Anton Webern, and Franz Schubert.

Everywhere else is looking pretty quiet for these last few days of March, but then the beginning of April brings a whole bunch of cool concerts.

Larry Combs

The WV Symphony hits the road for a spring tour, featuring clarinetist Larry Combs (Grammy-winning, recently retired Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal and Charleston-born Larry Combs, that is).  From April 2nd to 5th, they'll play at Davis & Elkins College, the Mathena Center in PrincetonThe Bible Center Church in Charleston, and Carnegie Hall Lewisburg. In the midst of all that, Larry Combs will do a master class in Charleston on Saturday afternoon. 

Fairmont also gets to hear some clarinet that Sunday, when the Prima Trio visits the Fairmont Chamber Music Society with trios for clarinet, piano, and alternating violin and viola.  The Prima Trio will be playing music from Mozart through Schickele on April 5th.

Marshall is back from Spring break and putting on plenty of recitals, including one by the Kingsburg Quintet. So even though the Huntington Symphony has finished their regular season, there should be plenty to do in Huntington.  If you’re looking ahead, note that piano-playing siblings The Five Browns will be at the Keith Albee Theater later in the month.

In Morgantown, WVU also has a wide-ranging line-up of faculty and student recitals.  There are more than I can reasonably list here—check out their calendar if you don’t believe me.  

We've got questions...

Any leads on music to hear around Wheeling?  The Wheeling Symphony doesn’t sneak back until April 18th for pops, and then a neat-sounding Americana concert celebrating Lincoln in May. 

Am I missing anything?  WV Public Radio broadcasts all over the state, but I can’t actually be everywhere at once.  I am working on a (top secret) calendar project to keep better track of concerts that might involve this site.  For now, we’re relying on you to help share all the classical music happenings around the state.


Funny Business

(Interviews, Just for Fun) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 25, 2009
DanKamin
Dan Kamin

This week in Charleston, you might catch a mime slowly walking through the state legislature with a transparent briefcase, giving suspicious stress-management seminars, performing in schools, and stealing the show at some symphony concerts. 

He’s Dan Kamin—mime, magician, classical clown, and Chaplin expert—visiting from Pittsburgh for a week of performances throughout Charleston. 

Kamin described his classical clown as fitting into the “long tradition of low comedians making fun of high culture.”  He also shared how he turned from studying industrial design to a life of magic tricks and mimery.

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Interview with classical clown Dan Kamin

Kamin performs as the classical clown Friday and Saturday night with the WV Symphony, and on a family concert on Saturday morning. 

On the second half of the evening shows, Kamin will introduce two Chaplin films.  The movies “Easy Street” and “The Immigrant” will be accompanied by the West Virginia Symphony, who will be playing newly composed music by music director Grant Cooper. 

Kamin explained the Chaplin part of the concerts and described his work advising actors Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp on the "lost art" of physical comedy of silent movies. 

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Dan Kamin talks about Chaplin

You can find out more on WV Symphony Web site.  And just for fun, here’s some more classical music comedy: 


and some Charlie Chaplin:
 


Share your favorite classical cartoons, Chaplin movies, or any other funny stuff in the comments. 


END TIMES

(News, Commentary) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 18, 2009

"Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension." – Olivier Messaien

 

Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen

Now that I have your attention:  the Montclaire String Quartet will be performing Olivier Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time this weekend.

What kept the audience so engaged in Messiaen’s music?  Read all about it in “Warning—This entry may compel you to attend a concert” from the WV Symphony blog, where Betty King tells the story, along with comments from Boston Conservatory professor Karl Paulnack.


For more from the Montclaires, listen to Jim Lange's story about them preparing to play George Crumb’s Black Angels.

After playing Messiaen and Mozart on Saturday, the Montclaire String Quartet has one more program this season.  You can now also find out what they will be up to next season.


Playlist for Saint Pat

(Commentary, Just for Fun) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 17, 2009
Shamrock

Do you have a favorite Irish classical composer?  Are you wracking your brain trying to think of some Irish classical composers? 

John Field receives a lot of attention, since he’s credited with being the first composer to write piano pieces called nocturnes (a genre that Chopin picked up and ran with).

John Field Nocturne No. 5

Jim Lange has some Irish selections mixed into his program today.  Tune into Classical Music with Jim Lange from 11am to 3pm on WV Public Radio (listen online here)to hear nocturnes by John Field, Barry Douglas playing Beethoven, Leroy Anderson’s “Irish Suite,” and an Irish Symphony by Charles Villiers Stanford (an Irish composer who spent most of his life in England). 

Fred Child also had a great mix of music by Irish composers and performers this morning on Performance Today.  You can listen to that show online for the next week.  The program includes Barry Douglas conducting the Irish Camerata and performances by flutist James Galway.  Some of the composers they feature included Turlough O’Carolan and Hamilton Harty (I'll admit, they were both new to me!)

For more, check out our interviews with Barry Douglas and James Galway

In addition to the music he’ll be playing today, Jim sends this sound advice: “don’t drink the green beer.” 


Strauss in Morgantown

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 13, 2009


New York...Pittsburgh…Chicago…Morgantown... 

Wait…what? 

Richard Strauss, composer of Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Der Rosenkavalier, and Salome came to America in 1904.  He mostly stuck to the major cities, but he made one unusual stop in a small town--Morgantown, WV.  He came to West Virginia University, along with Victor Herbert and the Pittsburgh Orchestra. 

This singular event came to the attention of WVU music professor Christopher Wilkinson in 1979.  His involvement with the story begins with a photograph found at the university:

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Discovering Strauss's Visit to WV
Sidney Lloyd Wrightson, Richard Strauss, and Victor Herbert in front of the Pittsburgh Orchestra in Commencement Hall, WVU, March 14, 1904
 
Now Strauss didn’t come to Morgantown out of nowhere.  It was a pet project of WVU’s then music dean, an Englishman named Henry Lloyd Wrightson.  He not only arranged the concert, but found sponsors, and tirelessly promoted it—even to the point of getting the university’s president to cancel classes, so that more people would attend the concert.    
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Bringing Strauss to Morgantown
So, what did people hear and see?  How was Strauss received?  What was on the concert? Did the audience like it?
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The visit, the concert, and the reaction
This event is more than just the story of a famous German composer showing up in West Virginia.  It’s a window into American culture in the early 1900s, and competing visions of the role of European music in America and of music studies at West Virginia University: 
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What happened next
Morgantown may have moved on quickly from the impact of Strauss, but in Germany, there’s a curious epilogue, around 40 years later: 
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How Strauss remembered Morgantown
Strauss Certificate
Strauss's Certificate from the city of Morgantown
For more info (and better versions of the images), read Wilkinson’s article about Strauss’s visit to West Virginia in the Bulletin of the Society for American Music. And if you're a photo buff, here's just a bit more about how that picture was taken back in 1904: 
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Taking the Photo

New Music on a Dime

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 11, 2009

The Huntington Symphony Orchestra has put together their own “economic stimulus package” for music lovers.  

For their concert on Saturday March 14th, they’re offering free tickets to laid-off workers and their families, as well as “neighbor discounts” for groups of four or more people, and collecting canned goods for the Cridlin Food Pantry.

But once you’re in the door, what about the music?  Roll over Beethoven, because this concert will feature new music by American composers.

Scott Michal, composer
Composer Scott Michal

Scott Michal, composer, cellist, and professor at the University of Rio Grande will be playing in the orchestra for the premiere of his piece “Encomiums” a concerto for violin and orchestra.

Michal told me about this piece and his approach to the music, starting with: how do you pronounce that title and what does it mean?
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Interview with composer Scott Michal

 

This concert is also West Virginia’s chance to hear a piece that is being played by at least one orchestra in each of the 50 states.  Joseph Schwantner’s Chasing Light… is part of the Ford Made in America/Meet the Composer project.  You can learn more about the music and the project by visiting their website and checking out NPR's story about it. 

I plan to be there for this concert.  If you go, let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

Looking Ahead: WV Symphony 2009-10

(News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · March 9, 2009
WV Symphony in Action

The West Virginia Symphony has announced their next season! 

Guest artists include pianists Orli Shaham and Jon Nakamatsu, violinists Corey Cerovsek and Ilya Kaler, and mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock.  (I’ve got to get on the phone and start doing interviews!)

The music includes some great big symphonic works, including music by Dvorak, Bruckner, Berlioz, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Brahms, and concluding with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Joy.” 

McVey
Mark McVey

There’s also some new music, with “3 Machines” by Marc Mellits.  Other concerts open with overtures by Franz von Suppe and Richard Wagner, and the ever-lovely Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughn Williams.  The pops series includes West Virginian Broadway star Mark McVey.  

You can read all about it, over on the WV Symphony’s website.  And of course, Jim and I will keep you to date with interviews and other info about the music, right here on Classically Speaking


Lindsay Deutsch: Up for the Challenge

 Permanent link
By Jim Lange
 · March 3, 2009
Lindsay Deutsch
Violinist Lindsay Deutsch

She first walked onto the orchestral stage when she was 11. Now all of 24 years of age, Lindsay Deutsch is bringing her youthful, passionate style to Charleston this weekend for a performance with the WVSO. The program includes not only Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, but John Corigliano’s Chaconne from the Red Violin. “It’s a little unusual,” she says about the double bill featuring a violin soloist, but no doubt she is up for the challenge. On top of all that, she’ll be giving a master class on Saturday. What, no marathon between shows?

Sometimes classical musicians can be a little bit stuffy, but Lindsay is an enthusiastic artist who speaks from the heart. Even on the phone, she radiates an honest love of music and a passion for her profession. Here’s part one of my interview where she talks about the Corigliano piece:

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Lindsay Deutsch interview part 1

The more well-known Prokofiev is more “inside the box,” but she continues to find more about this piece the longer she plays it. Here’s part deux:

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Lindsay Deutsch interview part 2

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