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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Piano TV + Dmitri

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 31, 2010


Pop the popcorn and make room on the couch, PBS’s line-up for this Wednesday night (September 1st) has me hooked.


8:00pm: Renée Fleming & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg 

Fans of the human voice take note – soprano Renee Fleming and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will be singing together on Great Performances. I will fully admit to swooning over their performance in Eugene Onegin.  Here’s another one of my favorites:

Fleming and Hvorostovsky - Mozart's La ci darem la mano

9:30pm: A Surprise in Texas: The Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

The Van Cliburn International Competition is a prestigious and challenging piano competition held every four years in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s named for Texan pianist Van Cliburn, who made quite a splash with Tchaikovsky in Moscow in 1958 (winning the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow).

Cliburn logo

I spent last summer immersed in Cliburn-mania. I have no good explanation for it – I’m not a pianist and I hadn’t particularly followed competitions before. Perhaps it was the live webcast that got me hooked. Even though my favorites didn’t win, I still look forward to revisiting the competition and the music through this documentary.  

Since most people I know didn’t spend their summer watching piano competitions online, I was happy to recently meet pianist Gerald Lee, who in addition to being a wonderful recitalist and a professor at West Liberty University, also was hooked on following the Cliburn broadcasts online. I hope to interview him about all things piano and post our conversation online here sometime soon.

* View the WV PBS Schedule here

* Find your local station listings
     - Fleming & Hvorostovsky
     - A Surprise in Texas


WV Symphony Pre-Season

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 30, 2010

WV Symphony on the Levee
WV Symphony
The WV Symphony performs on the Levee on July 4th

Over the Labor Day weekend, the West Virginia Symphony will be playing free concerts in Charleston and Beckley. They start the weekend with a Saturday performance at the Greenbrier (which is not free).

Vocalist Ryan Hardiman is one of the featured soloists. He was voted “Symphony Idol” in 2008, and he was also one of first guests on the Classically Speaking blog. You can hear two interviews with Ryan Hardiman by clicking the links below: 


* On being the Symphony Idol

* Something Old, Something New: Rent & La Boheme

Then head on over to our Facebook page, where you can win a free pair of tickets to the WV Symphony’s opening night concert, featuring David Kim (interview) of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Carter Brey of the New York Philharmonic.


WV Symphony Labor Day Schedule 2010:
* Saturday at the Greenbrier (ticket information)
* Sunday, 7pm, Schoenbaum Stage on the Levee (free)
* Monday, 7pm, Woodrow Wilson Auditorium, Beckley (free) – with members of the New River Youth Symphony


'New Dawn' at D&E

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 27, 2010
Jack Gibbons
Jack Gibbons at the piano

New Dawn, in this case, is not a Twilight sequel. It's the celebration of a new school year Davis & Elkins College. D&E is also celebrating a new artist in residence, pianist Jack Gibbons. He first visited West Virginia in May as the featured performer and teacher for a three-day Gershwin Gala at the school.

Now he’s returning as artist in residence, and will kick off the school year with a free concert on Sunday evening. 

Get to know this new arrival to West Virginia by listening to our interview from May: Interview with Jack Gibbons

 

Related links:
* Pianist Returns as artist in residence (August 2010)
* Gershwin Gala in Elkins features pianist Jack Gibbons (May 2010)
* Jack Gibbons and Gershwin in Elkins (interview)

And so it begins…

(CD Reviews, Commentary) Permanent link
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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 25, 2010

The year’s first Christmas album arrived today.


Cherry Tree album

The Cherry Tree by Anonymous 4

Four months before Christmas! Do the craft stores even have their holiday stuff out yet? I wish I could resent it more, but the singing is very pretty.


Previously: Christmas music…too soon? and New Old-Fashioned Christmas Music

PBS Video Online: Music and Arts

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 25, 2010

Gustavo Dudamel conducting
Gustavo Dudamel, perhaps excited about watching his favorite PBS programs

West Virginia PBS broadcasts a lot of excellent concerts, plays, operas, and dance programs, all stuff that I love. And I’m always missing them. I’m playing a rehearsal, teaching class, out at a concert, or I just plain forget.*

I’m happy that we now have a system set up where you can watch many PBS programs online, through the WV Public Broadcasting website. Check it out here.

Keeping Score DVD

For those who love music and always wish that they could know more about it, I highly recommend the Keeping Score series with Michael Tilson Thomas. These “behind the music” specials are engaging introductions to classical composers and their work, including Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Beethoven’s Eroica, The Rite of Spring and Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives and his Holidays Symphony, Copland and the American Sound, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.  You can now watch them all for free on our site.

 

King Lear McKellan

There are just a few Great Performances videos so far, but I expect it to grow. I’m looking forward to catching up with Leonard Bernstein tribute at Carnegie Hall and a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. I would also bet that Sir Ian McKellan is rather good in King Lear.

A lot of other PBS favorites are online, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives, Julia Child, Austin City Limits, and the National Parks documentary series by Ken Burns. Check them all out here on the new WV PBS Video site. It might be slow at first, but the load rates are supposed to improve when the site is used more (which sounds backwards, but cool). They also promise to add new programs every week.  

Find something that you like?  Anything missing that you wish we would add?  Leave a comment to let us know. 


* Okay, and sometimes I’m watching Project Runway.

Classical Book Club, Late Summer Edition

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 23, 2010

 Read any good music books lately?  

Stephen Foster bio

Right now, I’m re-reading Doo-Dah!: Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture for a class that I’m teaching this fall. I highly recommend it as not just a way to learn about Stephen Foster, but also as a portrait of nineteenth-century American music and culture. It’s actually more engaging than some of my "fun" summer reading, which included a pretty silly musical thriller, The Chopin Manuscript. Check out my review of The Chopin Manuscript over on the West Virginia Book Festival blog.  

 

Vivaldi Venice Novel

 



If historical fiction is more your style, here’s another light read: The Four Seasons (A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice).This book is more fiction than history, but it tells an engaging story and has some pretty descriptions. Plus, it wins points in my book for paying attention to Vivaldi’s operas, in addition to all those concertos.




Be sure to check out the posts below, where Jim Lange and I have interviewed several authors who are worth your time and attention:

* Christopher Wilkinson, “Richard Strauss’s Visit to the kleines Stadchen of Morgantown, West Virginia”
* Glenn Kurtz, Practicing: A Return to Music
* Larry Todd, Fanny Hensel, the Other Mendelssohn
* Lloyd Bone, Guide to the Euphonium Repertoire


Any other reading suggestions?

Who's Minding the Score?

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 20, 2010
"Who's Minding the Score" is a weekly webcomic about a fictional dysfunctional orchestra. It's funny, and as is often the case with good satire, a bit painful at the same time. Check it out.

Minding the Score


After you've caught up with the archive (the comic started in February), be sure to visit MastroGear.com for conducting gear recommendations from Dirk Stent.

Euphonium Hero: Lloyd Bone

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 17, 2010

Lloyd Bone

Lloyd Bone plays the euphonium in ensembles and as a soloist around the world. He teaches music at Glenville State College, where he’s also chairperson of the department of fine arts. He teaches applied brass, music history and literature, brass methods, survey of music, conducts brass ensembles, and is the marching band, pep band, and concert band director.


Bone also wrote the book about euphonium


Euphonium Source Book

At 500 pages, it’s a pretty serious resource.

Listen to Lloyd Bone talk about writing this book and about the euphonium – his approach and background, favorite composers for the instrument, and what makes the euphonium special:

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Interview with Lloyd Bone

For more information about the favorite he mentions, here are links to their pages: Martin Ellerby and James Curnow.


Glenville Tuba and Euponium Ensemble in Arizona
The Glenville State College Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble in Arizona

This summer, the Glenville State Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble performed by invitation at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference (ITEC), held this year in Arizona. Bone discussed the ensemble and their experiences as the only group of this kind from the state to perform at the international conferences: 

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Tuba and Euphonium at Glenville State

Wondering if the euphonium is for you? Bone took a couple minutes to share why he thinks it’s the right choice, including the beauty of the sound and that it’s easy to start playing!

This audio player requires Adobe Flash
Don't fear the euphonium!

Glenville State College is also known for their percussion ensemble (I want to visit for one of their concerts!) and a variety of other ensembles and programs. Bone concluded our interview an overview of music opportunities at Glenville State. 

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Music at Glenville State College

Lady Gaga Fugue

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 16, 2010


Good morning! Here’s something fun to start your week – a young ensemble playing a mix of Lady Gaga (Bad Romance), Katy Perry (I Kissed a Girl), and Coldplay (Viva la Vida). This creative arrangement is by Clay Gonzalez, a trombone player from Lexington, Kentucky.


Chamber music’s tradition of innovation continues!
:)


Speaking of Lady Gaga, I was disappointed to read in an article about pop personae at music blog The Record that she has not done an interview with NPR: "Gaga does a lot of interviews (though she declined NPR's request for one)..."

As you may have seen, Lady Gaga has a few fans at NPR:

 

Classical WV Online: Crumb and Foard

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 9, 2010

It’s always nice to find some new music, and I'm happy to share two pieces with West Virginia connections that you can listen to online.

Aubrey Foard, Tuba
Janet Kunicki
Aubrey Foard with the WV Symphony

Aubrey Foard is principal tuba player with the WV Symphony, and he recently recorded the premiere of a Tuba Concerto by Mark Petering. Here's how the composer summarizes this music:   

Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra reflects the composer's interest in the intersection of eastern and western cultures as evident in the emphasis on pitched percussion and various contrapuntal techniques, particularly in the outer movements.  Baroque performance practices (strong beat, terraced dynamics) are to be observed. 

More specifically, the concerto utilizes a cinematic perspective, beckoning the listener to reflect on tragedy and then revealing two past moments that led to the Lament.  In addition, the tuba can be considered to play the role of sage.

You can find out more about the music and listen online on Foard’s site. While you're there, check out his blog about handling traveling as a musician.

George Crumb picture
George Crumb

Minnesota Public Radio is offering free downloads of concerts from Music@Menlo – including Music for a Summer Evening by George Crumb. Check out the Music@Menlo podcast here.

If you’re looking for more classical music online, you can also tune into West Virginia Public Radio online, where I’m spinning the hits (old and new) this week from 11am to 3pm. If you have favorite things you’ve heard recently, share your suggestions in the comments.

Celebrating William Schuman

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 6, 2010
William Schuman
via Theodore Presser
William Schuman

Happy belated centenary to American composer William Schuman (1910-1992), born on August 4th, 100 years ago.

Tim Smith of The Baltimore Sun has an excellent post about William Schuman and this overlooked anniversary, including a video of Schuman on "What's My Line?": "William Schuman's Centennial a Reminder of Music We're Missing"

I discovered Schuman's music as a violist in the New Jersey All State Orchestra in high school, where we played the New England Triptych. It has remained one of my favorite pieces, both for the chirpy variations on "Chester" and the beautiful opening bassoon and oboe duet of the middle movement.


Slatkin conducts Schuman

I hadn't heard any of his other pieces until I came here to West Virginia Public Radio, when a listener wrote in to request more Schuman -- his American Festival Overture and the Symphony No. 10 "American Muse."

Yesterday on the radio, we featured Schuman's Song of Orpheus for cello and orchestra, and today, I'm starting the program with the New England Triptych and his Third Symphony. I hadn't known until recently about Schuman's work for arts organizations, including being the president of Lincoln Center. Maybe I can add one more book to my summer reading?

More information about Schuman celebrations can be found here on a site by the William Schuman Music Trust. He also is featured on the program "Composer's Datebook" this week.

WV Classical Calendar -- August 2010

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · August 2, 2010

August 2010 Calendar

 

During the dog days of summer, it looks like there aren't too many concerts. I suppose everyone’s getting ready for the fall. Here are the concerts that I’ve found. Let me know if you know of any others that I should add to this list.

August 11: Memorial Organ Recital for LaVonne Beeson, featuring guest soloist Dr. Krista Shinew (Suncrest United Methodist Church, Morgantown)

August 15: AGO Interdenominational Hymn Festival (Spruce Street United Methodist Church, Morgantown)

August 19: Jusiel-Smith Duo (Chuck Mathena Center, Princeton)

August 21: Huntington Symphony, Picnic with the Pops “All American Beach Party”

August 24: Peter Amstutz and Hooi Yin Boey (Piano Duet Recital, WVU)

August 29: "The New Dawn Concert: An Evening With Jack Gibbons" (Davis and Elkins) (Jack Gibbons interview)

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