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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Ana Vidovic and Antonio Lauro

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By Aran Jenkins
 · September 30, 2009

A video I found the other day on YouTube has absolutely captivated my attention.

Ana Vidovic is a 29-year-old classical guitar virtuoso from Karlovic, Croatia, who plays concerts all over the world.
In this video, she is playing Antonio Lauro’s “Valses Venezolanos Nos. 2 and 3.”

Antonio Lauro
Antonio Lauro

Antonio Lauro was born in August 1913 and passed away in April 1986. His work as a composer was mostly influenced by the folklore of his native Venezuela.


Lauro’s original instrument was the piano, but after several years of study, he became fascinated by the guitar and went on to compose almost exclusively for the classical guitar. His works do include several orchestral pieces, string quartets, and a wind quartet. 


Ana Vidovic
Ana Vidovic

Ana Vidovic played with the West Virginia Symphony in February 2008, where they performed Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez.

More info, including her upcoming tour dates, can be found on her website: www.anavidovic.com. She has made several recordings, and you can check out other videos of her playing on YouTube.


Aran Jenkins is a recent graduate of WV State University.  He plays piano and guitar, writes for the
Charleston Gazette, and is working on a novel.

Previous posts by Aran Jenkins:

The Master Segovia
Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
Finding Connections
B is for Beautiful? 
* The Passion of Julian Bream

 

Opera in Cinema: La Boheme

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By Carole Carter
 · September 29, 2009
A friend and I took in this weekend’s Opera in Cinema broadcast of Puccini’s La Boheme – a film by director Robert Dornhelm.
Boheme poster mini

At first I was put off by the ticket price ($12) but upon reflection, realized that’s cheap by opera standards – just not by movie standards. However, I actively looked but couldn’t find the price ahead of time.

Not publicizing the ticket price was the least of the cinema’s sins. They simply didn’t promote it at all.

We only heard it about in Charleston because the Huntington cinema contacted us about it. And of course, that resulted in only about a dozen folks showing up to view it.

Those few opera lovers were treated to fine entertainment. At first I was worried because the time was only 1 hour, 49 minutes. It’s a four-act opera, for heaven’s sake!

Puritani scene
I Puritani is the next Opera in Cinema

I’ve sung in and stage managed several productions of La Boheme, but if they left something out, I couldn’t spot it. Neither could other audience members I queried. I guess if you drop the intermissions and ovations, it really brings the opera down to a manageable length. That makes it more enjoyable, especially for novices. 

Even though Mona warned me it was lip-synced, I didn’t realize that meant the cast was filled with actors who were lip-syncing to opera singers – except for the two leads of course, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the acting, and having been forewarned, simply didn’t focus on the synchronization.

La Boheme Trailer


There are more productions scheduled, including two full-length ballets, so if there’s a Marquee Cinema near you, watch for it about every two weeks. The showings are Thursday evenings at 7 pm and Sunday afternoons at 1 pm.

There are two live productions scheduled, but they are supposedly not going to be shown in Charleston. That’s a shame because they’re two of my favorite operas – Carmen and Il Trovatore.  There are also two notable full-length Tchaikovsky ballets – Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

The next opera is Bellini’s I Puritani.  It's slated for Thursday, October 15 at 7 pm & Sunday October 18 at 1 pm. Check the Marquee Cinema nearest you for details.

Elizabeth Pitcairn Plays the Red Violin in Point Pleasant

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 25, 2009
Violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn

Elizabeth Pitcairn's violin has a great story behind it, which was depicted in the film The Red Violin, but it’s more than just a story. The famed Red Violin, the 1720 “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius, is a beautiful-sounding instrument, which comes to life in the hands of violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn.

This Saturday evening, Pitcairn will perform music by Camille Saint-Saëns and Pablo de Sarasate with the Ohio Valley Symphony in Point Pleasant.  She took some time from getting ready for the concert to chat with me about her musical projects and experiences:

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Interview with Elizabeth Pitcairn

Operas at the Movies – Everyone’s Doing It

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 25, 2009

Have you been to any of the opera movie broadcasts? Curious what it's like to go the opera at the movies? Well, now there are even more chances to experience them in West Virginia.

La Boheme movie poster

Not only is the Metropolitan Opera expanding their reach, there’s also a new game in town. A new series of operas will be showing in movie theaters in Huntington, Charleston, Beckley, and Triadelphia (near Wheeling) starting this weekend.

I’m adding these Opera in Cinema broadcasts to our classical calendar for West Virginia, and I’m looking into getting more info and maybe some tickets to give away here. I’ll keep you posted – here’s the schedule for the Opera in Cinema series, which starts this weekend with a movie version of  La Boheme

This first one is not really an opera broadcast – it’s a movie with the actors lip-syncing to their earlier recording of La Boheme. But it still looks like it will be beautiful and striking. 

For the experience of the broadcast live from the opera stage, you’ll just have to wait until the Met’s Tosca hits the theaters in October. Stay tuned!


Hans Zimmer: Angels, Demons & Men in Skirts

(Interviews) Permanent link
By Jim Lange
 · September 23, 2009

“The music does need to stand on its own two feet.”
Hans Zimmer

Zimmer in the Studio
Composer Hans Zimmer in the studio


I love movies. I get so lost in them. Music is such a big part of the film experience -- it is "the wings of a film."

When I had a chance to speak with Hans Zimmer, one of my favorite film composers, I was elated. His music is very distinctive and so deftly blended with the images that they become as one. That’s the mark of a great film composer.

Zimmer’s career is one the world’s most stellar. From The Lion King to Gladiator to his latest film with Ron Howard, Angels and Demons, Zimmer must be the busiest composer in Hollywood. I was a little intimidated talking with such a renowned composer, but Zimmer’s down-to-earth warmth and honest sense of humor made it fun for both of us.

Here’s part one of my interview, where Zimmer explains how he got his start and his unique process of working with a director.

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Interview with Hans Zimmer

Where does a composer get his texts if the score calls for it? For Angels and Demons, Zimmer takes an idea he used in Gladiator: make up your own, even if it’s not an actual language. Also, we learn what he meant by “men in skirts and sandals” and hilarious reason why the fanfare scenes in Gladiator were cut.
 
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Zimmer talks about Angels and DEmons

I could not resist asking Zimmer about his work for Hannibal, the follow-up to Silence of the Lambs. The music is full of delightful textures and becomes a separate character at times. Zimmer shares his insights about director Ridley Scott and some behind-the-scenes stories that give us a rare glimpse into the filmmaking world.
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Zimmer talks about the music for Hannibal

The live album, The Wings of a Film, is a great overview of his work. The cut “Journey to the Line” is particularly powerful, showing some minimalism influence. His somewhat experimental approach to this piece raised the ire of a few musicians. Hear his funny and honest anecdote about the performance of the piece. 
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Zimmer interview, continued

Stringed Instruments Wanted

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 22, 2009

Got a spare fiddle?

I’m always excited to hear about people enthusiastic about learning and experiencing music, especially classical music. As we’ve written about before, classical music is not just for the richthe old, or any other narrowly defined group. It’s best when music can be shared by everyone. 

But not everyone who wants to learn to play music has the resources to afford an instrument. In Kanawha County, music teachers are looking for instruments, or money to purchase instruments for students in a new string program.

There are kids who want to learn music; I hope we can come together to help them do so. Here's their flyer and the letter they sent with more information.

String Instruments Wanted


Dear Friends,

The String Programs in Kanawha County Schools, a joint effort of the West Virginia Symphony and the School Board, are bringing tremendous opportunities to young people in our area. Lessons on instruments are offered for free during school hours. There are now 17 elementary schools participating. 

One of the newest participants, Piedmont Elementary, has had an incredibly enthusiastic response: 20 violinists, 8 violists, 6 cellists, and 3 basses signed up, but only 3 of these indicated they have the means to supply their own instruments. It would be such a shame to see any of them turned away because instruments could not be found.
 
Please help us if you can, or pass on our “WANTED” poster to anyone you think may be able to help. 

Contact Andrea Di Gregorio at 304-346-1908 or abdigregorio@gmail.com if you have an instrument or want more information.

Sincerely Yours,
Sandra Groce, president Piedmont PTO and Principal Viola, WVSO


Related:

The Case for Classical Music 

Passions of the Young and Old 


Donald George sings Margaret Lang at WVU

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 21, 2009
Margaret Ruthven Lang
General Collections, Library of Congress
Margaret Ruthven Lang

“The Lady of Boston and Munich: From Brimmer Street to Brienner Strasse, The Songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang,”

That’s quite the concert title, isn’t it? 

The title belongs to quite a intriguing concert – featuring the songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang, performed by tenor Donald George and pianist (and WVU professor) Lucy Mauro, Tuesday night at West Virginia University.

Donald George will be a regular guest at WVU this year, performing and teaching throughout the year. He's an opera and recital singer with an extensive career, and he’s a Professor of Voice at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. 

Donald George
Donald George

I recently spoke with Donald George over the phone, so now you can find the answers to some important questions including: what’s up with the long concert name, who was Margaret Ruthven Lang, and why isn’t her music better known these days?

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Donald George talks about Margaret Lang and her music

We also spoke more about George’s opera and recital career, musical background, his musical collaboration with Lucy Mauro, and his work teaching singing in New York, West Virginia, and China.
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Donald George interview, continued

The Passion of Julian Bream

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By Aran Jenkins
 · September 15, 2009
“Passion and the desire to communicate is the key.” -- Julian Bream  

Julian Bream
Julian Bream

Julian Bream: My Life in Music (DVD) recounts the story of a Londoner from Battersea who became widely recognized as the best classical guitarist and lute player in the world and certainly holds special appeal for me, as an aspiring guitarist/musician.

Julian Bream started playing guitar at an early age, sneaking practice time while his father was at work during the days. Eventually his father Henry discovered Julian’s desire to learn, and started teaching him. 

Bream’s influences came largely from his father’s record collection; Django Reinhardt, and of course the master Andres Segovia. It was in fact a record of Andres Segovia playing Francisco Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” and later, actually seeing Segovia in concert in London, as seminal moments that shaped his life. 


The music alone on this DVD is captivating. Pieces by Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Sor, William Walton, Enrique Granados, and Django Reinhardt, as well as Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal Op. 70, which was composed specifically for Julian Bream, are featured throughout the movie.

For me, there is such an intimacy with plucked string instruments, like the guitar and lute, and to hear those instruments come to life in the hands of an artist of Bream’s quality is very special indeed. There are also great clips of lute music, and I must say that seeing Bream play lute with the accompaniment of George Malcolm on harpsichord has actually given me a new appreciation for the earlier life of classical music in the Baroque and Renaissance periods. 

Julian Bream Life in Music

Throughout this movie, there is a wealth of cameos from famed musicians, including video documentation of Julian Bream’s meeting with Igor Stravinsky, as well as clips of many collaborations with the likes of John Williams and Peter Pears, as well as the above mentioned Malcolm. 

Whether you’re passionate about guitar or not, this DVD is indispensible as a source for any music lover’s library. The playing of Julian Bream is simply a delight. The recounting of Bream’s life is left largely to his own words, which is also quite enjoyable. He is clearly a man who has had many hardships and many truly grand adventures and his smiling face shows that exact fact.

Julian Bream: My Life in Music is available on DVD through Avie Records.


Aran Jenkins is a recent graduate of WV State University.  He plays piano and guitar, writes for the Charleston Gazette, and is working on a novel.

Previous posts by Aran Jenkins:

The Master Segovia
Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
Finding Connections
B is for Beautiful? 


Features and Futures

(News, Commentary, Meta) Permanent link
By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 14, 2009

Today on the radio, I referred to a few of our older posts. You can always dig through our archives to find them, but I thought it would be nice to make them even easier to find. 

Idol and Glee: Not so original? 

* September and October Classical Calendar 

* Who is Suresh? (interview) 

There’s a bit of a look back, but what does the future hold? I’m planning on some more interviews with musicians performing in West Virginia and some autumn classical favorites; we'll also have a guest post from Aran Jenkins about guitarist Julian Bream and Jim Lange will be posting an interview with Hans Zimmer.

Plus, we have interviews with Wheeling Symphony conductor Andre Raphel Smith and Antonio Salvatore, another conductor in Wheeling. I’ve also been saving an interview with WVU Composer-in-Residence John Beall.

Film Reel

I've also been thinking about trying a classical music movie club here. If you see a movie that relates to classical music -- let me know about it. If you write a bit about the movie, we can post comments here on Classically Speaking to share with others. 

A few movies that have come up recently in conversation include: Amadeus, Lisztomania, The Red Violin, Tous les Matins du Monde, Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal, and Rhapsody. Any interesting classical music-related movies you've seen recently?

Not enough, you say? Well, we’re also working on a fun, interactive classical trivia quiz, which still needs a bit of work.  And I’m sure there’s going to be more.

So stay tuned, I think this fall and winter are going to be a lot of fun. 


Orli Shaham, Beethoven, and Mickey Mouse

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 11, 2009
Shaham, Orli
Orli Shaham

The WV Symphony season plays the first concert of their season tonight. They'll be performing Friday and Saturday in Charleston and Sunday in Parkersburg. They have two guests: pianist Orli Shaham and composer Marc Mellits, and I’ve had a chance to talk with both of them.


My interview with Orli Shaham is printed in the Charleston Gazette. You can give it a read on their site.

In case you’d like to hear more from that interview, with stuff I didn't have room for in the paper, they’ve granted me permission to share the audio here.  Where does Mickey Mouse fit into it?  You’ll just have to listen to find out:)

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Interview with Orli Shaham

Meet the Composer: Marc Mellits

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 10, 2009


Composer Marc Mellits lives a busy and exciting life: writing music, playing piano, and traveling around the world with his music. 

He’s coming to West Virginia this weekend, in connection with his piece Three Machines being performed by the West Virginia Symphony.  He’ll also be visiting schools to talk to kids about music while he’s here.

Mellits will barely have a chance to recover from his jet lag, before boarding a plane for West Virginia. I caught him at home in Syracuse for about 15 minutes, between rehearsals and just back from performances in France and Romania.

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Interview with composer Marc Mellits


We’re going to be giving away tickets to this concert on our Facebook page.  Have you become a fan of West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Facebook yet?

* Here’s more about the WV Symphony’s season-opening concerts this weekend in Charleston and Parkersburg.

* More about Marc Mellits from his Web site 

* You can also hear some music by Mellits in this video from New Music Detroit


Share and Share Alike

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By Carole Carter and Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 8, 2009

Look up!  Well, up to the upper right part of this post, where you'll see a new service that we’ve added  to our Web site.

Wanna share a news story with a friend?

Email one of our blog posts?

Post it to FacebookTwitter or MySpace?

Or maybe you just wanna bookmark it so you can come back to it later?

Well, that’s a lot easier now.

Check out any news story or blog post, and you’ll find a Share/Save button at the top right of the headline or title.

Share


Over 100 Internet services are listed in the drop-down box.

So if you see or hear something you like, go right ahead -- share West Virginia Public Broadcasting with your friends and family!


Well Wishes for Richard Gladwell

(News, Commentary) Permanent link
By Frank Stowers
 · September 4, 2009
Richard Gladwell
Richard Gladwell, host of With Heart & Voice

I was deeply saddened to learn that Richard Gladwell, host of With Heart & Voice, had brain surgery recently and that his illness will prevent him from returning to the program.  He is reported to be at home and in good spirits. 

Richard has always had a warm regard for West Virginia and has visited here twice to participate in West Virginia Public Radio's fund drives.  I know that he will appreciate hearing from our listeners. You can send email to radio@wxxi.org or you can send regular mail to Richard at WXXI, P. O. Box 30021, Rochester, NY 14603.

For all of us who are early risers on Sunday mornings, Richard has become like a member of the family, and we'll miss that friendly voice and his personal selection of religious music that has offered spiritual benefits and brightened our day.

My appreciation for With Heart & Voice deepened when I met the man behind it. I was at the control board when he entered the air studio to do his first fund drive broadcast for West Virginia Public Radio.  He saw my gray hair and said, "And, how old are you?"  I told him, and he replied, "Well, I'm just a bit older." 

We then began to share stories, to talk about our love for good music, and  interest in radio. I learned that Richard had some 10,000 albums in his collection, so extensive that he had devoted the second story of his house to them. 

He also told me a little about his life: born 1920 and educated in England, at the age of 6 was accepted as a chorister in an East London church, and sang in various church choirs before his WW II military service. He later received some of his musical education through Birmingham University.

I also heard how Richard had come to the United States in 1955 and had worked in management positions for both Xerox Corporation and the Eastman Kodak Company. And, that  his interest in radio and sacred music had led him in 1975 to begin working part time at the classical music station WXXI in Rochester, NY, and to the development of With Heart & Voice. 

"There was a hunger for sacred choral music at the time, and I satisfied that hunger with an hour of choral and organ music broadcast every Sunday morning," he said. He has been gratified to see that the response to this effort was so great that With Heart & Voice was nationally syndicated in 1982.

Just recently I have learned that this past March, during a special concert in Rochester in his honor, Richard was awarded the prestigious Benemerenti Medal, bestowed by the Vatican in recognition of his long-time and exeptional community service.

Please join me in keeping Richard Gladwell in our thoughts and prayers. 
Frank Stowers 9/2/09

Editor's note: Here is message from Richard's wife, Claire.


September Already? Concerts throughout WV

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · September 3, 2009
Hint of Fall

The air is cooling, fall is coming, it’s back to school time, and schedules are getting busier. Classical music concerts are springing up all over the state. How can you keep track of it all? 

 

I’ll try to list everything here on Classically Speaking. If you know of anything I’m missing, drop me a line. I still have a few lines out there; I’ll add other events as I hear back about them.
 

Fall Classic
Preparing for a Classic(al) Fall


Sept 3: Marshall University Faculty Recital: Julio Alves, guitar & Wendell Dobbs, flute

Sept 6-7: Wheeling Symphony, with guitarist Joe Negri “Concert under the Stars” (Wheeling, Morgantown)

Sept 7: WV Symphony Labor Day Concert

Sept 8: Tuesdays with Fran (Carnegie Hall, Lewisburg)

Sept 11-13: WV Symphony with pianist Orli Shaham and composer Marc Mellis “Triumph of the Spirit” (Charleston, Parkersburg)

Sept 13: Marshall University, Jonathan Zwi (guitar) guest recital

Sept 20: Organ Dedication Concert, with James Markey and Jeffery Abbot (3pm at  First Presbyterian Church, Buckhannon ) POSTPONED

Sept 20: Huntington Symphony Orchestra at Ritter Park

Sept 22: WVU, "The Lady of Boston and Munich: From Brimmer Street to Brienner Strasse, The Songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang"

Sept 24: WVU, Mark Kellogg (trombone) guest recital and masterclass 

Sept 24: WVU Symphony Orchestra Concert

Sept 24, 27: La Boheme (Charleston, Huntington, Triadelphia, Beckley)

Sept 25: Wheeling Symphony Pops “A Homecoming,” featuring Tim O’Brien

Sept 25: MUsic Alive Series: Double Play Duo (flute and tuba)

Sept 26: Ohio Valley Symphony, with violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn “Opening Night”

Sept 26: WVUWalfrid Kujala (flute and piccolo) guest recital

Sept 28: West Virginia University, Faculty Chamber Recital "All Brahms" 

Apples and Pumpkins
Fall at the Capitol Market


Looking ahead to next month, here’s some events on the horizon:

Oct 3: Garth Newell Piano Quartet (Charleston Chamber Music Society)

Oct 3: WVU New Music Concert 

Oct 4: Montclaire String Quartet “Soft Colors” 

Oct 4: WVU Flute Choir Concert

Oct 4: WVUMichael Vercelli (percussion) recital

Oct 6: WVU Wind Symphony Concert

Oct 9: Wheeling Symphony with cellist Zuill Bailey “Capitol Opening Night Dream

Oct 9: WVU Percussion Ensemble Concert

Oct 10: Met Opera HD: Tosca (Barboursville, Morgantown, Pittsburgh, Ashland)

Oct 11: Brass Roots Trio (Fairmont Chamber Music Society)

Oct 12: WVUChamber Winds Concert

Oct 13: Marshall University Orchestra Concert

Oct 13: Tuesdays with Fran (Carnegie Hall, Lewisburg)

Oct 13: WVUStephen Redfield (violin) and Amber Shay (piano) guest recital

Oct 15-18: WV Symphony with pianist Jon Nakamatsu “Regally Romantic” (Fairmont, Charleston, Parkersburg)

Oct 15, 18: Bellini's I Puritani  (Charleston, Huntington, Triadelphia, Beckley)

Pumpkinses

Oct 16: MUsic Alive Series: Music of Barber and beyond

Oct 16: WVUTuple Bassoon Duo 

Oct 17: WV Symphony Family Concert "Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln"

October 19: Marshall University Faculty Recital: Solen Dikener, cello & Turev Berki, piano

Oct 23: Andre de Moura and Eduardo Meirinhos, guitar (Marshall University)

Oct 25: WVU Choir Concert

Oct 25: AGO Halloween Organ Recital (Christ Church United Methodist, Charleston)

Oct 25: Huntington Symphony Orchestra Family Concert

Oct 25: WVU, Rebecca Rischin (clarinet) recital and master class

Oct 26, 28: Octubafest at Marshall University

Oct 28: Met Opera HD Encore: Tosca (Barboursville, Morgantown, Pittsburgh, Ashland)

Oct 29: Baltimore Consort (Concord College)

Oct 29: WVU Music Gala Concert

Oct 29: WVU Graduate Wind Quintet concert

Oct 29/Nov 1: Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake  (Charleston, Huntington, Triadelphia, Beckley)

Oct 30: Kandinsky Trio (Fairmont Chamber Music Society)

Oct 30: River Cities Symphony (Parkersburg) with bassoon soloist Julie Hepler


Something missing?  Let me know.

Eventually, I hope everyone will add their information into Instant Encore (which has the WV Symphony and Charleston Chamber Music Society concerts listed already), and then we can use their site to create a West Virginia classical calendar. But I'll keep posting these updates every month to let you know what's going on.

 

Pumpkin Latte
Leaveses

Erich Kunzel, In Memoriam

(Interviews, News) Permanent link
By Jim Lange
 · September 1, 2009
Maestro Erich Kunzel
Erich Kunzel

I was shocked and saddened to learn that Erich Kunzel, director of the Cincinnati Pops since its inception in 1977, passed away today at age 74. In April, Kunzel was diagnosed with cancer.

When I interviewed the maestro in January of this year, it was quite clear that this man was as full of energy and vitality as his recordings. Kunzel had a huge personality and his sense of humor was so colorful that it caught me off guard.  After all, I have to admire the sheer frankness of a conductor that says of Ravel’s Bolero, “Players hate the damn thing. It goes on forever and doesn’t do anything.”

Tomorrow, I plan a tribute to the maestro. Tune in to Classical Music from 11am to 3pm on WV Public Radio.

So, Maestro Kunzel, wave that baton at the angels and make them sound as excellent as your beloved orchestra.

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Jim Lange's interview with Erich Kunzel about "Bolero"

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