Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The waiting is over, and now 99.5, Boston's All Classical station is off the pad and soaring. Time to settle in an enjoy the view and what's possible from a listener supported 24/7 classical radio station in one of the great classical music cities of the world. It's something we've been looking forward to for a long time, and the excitement around the studios has been palpable the last few days.

And remember, if you're having trouble picking up 99.5FM, look into internet and HD radios. Our broadcast on 99.5 will be carried on the All Classical WGBH internet stream as well as on 89.7-HD2. In fact, a listener called me in the studio today after I mentioned HD radio on the air. He wasn't aware of HD radio, so after we talked it through for a few minutes, he got pretty excited. He lives in an area 99.5 doesn't reach and doesn't have an internet connection at home. It wasn't long before I got another call from him, in which I learned that he had tracked down an HD radio at a local Radio Shack and was on his way to pick it up.

And by the way, be sure to listen throughout December for the Music That Made You Love Music. These are the pieces and stories we asked you to send us earlier this fall, and there are some incredible stories to hear. A perfect way to connect listeners at our new home at All Classical 99.5.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Get ready for a launch. It won't be as visually spectacular as Apollo 11 (above), but I think you'll enjoy how it sounds. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, classical music from WGBH will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 99.5FM and at 995allclassical.org. It's a big moment for us here, with all kinds of exciting possibilities, so join us. Full schedule details available here, and just to spice up the whole thing, we're giving away a bunch of spectacular Tivoli internet radios.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What would Don Draper listen to?

A few of us here at WGBH were talking today about Mad Men, the show on AMC, and what a brilliant piece of work it is. Yeah, sure, the sets and clothes are oh-so-authentic to the period, and the characters are etched as if with diamonds, giving us all someone to relate to and to loathe. (And it's amazing, by the way, how often I've related to and loathed ... the same character...) Anyway, another reason the show is so compelling is that, to put it simply, we already know what's going to happen. Maybe not to each individual character, but we know enough about the way events unfold in the big picture from the early 60's through the next years and decades that we're riveted by seeing how Don Draper's world stumbled into all of those events and how he, Betty, Peggy, Roger, Pete, and each of the other characters deal with them. (And let's all take a special moment for Sally, heaven help her.) As viewers, we get to be there with them while having the luxury of historical knowledge.

Classical music gives us that same chance. Hearing and really listening to music takes us to a certain age, a particular time, a way of thinking unique in the course of events. And we usually have that luxury of knowing how things turned out. (The exception being new and recently written music, which offers the fascination of seeing the world around us as it is.)

So the next time you flip on the radio, and the music pours forth, use the next several moments. Stop, listen, and allow yourself to go to the place the music came from. Revel in it and soak it up, drinking in every detail just as you do the fabulous mid-century modernist furniture and decor of the Sterling Cooper offices on Mad Men. Allow yourself to be in that space with the music. Then, once the piece concludes, look around and breathe in the present. And, since it's radio, get ready. The next destination is only a couple of minutes away.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's all about the hall ... or not

What's a concert hall worth? Not in $, but in sound. We don't tend to think too much about this question in Boston because the two busiest halls in town are not only excellent, they're legendary. Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall, just down Huntington Ave. at the New England Conservatory, are such terrific venues that they allow audiences to focus on the performance, without thinking about the room it's taking place in. Easy to forget, then, that many (most?) other major cities are involved in seemingly never-ending discussions about the shortcomings of their major concert halls and the effects, ill and otherwise, on the groups who use them.

Anne Midgette of the Washington Post recently wrote a short piece wondering about how much effect a hall can have on its primary resident ensembles. In particular, she was writing about the National Symphony Orchestra and Kennedy Center. But, more broadly, it's something of a chicken and egg question, and one worth considering and returning to, even in a place, like ours, where the quality of the local band's hall is a settled question. The fact is, Symphony Hall is very much a part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's sound, as are the concert halls in Cleveland, Vienna, and Berlin. Of course conductors and musicians and their attendant skills and artistic visions play just as important a part, but if the hall is great, there's no getting in the way of that vision. If the hall isn't great, well, it's just one more thing to overcome.

And there are examples of overcoming those weaknesses to such a degree that greatness results. I remember a concert I heard in Lousville, KY, when the Philadelphia Orchestra played there on tour. Now, the Louisville Orchestra is a fine ensemble with its own tradition (honorably built around new music), but it's not the Philadelphia Orchestra, so I don't mean to make an unfair comparison. But the fact is, the band from Philly absolutely made the hall sound great, and, to me (having heard Philly at their old home hall, the Academy of Music), it was because they knew how to compensate for a weak hall.

Another classic example is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who, playing in the less than ideal Orchestra Hall, a very vertical space, took advantage of that characteristic and built a sound on the strength of its knife-edged string sections and burly brass. The result is a very City-of-Broad-Shoulders, visceral, bracing punch to the ears with tremendous volume and impact. It's thrilling in its way, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea. And there's no way that orchestra would have developed like that in a hall like Symphony Hall.

So the next time you hear the BSO at Symphony Hall or any of the several groups that call Jordan Hall their home, take a moment to remind yourself that a big part of Boston's stellar musical ecology owes itself to those gorgeous spaces.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Now that you have that smartphone ...

... you've no doubt been scanning all the options for apps to load on it. Go ahead and get all those geo-locators, games, organizers, and social networking apps, just to see what all the fuss is about. Then go get something you'll REALLY use. Like radio. Yes, I'm glad I can use my iPhone to find decent restaurants in places I've never been just by flicking my wrist, and I definitely spend too much time honing my solitaire skills. But it's the radio apps that are mostly responsible for all that data streaming I see on my cell phone bill each month (fortunately unlimited!).

Not to get too poetic here, but think about that classic American experience of driving for hours across the countryside, picking up radio stations in different locales, especially at night when the combination of FCC regulations and atmospheric conditions make it possible to pick up stations from hundreds of miles away. It's tougher and tougher to have that experience these days because of what's gone on in the radio business.

Now, though, you don't even need to work around those fluky sun spot cycles to pick up radio from hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Load up a few radio apps on the smartphone, plug it into the car stereo or a set of speakers at home, and you're suddenly in the hall for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, or Walt Disney Hall in LA.

Among the options, I'll start with the shameless plug, but there's a good reason for it. The All-Classical WGBH app is something we put together a few months ago to get our own stuff out there. Couple of good reasons to use this to get started: it's FREE, and it's simple. Just launch it, and the music starts. Because it's a pretty basic app, it takes virtually no time to get up and running, and, as we've been doing since we started the All-Classical WGBH, it comes through a high bandwidth stream that offers just about the best sound quality you can get on the net. And did I mention that it's free?

Another nice radio app is WunderRadio, which costs a few bucks but has some really nice features. First of all, it pulls in lots of stations from around the world that some of the other all-purpose radio apps don't seem to locate. So the BBC and Deutschlandradio are right there for you, along with a ton of others. WunderRadio also has a built in web browser, so if you're on an iPhone, where only one app can run at a time, you can still surf while listening. Cool.

More on other smartphone radio apps in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chameleons in the house

One of the groups that enlivens the Boston concert scene each year is the Chameleon Arts Ensemble, and once you take a look at their programs (the first of their new season come up this weekend), you can probably figure out the origin of that name. Deborah Boldin, the group's founder and artistic director, has a true knack for taking different strains of chamber music from across the ages and across cultures and throwing them together in illuminating ways, an approach that has brought the group national attention. The Chameleons will be in our Fraser Performance Studio tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11am for a live performance, and true to form, they're bringing along a set of pieces with a kaleidoscope of colors from Mozart, Debussy, and Takemitsu. And remember, the show comes up again at 6pm on All-Classical WGBH, on both 89.7-HD2 and the All-Classical internet stream. (photo: Susan Wilson)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boston Musica Viva with composers John Harbison and Michael Gandolfi

This afternoon at 3pm on 89.7 and later this evening at 10pm on All-Classical WGBH, you can hear Boston Musica Viva, with their director, Richard Pittman, perform in our Fraser Performances Studio. Michael's music is always filled with rhythmic urgency and instrumental color, and any chance to hear John Harbison's music is sure to bring depth and meaning. Both composers will be in our studio, so I hope you can tune in. BMV begins their new season tomorrow night at the Tsai Performance Center in Boston.

Update (Sept. 28): Due to rights restrictions, I've removed the text for The Seven Ages, but the poems by Louise Glück used by John Harbison include







BSO Opening Night

The Boston Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2009-2010 season last night with a concert that connected the past and the present in gorgeous sound. John Williams, the former Pops conductor and film composer, was on hand for the premiere of his Harp Concerto, which he calls "On Willows and Birches." It was written for Ann Hobson Pilot, who's just retired after 40 years with the BSO, and who played the piece with grace and precision. Also on the program was Debussy's La Mer, which the BSO premiered in the U.S. in 1907, only a couple of years after it was written. It's right in the center of the repertoire this orchestra built its reputation on, and last night showed why.

Boston Globe review here (with the title of the piano encore in case you were wondering...), and you can hear highlights from the concert on Sunday afternoon at 3pm on WGBH 89.7 and All-Classical WGBH.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And in the news...

Yes, you probably already know by now that the WGBH Educational Foundation is acquiring WCRB, the 60 year old 24 hour classical music station at 99.5FM in Boston. Since the announcement of this move yesterday, stories have been published in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, and commentary is available from, among others, Dan Kennedy, Radio-Info, and WBUR.

Many astute readers (not to mention some listeners who have contacted me personally) have commented that moving our classical programming to 99.5 will, because it is a lower power signal than 89.7, cut off a large segment of Boston's classical music audience. There is no doubt that 99.5 is a problem for most of the southern part of our listening region, but there are solutions that even a year ago weren't as viable as they are now.

The first is HD radio, a technology that, while slower to catch on than some predicted, has already allowed WGBH to get a head start on offering a 24/7 classical service. We've been running round the clock classical music on 89.7-HD2 for around three years. And when we begin broadcasting on WCRB, the plan is to carry that signal on 89.7-HD2. So yes, there's a bit of an investment involved in getting an HD radio, but if you're south of the Pike and you love classical music, I hope you'll consider it. I've had an HD radio in my car for a while now, and it couldn't be simpler to use. It's not too hard to track down an outlet to get an HD radio, but one place you might start is the NPR Shop.

Another way to access that same signal is via internet radio. See the previous post to get a few ideas for getting started, and, as promised, I'll take this up in a separate, upcoming post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

And the winner is... you!

Nice starter piece in the Boston Globe this morning on internet radios, with a comparison of a few different models that allow you to access All-Classical WGBH without the necessity of being near your computer or tying up your iPhone. A couple of others not mentioned, but that I've heard solidly positive reports about, are the Aluratek AIRMM01 and the Tivoli NetWorks system. Check 'em out. More on internet radio in a future post, but suffice to say for now, this is one of the most exciting areas of radio development at the moment, and we're proud to be part of it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Classical Celtic ... or is it Celtic Classical?

Tune in this afternoon at noon for a Celtic Sojourn on 89.7, and hear the great gambist Jordi Savall's latest exploration. He's enlisted harpist Andrew Lawrence-King in a recording of Scottish and Irish music, and Brian O'Donovan invited me on the show to talk a bit about Savall and his background. If you're already familiar with Savall, you won't be disappointed. If not, this might be the perfect entry point in learning about one of today's great musicians.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Note by Note

A few years ago, the New York Times did a terrific series that tracked the construction of a new Steinway piano. If you were as fascinated by that piece as I was, you'll want to check out Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 tonight at 8pm on WGBH 2 (with several subsequent airings). Preview above.

Once you've felt the Steinway love, up next at 9pm is the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Concert 2009 (also with several subsequent airings).

And just in case you missed the live broadcast of the opening night of the New York Philharmonic, including the ravishing, gorgeous Poèmes pour Mi by Olivier Messiaen, there are a few more airings of that as well.

Who needs sitcoms?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nicolas Slonimsky on Classical Connections

From my colleague Michelle Sweet:

This month WGBH has been re-airing select episodes from the Classical Connections series for Classical Music Month. I spent a year putting together these short features that highlight just some of the stories about classical music happening in Massachusetts—both past and present. So during this special highlight month I thought it would be a great chance to bring back a small part of a documentary I produced back in 1994 about a significant, but little known musical genius—Nicolas Slonimsky. He made history when his Chamber Orchestra of Boston premiered Charles Ives Three Places in New England (albeit the premiere happened in New York, but we’ll just have to share that milestone with them.) In the middle of the three movements, Putnam’s Camp (located in Connecticut) there’s a section of the score where two competing bands are playing in different rhythms, in competing time signatures. The technical difficulty of one conductor leading what’s essentially these polyrhythmic sections was a nut that no conductor had attempted to crack. Until Slonimsky heard about it. Ives met Slonimsky through a mutual friend—composer Henry Cowell. Upon their meeting Slonimsky asked Ives if he might have a work Slonimsky could play with his Chamber Orchestra, and Ives suggested Three Places in New England, and offered to re-orchestrate it for the smaller ensemble. In his autobiography Perfect Pitch, Slonimsky says “The more I absorbed the idiom of Three Places in New England the more I became possessed by its power.” So he took it on and on January 10th 1931 history was made at Town Hall in New York.

This week on Classical Connections I’m bringing back the entire trilogy of features on the Ives masterpiece—one for each of the movements of Three Places in New England, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, respectively. Composer and professor and Ives scholar John Heiss walks us through the first and third movements. And for that second movement, I dug into my archived interviews of Nicolas to tell his story about premiering Three Places. And on Tuesday, as a prelude to listening to these modern works of art, composer and conductor Gunther Schuller makes some suggestions for how to approach listening to contemporary music.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


Just caught a particularly compelling documentary on the legendary Herbert von Karajan on WGBH 2 a couple of nights ago (preview clip above). It's showing again on WGBH 44 on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 4:30. What I found especially interesting was a segment in which rehearsal and performance clips of Karajan and Leonard Bernstein are shown in relatively rapid alternation, the point being that both were geniuses who managed to obtain transcendent results, but through vastly different means. Tape it, TiVo it, or just block it out on your schedule. You won't be sorry.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flanders Recorder Quartet and more from the Boston Early Music Festival

When I was playing trumpet for a living, it was invariably astounding to people that I owned 9 different kinds of trumpets. Turns out, that's actually about average for most professional trumpeters I know, maybe even a bit low. Tools of the trade, as they say. But then there's the Flanders Recorder Quartet (above), who told me in June after their Boston Early Music Festival concert that they had about 40 different kinds of recorder on stage with them that night.

Well, you can get a taste of that concert on Saturday at 10am in the second of our special concert presentations from the 2009 Boston Early Music Festival. Also on the program is the BEMF debut of Zefiro, a lively wind ensemble from Italy, and the North American debut of Stile Antico, the vocal ensemble from England, who sang an exquisite and ravishing concert based on their most recent recording, Song of Songs.

And by the way, if you missed last week's special with the Ricercar Consort and host Cathy Fuller, you can listen to it whenever you want online, where all of these programs will be archived.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

As it was in the beginning...

As the next season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra approaches, this is an ideal time to visit the BSO web site and take a look and listen at the features our producer Brian Bell has archived there. If you've heard Brian's work at intermissions during our live broadcasts from Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, you already know how thoroughly he digs into all kinds of things, from straight ahead interviews with conductors and guest soloists to guided tours of specific works on the program to profiles of BSO players. In fact, a friend of mine who recently moved to Boston from Cleveland, where he was a subscriber to that city's great orchestra and listened to them on the air on WCLV, was astonished and delighted to hear one of our broadcasts and the context Brian and host Ron Della Chiesa gave to the concert.

Especially interesting at this time are the pages Brian put together devoted to the first music director of the BSO, Georg Henschel. When you take a listen to the feature about him and check out the programs from that fall of 1881 when it all got started, you'll find one particular name figuring as prominently on programs as it does now physically at Symphony Hall: Beethoven. During that first season, Henschel conducted the orchestra in all of Beethoven's symphonies, and, in fact, did the same thing during each of the next two seasons. And I think it's safe to say that running the entire cycle wasn't born out of a lack of new ideas. Rather, it was no doubt because Henschel knew that Beethoven's symphonies as a unit make up one of the best ways to forge an orchestra's sound and put it on display. And James Levine is now ready to do the same thing, with all nine of Beethoven's symphonies scheduled within three weeks, from late October to early November.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Met's Orfeo ed Euridice on Opera Bash

We're in the midst of an annual weekend long celebration of opera at WGBH, with scads of fantastic operas programmed for WGBH Channel 44. You're not going to go wrong with any of them, but the one I'm targeting is at 5pm on Sunday. It's Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, in a production by Mark Morris, with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi. Aside from the extraordinary and heartfelt performances by Stephanie Blythe as Orfeo and Danielle de Niese as Euridice, what I really loved when I saw the production earlier this year was the modernist conception of the staging. Morris's choreography transports the music from its ancient roots into what to me feels like a more relevant place. And Mizrahi not only has something to say through his costumes for the main characters, but also clearly had some fun with the Greek chorus, who, standing on a movable scaffolding throughout the action, impersonate dozens of famous historical figures, from Abraham Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth to Gandhi and Jimi Hendrix, all coming together as the entirety of humanity in the afterlife. Reviews were positive, mixed, and negative, all of which tells me that it's worth paying attention to. Personally, I loved it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ricercar Consort from the Boston Early Music Festival

Each Saturday at 10am during September, we're featuring a fantastic array of performances from this year's Boston Early Music Festival, and it kicks off on the 5th with the Ricercar Consort from Belgium. My colleague Cathy Fuller spent some time with the group and their director Philippe Pierlot when they were in town for a June 11 concert at Jordan Hall. Listen especially for the remarkable
soprano Céline Sheen singing some gorgeous love letters in song.

Coming up next week on the 12th, it's the Italian ensemble Zefiro, Stile Antico, and the Flanders Recorder Quartet.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coming up... the Boston Early Music Festival

Every once in a while, we get the chance to dig a bit deeper in our production here, heading out to concert halls to talk with musicians about their performances, their backgrounds, and what makes them tick. The result is radio that, we hope, connects you with music and the specific performances in a stronger, more compelling way. The Boston Early Music Festival gave us several of those opportunities last June (lots to read in the Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, and New York Times), and now you've got the chance to experience them.

Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, September 1 at 2pm, you can hear a four part presenation of the BEMF production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea with the remarkable Gillian Keith in the title role, and each day features additional commentary from the festival's co-directors, Stephen Stubbs and Paul O'Dette.

Then, each Saturday at 10am in September, you can catch special productions that feature several other performances from the festival, including the Ricercar Consort, Zefiro, Stile Antico, the Flanders Recorder Quartet, and many more. Details to follow, but for now, tune in and enjoy the opera!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


When my wife and I recently visited her parents, she ran across a tee shirt she bought at one of her first concert experiences. It's one of those '70s era "athletic" shirts with three-quarter length sleeves and features a quite long-haired James Taylor. I guess that clearly makes her part of the target audience for our broadcast on Aug. 30, and I hope you can tune in, too (don't worry, no vintage tees required). JT will be on stage with the Boston Pops and John Williams, and the seats in the Koussevitzky Music Shed are SOLD OUT. So even if you were thinking about doing a reverse "Stockbridge to Boston" to catch it, lawn tickets are the only option. Nothing wrong with that, but you can also tune in at 2pm on 89.7-FM and All-Classical WGBH on the internet to hear the concert live. And to learn more about James Taylor's connection to Tanglewood and the BSO, check out Geoff Edgers's piece in the Boston Globe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Brahms for All Seasons

The formula of public radio is pretty simple, and pretty well known: we air the most thoughtful, compelling radio programming possible, and you (the public) pledge and send financial contributions to keep that programming viable. Along the way, you might like a tangible sign of our appreciation, and that's where the fun begins. How about everything Johannes Brahms ever wrote? We've run across a complete collection of Brahms's music that comes from the deep, extensive Deutsche Grammophon catalog, and I'm betting that, if you started today, you'd still be listening to discs for the first time next summer. (For the record, there are 46 of them.) Check out our online pledge options for more details, or just call up at 888-897-9424.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Silence Before Bach

“Bach is the only thing that reminds us that the world is not a failure.’’ - Emil Cioran

The virtual indestructibility, malleability, and sheer power of J.S. Bach's music affords artists of all sorts a catalyst for expressing their ideas. If you have the chance to get to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the next week, you can catch "The Silence Before Bach," a rarely shown film by Catalan director Pere Portabella that reinforces, in wildly imaginative and beautiful ways, the idea that the world as we know it would be unrecognizable without Bach. I got a chance to see the film yesterday, and found Ty Burr's review for the Boston Globe spot on. "The Silence Before Bach" is firmly in the category of European art film, so you may or may not learn factual information you didn't already know about Bach, but what you do know may be transformed.

And speaking of transformation, try to tune in just after 8am this Sunday, when I'll have Bach's Cantata No. 199, "Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut," in the intensely beautiful, painful, and ultimately joyous performance by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson with Craig Smith and Emmanuel Music.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hildegard Behrens

By now you may have heard that soprano Hildegard Behrens has passed away, suddenly, while travelling in Japan. In obituaries and appreciations (like Anthony Tommasini's in the New York Times), you can learn about her late start as an opera singer, and her seemingly inevitable trajectory into Wagnerian roles. My own memory of her comes from 1988, when she was in Boston for semi-staged performances of Richard Strauss's Elektra with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa, performances which are also referenced by Alex Ross of the New Yorker and which were recorded for a commercial release. In my mind, it's impossible to overstate the individual power of that performance, which was echoed in Gramophone magazine (reviewing that subsequent CD): "... so much of her performance is felt instinctively from the heart and is communicated to her audience in this live concert through her psychological understanding of the part expressed in her vibrant, very personal tone." (April 1989)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Debussy and the BSO on Exploring Music

Coming up this week on All-Classical WGBH, Bill McLaughlin has programmed an iconic performance from the Boston Symphony Orchestra on “Exploring Music.” If you haven’t heard Bill’s show, give it a try. Each week, he goes seriously in-depth on a particular topic, spread out over five episodes (Monday – Friday at noon on All-Classical WGBH). This week he’s “Exploring” Claude Debussy, and that’s where the BSO comes in. The sound of the BSO, as it evolved during the first half of the 1900’s, was strongly influenced by French musicians and conductors, leading to a silky, graceful approach in the strings and bright, kaleidoscopic colorings in the winds and brass. By 1956, those characteristics had been optimized through the perfection of Symphony Hall’s acoustics, and Music Director Charles Munch grabbed the opportunity to lead the orchestra in what has become a landmark recording of Debussy’s La Mer. Dial up All-Classical WGBH on the internet or on 89.7 HD-2 this Thursday at noon to hear how Bill McLaughlin weaves that piece into the story of this fascinating composer. And to hear Ted Libbey and Fred Child talk about that same recording, stop by NPR Music.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Great Mountains Festival

Last week, the fortunate news of the release of two American journalists from prison in North Korea highlighted the difficulty that part of the world still endures. But in the midst of that difficulty, art and music still flourish and are, I imagine, a life sustaining force for many. Well, my colleague Richard Knisely, known for bringing festival concerts to WGBH listeners from all over the world every summer, has tapped into that pivotal geographic area for a series of exciting performances from the 2008 Great Mountains Festival in Gangwon Province, South Korea, just south of the DMZ. With a roster of artists of American, European, and Asian origin, these concerts represent not just great music-making in its own right, but also the ways in which classical music and Asian societies are cross-pollinating to create startling results. This will be our only chance to offer these performances on the air, so tune in to 89.7 between noon and 4pm or dial up All-Classical WGBH on HD radio or the internet between 7pm and 10pm each weekday this week. Friday afternoon’s schedule includes Richard Strauss’s Cello Sonata, Osvaldo Golijov’s tango-inspired Last Round, Zoltan Kodály’s earthy Duo for Violin and Cello, and the timeless Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by J.S. Bach.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Paris anyone?

I know, I can’t afford a European vacation either at the moment, but you can hear three concert performance from Paris, coming up on the next three Friday mornings at 10am. We’ll get started on Aug. 7 at the historic Salle Pleyel with the Radio France Philharmonic and conductor Andrey Boreyko in performances of Samuel Barber’s Vol de Nuit and (appropriately) George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Then, on Aug. 15, we’ll head to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (where the premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring took place, leading to a (ahem) highly energized discussion among interested concertgoers) to hear Brahms’s Third Symphony, with conductor Daniele Gatti and the French National Orchestra. Finally, on Aug. 22, our last stop is the beautiful Théâtre du Châtelet on the banks of the Seine for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the amazing pianist Arcadi Volodos and the French National Orchestra, conducted by Dmitri Liss. We can only broadcast these performances once, so grab a croissant and settle in on Friday at 10am on 89.7 and 5pm on All-Classical WGBH!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michael Steinberg

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Whoever it was that uttered those words (and I dare you to try to find out; if you do, let me know), probably hadn't read much by Michael Steinberg. The futility of writing about an art that by its definition defies description is keenly and regularly felt by anyone who's ever tried it, including myself. For all I know, Steinberg himself felt that way at least a time or two, but I've found not a shred of evidence that he did in any of the writings he produced as one of the most important writers in the music world. The former Boston Globe critic and Boston Symphony Orchestra program annotator (and that just cites the most obvious of local connections, leaving rest of the iceberg under water) passed away last weekend. I hope you'll get a chance to tune in to our live BSO broadcast from Tanglewood this Sunday afternoon. In between the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto with Leif Ove Andsnes and the Rachmaninoff Second Symphony, all led by Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard, don't leave your radio during intermission. Brian Bell has prepared a feature that will look back on Steinberg and the immense influence he wielded in the ways people perceived and even felt about music over his 80 years. Other worthy destinations to learn about Steinberg include Jeremy Eichler's heartfelt obituary for the Globe, Mark Swed's very personal remembrance, and a tribute from Performance Today, a program you can hear every weekday on All-Classical WGBH.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Welcome to the new wgbh.org! And welcome to Resonances, a space we’ve set aside to let you know about some great things coming your way on the radio and the web, flesh out some of the back stories to our programming, and generally keep you in touch with what we’re up to with classical music at WGBH.

You’ll hear from me pretty regularly (check out info about me and other hosts at our profiles page), and other hosts and producers here will be contributing their thoughts along the way as well. One of the things I love about our work here is that it’s always got a personal stamp. When a host programs something, it’s because there’s something particularly compelling that he or she wants you to be in touch with. We do our best to make that happen on the air, but this space also gives us a chance to get into the details a bit more, sometimes with images, sometimes with text that illuminates aspects of the music you hear, and sometimes with audio of those wee gems from interviews and events that don’t make it to air.

And take some time to go spelunking in what amounts to a major redesign of wgbh.org. One of the things we’re shooting for is to make classical music more readily available to you in as many ways as we can. So one thing you’ll want to spend a little time with is the media player at the top of this page. It’s your starting point for accessing audio from programs you’ve heard on the air, as well as podcasts and our streams, including All-Classical WGBH.

I’ve got several ideas for what’s coming down the pike here at Resonances, so check back often to see what paths we take, and again, welcome!