Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 11:15am
The first piece of classical music I remember hearing -- and probably the first for millions of kids -- literally had an impact on me.
We had Prokofiev’s "Peter and the Wolf" on a well-worn set of three discs that spun around at the frightening speed of 78 rpm. A nick in the edge of the shellac could lop off a finger, or so it seemed to a 4-year-old. Who did the three record flips necessary to get thorugh all of Peter’s adventures, I don’t recall, but I do remember sitting on the floor and munching contentedly on Ritz crackers as...
Friday, March 18, 2016, 12:10pm
Although the weather might not always cooperate, the spring equinox brings hope for green to overtake the long Wisconsin winter. Music is a perfect way to welcome seasons and there are many classical and folk pieces inspired by the beauties of Spring.
Here are 10 favorites that will remind people of the shift to warmer weather:
Mendelssohn’s "Frühlingslied (Spring Song)" is beautifully melodic piano piece that is perfect for daydreaming.
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 8:30am
St. Patrick’s Day in Wisconsin is celebrated with beer, parades and music.
It's said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, and here are a few Ireland-inspired pieces to mark the day.
Irish flutist James Galway teamed up with The Chieftans to perform some beautiful arrangements of Celtic favorites. "The Red Admiral Butterfly" is an upbeat, fun tune that will make anyone want to dance:
Thursday, February 25, 2016, 11:25am
Wisconsin welcomes spring in March and honors a noted author and conservationist with the Aldo Leopold Weekend, set for March 4 to 6.
This celebration is designed to bring communities together to commemorate the life and work of Leopold through workshops, lectures, hikes, public readings and more.
Leopold’s influence went beyond his writings and conservation work, and has lead to the creation of some notable songs. Susan Werner’s "Ode to Aldo Leopold" from her album, "Hayseed" captures Leopold’s sentiment that "conservation is a state of harmony between men and land."
Tim Southwick Johnson’s album "Sand County Songs: A Musical...
Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 12:10pm
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756, and although he died at a young age in 1791, few composers have had such a lasting impact.
He composed over 600 works in many genres, from piano sonatas to sacred music and comic opera.
Enjoy some of Mozart's music by checking out the online archive of the latest broadcast of "Wisconsin Classical: A Mozart Birthday Celebration." "Wisconsin Classical" features performances by Wisconsin musicians every Sunday at 1 p.m.
For more information on that program, visit the schedule and information page.
Cheers to Mozart on his birthday by listening to...
Thursday, January 21, 2016, 11:40am
Classical music is often packed with themes of love, which makes it a perfect choice for a Valentine’s Day soundtrack.
This list is comprised of 10 classical pieces that are notable for their romantic overtones. Inspiration, allure and passion are sure to be experienced while listening to these emotionally impressive pieces. From gifts to dessert and beyond, this compilation can add some lovely touches to Valentine’s Day:
- Creative and unique gifts tend to go further than the usual chocolates and flowers. Gain some inspiration from Wagner, who composed "Siegfried Idyll" as a gift for his wife. The piece was first performed by a...
Thursday, January 7, 2016, 10:55am
Tune in on Sundays at 2 p.m. starting Jan. 10 for a new 13-part season of concert broadcasts by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Visit the schedule and information page to find music playlists for each broadcast.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has been an important part of the cultural life of the region since its inception in 1959. In addition to over 140 performances each year, the MSO maintains active education and outreach programs, working to foster a broader interest in classical music.
Highlights from recent performances are featured in the broadcast series, along with with interviews and commentary. Learn more about the MSO...
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 12:45pm
With its popularity today through live performances, film and television, it's hard to believe that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet "The Nutcracker" was once judged a disaster.
"The Nutcracker" premiered in December 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Critics and the audience heavily criticized the performance, including dancers, the libretto and the prominence of children performers.
Despite its unfortunate beginning, "The Nutcracker" continued to be performed around the world. It did not gain popularity, however, until the 1960s thanks to George Balanchine. The New York Ballet performed his choreography in 1954 and sparked a tradition of annual performances at Christmas that...
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 10:05am
Mary Jo Heath, who has worked as a producer and guest host for the "Metropolitan Opera" over the past nine seasons, recently became the fourth full-time radio host in the company’s history.
Her responsibilities as the "voice of the Met" include hosting the Saturday matinee broadcasts — the longest-running classical music series in U.S. broadcast history.
Since the inception of the Saturday matinee broadcast series in 1931, the Met has had three full-time hosts: Milton Cross, Peter Allen and Margaret Juntwait, who passed away in June.
Heath has produced nearly 1,000 Met broadcasts during her time with the company. In addition,...
Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 4:20pm
An Appleton singer-songwriter, a Madison folklorist and a bassist who grew up in Middleton all appear on the list of 2016 Grammy nominations released on Monday.
Cory Chisel, known as the force behind Appleton's Mile of Music and for his work with the Wandering Sons, is a cowriter with Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell on the title track of their new duet album, "The Traveling Kind." The song is up for Best Americana Roots Song.
In the same category, bassist Paul Kowert with the Punch Brothers is a cowriter nominated for "Julep," a track from their new album, "Phosphorescent Blues."...
Monday, August 10, 2015, 11:15am
Each week, WPR’s "Wisconsin Classical" features performances by musicians from around the state.
A recent show also included music inspired by Wisconsin: "A Door County Suite" by Oscar Haugland, which can be heard here.
The music was performed as part of the Midsummer’s Music Festival, which is held each summer at venues throughout Door County. Haugland spent many summers in the area, and originally wrote this music for piano.
Festival organizers suggested an arrangement for chamber ensemble, and it’s this version that features in the broadcast. It includes a number of references to Door County places...
Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 1:50pm
The Metropolitan Opera has announced that host Margaret Juintwait died on Wednesday from ovarian cancer.
Here is the opera's statement released on Wednesday:
The Metropolitan Opera mourns the death of our radio host Margaret Juntwait, who passed away this morning after a long battle with ovarian cancer. For millions of listeners around the world, Margaret was the voice of the Met for the past decade....
She was appointed to the post in October 2004, and her first Saturday matinee broadcast was a December 11, 2004 performance of Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani. She went on to host
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 10:50am
This Saturday at noon, Wisconsin Public Radio presents Madison Opera’s production of Rossini’s “The Barber Of Seville.” This is the second of two broadcasts from the most recent Madison Opera season.
One of the greatest comic operas ever written, the story features a count in multiple disguises, a young woman trying to outwit her guardian, and a barber being paid to ensure a happy ending. (See the complete synopsis here.)
The cast includes Emily Fons as Rosina; John Irvin as Count Almaviva; Will Liverman as Figaro; Alan Dunbar as Dr. Bartolo; Thomas Forde as Don Basilio; and Chelsea...
Monday, May 11, 2015, 4:40pm
Wisconsin Public Radio is pleased to present two productions by Madison Opera, beginning with Beethoven’s "Fidelio" on Saturday at noon.
Beethoven’s only opera is an ode to freedom. To rescue her husband, a political prisoner, the noblewoman Leonore, disguises herself as a man and works at the prison where she believes her husband is held. (See a complete synopsis here.)
The cast includes Alexandra LoBianco as Leonore, Clay Hilley as Florestan, Alisa Jordheim as Marzelline, Kelly Markgraf as Don Pizarro, Matt Boehler as Rocco, David Blalock as Jaquino and Liam Moran as Don Fernando.
John DeMain conducts this production...
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 9:05am
The JACK Quartet on Friday will perform the premiere of University of Wisconsin-Madison-based composer Laura Schwendinger’s "Creature Quartet."
"Creature Quartet" consists of four larger movements that are framed by smaller movements, each one an ode to an extinct, endangered or mythical creature. The premiere will be accompanied by animated representations of each lifeform.
WPR’s Norman Gilliland spoke with Schwendinger about her work as a composer, and about the new quartet. (Click on the audio link above to listen to the interview.)
The performance takes place at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 4:20pm
As a native of Turkey, composer, pianist and conductor Erberk Eryilmaz has a somewhat unique perspective about classical music outside of Europe.
Eryilmaz was born in Samsun, Turkey in 1989. He started his music education when he was 3 years old and has studied at the Samsun Conservatory, Hacettepe University - Ankara State Conservatory and at the Hartt School. He is currently pursuing his artist diploma in composition at Carnegie Mellon University.
WPR's Norman Gilliland recently heard a performance of his colorful "Miniatures Set No. 4" on KING Radio, a classical music station in Seattle, and asked the composer to talk more about...
Thursday, January 1, 2015, 12:25pm
This is the last season for the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. The 101-year-old institution announced earlier this year that it's disbanding, but some musicians are exploring a partnership with another Wisconsin orchestra in the hopes of keeping the group together.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 1:45pm
Wisconsin Public Radio is celebrating 35 years of "Simply Folk" on the air.
The program started in 1979, with the first show featuring recordings made at the Great River Folk Festival in La Crosse in 1978.
Host Stephanie Elkins looks back with music heard that first year, several songs on vinyl, live concert recordings made by WPR, and interview excerpts featuring show founders Tom Martin-Erickson, Becca Pulliam and Judy Rose. Artists include Art Thieme, Greg Brown, Lou and Peter Berryman, Kate Wolf, Stan Rogers, Altan, Sally Rogers and many more.
The program is available to stream ...
Monday, August 18, 2014, 4:15pm
Some of you will remember when compact discs first came along. In addition to wonderful, scratch-free sound and amazing dynamics, manufacturers reported that CDs would last forever (essentially) if taken care of.
Friday, July 18, 2014, 4:15pm
Members of the Madison Youth Choir visited WPR studios on Friday to perform on "The Midday," hosted by Norman Gilliland.
Next week, the group travels to Aberdeen, Scotland, where the members will perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.
Gilliland spoke with artistic director Mike Ross and conductors Margaret Jenks and Randy Swiggum about the music and the upcoming trip.
The group of 71 boys sang in WPR's performance studio, performing such pieces as "Magno Gaudens," Vivaldi's "Laudamus Te, Exultate Justi In Domino" (let the righteous rejoice), Billing's "Simple Gifts," Vaughan William's "The Roadside Fire," Ken Johnson's "Johnnie Cope," "Anthem" from Chess,...
Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 2:00pm
Mary Gauthier is a favorite of Simply Folk listeners, appreciated for her powerful, evocative songs and raspy voice. She's also Terry Gross's guest on this edition of “Fresh Air”.
In classic Terry Gross fashion, the conversation is wide-ranging and candid. Gauthier opens up about a challenging childhood, being a lesbian, recovery from alcoholism and drug use, spiritual growth, and how she infuses her music -- and the food she prepares for others -- with love.
There's also an anecdote about how an open mic at the legendary Club Passim in Boston changed the trajectory of her life.
Every November on...
Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 12:15pm
The band Dead Horses, a four-piece folk/bluegrass ensemble based in Oshkosh that’s just finishing up its second album, came in for a session in WPR's Buck Studio.
We shared a little conversation, and they provided a preview of five powerful new songs. There was beautiful and effortless four-part harmony on top of very strong instrumental work (featuring guitars, stand-up bass, fiddle and mandolin).
WPR audio engineer Brad Kolberg recorded the session, and I'll share it on Simply Folk in early July.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 4:50pm
A lot of people’s musical careers end with their last band or choir class in high school — and that’s a shame, according to Wisconsin Public Radio music host Stephanie Elkins.
Elkins, a musician and host of “Simply Folk,” said making music can provide a lifetime of fun and that scientific research shows that there are serious psychological benefits, too.
“Making music makes you feel good -- not just at the moment, but it can lift your spirits emotionally, psychologically,” said Elkins. “It impacts the whole rest of your life.”
Finding time to make music, however, can be a roadblock. Elkins said...
Friday, May 30, 2014, 2:15pm
You may have seen the Apple iPad commercial that features conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. In just over a week, it's been viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube.
The ad shows Salonen using software to write and score his violin concerto (reviewed here in the New Yorker magazine), demonstrating his process from the initial ideas to performances with an orchestra.
Beyond the fact that this is an advertisement, there's something else interesting happening here. Because of this ad, hundreds of thousands of people have encountered a piece of contemporary concert music. Many have also gone to Apple's...
Saturday, May 24, 2014, 7:00pm
The weekend broadcast Higher Ground, is your home to world music where the doors open and welcome unique global styles. Jonathan will be there to greet and connect you with musical friends old and new. Stop by and stay awhile, Saturday night at 7:00pm Central.
#1038 Edition Features: a blend of various tangos, Odetta, Bit Ritmo, Frigg, Algeria’s Jomed, Los Desterrados, B’Net Marrakech, roots music by Tangle Eye, Folk Group Arinushka, Fruko & Sus Tesos, Hungary’s Söndörgõ, Ensemble Huseyin Turkmenler, The Burning Bush, La Bottine Souriante, Lizz Wright, Buena Vista Social Club, Buika, Bombay Royale, Salif Keita, Mamani Keita, Neville Brothers and...
Monday, May 19, 2014, 4:15pm
The opera version of “Dead Man Walking” has become something of a modern classic.
Written by Jake Heggie, the opera, with a libretto by Terrence McNally, is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s book that inspired the movie of the same name. It tells of a nun’s journey as the spiritual advisor of a convicted murderer on Louisiana’s death row.
In this extended interview, Wisconsin Public Radio host Lori Skelton speaks with Heggie about his early love of singers and American musical theater, how that combined with his training as a classical pianist, resulting in the composition of songs for the likes...
Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 4:51pm
Wednesday was a banner day for women.
Not only did General Motors in Detroit announce its first female chief executive, but the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington , D.C., followed suit. Deborah F. Rutter, currently in her 13th year as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, will become the Kennedy Center’s third president on Sept. 1, 2014.
Widely praised for her prudent fiscal stewardship of the symphony, Rutter has also brought some serious star power onboard. She appointed cellist Yo-Yo Ma as the orchestra’s first creative consultant in 2010. That same year also saw the start...
Music lovers of all ages flocked to Saint Charles, Iowa, over the weekend of Aug. 2-4 for the fifth Hinterland Music Festival. Over the course of three days, headliners Hozier, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Brandi Carlile brought Hinterland its most impressive lineup yet.
The Avett Brothers shared music and conversation in a remarkable and intimate session lasting over 90 minutes, in a session facilitated by WPR music host Stephanie Elkins