JPR Classics

JPR Classics is a place to come for all things classical in the State of Jefferson.  We'll honor our rich classical heritage while looking to the future, showcasing inspired performances by the next generation of classical musicians. The classics live on JPR!

Classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein is just back from Havana, where she performed with Cuba's National Youth Orchestra. She is also working with young people back in her hometown, New York. One of her goals? To introduce students to the composer she's best known for performing — Johann Sebastian Bach. She's taking digital pianos into public schools in a program she calls "Bach-packing."

A new chorus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is helping transgender men and women find their voices – and community. The Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus was founded by Sandi Hammond, a singer and vocal teacher, who wanted to help trans men and women learn to use their changing voices in a safe space.

Unearthed In A Library, 'Voodoo' Opera Rises Again

Jun 26, 2015

About eight years ago, as a grad student, Annie Holt was working in Columbia University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library when she was assigned to catalogue the work of Harry Lawrence Freeman, a largely forgotten Harlem-based composer from the early 20th century.

"It was fabulous!" she says. "I had the honor of going through all the cardboard boxes that came right from his family's house and unearthing everything, and I, for myself, discovered how amazing his story was and how amazing his music is."

James Horner, Oscar-Winning Film Composer, Presumed Dead

Jun 23, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES HORNER SONG, "A KALEIDOSCOPE OF MATHEMATICS")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

'The Most Beautiful Offerings': Terry Riley At 80

Jun 22, 2015

Composer Terry Riley turns 80 Wednesday. He's been called the father of minimalism for his groundbreaking 1964 work In C. But his influence has spread far beyond, sparking the imaginations of many artists, from cutting-edge electronic musicians to rock gods.

How To Annoy Your Dad: Play The Harpsichord

Jun 15, 2015

"The harpsichord is an easy target, isn't it?" Those are the fighting words of Mahan Esfahani, a good-humored harpsichordist who is a proud defender of his instrument.

If you see any blockbuster films this summer, chances are you'll hear Michael Giacchino's music.

Artistic revolutions are rarely born easy. They complained about cubism, they grumbled about the "talkies" — and boy, did they bellyache over Wagner's trailblazing operas, especially Tristan und Isolde, which debuted 150 years ago Wednesday.

Evenly Odd: Carl Nielsen's Distinctive Symphonies

Jun 9, 2015

"Quirky" is a descriptor that seems to have stuck to Danish composer Carl Nielsen, born 150 years ago on June 9, 1865.

"The monastic life is very plain and ordinary," says Father Cassian Folsom, the founder and prior of the Monks of Norcia, ensconced in the St. Benedict Monastery in central Italy. "You get up, and you pray, and you do your work and go to bed and then the next day you do the same thing."

A large portion of the monks' daily routine is singing. "We chant the Divine Office and the Mass every day," Folsom tells NPR's Scott Simon. "And if you put all of those moments together it takes about five hours a day. Three hundred sixty-five days a year."

Leonard Bernstein often said: "Every author spends his entire life writing the same book." The same could apply to composers.

Amid Violence In Baghdad, A Musician Creates A One-Man Vigil

Jun 8, 2015

The roar of a car bomb has been the prelude to Karim Wasfi's performances of late.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUDY VALLEE: When you work with your brother Ira, which comes first, the words or the music?

Matthew Aucoin is being compared to Mozart, Wagner and Leonard Bernstein. He's worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Richard Blinkhoff

JPR today learned of the passing of Margaret Juntwait, host of our regular Saturday morning Metropolitan Opera broadcasts for the last decade. Below is the statement we received from the Met.

One Hit Wonders?

Jun 1, 2015

If you grew up listening to ‘Pop’ music from the 1950’s on, you are probably aware of the concept of the ‘one-hit wonder.’ It got me thinking about whether there is such a thing in classical music and how would you define the terms. What constitutes a ‘hit’ from the classical standpoint? Should I consider composers who were known for mainly one work but had in fact written more? Fortunately I am able to play more than just the top 100 best classical pieces, so defining what a hit is for the JPR listener may be a bit broader, but there are a number of pieces that still qualify.

When Oscar Paz Suaznabar plays the piano, he does so with feeling.

The Alexandria, Va., resident has played at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and on the NPR show From the Top. He is 9 years old.

Oscar started playing his older sister's keyboard by ear when he was just 2. The sorrow he conveys when he plays "The Lark" by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka is drawn from the kind of loss any 9-year-old can understand.

Bruce Brubaker's Flowing, Meditative Glass

May 26, 2015

In his new memoir, Words Without Music, Philip Glass tells the story of how he slugged a man in the jaw in Amsterdam. At a concert, a quarrelsome audience member climbed onto the stage and began banging on the composer's keyboard. That was in 1969, when Glass' repetitious, slowly evolving music fell on many ears like a needle stuck in the groove of a record.

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