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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Later this morning we will hear Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. Initially titled "Five Pictures of the Grand Canyon," it had its first performance November 22, 1931 at the Studebaker Theatre in Chicago (!) The composer, Ferde Grofe, was a master orchestrator and arranger. It was he who arranged and orchestrated another American classic which had its premiere in February of 1924 in New York. What is the name of that work? Answer >>

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      Tap Dancing Steps into the Future

      The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) is currently presenting its 25th festival celebrating American tap and contemporary percussive arts, Rhythm World. I sat down with Lane Alexander, CHRP’s artistic director and co-founder, as well as several Rhythm World instructors and guest artists, to learn more about this unique festival, which honors tap’s past while helping it step into the future. more...

      Leonard Slatkin’s 10 Forgotten American Masterpieces

      The following is a list of ten pieces, each received well at the time of composition but fortune has not been so kind to over the years. Of course, there are more than 10 and this selection barely scratches the surface. Perhaps it is not just the pieces, but also the composers who seem to more... more...

      Dvořák Symphony No. 6

      Thomas Wilkins conducts the Sunday Symphony by the prolific William Grant Still, the “Dean of all African-American composers.” The evening concludes with Dvořák’s beautiful large-scale work, his Sixth Symphony, which recalls the Czech folksongs of his native Bohemia. Grant Park Orchestra Thomas Wilkins, Guest Conductor Goldsmith: Fireworks Still: Symphony No. 3, Sunday Symphony Dvořák: Symphony more... more...

      Composer-Pianist Plays “Super” Music on Nintendo Themed Piano

      It’s a truth universally acknowledged by music students around the world that at any given moment in any conservatory, there’s at least one person in the practice rooms playing Bach, Beethoven, and the songs from Nintendo’s classic game Super Mario Bros. The video game, released in 1985, has some pretty memorable music: six songs composed by Koji more... more...

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      Hallé/Elder review – impressive revival of Vaughan Williams neglected oratorio

      Mark Elder and his Hallé orchestra were perfect advocates for Vaughan Williams’s large and little-known Sancta Civitas

      Vaughan Williams’s millennarian oratorio Sancta Civitas is the kind of large and neglected piece that the Proms exist for. Premiered in Oxford in 1926 to texts drawn from the Book of Revelation, it might have been written for the Albert Hall. The work calls for huge vocal forces, an organ and a distant boys choir, tenor and trumpet, here performing high in the gallery under the roof. And since Sir Mark Elder is a great organiser and advocate of such demanding large-scale rarities, these were near ideal conditions for the Hallé players and singers to make the case for this important piece.

      They succeeded impressively, despite Vaughan Williams’s occasionally earthbound choral writing and the apocalyptic texts, which make for uncomfortable listening in an era of terrorism. That apart, Sancta Civitas is an expertly structured work, illuminated by haunting and successful orchestral writing, all meticulously marshalled by Elder and idiomatically played by the Hallé principals. Iain Paterson travelled from Bayreuth to sing the visionary text with sympathetic baritonal warmth, while the ending, in which tenor Robin Tritschler brought a jolt of energy from on high, was beautifully managed.

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      Three Choirs festival: Philharmonia/Nardone review – shimmering washes of sound

      Hereford Cathedral
      Mathias’s ambitious Lux Aeterna gets a deserved revival but Nielsen’s Hymnus Amoris felt rather dogged

      The Three Choirs festival regularly includes the staples of the choral repertory, but it also makes a point of exploring its more neglected corners, too, especially works it brought into existence in the first place. William Mathias’s Lux Aeterna was commissioned for the 1982 festival in Hereford; and performed there again in 1994 in memory of Mathias, who had died in 1992. Revived again this year, it stood up well – an ambitious, hour-long piece, part requiem (dedicated to the memory of the composer’s mother), part a wider celebration of divine light, using texts culled from a variety of liturgical sources including the requiem mass and the vespers for Trinity Sunday, as well as English versions of poems by St John of the Cross.

      Each of the three parts is centred on a setting of one of those poems, sung by the solo contralto, mezzo and soprano in turn, framed by the adult and boys choirs. The first two sections are strikingly effective, with their shimmering washes of sound around the voices conjuring up images of eternal light, but the much longer third part loses its way a bit, and a trio for the three soloists (Sarah Fox, Jennifer Johnston and Claudia Huckle) goes on too long before the affirmative ending. Yet the performance under Peter Nardone certainly made the most of the shining moments, and showed that it well deserved its revival.

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      Access all arias: how a 16th-century choral work is helping us reach new audiences

      Classical music will only survive if it persuades younger audiences to give great music a chance. In Bristol and across Britain, programmers are reaching out to new listeners in exciting and imaginative ways

      Related: Why it's do-or-die for classical music at the Bristol Proms

      Unless the classical music world finds ways to attract new audiences, it risks losing not just the baby and bathwater, but the whole bathtub. As I wrote last year, musicians and audiences are hungry for change. Here in Bristol at the Old Vic’s summer Proms week – now in our third year – our mission is to feed them with as much of it as we can dream up. Our concerts have included such innovations as big-screen live relays, digital imagery, lasers, robotics, and Google Glasses, all designed to bring audiences as close to the heart of the listening experience as they can conceivably get. We’re not the only ones heeding the call: the Hallé has just created a brilliant pay-what-you-like scheme for an informal concert later this year, and around the country there are concerts in pubs, in nightclubs, opera in the open air, and orchestras in car parks. But before traditionalists begin spluttering, I want to stress that this isn’t gimmickry. It’s about concentrating on the music, presenting it simply and directly, and breaking down the very real barriers that keep people from experiencing it.

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      new releases

      Music of Gaspard Fritz

      Musiques Suisses MGBCD-6283

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      Eschenbach: Romantic Piano Music

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4624 (6 CDs)

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      Vadym Kholodenko: Concertos

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-907629

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      I have set my hert so hy

      Avie AV-2286

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      Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 5059

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