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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Later in this hour we will hear pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy play a Beethoven Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A 2-part question today: how many Beethoven piano concertos are there? And what is the nickname of the last one? Answer >>


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      Quiz: How Hipster is Your Taste in Classical Music?

      Admit it, liking classical music is a little bit hipster. But, how hipster is your taste in classical music? Do you love the classics, or prefer more obscure repertoire? Do you like listening to familiar masterworks, or do you constantly crave new sounds? Take this quiz and find out how hipster your tastes are! more...

      Why the American National Anthem isn’t even American

      Yup. You read that correctly. The American National Anthem isn’t American. Well, it has become American. But ironically, the tune to the “Star Spangled Banner” is actually a British pub ballad. How did a drinking song that originated in the country from which America sought its independence travel across the pond and become our National more... more...

      How One Man Built the Great American Orchestra

        The names inscribed on the façade of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner – are familiar to every concertgoer. But another name that is proudly displayed not once, but twice alongside this pantheon of musical masters may be less familiar to you: Theodore Thomas. Theodore Thomas founded what would later more... more...

      Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg

      David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights. more...

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      Music as stress reliever? Fine, but I like music that makes me stressed!

      New research from the Royal College of Music definitively proves that performing and listening to music relieves stress, but experiencing stress and intensity is a vital part of much classical music

      Most of us have known this for years, but it seems that research by the Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science finally proves that “listening to and performing music has been shown to have a positive, biological effect on mood and stress levels”. Evidence came from a survey of saliva samples, readings from ECG monitors (to which 15 singers and 49 audience members with various degrees of musical experience were voluntarily strapped), and the results from a questionnaire. The concert that produced this research? Eric Whitacre’s choral music at the Union Chapel in London in March.

      It is, of course, important that there’s some hard science to back up the claim that apologists for music, and classical music in particular, routinely make about the links between musical participation and wellbeing. As Aaron Williamon, who runs the RCM’s Centre for Performance Science says, the research reveals “significant psychobiological effects, and the implications are hugely exciting, particularly when taking into account previous research, which links reduction in stress hormone activity with increases in immune function”. And it’s important to add that this latest rigorously scientific work comes on the back of generations of in-the-field experiential data that music therapists and health workers have been creating and collating for decades. Music doesn’t just have the potential to make you feel better, it can really improve mind, body and spirit.

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      The Monster in the Maze review – Dove’s score is lively and direct

      Barbican, London

      Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton’s community opera was given a confident production by a mainly amateur cast under Simon Rattle and the LSO

      “Smack!” sings the teenage chorus as Theseus attacks the Minotaur. “Ouf! Bang! Thwack!” Whatever that is in German is how the lines were heard when Jonathan Dove’s latest community opera was premiered by several hundred Berlin musicians, amateur and professional, a fortnight ago. And later this week the Minotaur will be getting beaten up in French.

      Alasdair Middleton’s English libretto – often irreverent, sometimes moving – is to be translated into further languages, too. Most community operas can’t aspire to such dissemination, but most don’t have the weight of Simon Rattle and the co-commissioning Berlin Philharmonic, Aix-en-Provence festival and the London Symphony Orchestra behind them.

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      Classic Quadrophenia review – an unnecessary reinvention

      Royal Albert Hall, London

      There is simply too vast a disconnect between the Who’s ode to working-class alienation and rebellion, and Pete Townshend’s plush, lavish reworking

      Having just turned 70, Pete Townshend has evidently been musing on his musical legacy. His current pet project is to create definitive orchestral scores of all of his major works, including Quadrophenia, the sprawling 1973 double-album rock opera by the Who that was to spawn both a feature film and a theatre production.

      Townshend asked his partner, the composer and arranger Rachel Fuller, to compose the score, and the venture quickly snowballed. Released last month, Classic Quadrophenia features the 90-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the 80 members of the London Oriana Choir, as does tonight’s performance.

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      new releases

      Beck: Symphonies, Op 2

      Naxos 8.573323

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      Abbado Conducts Schubert

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4652

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      Nordic Affect: Clockworking

      Sono Luminus SLE-70001

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      Music of Orlande de Lassus

      Hyperion CDA-68064

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      Garrick Ohlsson: Etudes

      Hyperion CDA-68080

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