Rank #1: Classical Classroom, Episode 64: RERUN - Journey To The Symphony’s Center
We just heard that Classroom guest Peter Boyer is up to some big stuff (go Peter, it’s your birthday…):
First, the National Symphony Orchestra – that’s the orchestra in residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. – will be playing Peter’s work Rolling River (Sketches on “Shenandoah”) on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on September 3, 2017;
And also, on September 9th, in an “It’s a Small Classical Music World After All” moment, Classroom alum Brett Mitchell will be conducting the Colorado Symphony and soloist Renee Fleming in a performance of Peter’s New Beginnings.
In honor of this news, we decided to rerun Peter’s episode. Enjoy!
Why do composers write symphonies? What goes into writing a symphony? If it has three movements, is it still a symphony? I mean, really: What IS a symphony anyway?! Grammy-nominated composer and conductor Peter Boyer answers all of these questions and more by taking us deep into his Symphony No. 1. From making dots on a page, to recording the piece with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, this is a tell-all of one composer’s creative process. Come along, won’t you? Goood. Goood…
Music in this episode:
Peter Boyer, Symphony No. 1. Played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Naxos 8.559769.
Peter Boyer, the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road, London
Audio production by Todd “Twitchy” Hulslander with quasi-spiritual guidance from Dacia Clay.
Rank #2: Classical Classroom, Episode 115: Awakening John Williams’ “Force” With Brett Mitchell
This episode is full of spoilers – not just spoilers about The Force Awakens, but about future Star Wars episodes. Okay – they could be future spoilers. Right now, they’re just our attempts at trying to find the Easter eggs hidden in John Williams’ new score. This may be the nerdiest and most epic episode of Classical Classroom to date. Brett Mitchell, Associate Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, is your guide through the music of the latest Star Wars episode. He teaches about John Williams as a composer and about important tools of the compositional trade, and reveals how this new music is tied to Williams’ scores for the original films. Mitchell takes no prisoners, and does not care for Ewoks. Prepare for hyperdrive.
Music for the episode:
- “Ride of the Valkyries.” From The Ring Cycle, by Richard Wagner.
- Music from the original motion picture scores for
- Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars: Episode 4, A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode 7, The Force Awakens
Audio production by X-Wing pilot Todd “Dameron” Hulslander with lightsaber sounds by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.
Many thanks to Angela “Organa” Mitchell, Randy Davis, and Al Dahlhausen at WCLV for their help with this episode!
Like this episode? Check out Classical Classroom, Episode 4: Leitmotif In Star Wars, also featuring Brett Mitchell!
Rank #3: Classical Classroom Episode 3: Daniel Webbon teaches Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase” & Minimalism
In this episode, Dacia Clay talks with MusicLab intern and Moores School graduate student, Daniel Webbon, about Steve Reich's "Piano Phase" andclassical music minimalism.
Audio production by Todd Hulslander and Daniel Webbon.
Rank #4: Classical Classroom, Episode 123: Rachel Barton Pine On Bach Sonatas And Partitas
Happy Bach’s 331st birthday! To celebrate, we had a partita party with violinist Rachel Barton Pine. (What’s a “partita,” you ask? Listen and learn, my friends.) Rachel explains Bach’s sonatas and partitas and what makes them unique, and walks us through several examples from her new album Testament, which she released on March 21st to coincide with Bach’s bday. Also discussed: What Bach means to her personally, and whether one needs to wear a beret when playing French music (spoiler alert: oui).
99% of the music in this episode is from Rachel Barton Pine’s new release, Testament: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach. The other 1% is the producer’s fault.
Audio production by Todd “Partodda” Hulslander with sarabande by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #5: Classical Classroom, Episode 149: Beethoven In A Nutshell, With The Cypress String Quartet
Before you get all excited, no: the Cypress String Quartet has not reunited. It’s just that we at Classical Classroom have been so busy that we’re a wee bit behind the times. By like…5 months-ish. This episode was originally recorded back in June of 2016, 3 days before the quartet’s last performance after 20 years together, and just after the release of their CD Beethoven: The Early String Quartets. CST members Jennifer Kloetzel (cello) and Tom Stone (violin) talk about how Beethoven’s music brought the group together, and about mastering his music from end to beginning. Learn about Beethoven’s periods and how his music toys with listeners’ emotions like a bad BF (Beethoven friend). Then learn who broke up the band!
Music in this episode (all Beethoven performed by the Cypress String Quartet):
String Quartet in B-flat Major Op.130 Grosse Fugue
String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18 No.1: II. Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
String Quartet No. 8, Op. 59 No.2 “Rasumovsky”: II. Molto Adagio
String Quartet No. 8 Op. 59 No. 2 “Raumovsky”: III. Allegretto
Audio production by Todd “Middle Period” Hulslander with marginal help from Dacia Clay and assistance from Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #6: Classical Classroom, Episode 29: RERUN - The Intimate Conversation Of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, With Wesley Horner
Immortality might be writing a piece of music that is so cool, so archetypal, that hundreds of years later, it’s still used in media that its creator never could have imagined existing. Case in point, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, which was used to amazing effect in the dystopian world of the Emmy award-winning USA Network show, Mr. Robot. Or Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, recently used in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This old gold episode from the Classical Classroom vault, featuring independent producer Wesley Horner, focuses on the former. Hear Wesley’s theories about what makes an immortal piece of music tick.
Music in this episode:
- Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, 2nd movement
Audio production by Todd “Toddtastic” Hulslander with deep, brooding glances from Dacia Clay.
Rank #7: Classical Classroom, Episode 193: Bach in the Underground with Cellist Dale Henderson
To get ready for Bach's March birthday, we bring you the fascinating story of a man on a mission to bring Bach to the people. Bach's music changed cellist Dale Henderson's life. Though the concert hall was a fab venue for sharing this music, Dale wasn't satisfied to stop there. Bach's music, he felt, was for everyone - not just classical music fans. So he schlepped his cello down into a New York City subway, and started playing "pop-up" concerts (for free). And thus, Bach in the Subways was born. The ongoing project now spans more than 40 countries where hundreds of musicians participate in their own cities' public spaces.
Check out a video of Dale playing Bach at Classical KING FM (home of the Classical Classroom)!
Rank #8: Classical Classroom, Episode 125: The Actualization Of Beethoven, With Simone Gramaglia
We could just as easily have called this episode, Growing Up Beethoven, or Build-A-Beethoven, or Beethoven: From Boy to Boss, but “actualization” is more accurate. As violist Simone Gramaglia of Quartetto di Cremona explains, like any artist we study in hindsight, Beethoven’s creative development has distinct, identifiable periods. Unlike other artists, as he evolved, Beethoven moved increasingly away from rules and conventions, and into something transcendent: a full expression of his own unique creative vision. What I’m trying to say is that Beethoven had a lot in common with Prince.
All music in this episode from Quartetto di Cremona’s Beethoven: Complete String Quartets, including:
- String quartets Op. 16, 95, and 132
Audio production by Todd “La Dolce Todda” Hulslander with Vespa riding by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #9: Classical Classroom, Episode 132: Tchaikovsky’s Dilemma, With Mei-Ann Chen
When you hear the music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, pretty much the last thing that comes to mind is self-doubt (Hello?! The man wrote actual cannons into his music!). But as conductor Mei-Ann Chenexplains, the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture took him years to write because he was deeply self-critical. And his opinionated mentor, Mily Balakirev, didn’t help the situation. Learn all about Tchaikovsky’s creative process and about one of the most romantic pieces of music ever written in this episode.
Music in this episode:
- Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Claudio Abbado conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Audio production by Todd “Toddkovsky” Hulslander with very bad ballet dancing by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.
Mei-Ann Chen was in Houston for the Texas Music Festival, which continues through July 2nd. For more information, visit their website.
Rank #10: Classical Classroom, Episode 52: RERUN - Inside A Boléro With Howard Pollack
Ravel’s Boléro. Next to most of the soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi, it’s possibly the most repetitive piece of music ever written, amiright (respect, Philip Glass)? As it turns out, I am wrong, so wrong. In fact, Boléro is a piece built entirely around change. Howard Pollack, professor at Moores School of Music, author, lecturer, and guest on BBC specials and NPR shows like Morning Edition and Fresh Air, is our tour guide through this amazing piece of music by a very subtle and sneaky composer.
Music in this episode:
- “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- Boléro by Maurice Ravel as performed by Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Charles Dutoit
Audio production by Todd “Treble Clef” Hulslander with bass clef by Dacia Clay.
Rank #11: Classical Classroom, Episode 93: Everybody Dance Now! Joel Fan On Classical Dance Music
What came before twerking, Harlem Shake-ing, and popping and locking? The Krakowiak, the Polonaise, and the Tarantelle (which have really cool names, now that we’re looking at it). Pianist Joel Fan teaches us all about classical dance music, the composers who made it, and the circumstances from which the dances emerged.
Pianist Joel Fan. Courtesy of the artist’s website.
Audio production by Todd “Pod God” Hulslander with moonwalking from Dacia Clay, and help from editor Mark DiClaudio and intern Nick Dulworth.
Music in this episode:
- Bill Evans Trio: “Waltz for Debby”
All other music from Joel Fan’s latest CD, Dances for Piano and Orchestra:
- Camille Saint-Saëns: Valse-Caprice in A-flat Major (“Wedding Cake”), Op. 76
- Fryderyk Chopin: Krakowiak in F Major, Op. 14
- Carl Maria von Weber / Liszt: Polonaise Brillante, Op. 72 (S.367)
For more about Joel Fan: www.joelfanmusic.com
Rank #12: Classical Classroom, Episode 57: …To Holst’s Planets With Joshua Zinn
Take an interstellar journey to one of classical music’s most influential works.
Climb aboard the great Classroom space coaster for a trip to Gustav Holst’s The Planets! Composer, MusicLab intern, and self-described professional nerd Joshua Zinn is our captain on this journey through one of classical music’s most influential and popular works. Who was Holst? How did he write the music for Star Warsbefore the movie existed!? How does one actually pronounce “Uranus”? All of these questions and more will be answered!
Audio production by Todd “Titan” Hulslander with copiloting from Dacia Clay.
All music in this episode is from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”.
Rank #13: Classical Classroom, Episode 118: RERUN - Alisa Weilerstein On The Romance Of Rachmaninov
Happy birthday, Rachmaninov!
Because Rachmaninov’s birthday and our Spring Break lined up so nicely, it’s obviously the perfect opportunity to repeat this episode. Back next week with more of the usual (i.e., heavy metal car racing stories with lots of explosions).
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s gives an introduction to the music of Sergey Rachmaninov. Who was this romantic man, and what makes him different from all the other guys – I mean, composers? Weilerstein walks us through Rachmaninov’s Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano. Plus, she talks about her musical relationship with performing partner, pianist Inon Barnatan, and what it’s like to be part of a long-term creative duo.
Music in this episode is all from Weilerstein and Barnatan’s CD, Chopin and Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas:
- Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 19. Sergey Rachmaninov.
Audio production by Todd “Toight like a toiger” Hulslander with grrrr aargh’s from Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #14: Classical Classroom, Episode 4: Brett Mitchell teaches Leitmotif in John Williams’ Star Wars Score
In this episode, conductor Brett Mitchell — Assistant Conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra, man of too many accolades to mention, and former Assistant Conductor of the Houston Symphony — talks about John Williams’ use of leitmotif in the score to the original Star Warsmovie. Listen, you must.
Audio production by Todd “Tatooine” Hulslander, with use of the Force by Dacia Clay.
For more about Brett Mitchell: www.brettmitchellconductor.com
Rank #15: Classical Classroom, Episode 150: Sportsing With Tchaikovsky – Jennifer Koh
Holy 150th episode, Batman! Because we are so stoked to have reached this milestone, we bring you not one, but two treats: A new Classical Classroom show intro, and the comedic stylings of violinist Jennifer Koh. Jennifer was Musical America’s Instrumentalist of 2016 and recently put out an album of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for violin and orchestra. Some of Tchaikovsky’s pieces are commonly referred to as, “…the most daunting works in the violin repertoire.” Jennifer explains why a composer would write something that musicians consider intimidating to play, and why musicians like her have fun feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Also in this episode, bear witness to astonishingly inept sports talk, and the best story about a violinist playing softball ever.
All music in this episode from Jennifer Koh’s CD, Tchaikovsky’s Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra.
Audio production by Todd “Birthday Boy” Hulslander with assistance from Mark DiClaudio and parkour by Dacia Clay.
Many thanks to our listeners for all the love and listening so far! You guys rawk.
This episode brought to you by the following fake organization:
Rank #16: Classical Classroom, Episode 153: Music Of The Coen Bros. Films, With Craig Cohen (Pt. 1)
Okay, so it’s a little bit of a departure from our typical classical music fare, but it’s the holidays so we’re indulging in some serious fun: Craig Cohen, host of our mothership’s daily public affairs program, Houston Matters, walks us through the music of the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, better known as the Coen Brothers. In part 1 of our epic conversation, you’ll learn about the musical mastermind behind the brothers’ films, Carter Burwell. You’ll also hear a little melodramatic Khachaturian, and, of course, some yodeling.
Music in this episode:
- From Blood Simple: Music by Carter Burwell
- From Raising Arizona: Featuring the yodel stylings of Mieczyslaw Litwinski and a banjo player who Carter Burwell claims may have been one of the Coen brothers’ optometrists
- From Miller’s Crossing: Orchestral score by Carter Burwell
- From Barton Fink
- From The Hudsucker Proxy: Featuring compositions by Aram Khachaturian, including “Sabre Dance”
Audio production by Todd “Fink” Hulslander with hula hooping by Dacia Clay and assistance from Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #17: Classical Classroom, Episode 186: Kim Kashkashian on the Persistence of Bach
We know what you're thinking: Another episode about Bach?! That's what we said! In fact, in this episode we ask Grammy-winning violist Kim Kashkashian to explain why classical musicians play and record the same music repeatedly, and specifically, why it's often the music of Bach. Her answer is totally fascinating! We also address the elephant in the room, i.e., whether or not it would have been okay with Bach that she played his Cello Suites on viola on her new album.
Music in this episode:
Rank #18: Classical Classroom, Episode 2: RERUN - Angela Mitchell Teaches Bel Canto Aria (With Bonus Material)
Since the U.S. has been celebrating its beginnings this week, we thought we’d go back to ours. We hope you enjoy this throwback. And! Because we were in the holiday spirit, we added a little present for you at the end of the show. We hope you enjoy it. And that Tchaikovsky doesn’t turn over too hard in his grave when you play it.
P.S., When we recorded this episode, Angela was indeed a “Schmidt.” Now, she is a “Mitchell.” As in, married to Brett Mitchell. As in, Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. (And Episode 4 of our show.) And in addition to being a professional opera singer, Angela is Assistant Producer at WCLV. They are a classical music power couple, people. And some of our favorite humans. So, when you hear “Schmidt” in this episode, think “Mitchell.” Kthx! ——————————————— In this episode, opera singer and classical music announcer Angela Mitchell talks about bel canto aria and sleepwalking, wrongly-accused hussies.
Audio production by Todd Hulslander and Angela Mitchell.
Music in this episode: – “La Sonnambula” (“The Sleepwalker”) by Vincenzo Bellini.
For more about Angela Mitchell: www.angelamitchellsoprano.com
Rank #19: Classical Classroom, Episode 158: Matt Haimovitz Makes Overtures To Bach
It’s entirely possible that cellist Matt Haimovitz has forgotten that composers other than Bach exist. On his last visit to Classical Classroom, he talked about Anna Magdalena’s (Bach’s second wife’s) transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites. On the visit before that, Matt and Christopher O’Riley talked… oh wait – that was about Beethoven. But still! The guy’s obsessed! And we’re glad he is. In this episode, Haimovitz talks about his CD Overtures to Bach, on which he commissioned 6 contemporary composers to essentially build an aural bridge from our time to Bach’s. Learn about Bach and hear amazing new music in this episode.
All music in this episode from Matt Haimovitz’s Overtures to Bach.
Audio production by Todd “Mr. Robot” Hulslander with poorly executed fake hacking sequences by Dacia Clay and assistance from Mark DiClaudio.
Rank #20: Classical Classroom, Episode 106: Bach Halloween Spooktacular With Keith Weber
What?? Two episodes in one week? That’s right. We made you a treat: Go with us on a field trip to the Moores School of Music Organ Recital Hall at the University of Houston where we meet up with Keith “Creepy” Weber and the colossal, two-story Beckerath Organ that lurks in the hall. Learn all about Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and why it’s the soundtrack for all things macabre in this episode, the final installment of our Bachtoberfest series.
Music in this episode played by Keith Weber, except for “Toccata Remix” by VioDance.
Audio production by Todd “All A-Twitter” Hulslander with snargling by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Thanks to Matthew Dirst and Melissa Sanson for the information they provided for this episode.
Check out these photos from our recording session!
Taken from the floor of the recital hall. Because why not. Photo by Dacia Clay
Keith Weber and Dacia Clay. Regular-sized people, giant Beckerath organ. Photo by Mark DiClaudio.
Keith Weber (L) and Dacia Clay (with zombie hand gestures). Photo by Mark DiClaudio.
Keith Weber plays Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Why are there so many keys?? I mean, 3 tiers seems excessive, no? Photo by Mark DiClaudio.
Keith Weber preparing to creep us out. Photo by Dacia Clay.
Organ in the dark. Extra creepy! Photo by Dacia Clay.