Rachel Katz

WWFM Production Manager and Host of A Tempo

Rachel Katz is the host of A Tempo which airs Saturdays at 7 pm.

From an early age, Rachel Katz earned a reputation in her family for both sharing stories (a “town-crier” of sorts) and also sitting back while older family members shared theirs, taking it all in as a quiet observer.  Rachel pursued degrees in history at The University of Connecticut and Russian/Soviet studies and journalism at the University of Michigan, which soon set her on the path as a foreign correspondent in the early and mid-1990s. She worked in St. Petersburg, Russia, for three years, writing for UPI, The St. Petersburg Press, AP and The Moscow Times, as well as a variety of other  US national and regional publications. Back in the US, she worked at The Connecticut Post and as business editor of The (Norwalk) Hour before moving to Bloomberg News, where she covered retail and other business news.

Interested in exploring radio, she took broadcast classes and landed a job at The Classical Network as a production assistant and the opportunity to produce her own public affairs program, Views and Voices. As host and producer now of A Tempo, she brings her storytelling and reporter experience – and her love of music - to the world of arts and culture, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the music world today.

In addition to playing violin with the Westminster Community Orchestra, Rachel enjoys fencing, birdwatching and salsa/swing/ballroom dancing.

Ways to Connect

National YoungArts Foundation had scheduled Pianist Conrad Tao to present the final concert in its new YoungArts at Ted’s series in Miami this month. But with quarantines still underway, the audience has been invited - virtually - to YoungArts at Conrad’s, from the pianist’s home in New York Thursday, May 7 at 7 pm. YoungArts, which supports young artists from their teens and continuing throughout their careers, will also present an online chat for young composers featuring violinist Jennifer Koh and composer Andrew Norman next week.

Like symphonies across the country, the Minnesota Orchestra was forced to cancel the rest of its regular 2019-2020 season as the extent of the Covid-19 epidemic became apparent. But they are among few orchestras that have announced plans to create a new late summer addition to make up for some of the lost opportunities to share music with their community, moving some of the planned programs to August and September. Its musicians have also been sharing music online through Minnesota At Home. President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns discusses these programs. 

With the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic reaching into every corner of society, non-profit organizations have faced a deluge of challenges: more people are in need of food and support after losing jobs; the volunteers who often staff and support many organizations are shut at home or have fallen ill themselves; cultural organizations have had to close museums and centers and cancel programs and performances, resulting in the loss of revenue.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra was looking forward to its next OrchestraYou program, where it invites musicians of all skill levels and ages to join its own musicians following a concert to play together. When it had to cancel the rest of its season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, its staff decided why not try a virtual program, inviting all those who had wanted to participate to submit a video of them playing the Scherzo of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, which could be crafted into one performance like many of the others we’ve seen online.

Long before Ignác Semmelweis became an almost household name amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the story of the 19th-century obstetrician who was the first to grasp the importance of hand-washing as a health precaution had caught the attention of Raymond Lustig.

Over the past month, Opera Philadelphia has been offering short clips of past productions, called "Opera on the Couch." During that time, the staff has been able to ready some of its works to premiere for online audiences. Its Virtual Festival launches today, with a line up of five of the operas it has staged in recent years, as well as special opening night features. President and General Director David Devan talks about making the virtual festival possible.

Photo by Peter Serling

Since it was first launched in 1987 by composers David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon, The Bang on a Can Marathon has been the centerpiece of programs and initiatives to support new music making and introduce audiences to new music. This year, even with musicians shut in at home across the globe, the usually New York based marathon will go on - virtually - on May 3 from 3 pm to 6 pm ET. Lang explains the importance of the event - then and now.

  When McCarter Theater staff began looking through its archives for clips that it could share with audiences, they started small - some photos, short video clips. They gradually built on that, expanding their “McCarter @Home” series, which this week launches  a conversation segment, called “Social Distance in 60 Minutes,” with actor Michael Shannon as its first guest. In addition, McCarter will honor its long-time Artistic Director Emily Mann this Saturday in a carefully-crafted virtual gala.

Kristen Loken

Donato Cabrera, music director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and California Symphony, challenged himself to write daily entries for his previously weekly blog when he first began sheltering in place in his home in San Francisco. He certainly didn’t expect he’d still be doing it six weeks later, but he’s kept up with his challenge, and recently added a weekly Facebook Live chat with guest artists.

When The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey cancelled its summer tour to Finland and the Baltic region as the Covid-19 outbreak began its global spread, its staff was only just beginning to realize that things would be changing for the orchestra back home as well. With school closures and the implementation of stay-at-home rules, they had to find new ways to keep the young musicians of its various ensembles engaged in music - and provide a way to hold auditions for next year.

Brooke Mead, a masters student in viola performance at Temple University, is just one of thousands of students who was looking forward to a senior or graduate recital, only to be devastated as schools shifted to online instruction because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But she found unexpected help when she asked how a musician can deal with the disappointment of cancelled performances during a Zoom panel discussion with Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Principal Cellist Yumi Kendall.

As the New York City Ballet set about bringing together video recordings of past performances that they could offer as a digital season after stay at home policies forced the cancellation of their regular Spring season, they were excited to learn that the world premiere performance of Rotunda, with music by Nico Muhly and choreographed by Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor Justin Peck, had been recorded.

In recent years, a number of performing arts organizations and research libraries have been digitizing their archives and making some collections available online to the public. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (4/25 at 7 pm) looks at two of these. The program's guests will be Carnegie Hall Archives and Rose Museum Director Gino Francesconi, along with archive Assistant Director Kathleen Sabogal, and Richard Boursy, research archivist at Yale University's Irving S. Gilmore Music Library.

The Alexander String Quartet was disappointed when stay-at-home rules kept them from performing a long-awaited performance of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ in their hometown of San Francisco. But they found a way to record it and share it both with their intended audience, and those at Baruch Performing Arts Center, where they were scheduled to be at their annual residency this week.

Vera Herman Goodkin was just shy of her 9th birthday when her hometown in Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany. She spent the next four years in hiding, until she was finally rescued and taken to freedom thanks to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and for many years now she has shared her story with young people to warn them of the dangers of hate and mistrust. Join Host Bill Zagorski as Vera tells her story. This program will air Tuesday (4/21) at 11 am and 4 pm.

Since its musicians performed one last time before heading into stay at home mode in mid-March - playing emotionally to an almost empty Severance Hall - the Cleveland Orchestra has been exploring different ways to keep in touch with its audience. Viewers can listen to past performance, take a “mindful moment” with a short musical selection, or check out a variety of educational resources for kids.

Phil Mansfield

As composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa sheltered in place alone in her Manhattan apartment not far from Columbia Presbyterian hospital, she struggled with how to deal with her new reality - the stress, the shock and the isolation. She found her answer in her music, through a project that reaches out to others asking them to share their experiences.

Caroline Tompkins

When the staff at National Sawdust, a music presenter and venue in Brooklyn, began to look through its archives for material to share with its audience shut in, stressed and concerned over the Covid-19 Coronavirus, they began to focus on themes they felt would be very helpful, such as wellness and joy. They are now sharing them online through Live at National Sawdust. Artistic Director Paolo Prestini discusses this project and a newly funded expansion called Digital Discovery Festival that will enable the venue to pay musicians for live stream performances and commission new works.

The students, faculty and others who are part of the Oberlin Conservatory community are used to a vibrant cultural schedule filled with concerts, panel discussions and lectures, many of which the conservatory already made widely available via streaming. So its staff wasn’t going to let the campus’ closure due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus stop that.

As the summer festival season draws nearer, organizers behind the many highly anticipated annual musical events have been monitoring the Covid-19 Coronavirus situation - with its travel bans, closures and stay-at-home policies - very closely. Tanglewood and the BBC Proms are holding off on any announcements of season plans, hoping for a clearer sense of what the summer months will bring, while some, like the Aspen Music Festival, have delayed their opening, canceling or rescheduling programs from early in the season but hoping that performances in later weeks might be possible.

The American Composers Orchestra champions the composition and performance of new works. So as concert cancellations mounted amid the Covid-19 outbreak, it launched a new initiative pairing composers and performers for "Connecting ACO Community." Starting on April 19, a new work will be premiered live by a composer-performer team on Zoom, and then the work will be posted online.

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2017, the musicians of ROCO - the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra - commissioned a fanfare they titled the Heroes of Harvey, saluting those who came to the aid of those whose lives were turned upside down by the storm. ROCO’s musicians have now renamed that work Anthem of Hope, dedicating it to first first responders and others on the front lines of the Covid-19 Coronavirus epidemic, posting a recording of it on YouTube - each musician recording it from his or her own home.

  As the extent of the threat posed by the coronavirus started to become apparent, Luke Fleming, Artistic director of the Manhattan Chamber Players, headed down to be with his family in New Orleans, where he also organizes the Crescent City Chamber Music Festival.

When musicians involved in Classical Revolution, created in 2006 to bring chamber music to cafes and other non-traditional venues, found themselves stranded at home by shelter-in-place rules following the Coronavirus outbreak, Founder Charith Premawardhana realized these musicians could come together as a resource to help keep the music playing.

When The Princeton Symphony Orchestra was looking for ways to preserve the essence of its season online, its staff decided to look at its mission and the various audiences it serves.

The Bloomingdale School of Music, a community music school in Manhattan, last Fall received a makeover of its concert hall and backyard courtesy of the NBC Universal program George to the Rescue. The episode aired this weekend and is also available on YouTube. A Tempo host Rachel Katz this Saturday (4/11 at 7 pm) spoke with the school's Executive Director Erika Floreska about the renovation and how students and faculty are coping with being closed because of the Coronavirus.

When staff at The Curtis Institute of Music was looking for virtual ways to stay in touch with audiences, they were able to turn to the vast archive of student and staff recitals and concerts. The result was "Curtis is Here," daily videos and Friday night live-streams of concerts.

Whether they’re at home or self-isolating at their dorms, students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music didn’t let an extended Spring Break - and the resumption of classes online - get in the way of making music. Beginning March 27, students and alumni have been live streaming 90 minute Tiny Dorm Concerts - taking its name as a variant on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert.

Just as musicians have to keep making music despite being shut in at home, dancers have to keep moving as well to feed their creative spirit - and stay in shape. So when Ballet Hispánico was forced to cancel its two-week season at the Joyce Theater this month, it launched “#BUnidos” - a social media project to stay in touch with its audience and dance students, give its dancers an outlet to share their art, and celebrate its 50th anniversary season.

Juergen Frank

Violinist Jennifer Koh remembers the challenges she faced as a young musician, and how even a single cancellation could create a major financial crisis. That inspired her to launch Alone Together, a commissioning project to support young, emerging composers who might lose out on opportunities amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak and resulting cancellations. Koh describes her goals for the project, including weekly Saturday premieres on Facebook and Instagram, on Friday's "On a Positive Note" at 10 am and 5 pm.