Upcoming and Noteworthy

What's ahead on The Classical Network? Catch some of these great programs coming your way. Information on evening concert broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other nationally broadcast performances can be found on our home page.

For Episode 291 of the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys, The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler features a wide variety of pianists in selections from Books One and Two of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.

“The 48 Preludes and Fugues not only are the foundation of piano music,” says Distler, “they also embody the full gamut of emotions, and always convey a sense of order, which is something we so desperately need in these challenging days.”

The actor and singer Sam Harris had a well-received show Off-Broadway called "Ham: A Musical Memoir," and a live capture of that show when it played  on the West Coast is now streaming. Theater Critic Howard Shapiro reviews the show this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday (1/15) at 8 am and Saturday (1/16) at 10 am.

A jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness.  Well, we’ve got the wilderness anyway.  Poetry warms the soul, through selections from “Dead Poets Society” (Maurice Jarre), “Lady Caroline Lamb” (Richard Rodney Bennett), “Il Postino” (Luis Bacalov), and “Cyrano de Bergerac” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  It could be verse, this Saturday at 6 pm.

Richard Strauss is known for his tone poems and operas such as “Der Rosencavalier,” “Solome,” and “Elektra.”  We’ll sample two of his Lesser-known works on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/17 3:00 p.m.) – two one-act operas “Daphne” and “Feuersnot.”  “Daphne” was first performed in 1938 and is loosely based on the myth of Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” about the chaste maid of the title who is pursued by a childhood friend, Leukippos, and the god Apollo.  Apollo accidentally kills Leukippos and, in regret, arranges for Daphne to become a part of the nature she loves by changing into a tree.  The cast on this recording includes June Anderson, Roberto Sacca, Scott MacAllister, Daniel Lewis Williams, and Birgit Remmert.

As with the rest of their seasons, orchestras have been working with their community partners to bring annual tribute concerts for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday online, and A Tempo this Saturday (1/16 at 7 pm) looks at two orchestras' plans. Host Rachel Katz will speak with Doris Parent, Vice President of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Strategies and Strategic Partnerships with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Kimberly Kraft McLemore, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement at the Nashville Symphony, about their plans.

If you like the unfamiliar, we may have a program for you on this week’s Dress Circle (1/17 7:00 p.m.) as we take a second look at "Musicals with Which You May Not Be Familiar.”  This time, we’ll be looking at Cole Porter’s 1958 television musical “Aladdin” which starred Cyril Ritchard, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Sal Mineo, Basil Rathbone, and Geoffrey Holder. We’ll follow this with music from the wonderfully irreverent 1966 off-Broadway revue “The Mad Show” with music by Mary Rodgers with lyrics by Marshall Barer, Steven Vinaver, and Stephen Sondheim and performances by Linda Lavin, McIntyre Dixon, Jo Anne Worley, and Paul Sand.  

The Zarzuela - the beloved Spanish tradition that combines both popular and operatic music with choruses, dancing and dialogue - dates back in in one form or the other to the mid seventeenth century. La Generala by Amadeo Vives, is from 1912, and this week on the Lyric Stage we have the musical selections from it.

Aram Khachaturian (on the right, with Prokofiev and Shostakovich) described his Symphony No. 2 as “a requiem of protest against war and violence.”  Its nickname, “The Bell,” alludes to a kind of alarm that opens and closes the work.  Leopold Stokowski will conduct the piece, in a rarely-heard recording from the late 1950s.  Then, to round out the hour, Nadia Reisenberg will perform Khachaturian’s “Toccata,” from a 1947 Carnegie Hall recital.  Sharpen up on Khachaturian, with music other than the “Sabre Dance,” this Sunday at 10 pm.

It’s more about Broadway than usual on this week’s Dress Circle (1/10 7:00 p.m.) with songs about Broadway from the musicals.   We’ll be giving our regards to Broadway, hearing about the lullaby of Broadway and Broadway melody, and a couple of Broadway babies as well.  The songs come from shows such as “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Two’s Company,” “Street Scene,” “Dames at Sea,” “A Class Act,” “Mister Wonderful,” and “Follies” along with several others. 

The new show "Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical" generated lots of excitement when it streamed for only three days last weekend. It's the first-ever musical created by a social media crowd source. Hear more about the show and how it came to be on In a Broadway Minute with Theater Critic Howard Shapiro this Friday (1/8) at 8 am and Saturday (1/9) at 10 am.

Picture Perfect Now on Saturday: Soviet Cinema

Jan 7, 2021

Peek behind the Curtain for music by notable composers for Soviet cinema, including selections from “Agony” (Alfred Schnittke), “Time, Forward!” (Georgy Sviridov), “The Gadfly” (Dmitri Shostakovich), and “Alexander Nevsky” (Sergei Prokofiev).  Say da to classic film music, this Saturday at 6 pm. 

As opera companies roll out 2021 programming, many of the productions were totally conceived of and created in the era of Covid-19, with its restrictions on live performances and the shift to screens and devices. A Tempo this Saturday (1/9 at 7 pm) looks at some upcoming events at Opera Philadelphia and Prototype 2021 Festival. Host Rachel Katz will speak with Opera Philadelphia General Director David Devan about its upcoming showing of Lee Hoiby's Bon Appetit, starring Jamie Barton as Julia Child, which is also serving as a fundraiser and runs Jan.

Sounds Choral: Jan 10 - Critical Mass

Jan 7, 2021

Sounds Choral host Ethan Sperry this Sunday (1/10 at 2 pm) presents selections from two masses for double choir - Ralph Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor and Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir - written as Europe was emerging from the Spanish flu when choirs could once again sing together after the Spanish flu.

We have a historical rarity on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/10 3:00 p.m.) with Johann Adolph Hasse’s “Cleofide.”  Hasse, who was incredibly popular during his time, is all but forgotten now as is his catalogue of sacred music and some seventy operas of which “Cleofide” was his seventeenth, premiering in 1731 and not really surfacing again until 2005.   The subject matter is the clemency of Alexander the Great during the time of the war with King Porus in India which Hasse would revisit again later with an entirely new score.  True to many Baroque operas, the storyline is rather convoluted but deals mainly with men who misunderstand the actions of the women in their lives who are doing what they think is best to save their kingdoms.  

All signs point north!  Keep looking up, with musical responses to the uncanny, natural phenomenon known as the Aurora Borealis.  Prepare to be dazzled by Uuno Klami’s “Northern Lights” and Geirr Tveitt’s Piano Concerto No. 4.  It’s an hour of radiant music, this Sunday at 10 pm.

The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler rings in 2021 with an eclectic playlist on his ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award winning program Between the Keys.

How do such playlists evolve?

We’re welcoming 2021 and January on this week’s Dress Circle (1/3 7:00 p.m.) with songs from just a few of the shows that opened in New York in January.  From George M. Cohan’s “Little Johnny Jones” to “Beautiful the Carole King Musical,” we’ll be looking at 110 years of musical history.  Along the way, we’ll hear from “The Wiz,” the revival of “No, No, Nanette,” and “Oliver!”. 

Courtesy of Lisa Bielawa

Throughout 2020, musicians sought various ways to capture the sounds, thoughts and experiences of 2020, from the isolation and loss of Covid-19 to the outburst of frustration, anger and desire for social justice that emerged after the killing of George Floyd.

Sounds Choral host Steven Sametz this week welcomes 2021 with choral works, including two New Year's cantatas by J.S. Bach, folksongs and some of Sametz's own works. Listen Sunday (1/3) at 2 pm.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold is best known for his film music, but on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/3 3:00 p.m.) we’ll hear some of his classical work including his romantic opera “Die Kathrin.”  Kathrin (Melanie Diener) falls in love with Francois (David Rendall), but life and various misunderstandings get between them until many years pass, and they can finally be together for a happy ending which we all need about now. 

Frederick Delius wrote Margot La Rouge in 1902 to enter into the same one act opera competition won by Cavallaria Rusticana in 1890. The rules said the libretto must be of "the French and Italian type", and even though Delius is said to have hated  verismo, he gave it a try, choosing what his friend and champion Eric Fenby disdained as a "sordid affair" to set to music.

The Lost Chord: January 3 - Cold Comfort

Dec 31, 2020

It’s a stoic start to the year, with musical settings of the Icelandic Eddas.  Hear selections from “The Rheingold Curse,” after the “Volsunga Saga,” the earliest written sources of ancient Germanic myths, performed by Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia, and “The Creation of the World,” Part I of the massive “Edda” oratorio by Icelandic composer Jón Leifs.  It’s a new year of swan’s bone flutes, Nordic lurs, and tuned rocks, this Sunday at 10 pm.

As the Beethoven 250th anniversary year winds down, we continue our two-part survey of Schubert’s Impromptus on the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award winning program Between the Keys.

The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler has picked four recordings of each Impromptu from Schubert’s D. 935 ( or Op. 142), each with a different pianist: Annie Fischer, Rudolf Firkusny, Massimo Giuseppe Bianchi and Rudolf Serkin. Also featured will be impromptus by Bernard Rands, Jean Sibelius and Georges Enescu.

It’s certainly been a year, but we’re going to be looking at the new year with some hope and encouraging words from the musicals on this week’s Dress Circle (12/27 7:00 p.m.).  With songs from musicals like “I Remember Mama,” “Seesaw,” “70 Girls 70,” “Crazy for You,” “Fade Out, Fade In,” and “Snoopy,” we’ll craft a plan to meet 2021 headfirst and in the best possible way.  

With the grand cacophony of Christmas still fresh in everyone’s ears, we’ll hear music from movies in which toys play a pivotal role, including “Citizen Kane” (Bernard Herrmann), “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” (Danny Elfman), “Toccata for Toy Trains” (Elmer Bernstein), and “Toy Story” (Randy Newman).  Keep popping those aspirin.  It’s an hour of noise for toys, this Saturday at 6 pm.

  

  

When Dan Moller, a philosophy professor at the University of Maryland with a particular fondness for heavy metal, decided to tackle J.S. Bach's Fugue in C Minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, he found himself on a three-year deep dive not only into piano pedagogy, but also into the composer's life and music. Moller chronicles his musings and discoveries in a recently published book, "They Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music and the Piano," combining reverence for the composer and music with humor, insight and an occasionally unorthodox approach to classical music.

We’ll once again enjoy a European tradition on this week’s Sunday Opera (12/27 3:00 p.m.) as we prepare you for your New Year’s celebrations with Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus.”  This delightfully comic battle-of-the-sexes features some stellar singing from some old favorites including Hilde Guden, Regina Resnik, Waldemar Kmentt, Erika Koth, and Walter Berry. 

In his one act comic opera, Gianni Schicchi, the third of his set of one acts, Il Trittico, Giacomo Puccini was inspired by a serious story from Dante's Inferno about the true swindling of the Donati family by the real Gianni Schicchi. Using this solemn source, Puccini created one of the finest of comic operas, turning the events into the triumph of a loveable rascal.

The Lost Chord: December 27 - Have a Ball

Dec 24, 2020

Laugh away a very rough year with highlights from the notorious and uproarious Hoffnung Music Festival concerts.  Tune in for Sir Malcolm Arnold’s “A Grand Grand Overture,” for orchestra, organ, electric floor polisher, and three Hoover vacuum cleaners, and Franz Reizenstein’s “Concerto populare,” billed as “a piano concerto to end all piano concertos,” among others.  It’s a lighthearted playlist calculated to put a smile on your face and lend a boost to your spirits.  He who laughs last laughs best, this Sunday at 10 pm.

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