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Joe Burgstaller may seem like a perfectly normal guy who just happens to have been playing trumpet since he emerged from the womb. But do not be fooled, dear listener. Something is clearly amiss. (See: Joe's music videos, particularly the video we talk about in this episode which took 26 trips through a car wash to get juuust right.) Perhaps it's a…
 
When pianist Peter Dugan performed on NPR's From the Top at the age of 18, he had no idea that he would one day host the show. In this episode, Peter talks about how he came to be at the helm of a show that's been going for 25 years juuust before a pandemic began. He also teaches us about love, the magic the binds the molecules of music together. A…
 
Ginger Turner is--excuse us--a brassy broad. She was in the Army and the US Army's Field Band for 27 years. So when it came time to put on the annual Holiday Brass Concert for the International Women's Brass Conference (IWBC) during the pandemic, she did not shrink away from the challenge. She leaned right into it. And what resulted was pure, live,…
 
We hope that yule enjoy this holiday-ish show with Tristan Clarke, one half of YouTube sensation, the Melodica Men. In this episode, learn how two Juilliard- and Peabody-trained brass musicians took a detour from their traditional classical music work to play toy instruments on street corners, how they blew up the internet with an 89-second version…
 
Conductor and music director Stéphane Denève is a busy guy. He's got at least four jobs on two different continents. But thanks (?) to the pandemic, we caught him sitting still for long enough to teach us the ENTIRE HISTORY of French classical music! He starts at the very beginning with chant, and goes all the way through to contemporary composers.…
 
When it comes to the harp, Yolanda Kondonassis is kind of a big deal. She’s literally written the book on the topic. In this episode, she teaches all about the history of the harp, describes the different kinds of harp, its mechanics, its repertoire, and about harp music being written today. She also tells the story of her personal history with the…
 
The piano. A seemingly normal instrument. But where did it come from, and how did it get here? Is it a percussion or a string instrument? Is it safe for young people, or will it influence your child to become interested in (gasp!) music, like it did one Orli Shaham? In this episode, Shaham describes how she was helplessly lured by the piano, as wel…
 
Composer, producer, and vocalist Lisa Bielawa wants you for her project, Broadcast from Home! She's often incorporated community-making and experimental elements into her compositional work, but this project is next level: each week during the pandemic, Bielawa is creating a "chapter"--a piece of music--based on the written and recorded submissions…
 
Have you ever wondered what the atmosphere of a space sounds like? Well look no further! In this episode, Emmy Award winning film and TV composer Michael Whalen teaches all about the history of ambient music. He talks about its classical music roots, how circuits and tape collages and German composers had a part in its evolution, and how Brian Eno …
 
Academy Award-winning composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel does a lot of traveling, soaking up the musical traditions as he goes. His recent album, Migrations, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category. In this episode, Bermel teaches about composer Bela Bartok who inspired one of the pieces on the album.…
 
Dramaturg and Seattle Opera Podcast host, Jonathan Dean has come back to the Classroom for this epic two-episode series about the bazillion operas based on the writing of the Russian author Alexander Pushkin. In part one, we talked all about who Pushkin was, painting a word picture of what a major impact his work had on...everything. In part two, l…
 
Weeell, we figured that right about now would be a great time to put out some new episodes of the podcast. We hope that all of you out there in the weirdness are staying nice and safe and quarantined, and that these episodes will be a tiny ray of indoor sunshine for you all. Dramaturg and Seattle Opera Podcast host, Jonathan Dean has come back to t…
 
Violinist and Classical Classroom mascot Rachel Barton Pine is back to teach all about the violin concertos of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak and Soviet-Armenian Aram Khachaturian. Learn about their lives and music! Get lost with Dvorak in New York City! Hear about Khachaturian becoming a new father! Find out who threw shade at Dvorak and mucked up …
 
No tickets to see The Nutcracker this year? No problem! Experience basically almost the entire thing in this episode from the Classroom Wayback Machine with musical expert Michael Remson (San Diego Youth Symphony, formerly of AFA) and dance expert Shelly Power (Pennsylvania Ballet, formerly of Houston Ballet Academy). Hear the music and the story a…
 
With Become Desert, composer John Luther Adams is done "Become"-ing (learn why in this episode). First, there was the Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning Become Ocean. Then, there was Become River. Finally, in 2019, Adams put his feet on solid ground, in a terrain he's much more comfortable with. And now there's Become Desert. Here, Adams talks about what…
 
Conductor Nicholas McGegan, of San Francisco Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra fame (and so much more) is an expert in conducting Baroque music. To some of us at the podcast, this sounds as obscure as being a modern day village cobbler or ironing one's hair with an actual iron. But in this episode, McGegan explains his love for this music and why it -…
 
Guitarist John Schneider is clearly obsessed. In the best, passionate-music-geek kind of way. And the thing is that the object of his obsession - Harry Partch and his work - just engenders that kind of response in people. It probably comes from the fact that Partch himself who was monomaniacally focused: he was so absorbed with the idea that music …
 
Going to class is a major part of being a classical musician. But have you heard of a "master class"? One student at a time gets up and performs a piece in front of a class, and then the "master" leading the class critiques said performance. Sounds nerve-wracking (read: ...like the stuff of nightmares) to us. Gather 'round for this special assembly…
 
Jason Vieaux is not just a Grammy-winning classical guitarist - he's a pioneer, taking on new works that have never been performed or recorded before, like those of composer Jonathan Leshnoff. Leshnoff is an adventurer, too, writing virtuosic material for instruments he's never played, like the guitar. Find out how these fearless frontiersman find …
 
In our second annual Classical Classroom Summer Music Festival Series, we hit the (sound)waves at the Music Academy of the West in sunny Santa Barbara, California! The third installment of our MAW series features composer, conductor, and pianist, Matthew Aucoin. Aucoin is a resident at that Music Academy of the West, and a sort of serial residentia…
 
There's a reason that great works in classical music have stuck around for so long. Once upon a time, it was all music composed by groundbreaking artists, churning out new sounds and ideas never heard before. But at some point, it's like someone somewhere decided that the canon was complete. Why? In this episode, National Orchestral Institute direc…
 
One of the distinguishing characteristics of chamber music is its inherent “democracy” – each part is of equal importance. Aaron Humble and Paul Rudoi of the Cantus Vocal Ensemble explain how it works when everyone involved in making the music is a special snowflake. Audio production by Todd “Sir Toddsalot” Hulslander with unflagging devotion to so…
 
There's a good chance that you've heard of Yale School of Music grad student and rising classical pianist, Tiffany Poon. Her YouTube vlogs have over 11 million views. In them, she talks casually with fans as she travels to gigs and invites them into the practice room. Her openness about her musical life and process has tapped into something for whi…
 
JoAnn Falletta is celebrating her 20th anniversary as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, so we've gotta give her a shout out with this old gold from the Classroom vault! By the way, did you know that a 2014 survey found that in a list of the 150 top conductors in the world, only five were women? New episode topic? --------- Who w…
 
It's been nearly six years since we started the Classical Classroom podcast in a small shed that also housed producer Todd's lawn mower. Since then, a lot has happened. We've learned so much from our amazing guests, traveled to music festivals, had parties and game show quizzes, talked to the dead, had trumpet lessons, and we moved into a storage u…
 
When you think of opera, words like "grandiose," "extravagant," and "whoa" come to mind. Those words all describe Georges Bizet's Carmen. Singing, dancing, costumes, sets, orchestras, fight scenes, wigs, drama! How on Earth does something with so many moving parts even get to the stage? Much less, successfully and entertainingly?! We wanted to know…
 
We love celebrating our alumni here at Classical Classroom, and Jade Simmons is one of our faves. This episode is from way back in 2013 when Jade was merely a very successful woman. Now, she's the host of iTunes #1 music podcast, Decomposed. A podcast rock star. We couldn't be more stoked for her. And we're kind of riding on her coattails by postin…
 
We're rerunning this episode with Awadagin Pratt basically because we felt like it. But we don't think you're going to mind, as he is awesome. Let his dulcet tones wash over you as Pratt teaches you all about why Brahms is one of the Big Daddies of classical music, what it has to do with Edith Bunker, and how the beard made it all possible. All mus…
 
April is International Guitar Month! In honor of that, we're bringing back this episode with one of our fave guitarists, Valerie Hartzell, creator/director of the Classical Minds Festival and Competition. Valerie talks about the ladies of classical guitar. Who are they? Why did their numbers diminish over time? And what can we do about it?? Audio p…
 
"Classical music is relaxing." "I listen to classical music because it's soothing." "I turn on classical music when I want to concentrate." These are all things we're guessing very few people have said about the composer you're going to learn about in this episode. Elliott Carter's music is about something much more vast and complex than chillaxing…
 
In the beautiful San Jacinto Mountains, southeast of Los Angeles, is a place that is basically the ultimate experience in music and arts education: Idyllwild Arts Academy. It's a residential arts high school where young people are immersed in their chosen practice every day. Here, music students learn alongside peers studying visual arts, dance, an…
 
Neither Sarah Perkins nor Michael Barber ever intended to become music and arts educators. No, they both had their sights set on the Big Time - performance and Broadway. But life presented each with opportunities to teach music to young people, and before they knew it, they Sarah and Michael were hooked. Now they're both staffers at a unique school…
 
March is Music Education Month on the Classical Classroom, but it's also Bach's birthday month. So, it's obviously the perfect time to revisit this episode with Simone Dinnerstein in which we discuss a music education program she started about the music of Bach. (Bam. Venn diagram intersection = achieved!) Learn about the music of Bach, and perhaps…
 
People are pretty much never just one thing. Each person is made of the stuff in their individual history, including the music. That includes Grammy-winning opera singers. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato recently completed a project that brought the disparate parts of her own musical history together. And because she's Joyce DiDonato, this meant bring…
 
March is Music Education Month! This month, we'll look at a range of people and institutions throughout the music education world in search of the real scoop: Is music ed, along with the rest of arts education, being eaten alive by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), thereby creating robotic, soulless drone humans instead of people? …
 
Grammy-nominated composer Mason Bates is also a bona fide DJ. As DJ Masonic, he brings classical music and electronica together on the dance floor. As a composer, he brings the sounds of electronica to classical music in places like the Kennedy Center. So it's fitting that Bates' first opera is about tech guru Steve Jobs. But can it really work to …
 
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…
 
Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo make up the classical music comedy duo, Igudesman and Joo. And though they will crack you up with their performances (which you can watch on their YouTube channel along with millions of other viewers), when they talk about why they do what they do, the two musicians become surprisingly serious. They firmly believe…
 
Violinist (and veteran Classical Classroom guest) Rachel Barton Pine talks all about her Music by Black Composers initiative, a project that's been in the works for 15 years, and the companion album she recently released called Blues Dialogues, Vol. 1. She discusses why projects like this are important, especially in the classical music world, advo…
 
Astor Piazzolla was a bandoneon player and a composer in Argentina who lived during the 20th century. He changed both classical music and tango music by bringing the two together. The Neave Trio, who recently came out with an album of Piazzolla's work, teaches all about who he was and how his genre-hopping changed music. Music list: Special thanks …
 
We love it when Classroom alums get recognized for their awesomeness. Such is the case for soprano Sonya Yoncheva. In addition to receiving the Opera Award by the Chilean Art Critics Circle, Sonya is on the cover of the Metropolitan Opera's wall calendar this year. We thought this was a great occasion to rerun her episode of Classical Classroom and…
 
String quartet Brooklyn Rider has a new project called Healing Modes which they're currently touring. While they were in Seattle, we coaxed them into the KING FM studio with the promise of snacks. Just kidding! They came in willingly like most of our guests. In this episode, they talk about Beethoven's Opus 132, the piece at the center of this proj…
 
Third Coast Percussion makes amazing music by hitting stuff. Okay - it's a little more complicated than that. But the Grammy-winning ensemble does spend a lot of time, both at Home Depot and with percussion mentors from other countries, searching for things to hit, bash, tap and so on. Their latest project, Paddle to the Sea, is a beautiful and mov…
 
What do Max Bruch and Edward Elgar have in common? Violinist Rachel Barton Pine! In this episode, RBP talks about the two composers and their very different violin concertos. Discussed herein: Did Edward Elgar invent Post It Notes? How is Max Bruch like Milli Vanilli and Iron Maiden? And, who was the mystery woman to whom Elgar dedicated his violin…
 
It's Christmas Eve. Chances are, you've heard a lot of beautiful music. If you're looking for more of that, you've come to the wrong place. Welcome to Jingle Hell, where bad songs are born, and good songs come to die. Alecia Lawyer, founder, artistic director, and principal oboist of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) talks about the worst musical…
 
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 th…
 
Marc-André Hamelin is many things: a renowned pianist, a composer, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a record collector of major proportions. The hands-on, no robots or algorithms, no safety net, digging in dusty bins in record shops variety. In fact, hunting for classical music diamonds in the rough is part of his creative process, and he lov…
 
Violinist Hilary Hahn has achieved more at just 39 years old than most of us will in a couple of lifetimes: multiple Grammy awards, 1594 concerts (so far), 20+ albums, 2 episodes of the Classical Classroom podcast, 2 kids, and a talking violin case. In this episode, Hahn talks about how much practice it actually takes to be her, her #100daysofpract…
 
If you've ever wondered how playing bowls of water is related to traditional classical music, this is the episode for you. Cellist Ashley Bathgate (of Bang on a Can All-Stars fame) was classically trained at Yale University School of Music, educated in the structured musical worlds of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But today, she moves in a tangent un…
 
Sometimes composers just make stuff up. That is the lesson that Grammy-winning, super duper famous violinist Joshua Bell teaches in this episode of Classical Classroom. He also talks about how this is not just okay - it can be great, as it is in the piece "Scottish Fantasy" by composer Max Bruch. Learn about who Bruch was and where this piece came …
 
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