This Week At The Classical Station

Untitled by Margaret Wiggins. “A view of Mt. Eiger, Switzerland. I always listen to WCPE whenever I paint, which is usually in the afternoon […]. I get a special lift when the afternoon waltz is played.”

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, December 11, 2022

This evening on Preview! England’s Royal Holloway Choir led by Rupert Gough opens the program with a performance of North Carolina composer Dan Locklair’s Requiem. Rob Kennedy speaks with Simon Wynberg, artistic director of Toronto’s ARC Ensemble about the chamber music of Alberto Hemsi. Guitarist David Starobin plays the Sonata No. 1 in C, Op. 31 by W.T. Matiegka.

Preview! brings you the best in new classical recordings and arts news every Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern. Steve Thebes hosts.

The distinguished composer, conductor, author, and professor, Dr. Samuel Adler, is our guest on the December edition of My Life In Music.  My Life In Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. For information about the Chamber Orchestra’s upcoming concerts, visit their website.  In this program, Dr. Adler talks about his teachers – and what a famous lot they were!  His major teachers in composition were Herbert Fromm, Walter Piston, Randall Thompson, Paul Hindemith, and Aaron Copland. Dr. Adler taught at the Eastman School of Music from 1966 to 1995 and was chair of the composition department from 1974 until his retirement. He’s written over 400 compositions and we’ll sample several of those.

Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music this evening at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Program note: This afternoon at 2 p.m. Eastern you can hear one of French composer Hector Berlioz’s most colorful works, his Symphonie Fantastique.  Berlioz sketched out his musical ideas on the guitar. His works puzzled his teachers, and his compatriot Debussy called him “a monster…not a musician at all.” Time has canonized Berlioz as one of the greatest composers of all time, yet the unique nature of his music continues to confound. The Symphonie Fantastique, with its unusual harmonies, odd textures, and rule-breaking form, demonstrates all that is best loved about his music. Our performance features the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti.

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Choir of King’s College, Pomerium, and Chanticleer. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ignacio de Jerusalem, and Healey Willan. The featured work is Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe composed by Ignacio de Jerusalem (1707-1769).  Italian by birth, he emigrated to Mexico in the 1740s, and ultimately became director of music at Mexico City’s Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Bienaventurada Virgen María a los cielos and the Coliseo de Mexico.

Great Sacred Music. Beautiful choral and organ music. Every Sunday morning. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing For Joy.  With Rob Kennedy.

On December 11 we observe the birthdays of French composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), Polish composer Mieczysław Karłowicz (1876-1909), and Ukrainian-American pianist Valentina Lisitsa (1973-).

Hector Berlioz is perhaps best known to 21st-century audiences for his Symphonie fantastique and Grande Messe des Morts and Requiem. Mieczysław Karłowicz occupied a place in Polish musical history between Frederic Chopin and Karol Szymanowski. Ms. Lisitsa has developed a large following on YouTube for her performances of literature from the Romantic era.

Photos: Hector Berlioz/France Musique; Mieczysław Karłowicz/Łaski Diffusion/East News; Valentina Lisitsa/Michael von Aichberger on 3.0

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The 2022-23 season of Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Radio Broadcasts begins this afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern with the live network broadcast premiere of The Hours by Kevin Puts, starring a trio of acclaimed divas: Renée Fleming, Kelli O’Hara, and Joyce DiDonato. Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is conducting the Met’s world-premiere production.

Co-commissioned by the Met, The Hours is the newest opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. The libretto by Greg Pierce is based on Michael Cunningham’s acclaimed novel and on the Oscar-winning film. It interweaves the stories of three women: Clarissa Vaughn (Fleming), a book editor in 1990s New York; Laura Brown (O’Hara), a housewife in Los Angeles in 1949; and the British author Virginia Woolf (DiDonato) who is beginning work in 1923 on Mrs. Dalloway, the novel that links the women together on a single day in each of their lives.

The new production by Phelim McDermott features a starry ensemble cast including Denyce Graves, Kathleen Kim, Sylvia D’Eramo, John Holiday, Kyle Ketelsen, William Burden, Sean Panikkar, and Brandon Cedel, along with the Met orchestra and chorus.

Kelli O’Hara as Laura Brown, Renée Fleming as Clarissa Vaughan, and Joyce DiDonato as Virginia Woolf in Kevin Puts’s “The Hours.” Photo: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera

Program notes: British pianist Kathryn Stott, whose birthday we observe today,  is a brilliant performer as well as a renowned accompanist. Her partnerships with Yo-Yo Ma, Christian Poltera, and Nigel Kennedy have resulted in many successful concert series and recordings. Listen for her duet at 7 a.m. Eastern with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and her performance of Kabalevsky’s Piano Concerto no. 2 at 12 noon Eastern.

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On December 10 we observe the birthdays of Belgian-born French composer César Franck (1822-1890), French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), American composer Morton Gould (1913-1996, and British pianist Kathryn Stott (1958-).

While César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was born in what is now Belgium, he took French citizenship when he was appointed to the faculty of Conservatoire de Paris in 1872. He composed four operas, several oratorios, as well as orchestral and chamber works. His music for organ is a staple of every organist’s repertoire. Besides being a composer and organist, Olivier-Eugène-Prosper-Charles Messiaen was an ornithologist. He is widely considered one of the great composers of the 20th century. Richmond Hill, New York native Morton Gould published his first composition at the age of six. He wrote symphonies, film scores, Broadway musicals, and much more. His manuscripts are archived in the Library of Congress. Ms. Stott teaches at the Royal Academy of Music. She concertizes regularly and is a long-time collaborator of cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Photos: Jeanne Rongier’s 1885 painting “César Franck at the console of the organ at St. Clotilde Basilica, Paris, 1885/Public Domain on; Olivier Messiaen/Public Domain on CC 1.0; Morton Gould/Milken Archive of Jewish Music; Kathryn Stott on

Friday, December 9, 2022

The Metropolitan Opera presents
Kevin Puts The Hours
Saturday, December 10 at 1 p.m. Eastern

On December 9 we observe the birthdays of five musicians: French composer Émile Waldteufel (1837- 1915), Spanish composer Joaquín Turina (1882-1949), German-born British soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006), English composer Alan Ridout (1934-1996), and American violinist Joshua Bell (1967-).

The composer of many waltzes including the well-known Les Patineurs, Monsieur Waldteufel dominated the London music scene in the 1870s and 80s, thanks to substantial royal patronage. A friend of Ravel and Debussy from his time in Paris at the Conservatoire, Senor Turina wrote a variety of works including operas. Dame Olga Maria Elisabeth Friederike Schwarzkopf was one of the 20th-century great singers of lieder. She appeared in many of the world’s great opera houses and recorded extensively. A prolific composer, Alan Ridout studied with Herbert Howells and Sir Michael Tippett. One of the 21st-century’s most celebrated violinists, Joshua Bell is Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He performs in concerts around the world and has recorded extensively.

Photos: Émile Waldteufel, Joaquín Turina/Public Domain on; Elizabeth Schwarzkopf on, CC 2.5 Switzerland; Alan Ridout/Unknown; Joshua Bell/Alex Duff on, CC 3.0 France

Thursday, December 8, 2022

This evening, the Thursday Night Opera House presents Charles Gounod’s Mireille. A naïve young woman, Mireille, sung by Mirella Freni, falls in love with Vincent, Alain Vanzo, whom her family thinks is below her. Gounod’s intricate and lyrical melodies have a Mediterranean flavor, which inspired the musical style of George Bizet’s opera Carmen.

This archival broadcast by the late Al Ruocchio, long-time host of Opera House, begins at 7 p.m. Eastern.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, you can hear Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 in E-flat, Opus 82  in a performance on the RCA label released in 1988 by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting. In Sibelius’s own words: “It is as if God Almighty had thrown down pieces of a mosaic from heaven’s floor and asked me to find out what was the original pattern.” The Fifth symphony’s final movement has sustained an enormous amount of scholarly analysis. Most listeners instinctively grasp that its power is found in Sibelius’ use of soaring melodies and grand horn motifs, and the six memorable, suspenseful chords that end it.

On December 8 we observe the birthdays of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), Mexican composer Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959), and Irish flute player Sir James Galway (1939-).

Johan Julius Christian Sibelius was the composer who put Finland on the map, musically speaking. He composed scores of works until 1926. After that, Sibelius apparently wrote very little music for the next thirty years. Manuel María Ponce Cuéllar was one of those skillful composers like Sibelius and Vaughan Williams who knew how to weave his country’s folk music into his compositions. Bohuslav Martinů was another prolific composer who created fifteen operas, seven symphonies, fifteen ballets, and a host of works in a variety of other forms during his lifetime. Belfast native Sir James Galway has been nicknamed “The Man With the Golden Flute”. Sir James has over sixty recordings to his credit.

Photos: Jean Sibelius/; Manuel Ponce/;  Bohuslav Martinu/ CC BY-SA 3.0 cz; Sir James Galway/Paul Cox

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Photo: Fair Use

On December 7, we observe the birthday of two composers and an organist: Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), American composer Richard Felciano (1930-), and American organist Daniel Chorzempa (1944-).

Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni wrote fifteen operas of which Cavalleria Rusticana was the most famous. Felciano studied with Darius Milhaud and Luigi Dallapiccola. He is a Professor Emeritus of Music, at the University of California, Berkeley, California. While he is well-regarded as an organist, Dr. Chorzempa (1944-) also studied architecture and holds a Ph.D. in musicology and Renaissance studies.

Photos: Pietro Mascagni/Library of Congress; Richard Felciano (1986)/; Daniel Chorzempa/

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

If you are in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and looking for concerts to attend, this is the time of the year when just about every choral and instrumental ensemble mounts a holiday concert. We have listings on our Arts Calendar.

Today we observe the birthday of Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010). He composed in a variety of styles ranging from serialism to romantic modernism. He generally is considered the greatest Polish composer of his era. Listen to New York Public Radio’s account of his legacy here.

Photo:, Fair Use

Monday, December 5, 2022

Monday Night at the symphony (with 'Monday Night' in flowing script)This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the North Carolina Symphony, which was founded in 1932. On our program is music by Richard Strauss, Terry Mizesko, Nikolai Medtner, and Stephen Jaffe, in performances conducted by the Orchestra’s Music Director Laureate, Grant Llewellyn.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Composer Samuel Adler is our guest on the December edition of My Life In Music.  My Life In Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. For information about the Chamber Orchestra’s upcoming concerts, visit their website.

Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music this evening at 7 p.m. Eastern.

On December 5 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762), Czech composer Vitezslav Novák (1870-1949), Spanish tenor José Carreras (1946-), and Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman (1956-).

Signor Geminiani was a student of Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli before setting off to England, where he spent much of his adult life as a violin virtuoso and composer. Vitezslav Novák founded what might be called the modern school of Czech composition. He studied with Antonín Dvořák. Josep Maria Carreras i Coll is a tenor known for his roles in Verdi and Puccini operas. He was also a member of the Three Tenors, along with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Krystian Zimerman got his career as a concert pianist off to a fine start by winning the International Chopin Piano Competition in 1975.

Photos: Francesco Geminiani and Vitezslav Novák/Public Domain on; José Carreras/Gran Teatro Liceo de Barcelona/Archivo EFE; Krystian Zimerman/Kasskara/DG