This Week At The Classical Station
by Rob Kennedy
Photo: “Young Hands” courtesy of North Carolina Chamber Music Institute
by Rob Kennedy
Sunday, May 14, 2023
This week Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the St. Clement’s Choir, Philadelphia, The Sixteen, and The Brabant Ensemble. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Camille Saint-Saens, and John Rutter.
Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy.
On May 14, we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Ivan Vishnegradsky (1893-1979), German-American conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973), and American pianist Alan Marks (1949-1995).
A word about these musicians: Vishnegradsky was noted for his compositions using the quarter-tone scale. Maestro Klemperer was considered one of the great conductors of the 20th century. Alan Marks lived the latter part of his short life in Berlin, Germany.
Photos: Ivan Vishnegradsky, Unknown Author, Fair Use, Musicalics.com; Otto Klemperer, Unknown Author, Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Alan Marks, Unknown Author, Fair Use, Discogs
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida is a grand and captivating masterpiece that can transport even those unfamiliar with opera into a world of passion, drama, and unforgettable melodies. Set in ancient Egypt, Aida tells a tale of forbidden love and political intrigue. The story revolves around the enslaved Ethiopian princess Aida, who falls in love with the Egyptian general Radamès, creating a tragic love triangle with Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter. The opera features stunning vocal performances, lavish stage productions, and a rich orchestral score that effortlessly conveys the characters’ emotions. Aida‘s timeless themes of love, loyalty, and sacrifice make it a truly mesmerizing experience for opera newcomers and enthusiasts alike.
Aida features several iconic arias and choruses that have become beloved highlights of the opera. Here are some of the most well-known:
“Celeste Aida” – This famous aria is sung by Radamès in the first act. It showcases Radamès’ deep love for Aida and his aspirations for glory as a warrior.
“Ritorna vincitor!” – Aida’s powerful aria in the first act, expressing her inner turmoil as she grapples with her love for Radamès while being torn between her loyalty to her homeland and her adopted country.
“Gloria all’Egitto” (Triumphal March) – This grand chorus occurs in the second act, celebrating Egypt’s victory over Ethiopia. It is a magnificent display of orchestral and vocal splendor.
“O patria mia” – Aida’s poignant aria in the third act, where she longs for her homeland and reflects on her conflicting emotions as she remains torn between love and duty.
“Nume, custode e vindice” (Judgment Scene) – This intense and dramatic scene takes place in the third act and features a confrontation between Radamès and the priests. It is a pivotal moment in the opera, filled with high-stakes emotions.
“Gloria all’Egitto” (Grand Finale) – The opera concludes with a powerful and majestic chorus, reaffirming Egypt’s triumph and celebrating the opera’s grandeur.
The Metropolitan Opera’s live broadcast of Aida begins at 1 p.m. Eastern.
On May 13 we observe the birthdays of three English musicians; composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), conductor Jane Glover (1949-), and violinist Tasmin Little (1965-).
Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated with W.S. Gilbert on fourteen operas. Jane Glover has conducted at many of the world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera. Tasmin Little studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London, where one of her classmates was Nigel Kennedy.
Photos: Sir Arthur Sullivan, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Jane Glover, Unknown Author, St. Hugh’s College, Fair Use; Tasmin Little, Unknown Author, TasminLittle.org.uk
Friday, May 12, 2023
Go the last mile with your used vehicle. If your vehicle – automobile, truck, boat, motorcycle, RV, or aircraft – is no longer of use to you, it can still go a long way as a donation in support of the programs you rely on from WCPE. Here’s how it works: Center for Car Donations (CFCD), manages the donations on our behalf. Call them toll-free at 1-877-927-3872 for more information and to begin the car donation process. Don’t forget to mention that WCPE is the recipient of your donation.
A CFCD representative will schedule a pickup that’s convenient for you and provide you with confirmation of your donation. We will mail you a confirmation that states how much your vehicle sold for at auction. This amount is what you can claim on your itemized tax return.
On May 12, we observe the birthdays of French composers Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Jules Massenet (1842-1912), and English composer Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989).
Some facts about these gentlemen: Gabriel Fauré was a favorite pupil of Camille Saint-Saëns. Jules Massenet is best known for his operas, which he wrote over thirty. Sir Lennox Berkeley taught composers Richard Rodney Bennett and John Tavener.
Photos: Gabriel Fauré, Charles Reutlinger, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Jules Massenet, Eugène Pirou, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Lennox Berkeley, Germaine Kanova, Lennox Berkeley Society
Thursday, May 11, 2023
This evening, the Thursday Night Opera House presents La Clemenza di Tito. Composed by the legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, this remarkable opera seria showcases the composer’s mastery of the classical style. Set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Titus (Tito), the opera delves into themes of power, forgiveness, and redemption.
The story revolves around the generous and benevolent Emperor Titus, who is faced with a plot against his life by those seeking to overthrow him. Vitellia, a vengeful and ambitious noblewoman, harbors intense resentment toward Titus because he has chosen to marry Berenice, the queen of Judaea, instead of her. Manipulative and consumed by her desire for power, Vitellia convinces her lover, Sextus, to join her in a conspiracy to assassinate Titus.
Sextus, a close friend of Titus, struggles with his allegiance to Vitellia and his loyalty to the emperor. Blinded by his infatuation for Vitellia, Sextus reluctantly agrees to carry out the assassination plan. However, as the fateful moment approaches, Sextus finds himself tormented by guilt and remorse.
Meanwhile, Titus, known for his benevolence and mercy, is torn between his duty as a ruler and his personal relationships. He becomes aware of the conspiracy against him but chooses to keep his enemies close, hoping to inspire change through forgiveness and compassion. His steadfast commitment to the ideal of clemency serves as the opera’s central theme.
As the plot unfolds, Vitellia’s ambitions collide with her growing love for Sextus, resulting in a dramatic internal struggle. Sextus, overwhelmed by guilt and love for Vitellia, decides to confess his involvement in the conspiracy to Titus, seeking redemption for his actions.
In the final act, Titus confronts Vitellia, expressing his disappointment and revealing his knowledge of the plot against him. Just as he is about to condemn Vitellia to death, Sextus steps forward to confess his guilt. Witnessing Sextus’s remorse and courage, Titus is moved by the power of forgiveness and extends his mercy to Vitellia and Sextus.
La Clemenza di Tito concludes with a beautiful and poignant ensemble that celebrates forgiveness’s triumph and the transformative power of compassion. Mozart’s sublime music, characterized by its exquisite vocal writing and orchestral richness, perfectly captures the emotional depth and complexity of the characters, making this opera a true masterpiece of the classical repertoire.
The curtain goes up at 7 p.m.
On May 11 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914), Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), and American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978).
Trained as a pianist, Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov composed mostly for that instrument. Despite losing his right arm in a battle in World War I, Paul Wittgenstein resolved to play the piano again. He arranged and commissioned dozens of works for piano left hand. A Guggenheim Fellow, William Grant Still studied with George Whitefield Chadwick and Edgard Varèse.
Photos: Anatoly Liadov, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Paul Wittgenstein, Unknown Author, BFMI, CC BY 3.0 nl, Wikimedia Commons; William Grant Still, Carl Van Vechten.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
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On May 10 we observe the birthdays of French composer Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764), American composer Milton Babbitt (1916-2011), and Turkish violinist Ani Kavafian (1948-).
Monsieur Leclair was a virtuoso violinist who wrote music primarily for his instrument. Milton Babbitt taught at Princeton University and The Julliard School. His students included Stephen Sondheim. Ani Kavafian teaches at Yale University.
Photos: Jean-Marie Leclair, J.Ch. François, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Milton Babbitt, Unknown Author, Fair Use; Ani Kavafian, Unknown Author, Fair Use
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
The world of classical music is a unique body of work – spanning centuries, continents, cultures, and communities. It’s marked by both great traditions and great changes. Classical music is listened to, played, and loved on every continent, in almost every country. Just as the symphonies and musicians who give us their performances have been supported by their audiences, the stations that are devoted to classical music are also supported by listeners, by people like you. Your support is unique!
Please do your part today and donate to The Classical Station. Give securely online, via our app, via the mail to The Classical Station, PO Box 828, Wake Forest, NC 27588, or by calling 800-556-5178 anytime.
On May 9 we observe the birthdays of Italian conductor Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005) and Swedish mezzo-soprano Sofie van Otter (1955-).
Maestro Giulini was one of the great conductors of the 20th-century. Sofie van Otter is one of those artists who is at home singing lieder, opera, oratorios, and pop songs. You can hear an interview with Ms. van Otter on our Conversations page.
Photo © Mats Bäcker
Monday, May 8, 2023
This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the BBC Philharmonic, which was founded in 1922. The program includes music by Camille Saint-Saens, Rheinhold Gliere, and Gabriel Faure, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortellier, Sir Edward Downes,, and Gianandrea Noseda.
Tell your smart device to “Play The Classical Station” at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The May edition of Renaissance Fare features music that celebrates the change of the seasons. Summer is a comin’ and there are many great Renaissance tunes that celebrate the most popular season of the year. We will dance around the maypole and celebrate the lusty month of May.
Join George Douglas for Renaissance Fare at 7 p.m. Eastern.
On May 8 we observe the birthdays of German composer Karl Stamitz (1745-1801), American composer and pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), English sopranos Heather Harper (1930-2019), and Felicity Lott (1947-).
Herr Stamitz composed 50 symphonies as well as 60 concertos for various instruments. A native of New Orleans, Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s talent was recognized by Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. Heather Harper was highly regarded on both the operatic stage and in the concert hall. During her long career, Felicity Lott sang both opera and lieder.
Photo: Karl Stamitz, Unknown Author, Alchetron, Fair Use; Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Matthew Brady, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Heather Harper, Unknown Author, Bach-Cantatas, Fair Use; Felicity Lott, Benjamin Ealovega