This Week At The Classical Station

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This Week At The Classical Station

Sunday, January 17, 2021

This evening on Preview! old friends Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott come together to bring us Songs of Comfort and Hope. Rob Kennedy speaks with composer Kim Portnoy about a new recording of his work, Le Tombeau de Justin Wilson. And pianist Stephen Hough plays Chopin. You can hear an interview with Stephen on our Conversations page.

Preview! brings you the best in new classical recordings Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern. With David Jeffrey Smith.

Photo: Stephen Hough/Andrew Crowley

You can hear two ongoing themes in the works of Stanley Grill, a desire to understand the physical world and a yearning for peace. This evening on Wavelengths we’ll hear music by this American composer, along with works by Nico Muhly and Leo Brouwer.

Wavelengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music, Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Nico Muhly/Ana Cuba

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by The Cardinall’s Musick, The Bulgarian Radio & Television Choir, and the Monteverdi Choir. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Healey Willan, and Josef Haydn.

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

Photo: The life of St. Lubin in Chartres Cathedral by Mossot, CC 2.5 on

On January 17 we observe the birthdays of French composer François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829), Russian composer Alexander Taneyev (1850-1918), and New Zealand-born British organist Dame Gillian Weir (1941-). Famous in his day as a composer of operas and chamber music, Monsieur Gossec’s music sadly is not much heard in modern times. Alexander Taneyev, not to be confused with his cousin Sergei Taneyev, was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov. Dame Gillian Weir was a student of Ralph Downes at the Royal College of Music. She is highly regarded for her teaching and her concertizing.

Photos: François-Joseph Gossec, Antoine Vestier, Public Domain, on; Alexander Taneyev, Public Domain, on Gillian Weir/Unknown Author on 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

How does the music you hear 24/7 get to your radio or phone? Here’s a peek behind the curtain. Most of our music comes from CDs, dozens of which are really old in terms of CD years! We rip the tracks from CDs we want to play. Then we add those tracks to our database. Now comes the fun part, the actual scheduling of the music. Can you imagine what The Classical Station would sound like if we played only compositions in C major? Or only ones marked Allegro? We’ve configured our brilliant software program so that it knows what kind of music to play during our 24 hour day. It knows how to vary the musical periods, the composers, the instrumentation, and all the other factors which make for the distinctive sound we broadcast for your listening pleasure. Once the software has made the first pass at programming, for example, Sleepers Awake, our talented Music Director, William Woltz, reviews the playlist and makes any changes he knows are necessary, such as including a work by a composer or musician who’s celebrating a birthday.

The next step is to upload the playlist to our automation software. The photo shows what our announcers see. While we could let the music play automatically, actually our announcers manually click the play button to start the music, just like you do on your phone or laptop. That’s a peek at what goes on behind the curtain. Thanks for supporting our great classical music. We couldn’t do this without you.

The 2020-21 Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast season continues with Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, an encore broadcast from last year. Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak starred as the iconic heroine Violetta, who gives up her life as a courtesan to pursue an enduring love. Tenor Dmytro Popov was the impulsive Alfredo, and baritone Quinn Kelsey sang Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s moralistic father. Karel Mark Chichon led the Met Orchestra and Chorus in this performance of Verdi’s intimate and heart-rending tragedy.

The curtain goes up at 1 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

On January 16 we observe the birthday of American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne (1934-). Ms. Horne has enjoyed a brilliant singing career spanning over four decades. Now she imparts her experience and knowledge to younger artists as a kind teacher and mentor. “To be a great singer of classical music is the hardest thing in the world,” she says. “After all this time, I still go for a great voice, my dear, for anyone who can really sing. The details you have to be on top of are just endless. But first of all, you have to be born with a great voice. You can’t go out and buy it. You can’t manufacture it. You have to have that seed. And then you build on that.”

Photo: Marty Umans

Friday, January 15, 2021

It’s the middle of January and bitter cold here in Central North Carolina. All the plantings which members of the Wake Forest Garden Club have set out in front of the studio building are dormant. However, in just a couple of months, we’ll get to see dozens of native plants come to life again. We can hardly wait!

A heartfelt Thank You to the Wake Forest Garden Club for beautifying the entrance to our studios.

On January 15 we observe the birthdays of American pianist Malcolm Frager (1935-1991) and Israeli-born American pianist Joseph Kalichstein (1946-). A musician who was interested in finding manuscripts by older composers as well as performing, Malcolm Frager maintained a very full concert schedule until his untimely death at the age of 56. Joseph Kalichstein is a member of the faculty of The Julliard School. He performs regularly internationally. Happy 75th birthday!

Photos: Malcolm Frager, Author Unknown; Joseph Kalichstein by Fred Collins

Thursday, January 14, 2021

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House features Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. Set to a libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, which was based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infante of Spain, by Friedrich Schiller, the story is largely about conflicts in the life of Carlos, Prince of Asturia, after his fiancée, Elisabetta of Valois, was married instead to his father, King Philip II of Spain, as part of the peace treaty ending the Italian War of 1551-1559 between the Houses of Habsburg and Valois.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

On January 14 we observe the birthdays of early music specialist Nicholas McGegan (1950-), Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons (1943-2019), English violinist Andrew Manze (1965-), and Canadian tenor Ben Heppner (1956-).

A highly-regarded early music specialist, Nicholas McGegan has over 100 recordings to his credit. You can listen to an interview with him on our Conversations With Conductors page. A protégé of Herbert von Karajan, Mariss Jansons conducted most of the world’s top orchestras. A Baroque violin virtuoso, Andrew Manze also enjoys a fine reputation as a conductor. Now retired from his singing career, Ben Heppner has embarked on a new role as a broadcaster with the CBC.

Today is also the birthday of Ludwig Ritter von Köchel, the Austrian musicologist who cataloged Mozart’s compositions.

Photos: Nicholas McGegan by Steve Sherman; Mariss Jansons on Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Andrew MAnze by Chris Christodoulou; Ben Heppner in The Canadian Encyclopedia

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

On January 13 we observe the birthdays of German composer Christoph Graupner (1683-1760), Russian composer Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1901), and English composer Richard Addinsell (1904-1977).

Herr Graupner lived at the same time as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, and George Frideric Handel. Graupner had to turn down the post of Cantor at Leipzig. The runner-up, a musician by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach, got the position instead. Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov managed to compose approximately 40 works including 2 symphonies before he died at age 35 of tuberculosis. Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, written for the film Dangerous Moonlight (1941), has been recorded over one hundred times and has sold over a million copies.

Photos: No image of Christoph Graupner available. Portrait of Graupner’s patron, Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, Public Domain on; Photo of Vasily Kalinnikov, Public Domain on; Photo of Richard Addinsell from the estate of Kenneth Hughes in the National Portrait Gallery, London

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

We’ve added a couple of Conversations to our growing collection of interviews with composers, conductors, and instrumentalists. Listen to John Rutter talk about his life and work as a composer of some of the most popular choral music written today.  New York City organist Gail Archer takes us on a tour of organ music by contemporary Ukrainian composers. You can find these and all our other interviews on Conversations.

Photo: WCPE Photo Services

On January 12 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) and American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987).

Although he wrote 13 operas, Signor Wolf-Ferrari is probably best known for the opera Il Gioiello della Madonna. Like his contemporary John Cage, Morton Feldman wrote indeterminate music.

Photos: Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Public Domain, on; Morton Feldman, Rob Bogaerts,CC0 on


Monday, January 11, 2021

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  We’ll hear works by  Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Hamish MacCunn, and Clara Schumann, in performances led by Grant Llewellyn, Holly Mathieson, and Conductor Laureate  Vasily Petrenko.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

Photo: RLPO logo

Get out your shawms and tabrets! Renaissance Fare rings in the New Year with a holiday performance by the North Carolina group Voce Camerata and Consort from a live recording in 2013. We’ll also hear music from the English Dancing Master John Playford and a brand new album entitled Sacred Treasures from Spain.

Renaissance Fare begins at 7 p.m. Eastern. With George Douglas.

Photo: From a drawing in ‘Cassell’s Library of English Literature’, Henry Morley, 1883, on

On January 11 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Reinhold Glière (1875-1956), and French composer Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986).

Born in Kiev, Reinhold Moritzevich Glière was a student of Sergei TaneyevMikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, and Anton Arensky. Besides composing he taught at the Moscow Gnesin School of Music and the Moscow Conservatory. Trained as an organist, Maurice Duruflé was Louis Vierne’s assistant at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He also held the post of organist at St-Étienne-du-Mont, and taught harmony at the Conservatoire. Duruflé was highly critical of his compositions and consequently allowed very few to be published.

Photos: Reinhold Glière, Unknown author, Public Domain,; Maurice Duruflé, Unknown author, CC BY 2.5,