This Week At The Classical Station

Photo: Untitled by Kitty Davenport from our Virtual Art Exhibit

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, May 16, 2021

This Sunday on Wavelengths we’ll hear an important mid-20th century work by Ralph Vaughan Williams in a fresh performance from conductor Antonio Pappano. We’ll also hear works by Johanna Selleck and Jan Koetsier.

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

This evening on Preview! we’ll hear the latest release in the ongoing Chopin series from Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin. Rob Kennedy speaks with Ron McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick about their new release, Fermi’s Paradox. And violinist James Ehnes teams with pianist Andrew Armstrong to play Beethoven.

Preview! – the best in new classical recordings and arts news, Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern.

The May Edition of Renaissance Fare features music for the merry month of May. Summer is a comin’, and there are many great Renaissance tunes that celebrate this most popular season of the year. We will dance around the May pole and celebrate the lusty month of May.

Renaissance Fare begins at 5 p.m. Eastern. With George Douglas.

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

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Choir of Saint Thomas Church, New York, the Zemel Choir, and the Slovak Philharmonic Choir. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Maurice Duruflé, and Sir Karl Jenkins.

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

Photo: Window on the south wall of St Andrews just outside the Feilden chapel, by Henry Holiday and depicting Holy Women of the Old and New Testaments: Sarah, Hannah, Ruth and Esther in the top four panels and the Virgin Mary, Elizabeth, Mary of Bethany and Dorcas in the lower. Rodhullundemu, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

On May 16 we observe the birthday of American conductor Andrew Litton (1959-). A native of New York City, Maestro Litton has been associated with several prominent orchestras including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He was our guest on My Life In Music in July 2019. Listen to our interview with him on our Conversations page.

Photo: Steve J. Sherman

Saturday, May 15, 2021

“On Armed Forces Day, we honor and offer our profound appreciation and gratitude to the patriots who are serving in our Nation’s Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard. Their professionalism and unwavering dedication to supporting and defending our Constitution has been vital in allowing our democracy to flourish, safeguarding peace and growing prosperity for our citizens, and giving hope to oppressed peoples or those facing tyranny abroad. Less than one percent of Americans serve on active duty in the Armed Forces. Those who do volunteer to put their lives on the line to protect our country and democracy wherever they are called to serve. Whether they are Active Duty, National Guard, or in the Reserve, they are true American heroes, and we all owe them.” Source: A Proclamation on Armed Forces Day

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

This afternoon the Metropolitan Opera presents Richard Wagner’s monumental Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Simon Rattle in a performance from 2016. It starred Swedish soprano Nina Stemme and Australian tenor Stuart Skelton, both acclaimed for their performances in the towering title roles, as the couple consumed by an illicit and overpowering love. Bass René Pape sang the betrayed King Marke, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova was Brangäne, who delivers the potion that seals the lovers’ fate, and bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin was Tristan’s friend and protector, Kurwenal. Maestro Rattle conducted the Met Orchestra in Wagner’s groundbreaking and epically romantic score.

The opera begins at 1 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Jonathan Tichler

On May 15 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Irish composer Michael William Balfe (1808-1870), Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986) and Russian composer Nikolai Tcherepnin (1873-1945)

With one foot in the Renaissance and the other in the Baroque era, Padre Monteverdi is a fascinating composer who wrote operas and a remarkable piece of sacred music entitled Vespro della Beata Vergine. While his output included 29 operas and myriad other works, Michael William Balfe is known to modern audiences for his opera The Bohemian Girl. Lars-Erik Larsson studied composition with Alban Berg and used serial composition techniques in many of his works. Nikolai Tcherepnin studied composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. His output includes operas and music for several ballets.

Photos: Portrait of Claudio Monteverdi by Bernardo Strozzi, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Michael William Balfe, Atelier Nadar, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Lars Erik Larsson, Unknown Author, Fair Use, Musicalics; Nikolai Tcherepnin, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Metropolitan Opera presents
Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
Saturday, May 15, 1 p.m. Eastern

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,; Otto Klemperer, Unknown Author, Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Alan Marks, Unknown Author, Fair Use, Discogs

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Bringing you music composed hundreds of years ago takes 21st-century technology. Studio equipment, transmitters, satellites, fiber-optic Internet links, and a broadcasting tower nearly as tall as the Empire State Building. Help preserve the great sounds of western civilization. Donate online today. Don’t let history be forgotten.

Photo: Dan McHugh, Membership Director

Calling all Savoyards! This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents two operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. As the English National Opera notes, “The comic opera HMS Pinafore is a hilarious tale of love, honour and duty. Packed with absurd characters, unforeseen plot twists and a delightfully farcical finale, Pinafore is a satirical take on the British class system and the promotion of unqualified people to positions of power. When Josephine, the daughter of Captain Corcoran, falls for the lowly sailor Ralph Rackstraw, she’s torn between her heart’s true love, and her desire to honour her father’s wish for her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty.”

About Iolanthe, the ENO further notes: “Gilbert & Sullivan’s hilarious operetta Iolanthe is a satirical fantasy. Phyllis and Strephon wish to marry, but as Phyllis is a ward of court she requires the Lord Chancellor’s permission. The Lord Chancellor, however, wants her for himself. Featuring a melodious score and brilliant wit, Iolanthe not only targets peers of the realm and the British system of government but also offers thinly disguised portraits of Queen Victoria and William Gladstone (Liberal PM of the day).”

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Bob Chapman hosts.

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,

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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. You also will be entitled to a one-year subscription to our member magazine, Quarter Notes.


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 of which he wrote more than 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

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Do you use our app to listen to our great classical music? We’ve added a couple of features to make it even more useful. Now you can submit your request for All Request Friday and for the Saturday Evening Request Program by going to the Menu in the top left corner and clicking on Request Programs. You can click a gift to us from that menu as well. That takes you directly to our secure server. We also want to hear from you. So, record a brief comment using the Listener Comment function.

Our app also shows you What’s Playing, This Week At The Classical Station (our blog), Preview! Interviews, and Conversations. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Email us at

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.

Monday, May 10, 2021

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. On the program is music of Franz Schubert, Max Bruch, and Johannes Brahms, in performances led by Joseph Swensen, Sir Charles Mackerras, and music director Maxim Emelyanychev.

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

The May Edition of Renaissance Fare features music for the merry month of May. Summer is a comin’, and there are many great Renaissance tunes that celebrate this most popular season of the year. We will dance around the May pole and celebrate the lusty month of May.

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 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