This Week At The Classical Station

Photo of a Connecticut Garden by Ian B. Kennedy, Venice, Florida

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, July 18, 2021

This evening Wavelengths features percussionist Evelyn Glennie in a new recording of a work written for her by Joan Tower. Contemporary vocal ensemble The Rising sings music of Eriks Esenvalds, and violinist Margaret Batjer plays a work of Pierre Jalbert.

Wavelengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music every Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern. With Ed Amend.

This evening on Preview! cellist John-Henry Crawford and pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion explore the dialogue between their instruments in the music of Brahms.  Rob Kennedy speaks with cellist Matt Haimovitz. And the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin plays a wind serenade by Mozart.

Preview! brings you the best in new classical recordings and arts news, Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern. With David Jeffrey Smith.

The July edition of Renaissance Fare features one of the most popular composers of the Italian Renaissance, Claudio Monteverdi. He is considered a transitional figure in the progression from the Renaissance into the baroque period. On the program is music from L’Orfeo that is considered to be the oldest opera still being performed.

Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station” 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 Gloriae Dei Cantores, the Exaudi Choir of Cuba, and the Tallis Scholars. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean Mouton, and Antonio Vivaldi.

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

Photo: Stu Rosner

On July 18 we observe the birthdays of German conductor Kurt Masur (1927-2015), Czech composer Julius Fučík (1872-1916), and The Classical Station (1978-).

Kurt Masur conducted most of the world’s principal orchestras in his lifetime. He also served as director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Fučík wrote hundreds of marches. Think of him as a Czech John Philip Sousa. WCPE The Classical Station went on the air on July 18, 1978, with a 1,000-watt transmitter in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a vision of bringing classical music to everybody, everywhere. Forty-three years later, thanks to listener support and volunteer power, our great classical music reaches around the world.

Photo: WCPE Photo Services

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Wake Weekly recently published an article by Amber Revel-Stocks about The Classical Station. We are grateful to The Wake Weekly for allowing us to publish part of the article.

WAKE FOREST — Between Wake Forest and Rolesville on Chalk Road is an 80-acre campus around a transmitter the same height as the Empire State Building.

It serves as home for WCPE, The Classical Station.

Founder and general manager Deborah Proctor started the radio station in 1978 with hand-built army surplus equipment in Raleigh, according to membership director Dan McHugh. It’s been in Wake Forest since 1984.

“People either assume we’re in Raleigh or at Wake Forest University,” McHugh said. “We’re in a great location here because we get the whole Triangle all the way to Greensboro and up to Virginia. With the apps and listening online, we have listeners all over the world.”

The Classical Station is completely donor funded. It also prides itself on always having someone live in the studio, McHugh said. It broadcasts classical music 24/7, every day of the year. Read more.

On July 17 we observe the birthdays of American sopranos Eleanor Steber (1914-1990) and Dawn Upshaw (1960-) and American composer and authority on P.D.Q Bach, Peter Schickele (1935-).

A West Virginia native, Ms. Steber graced the stages of major opera houses during her career. She also appeared on some of the popular radio programs of the day. Grammy Award winner Dawn Upshaw is equally at home singing operatic roles or art songs. The discoverer of the hitherto unknown composer P.D.Q. Bach, Peter Schickele is an accomplished bassoonist.  Happy 86th birthday, Professor!

Photo of Ms. Upshaw: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Friday, July 16, 2021

This Sunday The Classical Station celebrates its 43rd Anniversary. What began as a tiny 1,000 watt FM radio station built and run by a couple of North Carolina State University engineering students, has blossomed into a 1000,000 watt FM station here in Central North Carolina.  WCPE was barely ten years old when it began streaming its great classical music online. 2014 saw the station add an app to its streaming capabilities. In 2018 podcasts – we call them “conversations” – became part of our enrichment activities together with our long-established, beautifully designed member magazine, Quarter Notes.  The Education Fund has awarded over $100,000 to musical organizations in Central North Carolina. It has also distributed donated musical instruments to deserving students.

None of this would have happened without the amazing volunteers we have at The Classical Station. These wonderful people have run tag sales, answered phones during fund drives, stuffed thousands of envelopes, hosted Weekend Classics, Music In The Night, Concert Hall, and the Saturday Evening Request Program, and have done hundreds of other tasks to keep the station running.

Each year brings new members into our family of classical music lovers. We are most grateful for this. Because of your generous support we have been able to share great classical music with an audience that now reaches around the world for more than four decades.

Whether you’ve been listening for just a few days or for 43 years, do join us on Sunday, July 18 for a day full of your favorites. Thank you!

Photo:  WCPE FM tower in Wake Forest, North Carolina by WCPE Services

On July 16 we observe the birthdays of Soviet-born American pianist Bella Davidovich (1928-), Scottish conductor Bryden Thomson (1928-1991), and Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman (1948-) Bella Mikhaylovna Davidovich was just nine years old when she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Happy 93rd birthday! Bryden Thomson was a champion of the music of English and Scottish composers. Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman has earned two GRAMMY awards and enjoys a fine reputation as a conductor. 

Photo: Bella Davidovich, Joop van Bilsen/Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Al Ruocchio (1937-2007)

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents an encore performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love), hosted by the late Al Ruocchio (1937-2007). One of the composer’s best-loved works, it’s almost an opera semiseria rather than an opera buffa, as it contains both moments of real pathos and one of the greatest of all buffo roles: “Doctor” Dulcamara. Written in haste in a six-week period, L’Elisir d’Amore was first performed on May 12, 1832, in Milan, and it continues to be one of the most frequently performed of all Donizetti’s operas. Marcello Viotti conducts the English Chamber Orchestra and the Tallis Chamber Orchestra.

Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station” at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: WCPE Archives

On July 15 we observe the birthdays of three English musicians: guitarist Julian Bream (1933-2020), and composers Geoffrey Burgon (1941-2010) and Harrison Birtwistle (1934-).

Julian Bream won four Grammy Awards for his playing. He was widely considered one of the greatest classical guitarists of the 20th-century.  Geoffrey Burgon wrote scores for film and television. The income from his music for Monty Python’s Life of BrianTinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brideshead Revisited allowed Burgon to indulge his love of other musical styles.  Harrison Birtwistle’s style of composing is distinctive. He often writes music that he disassembles so that he can rearrange it, all with good dramatic effect.

Photo: Julian Bream, Unknown Author, Sol Hurok Enterprises, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

From the baroque era to the 21st century, The Classical Station celebrates the French contribution to classical music today. Our Bastille Day playlists include works by Berlioz, Rameau, Bizet, Couperin, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Dalbavie, the sisters Boulanger, and more.

Photo: Chris O, CCA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons

Today we observe the birthday of English composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956).

Besides being a composer who knew Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Arthur Bliss, Finzi conducted an amateur orchestra where he gave young performers such as tomorrow’s birthday celebrant, Julian Bream, a chance to perform publicly.


Tuesday, July 13, 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 The Classical Station. 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 The Classical Station 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.

Photo: CFCD

Monday, July 12, 2021

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Suisse Romande Orchestra. On the program is music of Paul Dukas, Anton Bruckner, and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, in classic perfomances led by Ernest Ansermet, Marek Janowski, and Armin Jordan.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The July edition of Renaissance Fare features one of the most popular composers of the Italian Renaissance, Claudio Monteverdi. He is considered a transitional figure in the progression from the Renaissance into the baroque period. On the program is music from L’Orfeo that is considered to be the oldest opera still being performed.

Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station” at 7 p.m. Eastern. George Douglas hosts.

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

On July 12 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Anton Arensky (1861-1906), English composer George Butterworth (1885-1916), Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962), American pianist Van Cliburn (1934-2013), and American clarinetist Richard Stoltzman (1942-).

Anton Stepanovich Arensky studied composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The other major influence on the young Russian was Pyotr Tchaikovsky. George Butterworth was killed in World War I during the Battle of the Somme. Ms. Flagstad was a highly regarded Wagnerian soprano. She made her Metropolitan opera debut in Die Walkure on February 2, 1935. Louisiana native Van Cliburn stunned the musical world when he won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1958. The competition was held every four years in Moscow. You can imagine the sensation an American made winning a Russian competition during the Cold War! Nebraska native Richard Stoltzman is a clarinetist who is acclaimed for his classical music playing. He is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory and Boston University.

Photo: George Butterworth, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons