This Week At The Classical Station

Sunday, March 1, 2020

This week on Preview! we celebrate Women’s History Month with two new recordings featuring music for symphony orchestra and solo piano by French composer by Louise Farrenc (1804-1875). Rob Kennedy speaks with Al Sturgis, Music Director of the North Carolina Master Chorale, about the Chorale’s upcoming performance of the Dvořák Requiem on Tuesday, March 3rd in Meymandi Concert Hall. English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor plays Chopin. See What’s Playing for a detailed playlist.

Preview! – the best in new classical recordings and arts news each Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Al Sturgis/NC Master Chorale

This week on WAVELengths we’ll hear music by a woman who was rated the greatest living composer in a 2019 BBC poll, Finnish composr Kaija Saariaho. We’ll remember the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (1954-2006) on her birthday, and we’ll hear music for bassoon and orchestra by John Williams. See What’s Playing for a detailed playlist.

WAVElengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music Sunday evenings at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson/

This week Great Sacred Music will include music sung by Le Concert Spirituel, the Saint Thomas Choir, New York, and the Prague Philharmonic Choir. Also on the playlist is choral music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Leo Sowerby, and Darius Milhaud.

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

Stained-glass window by Marc Chagall in Chichester Cathedral/Rob Farrow on Geograph

On March 1 we observe the birthdays of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), Greek conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960), and American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (1954-2006). A child prodigy, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin composed over 200 works, mainly for the piano. Maestro Mitropoulos was principal conductor of several American orchestras including the Boston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Minneapolis Symphony (forerunner of the Minnesota Orchestra.) In addition, he was principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera from 1954-1960. Ms. Lieberson began her musical career as a violist before becoming a singer in her thirties.


Saturday, February 29, 2020

What would you like us to play for you this evening? The Saturday Evening Request Program is our ever-popular weekly request program. It’s six hours of music you have chosen. Click Music Request and let us know what you want us to play. Short works? Yes. Long works? Yes. You are the Music Director for Saturday evening. The program usually is over-subscribed by 2 p.m. on Saturday, so get your request in as soon as you can.

If you prefer, call 919-556-0123 anytime after 6 a.m. Eastern and tell the announcer what you would like to hear. Then, after 6 p.m., check What’s Playing to see when your request will be played.

The 2019-20 Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast season continues with its first-ever Saturday matinee broadcast of Agrippina, Handel’s satire about the lust for power in ancient Rome. The work dates from 1709, making it the oldest opera ever broadcast from the Met. Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato stars in the title role as the Empress who will stop at nothing to make sure her son inherits the throne. Brenda Rae makes her network broadcast debut as the alluring Poppea; Kate Lindsey is Nerone, Agrippina’s feckless son Nero; Iestyn Davies is the commander Ottone, favored to become ruler; and Matthew Rose is Agrippina’s husband, the Emperor Claudio. Baroque expert Harry Bicket conducts the Met Orchestra while also playing harpsichord in the pit. The production by David McVicar brings this story of political and personal intrigue into the current day.

Agrippina will be heard on The Classical Station at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, February 29. Listen on 89.7 FM in Central North Carolina, online or on our apps. Tell your smart speaker to “play the Classical Station.”

Listen to Bob Chapman speaking with Joyce DiDonato in an interview we recorded last year. This is one of several conversations with performerscomposers, and conductors we have recorded for your enjoyment.

Photo: Joyce DiDonato in the title role of Handel’s Agrippina. Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

On February 29 we observe the leap-year birthday of Italian composer Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). Signor Rossini wrote thirty-nine operas, as well as other compositions in several genres. Rossini wrote quickly and was once heard to quip: “Give me the laundress’ bill and I will even set that to music.”


Friday, February 28, 2020

Episode 7 of Cadenza is out. Cadenza is our fast-paced, classical news magazine offering classical music news and conversations with composers and performers, as well as excursions into the music you love. In this edition of Cadenza, Nan Pincus reports on the premiere of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Early music specialist Nicholas McGegan discusses his production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s grand opera Le Temple de la Gloire. Rob Kennedy speaks with North Carolina composer Tyson Davis. Dr. Haydn Jones offers a look at the influence of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s influence on Franz Schubert. Nick Robinson takes us on another tour of his Gallery of Sounds. Cadenza is also available on our apps.


On February 28 we observe the birthdays of French composer Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889) and American soprano Reri Grist (1932-). A teacher as well as a composer, Monsieur Arban was the first virtuoso valved-trumpet player.  Ms. Grist made her Metropolitan Opera debut fifty-one years ago.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

This week the WCPE Opera House presents Gioachino Rossini’s last and most sophisticated comic work, Le Comte Ory. First performed at the Paris Opéra, it was a loose amalgamation of two completely different works: Il Viaggio a Reims (an operatic entertainment Rossini wrote to celebrate the coronation of Charles X of France) and a one-act vaudeville play by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson about the exploits of a libidinous young nobleman and his band of knights, who weasel their way into a French convent. When Comte Ory had its premiere on August 20, 1828, with the vaudeville altered and expanded into a two-act comic libretto, and six extended numbers from Viaggio recycled into the new score, it was rightly hailed as one of Rossini’s wittiest, most seamless and sophisticated works.

John Eliot Gardiner leads the Orchestra and Chorus of the Lyon Opera in this 1989 recording.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Listen on 89.7 FM in Central North Carolina, streaming everywhere on our apps and online.

Photo: Final scene from an 1827 production of Le Comte Ory/Dubois et Chez Martinet on

The Classical Station is excited to announce that we are expanding the Education Fund to include an Instrument Donation program. The purpose of collecting these instruments is to make them available to students in music education programs and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina. Gently used instruments in working condition, or with minor repairs needed, are being accepted.

The following instruments are especially needed:

Trumpets, flutes, clarinets, French horns, trombones, violins, violas, cellos, saxophones, and other classical instruments for band or orchestra. Over the last ten years the Education Fund has awarded more than $80,000 in grants to numerous music education nonprofits in North Carolina. In addition to grants that support music lessons, concerts, and scholarships, we hope that the Instrument Donation program will help even more students to realize their dreams of studying music. You can help to make their dreams come true, and receive a tax receipt.

For more information about the Education Fund, or to inquire about donating your instrument, please contact Dan McHugh, Membership Director, at 919-556-5178 or by email We will arrange for pickup on a case-by-case basis.

On February 27 we observe the birthdays of English composer Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918), American contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993), Italian soprano Mirella Freni (1935-2020), and Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer (1947-). Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry is best known these days as the composer of the 1902 coronation anthem I was glad. One of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century, Ms. Anderson made history on April 9, 1939, when she sang before a crowd of 75,000 at the National Mall. Signora Freni performed on most of the world’s great opera stages during her long career. A student of David Oistrakh, Gidon Kremer has performed with many of the world’s top orchestras.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Our Spring 2020 Membership Drive will begin in a few weeks. The point of our membership drives is to encourage listeners to become supporting members of The Classical Station. Did you know that Angels help us achieve that objective? Well, yes, they do and have done so for many years. Our Angels are amazing listeners who will match your gift to encourage you to support this unique classical music radio station which you enjoy so much.

The way it works is very simple. For example, a listener in Virginia commits $600 to the membership drive. She tells us that she will match 5 contributions of $10 per month. So, once her angel match is met and 5 new members have become Sustaining Members at $10 per month, The Classical Station garners $600 from our Angel and another $600 from the 5 listeners who have become Sustaining Members at the $10 per month level.

Can you be an Angel during our Spring 2020 Membership Drive? Here’s how to make that happen: call Jane O’Connor here at the station and let her know that you want to be an Angel with your gift of $300 or more. You can reach Jane at 800-556-5178 or email her.

If you prefer, you can become an Angel by making your gift of $300 or more online via our secure server. Just be sure mention that you want to be an Angel in the Comments box. Thank you for inspiring other listeners to support The Classical Station. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions.

On February 26 we observe the birthdays of Czech-born French composer Anton Reicha (1770-1836), English composer Frank Bridge (1879-1941) and Russian pianist Lazar Berman (1930-2005). A friend of Beethoven, Reicha also taught Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz, and César Franck. Frank Bridge’s music is relatively unknown to this day. Berman was one of the great pianists of the 20th century.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Join Nick Robinson during As You Like It for a special ticket giveaway! This week we’ll be offering a pair of tickets to Great Necks Guitar Trio concert hosted by the Triangle Guitar Society. The trio will be performing a Bach-centered program interspersed with arrangements of The Planets by Gustav Holst at Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham on Saturday, February 29th at 7 p.m. Listen between 2 and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16th, for a chance to win tickets to this event.

On February 25 we observe the birthdays of Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) and Spanish conductor Jesús López-Cobos (1940-2018). Signor Caruso was one of the greatest tenors of the 20th century. He made over 260 recordings and sang in many of the world’s great opera houses. Maestro López-Cobos.was the director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Orquesta Nacional de España, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and the Teatro Real in Madrid.


Monday, February 24, 2020

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. On the program is music by Hector Berlioz, Luigi Boccherini, and Johannes Brahms in classic performances conducted by Robin Ticciati, Raymond Leppard, and Sir Charles Mackerras. See What’s Playing for details.

You can enjoy the concert beginning at 8 p.m. on 89.7 FM in Central North Carolina and streaming everywhere online and on our apps.


On February 24 we observe the birthdays of English composer Samuel Wesley (1766-1837), Italian soprano and opera director Renata Scotto (1934-), and Czech conductor Jiri Belohlávek (1946-2017). Son of Methodist hymn writer Charles Wesley, Samuel Wesley was both composer and performer. After her retirement from singing in 2002, Ms. Scotto has turned her attention to directing operas. Founder of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Belohlávek was the director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.


Masthead photo: Edward Dear/