Conversations with Instrumentalists (2020)

In these conversations with our staff announcers Rob Kennedy, Elizabeth Elliott, and Dan McHugh, distinguished musicians talk about their new recordings, their art, and much more. These musicians love what they do and are most eager to share their art with everybody. Let your family and friends know about these conversations, which they can listen to or download anytime. You can also listen to these conversations on our apps.

Gail Archer

Concert organist Gail Archer states that “The organ literature of Eastern Europe is little known in the West, both in Western Europe and the United States. Archer is dedicated to drawing attention to Ukrainian modern composers through ongoing research and performances.” She and Rob Kennedy chat about her recording Chernivtsi: Contemporary Ukrainian Organ Music.

Photo: Stephanie Berger

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Niv Ashkenazi

From his website: “One of his most rewarding projects has been an ongoing involvement with Violins of Hope, an organization that uses its collection of instruments that survived World War II to educate and create awareness about the Holocaust. His work with Violins of Hope began with a residency in Sarasota, Florida through the Perlman Music Program and has since taken him to Ottawa, New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for performances and educational engagements. In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and Niv chatted about his CD Violins of Hope.

Photo: Elyse Frelinger

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Jonathan Biss

From his management’s website: “In 2011, Mr. Biss set out on a journey to record the composer’s 32 piano sonatas on nine discs over nine years, and the project concludes with the final volume to be released in the fall of 2019 and a complete box set scheduled for release in 2020, both on Orchid Classics. Complementing this cycle is the online Coursera lecture series Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, of which the final two sets of lectures will appear in September and January, at which time all the sonatas will have been examined.” In this podcast, Dan McHugh speaks with Jonathan about his Beethoven piano sonata project.

Photo: Jillian Edelstein

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Luc Beauséjour

From his website: “Never short of ideas when it comes to offering concert programs imbued with authenticity and refinement, Luc Beauséjour is an exceptional harpsichordist and organist.” In this podcast, Dan McHugh speaks with French-Canadian harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour about his recording of works by Rameau and Schumann, Les Rappel d’Oiseaux.

Photo: Etienne Bergeron

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Simone Dinnerstein

From her website: “Dinnerstein is an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity. These attributes, combined with elegance and grace, lend her music-making its captivating beauty.” ~ Washington Post. Elizabeth Elliott spoke with Simone about her new CD A Character of Quiet.

Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

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Angèle Dubeau

From Angèle’s website: “A pulsation marks time, it infuses its rhythm in it and also evokes the heart. Just like those composers whose music calls out to me and who, with their unique signatures, mark time, our time; Olafur Arnalds, Jean-Michel Blais, Ludovico Einaudi, Alex Baranowski, Craig Armstrong, Peter Gregson, Yann Tiersen, Abel Korzeniowski, Johan Johannsson, Max Richter, Dalal, Michael Nyman.” In this conversation, Rob Kennedy and Angèle talk about her CD Pulsations which you can listen to on Spotify.

Photo: Analekta

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Joey Fala

Joseph Fala has served as carillonneur at Duke University Chapel since the retirement of J. Samuel Hammond, University Carillonneur of 53 years, at the end of 2018. While Fala continues coaching with Hammond, he was introduced to the instrument and initially began studies through the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs while pursuing a master’s degree in organ performance at the Yale School of Music under Martin Jean and Thomas Murray. He currently serves as interim Director of Music and Organist at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In this podcast, Joey explains how the carillon is played and how the bells are made. The conversation concludes with a recording of a piece composed for the carillon by Geert D’hollander, carillonneur at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida.

Photo: Joseph Fala

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Marcin Fleszar

In this podcast, pianist Marcin Fleszar speaks with Dan McHugh about a recording on Rubicon Classics of Rameau’s Suite in A minor and Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze.

Photo: Marcin Fleszar

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Richard Gowers

English organist Richard Gowers has studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater ‘Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’ in Leipzig, Germany. He was an Organ Scholar under Sir Stephen Cleobury at King’s College, Cambridge. In this podcast, Richard talks about his 2018 recording of Messiaen La Nativité du Seigneur, which was, as his website notes, a Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’.

Photo: Kevin Leighton/King’s College, Cambridge

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Benjamin Grosvenor

From his website: “Benjamin first came to prominence as the outstanding winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of eleven, and he was invited to perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the First Night of the 2011 BBC Proms aged just nineteen.”  Rob Kennedy spoke with Benjamin Grosvenor about his recording of the Chopin piano concerti.

Photo: Sophie Wright

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Ofra Harnoy

From her website: “Ofra Harnoy has established herself as one of the greatest cellists on the world’s concert stage. She is one of Canada’s most celebrated personalities and is a Member of the Order of Canada. By joining the international artists’ roster of RCA Victor Red Seal in 1987, Ms. Harnoy became the first Canadian classical instrumental soloist since Glen Gould to gain an exclusive worldwide contract with a major record label.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy speaks with Ofra and her husband Mike Herriott about her new CD Back to Bach and the couple’s new life in the maritime provice of Newfoundland.

Photo: Ofra Harnoy/Denise Grant

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Stephen Hough

From his website: “One of the most distinctive artists of his generation, Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer. Named by The Economist as one of Twenty Living Polymaths, Hough was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (2001. Mr. Hough has composed works for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble and solo piano. His Mass of Innocence and Experience and Missa Mirabilis were respectively commissioned by and performed at London’s Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.”

Photo: Andrew Crowley

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Paul Jacobs

From his website: “An eloquent champion of his instrument, Mr. Jacobs is known for his imaginative interpretations and charismatic stage presence. He has performed to great critical acclaim on five continents and in each of the fifty United States and is the only organist ever to have won a Grammy Award—in 2011 for Messiaen’s towering Livre du Saint-Sacrément.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy chatted with Paul Jacobs about his recording with Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra of Bernd Richard Deutsch’s Okeanos.

Photo: Fran Kaufman

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Chaerin Kim

Dr. Chaerin Kim’s website states that she is “a multi-instrumentalist, being one of the very few in the world who you can see performing as a soloist with two instruments on the same stage with an orchestra, internationally acclaimed harpist, pianist, composer.” Dr. Kim chats with Rob Kennedy about her education and work as a performer and teacher.

Photo: ChaerinKim.com

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Paul Lewis

From his website: “Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the leading musicians of his generation. His cycles of core piano works by Beethoven and Schubert have received unanimous critical and public acclaim worldwide, and consolidated his reputation as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the central European classical repertoire.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and Paul chat about his recording of the Beethoven Bagatelles.

Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

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Jan Lisiecki

From his website: “Lisiecki has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, Bavarian Radio Symphony and London Symphony Orchestra. Having signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon at fifteen, Lisiecki’s sixth album for the label sees him leading the Academy of St Martin in the Fields from the piano for all five Beethoven concertos. The September 2019 release, recorded live from Konzerthaus Berlin, is the first within the label’s celebration of the Beethoven Year 2020. His earlier recordings have been awarded with the JUNO Award and ECHO Klassik. At eighteen, Lisiecki became both the youngest ever recipient of Gramophone’s Young Artist Award and received the Leonard Bernstein Award. He was named UNICEF Ambassador to Canada in 2012. In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and Jan discuss his recording of the Mendelssohn concerti.

Photo: Shin Sugino

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Wei Luo

From her website: “Pianist Wei Luo, as one of the most promising students of legendary Gary Graffman, was recognized by American classical radio station WQXR as one of the 19 artists to watch in 2019. In August 2019, Wei released her self-titled debut album produced by Grammy awards winner Erica Brenner, under DeccaGold, Universal Music Group. The album was recommended and featured by the Gramophone online as one of the most exciting new releases in July, 2019.”

Photo: Wei Luo/weiluopiano.com
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Paul Merkolo

From his website: “Paul Merkelo has been hailed as ‘the new Maurice André’’ by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is recognized as ‘a spectacular soloist… a most impressive master of his instrument’ (Montreal Gazette) who ‘knows no limits’ (Der Spiegel online – Germany) with ‘unusual lyrical gifts’ (Gramophone). Principal trumpet with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal since 1995, he has been featured frequently with the OSM, including tours to South America and at the Lincoln Center in New York, and is the first member of the orchestra to be invited to record a debut solo album with the orchestra (French Trumpet Concertos – Kent Nagano).” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and Paul chat about his CD The Enlightened Trumpet.

Photo: paulmerkolotrumpet.com

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Paul O'Dette

From the Boston Early Music Festival website: “Paul O’Dette has been described as “the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument” (Toronto Globe and Mail). He appears regularly at major festivals throughout the world performing lute recitals and in chamber music programs with leading early music colleagues. Mr. O’Dette has made more than 140 recordings, winning two GRAMMY Awards and receiving seven GRAMMY nominations and numerous international record awards. The Complete Lute Music of John Dowland (a 5-CD set for Harmonia Mundi USA) was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’Or de l’Année, and was named “Best Solo Lute Recording of Dowland” by BBC Radio 3. The Bachelar’s Delight: Lute Music of Daniel Bacheler was nominated for a GRAMMY as Best Solo Instrumental Recording in 2006.

Photo: Eastman School of Music

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Garrick Ohlsson

From the San Francisco Conservatory’s website: “Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess. Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature. A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Mr. Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him.” In this podcast, Garrick spoke with Rob Kennedy about his career and his CD of the Elgar and Beach Piano Quintets.

Photo: Dario Acosta

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Rachel Barton Pine

From her website: “In both art and life, violinist Rachel Barton Pine has an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Celebrated as a leading interpreter of great classic and contemporary works, her performances combine her innate gift for emotional communication and her scholarly fascination with historical research. She plays with passion and conviction, thrilling audiences worldwide with her dazzling technique, lustrous tone, and infectious joy in music-making.” In this podcast, Rachel speaks with Rob Kennedy about her recording of the Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concerti.

Photo: Lisa-Marie-Mazzucco

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Joanne Polk

From MDR Kultur’s website: “Those who like Chopin will love Louise Farrenc. The American pianist Joanne Polk is a colleague of Louise Farrenc, but in our time. Joanne Polk plays on a modern Steinway, but pays attention to the rhetoric of the original sound. She has a differentiated and very clear tone, which serves the music very well. When paying close attention, one notices that Farrenc developed a pianistic approach of her own, on the border line between Chopin and Liszt. Highly recommended!” In this podcast, Joanne speaks with Rob Kennedy about the life and music of Louise Farrenc.

Photo: Jeffrey Langford

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Parker Ramsay

From his website: “Parker Ramsay’s career eludes easy categorization, being unique in its integration of projects and performances on the harp, organ and harpsichord. Equally at home on modern and period instruments, he specializes in breathing new life into the canon as well as delving into new and underperformed works. He has premiered and workshopped works by composers across the United States, including Marc Satterwhite, Tengku Irfan and Saad Haddad and forthcoming projects include commissions by Tom Morrison, David Fulmer, Josh Levine and Marcos Balter. Parker also regularly performs continuo with ensembles around the word, including the Shanghai Camerata, the Academy of Sacred Drama, Teatro Nuovo and Apollo’s Fire.” In this podcast, Elizabeth Elliott speaks with Parker about his recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Photo: Tatiana Daubek

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Andrew Scanlon

From East Carolina University’s website: “A native of Methuen, Massachusetts, Andrew Scanlon has been a professor in the keyboard faculty at East Carolina University since 2009, where he directs the graduate and undergraduate programs in organ and sacred music. In addition, he is the organist & choirmaster at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, NC and artistic director of East Carolina Musical Arts Education Foundation.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy speaks with Andrew about the sacred music and organ program he manages at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Photo: East Carolina University

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Inbal Segev

From her website: “On the heels of her world and East Coast premieres of Anna Clyne’s new cello concerto, DANCE, Segev has just recorded the work, together with Elgar’s iconic concerto, with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. DANCE is one of two important new commissions that figure prominently in the cellist’s current season.” Rob Kennedy and Inbal Segev talked about Anna Clyne’s remarkable new cello concerto, and a staple of the cellist’s repertoire, the concerto by Sir Edward Elgar.

Photo: Dario Acosta

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Sean Shibe

From his website: “One of the foremost guitarists of his generation, Sean Shibe brings a fresh and innovative approach to the traditional classical guitar by experimenting with instruments and repertoire.” In this podcast, Sean speaks with Rob Kennedy about his CD Bach: ‘Pour la Luth ò Cembal’.

Photo: Kaupo Kukkas

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Lara St. John

From her web site: “Canadian-born violinist Lara St. John has been described as ‘something of a phenomenon’ by The Strad and a ‘high-powered soloist’ by the New York Times. In this podcast, Lara speaks with Rob Kennedy about her CD Key of A.

Photo: JR Sheetz

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Jason Vieaux

From his website: “Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone), is described by NPR as “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation”. Among his extensive discography is the 2015 GRAMMY-winning album for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Play.

Photo: Tyler Boye

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