The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Opera in the Park takes place TONIGHT!!! Start your week – and every day – with John Zeck’s “Composers Datebook.” Should Wisconsin Public Radio air it?

July 24, 2016
1 Comment

ALERT: Because of weather and storms, the Madison Opera’s 15th annual FREE “Opera in the Park” has been postponed from last night to TONIGHT. Here is a link with more details about the event:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/classical-music-madison-operas-free-opera-in-the-park-turns-15-and-takes-place-this-saturday-night/

By Jacob Stockinger

You might recall that last Sunday—at the start on a new week, just like today — The Ear suggested a FREE app for iPhones, iPads and iPods that offers a daily briefing on classical music.

It is called “Composer of the Day” and is put together by the music department at Wittenberg University.

Here is a link to that post and that app:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/classical-music-composer-of-the-day-app-is-a-great-way-to-start-a-new-week/

But there is another FREE  classical musical datebook that a loyal and knowledgeable reader of this blog suggested. The reader specifically praised the fact that it works on many different platforms.

It is “Composers Datebook” with host John Zeck (below), and it is done for Minnesota Public Radio and then distributed through American Public Media.

It seems similar to the format of “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor that, unfortunately, Wisconsin Public Radio no longer carries. But maybe WPR would consider including the “Composers Datebook” in its “Morning Classics” lineup? It certainly would be an educational addition, something just right for an alternative to commercial radio.

john zech

The two-minute daily diary streams nicely. It has many more details and examples about composers and includes sound clips of their work. It also does more than one entry for each day.

Turns out that the Ear already wrote about it in 2010. But it is worth a repeat visit to remind readers about this fine resource.

Here is a link, which you can bookmark or subscribe to, that post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/classical-music-review-“composers-datebook”-is-a-radio-gem-for-classical-fans-listen-to-it-read-it-get-free-podcasts/

And here is a direct link to “Composers Datebook.”

http://www.yourclassical.org/programs/composers-datebook/episodes

Try it.

See what you think.

And decide whether Wisconsin Public Radio should air it.

Then tell The Ear and his readers what you think.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Composer of the Day app is a great way to start a new week

July 17, 2016
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Which composer was born today?

What is he or she best known for?

And what does his or her music sound like in FREE samples?

Finding out is a great way to start a new week.

And start every day.

So here is a website you might want to look at and check every day. It has one-sentence mini-biographies of 366 composers (yep – one for Leap Year) and links to music samples.

It also allows you to search backwards, although not forward beyond “today” – one improvement it could make that would also making planning for blogs and listening a lot easier. The Ear bets that would give it a 5 rating.

It is called Composer of the Day and it is compiled by Wittenberg University. Here is what it looks like:

composer of the day app

It is a FREE app that is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. You can find it in the iTunes stores.

The Ear has it and likes it and uses it.

So does WQXR. That is the famous classical music radio station in New York City and the most listened-to classical music station in the U.S. And WQXR named it among the Top Five classical music apps for iPhones.

So do others, who give it a 4+ rating.

So you might like it too.Try and see.

Here are links:

http://www.wittenberg.edu/academics/music/apps.html

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/composer-of-the-day/id336077559?mt=8

Enjoy!

And use the COMMENT section tell us what you think.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Streaming gains even more momentum. Korean carmaker Hyundai will abandon in-dash CD players and titan CD seller Naxos will launch a high-definition streaming service.

January 24, 2015
3 Comments

No doubt about it.

Streaming seems the sound wave of the future.

That’s what the news about sales and trends points to, anyway.

Streaming through such services at Spotify or various app stores and retailers like Amazon.com looks to be the inevitable next step from CDs, just as CDs followed tapes and tapes followed LPs and vinyl (78, 45 and 33-1/3 RPM)-– even though vinyl is making something of a comeback among audiophiles because of its superior, less harsh sound quality.

But consider some new developments coming out of Asia, which seems to be setting the trend for the dissemination of Western classical music more than Western culture or Western industry is doing in Europe and the United States.

Korean carmaker Hyundai will get rid of CD payers in its next year’s models. Instead the music connections will run through Bluetooth electronics that link up solely to MP3 players and iPods. (Below is a photo of the new dashboard taken at a recent industry show.)

Hyundai new car audio system

Here is a link to a story that has more technical details plus a defense of KEEPING in-dash CD players – below is Japanese carmaker Honda’s more traditional in-dash CD player and changer — and the virtue of listening to one entire CD:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-who-still-listens-to-cds-in-the-car-20150114-story.html

Honda in-dash CD player and changer

Then consider the fact that Naxos – the Hong Kong-based budget CD label that now dominates the CD industry – is about to launch a high-definition streaming service.

http://www.classicalmusicmagazine.org/2015/01/naxos-launches-hd-streaming-service/

Naxos Records logo

Penderecki Wit Naxos

Here is some background about the company, based in Singapore, that will service Naxos’ streaming site:

http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2422084

The Ear has very mixed feelings about this news. He listens to all sorts of formats in the car — radio, CDs and iPods.

What about you?

Would you buy a new car without an in-dash CD player, a car that relies only on wireless and streaming technology?

And how dissatisfied are you with the sound quality of CDs versus streaming or other formats?

The Ear wants to hear.

 


Classical music: Celebrate the 328th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach this Thursday morning from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. with radio host Rich Samuels and many local performers on WORT 89.9 FM radio.

March 19, 2013
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Hurry up! It’s time to set your alarm clocks and tune in your radio.

This Thursday morning from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on WORT-FM 89.9 FM, Madison’s community-sponsored radio station (below is a photo of WORT’s funky headquarters in Madison) will honor the 328th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

WORT FM 89.9

What makes it special is that radio host Rich Samuels (below), who is also a sound engineer,  has recorded local performers — some prominent an professional, others more amateur — playing and singing works by Bach in their own homes and studios. He will premiere and feature those recordings during the special birthday broadcast.

Here is a link to the 1-minute promotional Samuels recently did for WORT.

http://www.wortfm.org/bachs-birthday-promo/

Rich Samuels WORT use this

You may recall that Samuels wrote earlier to The Ear to announce the performance possibilities, which I see as a wonderful way to take up where Wisconsin Public Radio faltered by canceling Bach Around the Clock after the departure of former music director Cheryl Dring for an Austin, Texas-based radio station.

Here is a link to the original post by and about Samuels’ project:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/classical-music-classical-music-host-rich-samuels-at-wort-fm-in-madison-wants-to-broadcast-recordings-by-local-performers-to-mark-j-s-bachs-birthday-on-march-21-2013/

And here is a link to the background about BATC 3 and the unfortunate decision abput BATC 4 by WPR:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/classical-music-wisconsin-public-radio-has-cancelled-bach-around-the-clock-4-for-march-2013-with-no-plans-for-a-future-revival/

BATC 3 2012 logo

BATC 3 Confident kids

And here is a link to live streaming from WORT, so you can use your smart phonek iPod, iPad or computer to listen to local Bach:

http://tunein.com/radio/WORT-Community-Radio-899-s21793/

WORT logo

And who might you expect to hear? Samuels recounted some of the local Bach fans whose recorded performances will be highlighted:

Writes Samuels (below): “You’ll hear some familiar voices on the promo (though not all of those whose performances will be heard.) I’m working up to the wire on this: the last music will not be recorded until Tuesday, March 19 on account of schedule conflicts (the last entry will be soprano Rachel Eve Holmes (below top) who, with oboist Kostas Tiliakos and pianist Thomas Kasdorf (below bottom), will be performing the aria “Sich ueben im Lieben” from the “Wedding” Cantata No. 202 (in a YouTube video at bottom).

The exact order of performers, Samuels adds, won’t be determined until the last minute.

Rachel Eve Holmes big

thomas kasdorf 2:jpg

But the remaining performers include organist Bruce Bengston (Luther Memorial), pianists Renee Farley, Karlos Moser (below top) and Tim Adrianson; harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson (below middle), mezzo-soprano Kathy Otterson (below bottom, with pianist Michael Keller and a violinist to be determined when I see who shows up at a recording session at Christ Presbyterian); alto Ena Foshay (speaking on behalf of the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble); saxophonists Dennis Simonson and Pete Ross.

BATC 3 Karlos Moser

BrandenburgsTrevor

Kathleen Otterson 2

I asked Rich Samuels, a transplanted Chicagoan, about how he came by the idea, the inspiration, if you will, for the local Bach celebration, which The Ear thinks is great and deserves a BIG SHOUT-OUT! as well as  donation to WORTs recent pledge drive.

Here is his answer: “This week’s effort is a belated sequel to the video piece I did on March 21, 1985 on Chicago’s WMAQ-TV on the occasion of Bach’s 300th birthday.

“My introduction to Bach (below) came as a kid when I went to the Wilmette (Illinois) Public Library and checked out the 3-LP box set of the Brandenburg Concertos issued in 1952 on the Westminster label. The performance was by the London Baroque Ensemble conducted by Karl Haas.

“I became enough of a Bach fan to make a pilgrimage in the spring of 1990 (during the waning days of the German Democratic Republic) to the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany, and the birthplace of Bach in Eisenach. I also stopped off at Sanssouci in Potsdam, where Bach, on a new-fangled fortepiano, improvised on the theme devised by Frederick the Great.”

Bach1

And since the results were so good for the first attempt in Madison, what about the future?

“Hopefully, I can do another Bach tribute next year, perhaps on the eve of his birthday when I have a show scheduled.

“It would be nice to find a multi-generational ensemble willing to perform the six Brandenburg concerti. And perhaps someone could also write a fugue, making use of the idioms and instruments of the 21st century.”

And what about those who can’t or won’t listen to the early broadcast this Thursday? asked The Ear who hopes the local performers will be rebroadcast, perhaps on another show, in a more popular time slot?

Samuels says: “I’ll eventually upload all of the specially recorded segments with local performers to my personal website, although that will probably take some time, given the list of uncompleted tasks that presently faces me.”

I hope he lets me know, because then I will pass on word to you.

In any case, here is a link to his website with its extensive index:

http://www.richsamuels.com

So tune in and drop in and help celebrate the 328th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach – the Big Bang of Western classical music!


Classical Music: Wisconsin Public Radio’s music app is first-rate and gets five stars. The Ear has it, and so should you. Plus, a viola duo performs a FREE concert of music by Bach, Bartok and Stamitz on Friday.

March 7, 2013
6 Comments

ALERT: This Friday from 12:15 to 1 p.m., the weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Drive, Alexis Carreon (below top, the personnel manager of the Madison Symphony  Orchestra who also plays viola with the MSO) and Marie Pauls (below bottom), with pianist Stacy Fehr Regehr, play duets for viola by J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concerto No. 6), Bela Bartok and Carl Stamitz.

Alexis Carreon

Marie Pauls

By Jacob Stockinger

Increasingly Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) is one of the few remaining public radio stations in the U.S that still highly values classical music and devotes many, many hours per day to it.

WPR Logo

And now if you have smart phone or an iPod Touch, you can take WPR with you.

True, you need wi-fi -– not just regular FM or AM radio reception. But wi-fi is increasingly prevalent and popular in both public and private places.

This app (below) helps solve the problem that I have always had with Apple and its FM radio capability, which for some odd reason, Apple includes only on the iPod Nano right now, not on the more expensive and fancier iPhone or iPod Touch, even though the hardware and software required for FM reception can’t be that big or difficult to include. (And how about getting a photo card slot on the smaller Airbook? Seems to The Ear like a bad and short-sighted decision on Apple’s part.)

Anyway, now if you have to interrupt a broadcast to go grocery shopping or do some other task, you can take WPR with you.

Wisconsin Public Radio app

I have spent some time experimenting with the app.

It is generally clear and easy to use, although the “program” screen didn’t list titles at one point, and then did.

The “Live” screen is, I find the most useful. It features the regular channel for classical music and news; the Ideas channel for talk and call-ins; and the 24-hours a day digital music channel. It has a pause, store and catch-up function. And the app also allows you to explore WPR schedules, state news stories and archives.

I used it while waiting in a dentist’s office. Also, recently I used it on a bus to Chicago and then once I was in Chicago when I couldn’t find something else I wanted. It worked great for not only music but also for “The Midday” stories, quizzes and guests with Norman Gilliland as well as “To the Best of Our Knowledge” and Michael Feldman. It also worked for bringing me  syndicated programs from National Public Radio: “Morning Edition,” “Weekend Edition” and “All Things Considered,” to say nothing of ‘The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor; “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross; “Exploring Music” with Bill McGlaughlin (below); and “From the Top” with Christopher O’Riley.

Bill McGlaughlin at  microphone

You can download the WPR app for FREE at the iTunes stores for MAC-based devices and at Google Play for Android-based smart phones.

Go ahead, give it a try. You can always delete it you don’t like or it doesn’t meet your expectations.

But I am betting that you will like it and that it will surpass your expectations. The Ear gives the app five stars out of five. If you use it, let me know what you think of the results.

Oh, and there are other radio apps I have that I used to stream classical music over the Internet.

One is the famed WQXR station in New York City. It features live broadcasts from Carnegie Hall that you can also access visa NPR’s blog “Deceptive Cadence.”

WQXR app

Closer to home, you can also try the app for WFMT in Chicago, the home base of Bill McGlaughlin.

wfmt app

Other public radio stations have specialized programs for vocal music, opera, piano music, music history and so on. You can check them out at the various app stores.

Are there radio apps you especially recommend?

The Ear wants to hear – and so, I suspect, do many of his readers.

Let all of us know in the Comments section.

 


Classical music: Would you like to buy Beethoven for a Buck? Try the complete piano sonatas by HJ Lim and the compete symphonies by Daniel Barenboim.

September 14, 2012
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Do you like Beethoven (below)?

Do you like the 9 symphonies? The Ear does.

Do you like the 32 piano sonatas? The Ear likes many of them, although I prefer all five of the piano concertos to most of the symphonies and most of the sonatas.

But a deal’s a deal.

Would you like to buy Beethoven for a Buck?

Try the digital download of the complete 32 piano sonatas by HJ Lim and the compete 9 symphonies by Daniel Barenboim.

Barenboim (below), the child prodigy pianist and former artistic director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is a well-known name.

Pianist HJ Lim (below), however, is a new name and has chosen an ambitious way to become known to the public.

She has recorded and released on EMI all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas. It is a monumental feat that was rare once, but is becoming more and more common.

Here is a link to an excellent story about the new Beethoven releases that appeared on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog. By chance, it seems perfectly timed for the just announced new generation of Apple’s iPods and iPhone as well as the update on iTunes that is coming in October.

Be sure to read the reader comments at the bottom of the blog posting.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/07/16/156843391/beethoven-for-a-buck


Classical music news: New media can lead back to old media – just ask pianist Valentina Lisitsa whose superstar status on YouTube has led to her a contract with Decca Classics.

May 31, 2012
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The media world today keeps getting, as Lewis Carroll might say, curiouser and curiouser.

Many authors now are self-publishing their first efforts because electronic books, or e-books, make it easier than ever to do so. And if the e-books sell well enough, old-fashioned publishers pick up the rights to make them into real old-fashioned cloth-and-paper printed books.

But one of the ironies is that the process also works in reverse.

Many creative talents use the so-called “new media” — blogs and the Internet — to gain access to and acceptance by so-called “old media.” Books have grown out of blogs, as have movies, such as the hit film “Julie and Julia.”

It also applies to classical music.

Take the case of pianist Valentina Lisitsa (below) who, to the best of my count, has performed in Madison four times: twice as accompanist to violinist Hilary Hahn and twice in solo recitals at Farley’s House of Pianos.

But the Lisitsa phenomenon — and it really is a phenomenon — started about five years when she started posting her performance (of a Rachmaninoff work) on YouTube.

Since then, as the most popular pianist on YouTube (which has a huge number of current and historic piano videos) she has racked up more than 40 million individual hits or visits, as well as some 52,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, for her many recordings of favorite works by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and other composers.

Then last week, one of the classic great “old media” outlets – Decca Records, which belongs to the giant conglomerate Universal – signed her to a contract. It will start with a recording her debut recital at Royal Albert Hall on June 19. A digital version will available later in June and a CD will be released July 3.

Surely, Decca officials figured that so much interest on the Internet suggests that Lisitsa is very bankable and has a good chance of making money for the label.

So it will record her upcoming concert at Royal Albert Hall in London.

And guess what?

The 39-year-old Lisitsa, who was born in Ukraine but lives in the U.S., asked her fans for what program she should play – for what their favorite pieces played her are.

Here is a link to her You Tube Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ValentinaLisitsa

Here is a link to my review of an impressive mostly Liszt recital she played in Madison last summer:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/classical-music-review-the-ear-gets-more-than-an-earful-of-franz-liszt-and-valentina-lisitsa-and-thinks-of-liberace/

Here are links to stories about her deal with Decca:

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/pianist-valentina-lisitsa-signs-to-decca-classics

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/9288208/Online-piano-star-Valentina-Lisitsa-gets-Albert-Hall-debut.html

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2012/05/exclusive-youtubes-favourite-pianist-signs-major-label-contract.html

http://www.classical-music.com/news/valentina-lisitsa-decca-classics

And here is a link to her program for the solo recital in Royal Albert Hall (below top shows the unusually shaped exterior, below bottom shows the spacious interior), along with information about tickets, should you want to or be able to attend it:

http://tickets.royalalberthall.com/tickets/valentina-lisitsa/default.aspx

My question is a simple one: Why would you buy a CD if you can hear the same pieces for free on YouTube?

I suppose so you can hear the artist and those works away from a computer or electronic device – at home or in the car or on an iPod.

Whatever the case, you have to assume the dramatic and temperamental, virtuosic and photogenic Lisitsa knows what she is doing.

She seems as gifted in commercial strategy as in classical piano technique and interpretation.

Below is Lisitsa playing one of my favorite Rachmaninoff preludes — in G major — though by no means one of her most popular videos, some of which have almost 3 million hits. I like the tone and the way the video shows her unusual stroking technique of hitting the keys — which seems to allow her never to strain.

Brava, Valentina!


Classical music news: GRAND OPERA on a SMALL SCREEN? How well does Apple’s new iPad 3 and the Metropolitan Opera’s new mobile subscription archive app work? Here are the results of a test run.

March 18, 2012
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

I stopped by the nearby Apple store of Friday. It’s always a fun place to go. I love the gadgets and I love the service.

This time I just wanted to check out some slick laptop bags for an upcoming trip – which it turns out, they don’t carry anymore. Just my luck.

But even early in the day the place was packed with people lined up and even sitting down outside and waiting.

“Are you looking for an iPad,” I was asked as I entered the store.

“Not yet,” I said, and went about my business.

But clearly Apple – which took such a ribbing, a real drubbing, about the name when the first iPad was announced – is having the last laugh

And it is a big, hearty and very profitable last laugh — now that it is already on there third model of the device,  iPad 3 (below), which is supposed to have super-sharp screen resolution as well as many more features.

Everybody wants in on the fun, it seems.

And that includes the Metropolitan Opera, which has revamped it mobile subscription app to work with iPads.

So, just how does GRAND opera look and sound on a SMALL screen and SMALL sound system?

You can check out a convincing an detailed test run by the perceptive and creative blogger extraordinaire Anastasia Tsioulcas (below), of NPR’s “Delayed Cadence” blog, via this link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/03/15/148666124/the-metropolitan-opera-anytime-and-anywhere-you-want-it

But I would like to know and hear your thoughts on the matter.

Have any Well-Tempered Ears – and Eyes — out there tried the new Met app on an iPad?

How did it work?

What do you think?

Does the model of the iPad matter?

The Ear wants to hear.

And so, I suspect, do the Met and Apple.


    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,204 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,090,776 hits
%d bloggers like this: