Franz Schubert - String Quartet No.4 in C, D.46
Joseph Wolfl Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.36 "The Calm": Andante
George Frederic Handel Rodelinda (hosted by Sue Elliott: part 3)
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93
Jim Knapp Old Things

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
by Jill Kimball posted Apr 26 2015 2:49PM
Speight Jenkins said a fond farewell to Seattle Opera last year after more than three decades at the helm, but he isn't quite out of the limelight yet.

Seattle Opera's 78-year-old former General Director, who was known worldwide for his dedication to Richard Wagner's works and for his 'Green' Ring cycle, journeyed to London this week to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third-annual International Opera Awards.

Jenkins will speak about the award and about his Seattle Opera tenure on UK's BBC3 Radio at about 7am Pacific Time on Monday, April 27.

Pacific Northwest opera fans will always remember Speight's unique taste, demand for excellence, and youthful exuberance during the 31 years he led Seattle Opera. Before he said goodbye, Jenkins mounted a memorable, internationally-praised production of the entire Ring cycle. The next summer, a huge handful of big solo names in opera came together to perform and speak at his farewell celebration.

Jenkins is unique in the realm of opera directors: before he came to Seattle Opera, he'd never produced or performed an opera. Instead, the native Texan attended Columbia Law School, served in the U.S. Army, and became a successful music writer in New York City. For years, his words appeared in Opera News and the New York Post, and his voice went out over the airwaves on the show Live at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1983, after Seattle Opera's board members heard him give a series of guest lectures on the Ring, they took a risk and offered him the job of General Director.

When it comes to past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jenkins is in good company. Last year, Gerard Mortier received the award posthumously for his work directing opera companies all over North America and Europe. In 2013, the prestigious award was given to Sir George Christie, who ran operations at the Glyndebourne opera house for 40 years, carrying its famous summer festival into the modern age.
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Location : London
People : Richard Wagner
by Melinda Bargreen posted Apr 15 2015 11:04AM
The Seattle Symphony has experienced a Danish invasion on its podium in the past several weeks – first with conductor Thomas Dausgaard, in a cycle of all Sibelius' seven symphonies that positively riveted the Benaroya Hall audiences. Those March concerts were succeeded only a week or so later by two performances of a very fine program featuring another Dane named Thomas – Søndergård, this time – on April 2 and 4. If these concerts didn't have the "wow" factor of Dausgaard's electrifying Sibelius, the program of Szymanowski, Chopin, and Prokofiev still offered many musical rewards.

Chief among those was pianist Ingrid Fliter's performance of the second of Chopin's piano concertos, the No. 2 in F Minor. This virtuoso piece – the score is a positive forest of black notes – emerged under Fliter's fleet fingers with a beautiful transparency, clarity, and evenness. The opening of the second movement, a Larghetto, was almost magically delicate. Elsewhere in the score, Fliter demonstrated a tremendous variety of phrasing and articulation, all in service of the music, which was by turns powerfully assertive or as soft-focused as a floating cloud. Only a very minor, almost unnoticeable lapse in the final movement suggested that Fliter is actually mortal.

She's certainly not a household name, though Fliter's Gilmore Artist Award credentials (she won in 2006) tell music lovers that this Argentinean pianist is admired for her artistry as well as her competition-winning fingers. Here's hoping she will be back in Seattle soon.

On the podium, Søndergård was a supportive concerto accompanist, and an assertive leader in the Szymanowski "Concert Overture" and Prokofiev Symphony No. 5. One rather odd quirk of this former timpanist was his habit of aiming the majority of his conducting activity directly at the violins, no matter what was going on elsewhere in the orchestra. He turned to his left to conduct them even when the celli had the same melody two octaves lower, or sometimes when there were significant solo passages elsewhere in the orchestra.

The 45-year-old maestro, who has held conducting posts in Norway, Wales, and Scotland, gave the seldom-heard Szymanowski piece a terrific energy in all its upward-swooping lines (some of them reminiscent of Richard Strauss' tone poems).

In the Prokofiev Fifth, Søndergård was clear about what he wanted from the orchestra – music on a grand scale, with huge contrasts and sharply characterized lines, and a propulsive energy in the fast movements that got positively raucous in the final Allegro giocoso.

After Dausgaard and Søndergård, local music lovers may well conclude (with apologies to "South Pacific") that for symphony programs, there is nothing like a Dane!

by Melinda Bargreen posted Mar 31 2015 9:56AM

The submission deadline for KING FM's Young Artist Awards Competition is 6am on Monday, April 6, 2015. Enter here.

The first time I was asked to join the judging panel for the Classical KING 98.1 FM Young Artists Awards Competition, I accepted – with a few misgivings. Would I have to listen to performance after performance of widely varying quality? Might there be lots of “not quite ready for prime time” talent? Many well-meaning and hopeful but unready young players?

Imagine my surprise and delight when I heard an array of performances so excellent that it was excruciatingly difficult to single out the finalists. The level of talent was so high that hearing these gifted, excited young musicians practically lifted me out of my chair. I went back again and again to watch the video clips of the best ones, in a quandary of indecision. This one was so technically polished – but that one was so lyrically inspired! Or how about the one whose obvious nerves almost obscured a fleet-fingered finesse that still managed to shine through in the performance?

For listeners, it’s a simple matter: outstanding young performers thrill music lovers and give them hope for the future of the art we all love. Especially in a field where there are perpetual warnings about the “greying of classical music,” it is heart-warming to realize that the ranks of great performers are constantly being renewed. (And on that former subject: four decades ago, when I started reviewing classical events in Seattle, a common lament here and elsewhere was that the classical audience members were mostly middle-aged and older, and soon there would be no one left in the concert halls. Wrong!)

Here are a few more reasons – besides the entertainment and inspiration of the audiences! – that young artist competitions are important.

1. Young musicians need goals. Knowing that a competition lies ahead, in which one’s musical mettle will be thoroughly tested, is an inspiration to practice diligently and to make the most of one’s talent.

2. Competitions are wonderful practice for live performance, and help to promote a valuable skill set: learning to focus, learning to control nerves, learning to truly master the competition music and to present oneself confidently.

3. Matching up one’s talent against the achievement of others is a great motivator (“I’ve got to practice really hard so I can be as good as this fine player, or better!”).

4. Competing alongside gifted peers is also an excellent way to take stock: How am I doing? Have I improved? Am I reaching a level where my goals of a life in music are possible? How do I stack up against other musicians my age? This is the best possible way to find out.

5. Competitions can give a young player excellent feedback. It’s one thing to hear what your teacher thinks; what about comments from judges and other people who hear your performance?

6. A young artist competition teaches musicians how to audition, and gives them practice for those upcoming college/conservatory auditions. You’re already performance-ready on your competition repertoire, and that can be a huge advantage.

7. Finally, the competition can make you famous! Winners of Classical KING FM’s fourth annual Young Artist Competition will not only perform live on the radio (which means not only the local listeners but also your great-uncle in Tokyo or your college friend in Iceland can also tune in via They’ll also have several live performance opportunities around the area (last year’s winners were heard in recital during the prestigious Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival).

So performers, on your marks – and listeners, get ready for a new array of talent. Let the fourth Classical KING FM Young Artist Awards Competition begin!

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Location : SeattleTokyo
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