Johann Sebastian Bach (tr. A. Romero) - Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook: Minuets I & II
Craig Urquhart Venetian Snowfall
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Marriage of Figaro (hosted by Aidan Lang: part 1)
Igor Stravinsky Divertimento "The Fairy's Kiss"
Anna Thorvaldsdottir Dreaming

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
Posts from May 2014
by Jill Kimball posted May 20 2014 10:02AM

If you've ever listened to The Score with Edmund Stone, heard Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm on KING FM, you know a good film score can be crucial to a movie's success. There's nothing better to propel stories forward or to communicate emotion when words fail.

That's why we at KING FM are excited to explore all that the Seattle International Film Festival has to offer. The festival--which, it's worthy to note, is about to turn 40 and is the most highly attended festival in the United States--runs through June 8, 2014 at various theaters all over Seattle.

We couldn't possibly delve into every film showing at SIFF---that's a job for The Stranger. We'll instead do what we do about the role of classical music in this festival. Below is a rundown of all the films featuring the kind of music you hear every day on KING FM. This much we can guarantee: the films' scores will be great.


Attila Marcel

SIFF says:
"Oscar®-nominated director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) makes his live-action debut in this effervescent, musical, candy-colored charmer about a mute piano prodigy unlocking his repressed childhood memories."

Ever seen a Wes Anderson film? If so, you'll be accustomed to the quirky mix of high and low culture, of reality and fantasy, here--and that applies to the score as well. The trailer opens with that famous Flower Duet from Lakmé, so we know there's plenty of classical music to be had. The film's main character is, at the beginning, shepherded between piano lessons and gigs by his two overbearing aunts and is pushed into an adult music competition. Later on, things get a bit less classical when the prodigy tries hallucinogenic drugs and is plunged into a colorful alternate universe.

Playing: May 27, 7pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

Charlie Chaplin Shorts
SIFF says: "Join "The Little Tramp" in his mis-adventures in this collection of short films, with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin. Fun for all ages!"

Live silent film accompaniment is a special art, and pianist Donald Sosin has been doing it for decades at film festivals across the country and around the world. Hear him capture the various moods of four Charlie Chaplin shorts: Kid Auto Races in Venice, One A.M., Easy Street, and The Immigrant.

Playing: May 25, 3pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

One Chance
SIFF says: "The crowd-pleasing true story of Paul Potts, a shy shop assistant who went from undiscovered opera enthusiast to superstar when chosen to compete on 'Britain’s Got Talent.'"

As you can probably guess, this film is chock full of classic opera arias, including "La donna è mobile," "Nessun dorma" and "Vesti la giubba." But it's more than just a great soundtrack and a good laugh: it's a reminder to every young classical music lover that it's okay to prefer 98.1 over top 40 radio, even if peers may disagree.

Playing: May 24, 7pm, Lincoln Square Cinemas; May 30, 7pm, Egyptian Theatre

Song of the Fishermen

SIFF says:
"The struggles of a poor family living near Shanghai are illustrated in this silent film by director Cai Chusheng. Newly restored by China Film Archive and screened with a live musical accompaniment, it is an iconic film pairing bleak social commentary with strikingly beautiful and detailed shots."

If you want a poignant film experience but don't have a lot of time to spare, this is the film for you. Total runtime is just 57 minutes.

Playing: May 25, 7pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown

Song of the New Earth
SIFF says: "Seattle filmmaker Ward Serrill (The Heart of the Game) follows Tom Kenyon’s quest to integrate modern science and ancient mysticism through sound. The scientist and shaman has a four-octave vocal range, and a dazzlingly unique view of the world."

In the last couple of years, scientific research has found that singing produces a huge handful of mental and physical positive side effects. This film focuses on an extraordinary individual who takes the mental health benefits of singing very seriously.

Playing: May 16 & 17 at AMC Pacific Place

This May Be the Last Time

SIFF says:
"Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo investigates the 1962 disappearance of his grandfather, a native of Oklahoma’s Seminole Nation, by deconstructing the multinational origins of the ancient Seminole and Muscogee hymns sung by the rescue party."

This film doesn't concern classical music, per se--but as we all know, all musical styles are inspired at last partially by traditions of the past. It's fascinating to see the musical history of traditional Seminole and Muscogee hyms unfold, to find out how the people they encountered along the Trail of Tears influenced the sounds and stories they shared. It's something of a musical mystery tour.

Playing: May 31, 6:30pm, Harvard Exit; June 1, 4pm, AMC Pacific Place

Touch of the Light

SIFF says:
"Music, dance, and a gentle dash of romance shine when Yu-Siang, a blind pianist, meets Chieh, an aspiring dancer who gave up her goal because she couldn’t afford extensive study and training. Based on Yu-Siang’s true story."

We were thrilled to find out that Huang Yu-siang, a real Taiwanese classical pianist, was the star of this partially fictionalized story. In the film world, so many actors and actresses play musicians but have never played a note themselves. It's refreshing to know the actor and the pianist is one and the same, and it's even more wonderful knowing Yu-siang composed some of the pieces himself.

Playing: May 22, 4pm, Egyptian Theatre


by Jill Kimball posted May 7 2014 4:24PM

A slew of glowing reviews began pouring in following the Seattle Symphony's performance of Debussy, Varèse, and a New York premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean by John Luther Adams. The Symphony's banner-waving entourage of more than 700 patrons joined contemporary music enthusiasts of New York in giving the black-and-blue-clad Seattle Symphony a standing ovation. 

Photo: Brandon Patoc Photography,

The New York Times called the performance "rich with shimmering colors and tremulous energy. The engagement of the musicians with this work, and with Mr. Morlot, came through in every movement."

Many new-music aficionados in particular took notice of this concert, given the modern repertoire. Bachtrack observed that "this is an orchestra as at home in the old as the new." Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise and music critic for The New Yorker, wrote on his blog of the same name that the Symphony's repertoire and brilliant performance "caused a sensation."

Even the Financial Times took notice, admitting this concert was "not business as usual," not even by Carnegie Hall standards. "It...was a wonderful concert, imaginatively planned and brilliantly executed," critic Martin Bernheimer wrote. "Although the ambience may have been folksy-casual, the repertory and performances reflected rare sophistication."

Classical KING FM's Program Director Bryan Lowe and Afternoon host Dave Beck were on hand to host the concert and take in the excitement, which they attested was palpable from the musicians' airplane to the hotel and all the way to the stage.

"If you've never been [to Carnegie Hall,] it's rather on the small side but elegant in an old European theater kind of way," Lowe said. "We had box seats, second tier center, so we had a great view of the crowd on the first floor below. They were so excited and so supportive!

"SSO Bass clarinetist, Larry McDaniel, told me he had some doubts the huge orchestra would fit, but the stage is larger than you'd imagine. Four harps and an amazing array of percussion instruments on top of the already large SSO and there was room to spare!"


by Brad Eaton posted May 4 2014 12:00AM

Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone.

All this week, Brad Eaton features music inspired by water to start your morning. Tune in at 9am Monday, May 5 through Friday, May 9 to hear his handpicked selections.



Sir Arnold Bax was an English composer and poet of the late 19th and 20th centuries. His music was often a blend of romantic and impressionistic styles. He was very often inspired by the land and seascapes he observed in his many travels. "Mediterranean," originally written for solo piano, was inspired by a trip to Majorca that Bax made in the company of his brother and fellow English composer Gustav Holst. It's a waltz in 3/8 time. Sir Arnold later arranged it for orchestra, much in the manner of Maurice Ravel with his similarly Spanish flavored piece, "Alborado del Gracioso."  We'll hear the orchestral form of "Mediterranean."


The story of the first performance of Handel's "Water Music" is recorded in a very lively account bin The London Courant, a leading newspaper of the time. At about 8 o'clock on the evening of Wednesday, July 17th, 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace and set sail up the Thames toward Chelsea. Another barge provided by bthe City of London carried about fifty musicians who performed Handel's Water Music" while sailing next to the royal barge. According to The Courant, the entire river was crowded with boats and barges as Londoners sailed along, enjoying the music. The King liked the music so much he had the musicians perform it three times on the excursion. They played until after midnight, with only one break when the King briefly went ashore at Chelsea. 



Alan Hohvaness, a 20th century Armenian-American composer, was one of the most prolific composers of his time. He wrote more than 70 symphonies. One of them was his Symphony #50, which was inspired by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Hohvaness lived in Seattle for nearly thirty years and was living here at the time of the volcanic eruption. We're going to hear "Spirit Lake," from Hovhaness's Mt. St. Helens Symphony. Before the eruption, Spirit Lake was a beautiful and popular vacation destination.




The 18th century  German composer Georg Philipp Telemann was a master of painting scenes with the sound of his music. The Water Music Orchestral Suite is a great example of this talent. It dates from 1723, during his early days in Hamburg. Hamburg was then a bustling port city on the Elbe River. The heart of the Water Music Orchestral Suite is a collection of dances that evoke varios nautical scenes on the Elbe.




Beethoven's "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" is a short cantata based on poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Beethoven, in fact, dedicated this music to Goethe. In English translation, the cantata opens with the words;" Deep stillness rules the waters, without motion lies the sea..."  "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" was first performed in Vienna in 1815.




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