Classical KING FM is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of music lovers. This spring, we’re partnering with the King County Library System and Music Center of the Northwest to bring our famous Instrument Petting Zoos to a King County library near you!
Bring your kids and have fun listening, touching, playing, and learning about musical instruments of all kinds from the musicians who play them. It’s all part of King County Library’s Playing with Words program.
Petting Zoo Dates:
Thursday, April 6, 11am-1pm Sammamish Library
825 228th Avenue SE
Sammamish, WA 98075
Missed one of our Seattle Symphony Spotlights? Listen to Dave Beck’s most recent interviews on-demand below!
The Kernis/Ehnes Collaboration: New Music a Decade in the Making Wednesday, March 15th
This week on our Classical KING FM Seattle Symphony podcast we talk to the artists whose long time collaboration brings a newly created violin concerto to Benaroya Hall. The Seattle Symphony gives the U.S. premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Aaron Jay Kernis’s new violin concerto, which he wrote for his friend violinist James Ehnes, the artistic director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.
Performances of the new concerto are March 16-18 at Benaroya Hall, when music director Ludovic Morlot conducts the orchestra in the latest series of SSO Masterworks concerts. We visit with James Ehnes and Aaron Jay Kernis to learn more.
Countertenor Reginald Mobley: The Barry Gibb of Baroque Wednesday, February 22nd
On our latest Seattle Symphony Podcast, Dave Beck visits with American countertenor Reginald Mobley. Reggie, as he prefers, grew up in the state of Florida where his naturally high, nuanced, elegant, and extremely rare voice was discovered by accident by one of his sharp-eared music professors.
Reggie sings arias by Bach and Handel in Benaroya Hall on February 24 and 25 at 8pm as part of the next Seattle Symphony Baroque and Wine concerts. Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta conducts the program also featuring the Seattle Symphony Chorale, soprano Christina Siemens and baritone Martin Rothwell. French Baroque music by Lully and Rameau is also on the concerts.
Reggie Mobley shares the story with Dave of how Reggie’s original plan to pursue a career as a visual artist took a most unexpected turn. And we hear Reginald Mobley sing Bach with the ensemble Agave Baroque.
Reunited with Joshua Bell and Dvorak with a Czech Accent Wednesday, February 15th
Music Director Ludovic Morlot talks with KING FM’s Dave Beck about his experiences performing with this week’s guest artist at the Seattle Symphony: the superstar violinist Joshua Bell. Joshua was named Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 2011, the first person to hold the title since the late Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
The Seattle Symphony and Joshua Bell are Grammy Award-winning artists. Joshua has recorded more than 40 CDs including the Oscar-winning soundtrack for The Red Violin. Joshua Bell plays the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Ludovic and the Seattle Symphony in performances throughout the weekend. Also on the program this week: Bedrich Smetana’s “Dance of the Comedians” and Antonin Dvorak’s 8th Symphony brings the program to a close.
On Building Musical Community: Violinist Hilary Hahn Wednesday, February 8th
This week on our Classical KING FM Seattle Symphony podcast host Dave Beck visits backstage at Benaroya Hall with violinist Hilary Hahn. She’s guest artist at the Seattle Symphony this week and one of the superstars of the classical music world. Hilary has won three Grammy Awards, made 16 recordings and has been soloing with the world’s great orchestras since she was a teenager. Hilary Hahn is this season’s featured artist at the Seattle Symphony, making an extended stay in the city this week.
Hilary Hahn talks with Dave Beck about her outreach work and her passion for building musical community in Seattle and around the world. Our conversation also turns to Hilary’s love for languages, writing and interviewing artists she encounters in her travels.
Listening to Every Voice: Ives, Art, Poetry, and the Homeless Wednesday, February 1st
In November 2016 Seattle declared a state of emergency around the issue of homelessness in our region. Since 2013 the Seattle Symphony has been involved in efforts to respond artistically to that crisis through their Simple Gifts Initiative.
The latest chapter in the SSO’s Simple Gifts effort is a program of music, poetry and visual arts called “All of Us Belong.” Working with community partners like Catholic Housing Services, Compass Housing Alliance, and Mary’s Place, people experiencing homelessness in our region work with the SSO, its community partners, and teaching artists in a series of gatherings and workshops providing tools with which they reflect on their lives through music and art.
Dave Beck talks with SSO Music Director Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna about how American composer Charles Ives’ early 20th century composition “New England Holidays” is the musical rallying point for this ambitious melding of SSO missions around artistic excellence and community engagement.
Embracing the Old and New in Music: Russian Pianist Alexei Lubimov Wednesday, January 25th
Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov holds a place of honor in the world of Russian music for his dedication to the work of contemporary Russian and Soviet era composers. As a young artist in the Soviet Union, Alexei introduced John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Pierre Boulez to Russian audiences—and he faced serious consequences for his daring resolve to introduce such once radical and unfamiliar styles.
This weekend he appears in SSO Masterworks concerts playing a Haydn Piano Concerto on Thursday night, January 26th and Saturday night, January 28th. On Friday the 27th he’ll be the featured artist in one of the late night “Untitled” concerts of new music, happening at 10pm in the Grand Lobby at Benaroya. That program will feature music by contemporary Russian composers Valentin Silvestrov, Alexander Rabinovitch Barakovsky, the late Galina Ustvolskaya—once a student of Shostakovich—and the youngest composer on the program, born in 1970, Pavel Karmanov.
Works of Wit and Weight: The Instrumental Concertos of Shostakovich Wednesday, January 18th
Our Classical KING FM Seattle Symphony Podcast this week features Kevin Ahfat, the Canadian-born pianist and winner of the SSO’s Inaugural International Piano Competition plays the 1st and 2nd Shostakovich Piano Concertos with SSO Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta leading the concerts. Kevin is one of one of three soloists in Seattle this week for performances in the Shostakovich Concerto Festival on Thursday, January 19th and Friday, January 20th in Benaroya Hall. KING FM’s Dave Beck talks with the young concert artist about Kevin’s excitement at returning to play again in Seattle. The pianist also discusses the witty and lighthearted nature of these piano works by Shostakovich, standing in stark contrast to the angry, brooding moments characterizing much of the composer’s violin and cello concertos.
The other soloists in the festival are cellist Edgar Moreau and violinist Aleksey Semenenko.
Broadway’s Megan Hilty: A Happy Homecoming Wednesday, January 11th
Dave Beck speaks with the featured performer in the Seattle Symphony Pops concerts happening in Benaroya Hall Friday, January 13th through Sunday, January 15th. “Luck Be a Lady: Megan Hilty Sings Sinatra and More” showcases the tunes of songwriters ranging from Cole Porter to Barry Manilow. The show’s star grew up in the Puget Sound area. Megan Hilty talks about her early training as a classical singer, her collaboration with the songwriting team that gave us the smash hit Broadway musical Hairspray, and about the rewards and demands of being a mom and a busy performing artist.
Messiaen and Beethoven: Music of Hope in Times of Despair Wednesday, January 3rd The search for purpose, hope and meaning in the face of devastating circumstances is one of the themes running through the two highly contrasting works that make up this week’s Seattle Symphony Masterworks program in Benaroya Hall. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the creation of a man whose physical deterioration left him unable to hear or speak. And Olivier Messiaen’s “Three Little Liturgies of the Divine Presence” springs from the imagination of an artist recently liberated from a World War II German prison camp. SSO Music Director Ludovic Morlot joins KING FM’s Dave Beck with thoughts on why this pairing of diverse works, separated in time by about 120 years, makes for such a compelling presentation.
Mozart’s influence on his fellow composers is strongly felt, even today. Composers have paid tribute to this classical-era inspiration by re-working his music in various ways, creating imaginative variations and their own musical commentaries. Here are five of the most surprising revisions and tributes to Mozart’s music.
Tune in to 98.1 Classical KING FM all throughout the month of January for 31 Days of Mozart, our celebration of favorite works by the classical Wunderkind.
5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart/Timo Andres: Piano Concerto No. 26 “Coronation” for Chamber Orchestra and Piano
Mozart’s “Coronation” Concerto has a unique feature: the manuscript lacks notes in the left hand. It’s assumed that Mozart didn’t need to notate it, simply providing his own improvisation in performances of the work. There is a standard completion, filling out the score for modern performers, but it stops short of the sure magic of Mozart’s on-the-spot virtuosity that audiences flocked to see. American composer Timo Andres has taken a novel approach to this work, adding a left hand part that is all his own and effectively creating a new work that is half Andres, half Mozart. This stunning transformation achieves unmistakable, if polarizing, results. If you find the first movement too much to handle, give the more lush and lyrical second movement a try.
4. Igudesman and Joo: Rondo alla molto Turca
These guys first showed us how much comic potential there is in adding little tweaks to Mozart’s music with their infamous Mozart Bond sketch. They’re back at it in this skit from their “AND NOW MOZART” tour, where they give the Rondo alla Turca movement of his Piano Sonata No. 11 a spicy twist. We hope that Mozart would have laughed as hard as this huge audience.
3. Apap Cadenza to Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major
The French violinist Gilles Apap’s cadenza to Mozart’s G major concerto veers quickly into anachronistic territory, adding virtuosic fiddling, stomping, drumming, whistling, and singing. In about eight minutes, Apap travels around the world and through at least three centuries. Genius, or nonsense? You decide.
2. Tribal: Mozart Meets Trap
We’re back to the Rondo alla Turca from Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11, which has inspired all sorts of creations in the world of electronic dance music, ranging from pretty interesting to downright terrible. Whatever you think of this music, the launchpad controller technique here is a sight to behold, and it’s especially fascinating to see the DJ translate Mozart’s piano music directly to the keypad.
1. Arcadi Volodos: Rondo alla Turca “arrangement”
There’s not a whole lot of Mozart left by the end of this barn-burning encore piece, perfectly suited to the lightning fingers of Yuja Wang. It’s easy to get carried away by the party, as the innocent opening disguises an explosive few minutes of music.
Honorable Mention: Overture to Abduction from the Seraglio, expanded with Turkish music
The overture to an opera set in a Turkish harem, this work by Mozart included trendy, exotic musical sounds that evoked Turkish Janissary music. This performance of the work is truly something special, however; incorporating actual Turkish instruments and adding extended sections of Turkish music at the beginning, middle, and end, it goes beyond Mozart’s classical-era mock-up for an aesthetic much more authentic to the opera’s setting.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born on January 27, 1756, was one of the greatest musical minds of all time. Known throughout Europe as a prodigy of the keyboard and violin, he rose to prominence as a composer who brought every classical-era musical genre to its apotheosis. Before his untimely death at the age of 35, he composed an astonishing 626 pieces. We won’t get to play them all this month, but we’ve chosen some of our favorites, playing on KING FM all throughout the month of January.
This Thursday, the Seattle Symphony celebrates the 113th anniversary of its first performance on December 29, 1903 under Harry West. Classical KING FM celebrates with a full broadcast of the orchestra’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 8 at 8:00pm, hosted by Sean MacLean. The orchestra has had a history of both rocky patches (1921-22 season cancelled, mergers and then subsequent separations with Tacoma Philharmonic musicians in 1947-48) and huge successes (opening of the $120-million Benaroya Hall in 1998, 21 GRAMMY nominations and two awards).
It’s rare that 1,000 musicians are seen onstage for performances of this piece – the “Symphony of a Thousand” moniker was tacked on by a concert promoter, and was apparently abhorred by Mahler himself. The Eighth Symphony is certainly Mahler’s largest symphonic work in physical onstage forces, and represents a return to some elements of his earlier symphonies after the less programmatic, more existential Five and Six: it features long moments of innocent and breathlessly romantic music, and multiple combined choruses and vocal soloists that verbally articulate its philosophical content. Like all Mahler, we get fascinatingly disparate musical elements and thematic contradictions – the symphony’s first part is a setting of the medieval Latin hymn Veni, creator spiritus (“Come, Holy Ghost, Creator”) while the second part is a dramatic setting of the final scene of Goethe’s Faust in German that makes extensive use of the vocal soloists. Mahler didn’t write an opera, but the monumental second part of his Symphony No. 8 comes close.
In September, 2008, nearly 400 musicians assembled onstage in Benaroya Hall’s S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium to perform the work under the direction of then-Music Director Gerard Schwarz. Schwarz brought together Northwest Boychoir, Seattle Pro Musica, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Symphony Chorale and top vocal soloists including Lauren Flanigan, Jane Eaglen, Jane Giering-de Haan, Nancy Maultsby, Jane Gilbert, Vinson Cole, Clayton Brainerd and Harold Wilson for this historic performance in Seattle.
Here’s what Mahler had to say about his Eighth Symphony, speaking to the historian Richard Specht in 1908:
“Think, in the last three weeks I have completed the sketches of an entirely new symphony, something in comparison with which all the rest of my works are no more than introductions. I have never written anything like it; it is something quite different in both content and style from all my other works, and certainly the biggest thing that I have ever done. Nor do I think that I have ever worked under such a feeling of compulsion; it was like a lightning vision – I saw the whole piece immediately before my eyes and only needed to write it down, as though it were being dictated to me. This Eighth Symphony is remarkable for the fact that it unites two poems in two different languages, the first being a Latin hymn and the second nothing less than the final scene of the second part of Faust. Does that astonish you? I have for years longed to set this scene with the anchorites and the final scene with the Mater gloriosa, and to set it quite differently from other composers who have made it saccharine and feeble; but then [I] gave up the idea. Lately, however, an old book fell into my hands and I chanced on the hymn “Veni creator spiritus” – and at a single stroke I saw the whole thing – not only the opening theme, but the whole first movement, and as an answer to it I could imagine nothing more beautiful than Goethe’s text in the scene with the anchorites! Formally, too, it is something quite novel – can you imagine a symphony that is, from beginning to end, sung? Hitherto I have always used words and voices simply in an explanatory way, as a short cut to creating a certain atmosphere and to express something which, purely symphonically, could only be expressed at great length, with the terseness and precision only possible by using words. Here, on the other hand, voices are also used as instruments: the first movement is strictly symphonic in form but all of it is sung. Strange, in fact, that this has never occurred to any other composer – it really is Columbus’ egg, a ‘pure’ symphony in which the most beautiful instrument in the world is given its true place – and not simply as one sonority among others, for in my symphony the human voice is after all the bearer of the whole poetic idea.”
Procession: Hodie Christus natus est – Plainsong from Vespers of the Nativity
A Child Is Born in Bethlehem – Mode I Plainsong, 14th cent. – setting by Richard Proulx (1937 – 2010)
PSALM 98 – Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)
HYMN: On This Day Earth Shall Ring – Melody from Piae Cantiones; arr. by Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
NUNC DIMITTIS: Marilyn setting – Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)
ANTHEMS: O Magnum Mysterium – Gerald Near
Away in a Manger – arr. Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)
Jeremy Matheis, director • Tyler Morse, reader • James Wilcox, cantor