Every weekday at 10:30am I play what I call a “guitar pick.” It’s a work featuring the guitar. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. On Monday I presented a performance of what it widely considered the international anthem of guitarists – Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra) by Francisco Tarrega. Composed in 1896, Tarrega made generous use of the picking effect known as “tremolo” throughout the piece. While the thumb picks the bass line, the other digits on the picking hand quickly alternate on the melody. Novice listeners to the piece often conclude that the work is being played by two guitarists. This composition holds a special place in my heart as it was part of the opening music to our wedding, which was played expertly by Louisville guitarist Dale Grider.

Other guitar picks from this week were:

Francisco Tarraga – Recuerdos de la Alhambra – Valerie Hartzell
JS Bach – Partita BWV 1002 – Michael Long
Maurice Ravel – Pavane – Julian Bream and John Williams
Federico Moreno Torroba – Sonatina – Eduardo Fernandez
Giuseppe Torelli – Concerto for guitar and violin – Karl Scheit, guitar

My ukulele pick this week is a cover by Eva Walsh, of a Black Eyed Peas song. Trust me.

Neil Rao: Where is He Now?

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Classical 90.5’s Young Artist Competition showcases our region’s top musical talent. Every fall kids ages 8-18 compete for a spot in our live on-air studio recital.

But where do our winners go from there?

I caught up with our 2010 Young Artist Competition Winner Neil Rao, a percussionist and marimbist who recently played Carnegie Hall with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

Neil talked about the the weightiness of playing in Carnegie Hall, the work it took to get there, and gave advice to young musicians who are trying to make it in the music world.

He said it really boils down to three things: practicing, people skills, and your motivation- really having a cultivated reason for why you are a musician.

And why is Neil a musician?

“I’m a musician because I love spreading the joy that comes across people’s faces and comes across people’s hearts when they hear these wild sounds from every single spectrum of emotion you can have.”

Listen to Neil’s story and watch him playing his original composition below:

Audio: Kentucky Opera Showboat Preview


Recorded live on February 3, 2016 at Classical 90.5/Louisville Public Media. Due to a technical malfunction, the final 10 minutes of the preview is not available.

Four for Andalucia


Every weekday morning at 10:30 I present the “Guitar Pick,” a musical selection that features the guitar in some form or fashion. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. On Friday’s show I played Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz, scored for 4 guitars and orchestra. The family of guitarists collectively called “Los Romeros” hail from Andalucia, Spain. Through the years, Rodrigo and the Romeros forged a tight partnership. One of the results of this partnership was this work, named after the Romeros’ home town. The compositions display the styles of Buleria, Zapateado and Sevillana dances. And it’s a lot of fun!

Other guitar picks this week:

J N Hummel – Grand Serenade No. 1 – Consortium Classicum
JS Bach – Suite for lute, BWV 1006a – Sharon Isbin
Enrique Granados – Spanish Dances – Folkwang Guitarren Duo
Georg Philipp Telemann – Bourée alla Polacca – John Williams and Friends

My ukulele pick today comes from the amazing Jake Shimabukuro. He once promised to create a ukulele version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. He later said he regretted saying that! But he finally did it and spectacularly so!

Interview: From the Top’s Christopher O’Riley

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Christopher O’Riley is the host of NPR’s From the Top, heard Sundays at 6pm. While in town for a live taping at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, O’Riley talked with Daniel Gilliam about the level of talent on the show, how the performers are ambassadors for music, and his own recording projects.