A Flamenco-styled Concerto

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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. Thursday’s pick was by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. Rodrigo lost his eyesight due to illness when he was three years old. He began learning music and instruments (piano and violin) when he was eight. He composed mostly for piano, but a work he wrote for guitar and orchestra in 1939, Concierto de Aranjuez, with its famous 2nd movement was to establish him in the public eye as a composer for the guitar. That work’s sucess led to other commissions for guitar – or guitars – with orchestra. Concierto Malaga is influenced by the sounds of flamenco music. Rodrigo’s work with the Romeros would continue including works for 2- and 4 guitars with orchestra.

Manuel de Falla – Miller’s Dance – Eduardo Fernandez, guitar
Anonymous – Romance – William Gomez, guitar
Joaquin Rodrigo – Conceirto Malaga – Pepe Romero, guitar
Manuel Ponce – 3 Popular Mexican Songs – Adam Holman, guitar

My ukulele pick is a Song for Everybody by my friend – a Nashville-base songwriter – named Matt Lindahl.

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:

Vivaldi on Guitar

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Every weekday morning at 10:30 Alan Brandt presents 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 Monday, Alan played a concerto by Antonio Vivaldi that has seen several different arrangements, including this arrangement for four guitars.

The Concerto, RV 580 by Vivaldi was originally written for 4 violins and orchestra. It was part of a published set under the opus number 3. The 12 concerti were collectively called L’Estro armonico or “The Harmonic Fancy” by its publisher. Johann Sebastian Bach, who met Vivaldi at one point, liked the concerto so much he transcribed it for 4 harpsichords and orchestra.

This recording doesn’t state who transcribed the work for 4 guitars, but it’s a good bet it was done by one of the family members of Los Romeros.

Other guitar picks this week:

JS Bach – Italian Concerto – Amadeus Guitar Duo
John Johnson – Pavan and Galliard – Bream and Williams
Joaquin Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez – Milos
Fernando Sor – Rustic Fantasia, Op. 52 – Adam Holzman

And since I’m a ukulele aficionado, let’s leave you with this performance by the late, great John King.

Interview: Kaaija Saariaho

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(Photo credit: Priska Ketterer)

Kaaija Saariaho’s music is entrancing – sometimes disorienting. It’s lyrical and colorful. It often combines intricate textures with electronic elements, that can be delicate and ethereal or just loud and thick. Performances of her music have been steadily growing throughout the United States since the early 2000s, and earlier this year the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with Gustavo Dudamel and baritone Gerald Finley, commissioned and premiered her song cycle “True Fire.” In March of 2016 the Dutch National Opera will premiere her next opera “Only the Sound Remains.”

Saariaho’s work earned the admiration from audiences and critics, and she’s been the recipient of major prizes including the Polar Music Prize in 2013, the Nemmers Prize in 2011, and in 2003 the Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition for her opera “L’amour de loin,” an opera Anthony Tomassini of the New York Times named best new work of 2000. She is in Louisville as a guest for the 30th Anniversary of the Grawemeyer Award and sat down with Daniel Gilliam to talk about her career and music.


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Featured Album: Anne Akiko Meyers’ Serenade

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(Photo:VANESSA BRICEÑO-SCHERZER / CHRISTIE STOCKSTILL)

Awarded Billboard’s 2014 top-selling classical instrumentalist, Anne Akiko Meyers‘ latest recording, Serenade: The Love Album, drastically contrasts with most of her other recordings. Serenade: The Love Album showcases not only her virtuosic violin playing, but her love of modern and cinematic music. Executive produced by Meyers herself, the album also features the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Keith Lockhart.

The album begins with Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, a five-movement piece based upon the Plato’s Symposium. This piece sets a tone for the rest of the album, what Ms. Meyer’s considers to be a tribute to her parents 50th wedding anniversary. Rather than choosing pre-existing arrangements for violin and orchestra to complete the album, Ms. Meyers herself commissioned seven arrangers to arrange the rest of the album’s music. The other ten arrangements are world premieres and and beautifully carry the message of love. The highlights from the rest of the album include George Gershwin’s Summertime and Wish Upon A Star composed by Leigh Harline.

You can receive a copy of her new album when you contribute $15 or more during our Fall Membership Drive, October 12-17, 2015. Call (502) 814-6565 or give online.