Gigi Yellen

Classical Music Host

Seattle has been Gigi Yellen’s home since 1986. Grateful for the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty, she appreciates the contrast between this climate and that of her native Houston, Texas! At Wellesley College, she acquired a good ear for iambic pentameter (thanks to an emphasis on jazz rhythms by her freshman English teacher, America’s future poet laureate, Robert Pinsky) and a passion for music history. As a graduate student in Spanish at Rice University, her work at campus station KTRU led her to become the first female announcer on Houston’s classical music station, then known as KLEF.

Gigi has interviewed, hosted, and written about classical music for radio stations from coast to coast. In Washington DC, she produced arts features for NPR. In Seattle, she hosted evenings on KING FM. Gigi’s music-related writing appears in print and online, most recently for ParentMap. She is a lifelong learner of ancient texts, a long-distance grandma, the spouse of a UW professor, and the mother of two faraway sons who consider Seattle home.  She credits her music literacy to a great public elementary school music program.


Seymour: An Introduction
5:44 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Seymour Bernstein: Music Makes You Able to Listen to Other People

Seymour Bernstein and Ethan Hawke in Hawke’s Seymour: An Introduction.
Credit Ramsey Fendall / Risk Love LLC

When actor-director Ethan Hawke (star of Boyhood) found himself seated next to a classical pianist named Seymour Bernstein at a dinner party, stage fright was what they found they had in common. Bernstein had handled his decades ago, by walking away from the glitter and fame of a concert career in favor of a teaching career and a solitary life. Hawke, in his directorial debut, profiles his new friend in a labor of love, the tender documentary film Seymour: An Introduction.

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Beethoven's Fur Elise
12:54 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Breathing New Life Into Fur Elise

A painting of Ludwig van Beethoven.

One of our favorite NPR shows plus Beethoven's famous little piano piece adds up to a must-listen moment!

From Fresh Air with Terry Gross (weekdays at 2 on our News Service; Sundays at 5 on our Classical Music Service): the show's music critic delights in a 1932 performance of Fur Elise, revived by a company called Pristine Audio.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:11 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O'Riley Take The Tiny Desk

Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O'Riley performing for Tiny Desk Concerts.
Credit NPR /

The host of your Sunday noontime show "From the Top," pianist Christopher O'Riley, and cellist Matt Haimovitz visit the cozy NPR home of Tiny Desk Concerts. Tucked into a casual office corner, backed by shelves of books and trinkets, reading the music off their tablets, they offer up some Beethoven and Philip Glass and Leo

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Guitar Music
8:59 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Tiny Desk Concert Showcases A Guitar Quartet

A screenshot of the Dublin Guitar Quartet's Tiny Desk Concert at NPR.
Credit Tiny Desk Concerts / NPR

We know you love guitar music. From Classical Guitar Alive (Sunday mornings at 9), to Inland Folk (Saturdays, 11am-2pm), to the guitar solos and concertos our classical music hosts bring you throughout the days and evenings, Northwest Public Radio listeners warm to this ageless, genre-spanning instrument.

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8:20 am
Fri February 27, 2015

The Power Of Storytelling

The Dallas Street Choir dressed in one of their performing outfits.
Credit Mark Mullaney.

What stories do you tell? What stories could you be telling? On the occasion of National Public Radio's 45th birthday--celebrated this week--let's honor the power of storytelling. What stories could you tell about how music has affected your life?

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Compose 20:20
8:10 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Chinese Conductor Takes His Music West

Chinese conductor Long Yu
Credit P.A.D Studio/Courtesy of the artist

"Are you hearing me?" A conductor in China asks that question, and it will echo back across the ocean in 5 years of concerts. 40 new compositions. High profile performers. Yes, including that globe-spanning cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma, but not just.

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Classical Love Story
10:41 am
Fri February 13, 2015

A Real Classical Love Story: Clara and Robert

Picture of a young Clara Schumann.
Credit Wikimedia Commons /

A little girl’s crush: you could say it all started like that, when she was a brilliant 9-year-old concert pianist, and he was her music-educator father’s brilliant 18 year old protégé. But little girls grow up. Right after her sixteenth birthday, he writes in his diary: “Clara’s eyes and her love…the first kiss…” and she writes in a letter to him: “When you gave me that first kiss, I thought I would faint; everything went blank and I could barely hold the lamp that was lighting your way out.”

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Deborah Voigt
6:56 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Deborah Voigt On Opera, Theater, And Body Image

Deborah Voigt performing "Annie Get Your Gun" in 2011.
Credit CSUF Photos / Flickr

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Music + Culture
10:23 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Classical Composer (And Satirist) P.D.Q. Bach Will Entertain In Ellensburg

Anything but delicate, Peter Schickele will turn 80 this year.
Credit Peter Schickele /

What’s your favorite P.D.Q. Bach bit? How about two sports announcers doing a play-by-play “broadcast” of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony? Or the “Fanfare for the Common Cold?” How about wondering what kind of person can create such comedy mayhem, and then turn around and compose a sublime string quartet?

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Music + Culture
9:54 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Do Billboard Magazine Lists Matter? Yes, If You’re Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers holding the Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin.
Credit Molina Visuals

She’s played in person at the Orcas Island and Seattle Chamber Music Society festivals, but it’s the audiences beyond the concert hall who put violinist Anne Akiko

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