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.

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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 / http://www.schickele.com/index.htm

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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Music + Culture
8:57 am
Mon December 15, 2014

The Sound of Hanukkah

Isaac Azose, Seattle Sephardic music maestro, with NEA National Heritage Fellow Flory Jagoda, composer of “Ocho Kandelikas.”
Credit Gigi Yellen

Christmas carols, they’re not. But for Hanukkah, the music and storytelling on the NWPR special programs for that holiday have become public radio traditions, even as concert music for Hanukkah remains, in a way, a chestnut still on the tree.

Firmly fixed on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (so its Gregorian calendar dates vary) Hanukkah shares the season of joy with classical-music-rich Christmas, but its traditional music remains closer to folk than to classical. Why?

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Classical Comedy
7:19 am
Thu December 11, 2014

"Classical Style" Proves Classical Music Can Be Funny, Too

Zankel Hall, where "The Classical Style" was performed.
Credit Jeff Goldberg / Esto

Share a good laugh when you read this New York Times review of a cheeky little piece of musical-insider comedy, “The Classical Style,” that played last week at Carnegie Hall. In heaven, Beethoven grumbles, Haydn complains, Mozart rages about the movie Amadeus and demands a cut of the box office. And, of course, Dominant is always followed around by Tonic, a joke for the music theorists in the audience.

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Shakespeare Music
7:33 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Royal Shakespeare Company Opens Its Music Vault

The Royal Shakespeare Company is releasing albums of the music commissioned for its productions of many of the plays. Pictured the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's works.
Credit Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images

"Classics only become classics after a length of time. ... That's the beauty of it. And when people are listening to Michael Bruce's version in, say, a hundred years time, I wonder what they will think of that."

What’s the right music for a Shakespeare play? Depends on what century you’re in. In the 400 years since the plays were new, generations of composers have set their musical styles onto Shakespeare’s scripts.

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Improvisation Science
7:32 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Inside Bach's Brain: Your Frontal Lobe And Your Music

Seattle Symphony Pulitzer
9:54 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Prize Winning Northwest Composition 'Become Ocean' Released Today

John Luther Adams' new album, Become Ocean, comes out Sept. 30.
Credit Molly Sheridan/Courtesy of the artist

Where the Pacific NW, environmental stewardship and classical music meet: the new release from Seattle Symphony. "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Seattle Symphony commissioned & premiered it. Adams is based in Alaska. In addition to his prolific composing career, he's active in environmental work.

Here's what he told NPR's Tom Huizinga about "Become Ocean":

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Beethoven's Last Concert
7:11 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Beethoven's Bizarre Finale

An 1820 portrait of Beethoven, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler.

A 44-year-old man known as a phenomenal pianist played a disappointing concert that would be his last public performance at the keyboard. Ludwig van Beethoven’s hearing loss had finally overtaken his celebrated concert career, but even before then, his mind was hardly at ease.

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Golan Copyright Lawsuit
4:44 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Yakima Symphony's Director Could Change Copyright Law

For 10 years, conductor Lawrence Golan has been quietly waging a legal campaign to overturn a statute which makes it impossibly expensive for smaller orchestras to play certain pieces of music.
Credit Greg Rizzo / lawrencegolan.com

Imagine a piece of music feels so important to you that you just have to share it. And you’re in a position not only to share it with your fellow musicians, but also to perform it for the audiences who look to you for just this sort of inspiration. Now imagine that you can't share it after all. Why? Because it would cost you more to program that music than your small regional or university orchestra could possibly afford.

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