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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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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Northwest News
12:04 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Finding a Voice: Choral Singing Groups for Seattle-Area Kids

Credit Northwest Boychoir

Republished from ParentMap.

 

Confidence, focus, a dedication to hard work, even empowerment: Participating in a singing group can helps kids grow in multiple ways.

My first choral experience wasn’t until middle school,” says Kelly Mechling, who grew up to become the choir teacher at Tyee Middle School in the Bellevue School District.

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Music + Culture
12:04 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

What Do Salmon Ladders and Opera Have in Common? Thomas Hampson Explains

Thomas Hampson argues that opera is still applicable. He is in Salzburg Festival this month as Rodrigo in the production of Don Carlo.
Credit Dario Acosta

You don’t have to have roots in Walla Walla to become the world’s favorite defender of the art form known as opera, but the Grammy-winning opera star Thomas Hampson does, and he knows how to use them. In a surprisingly buzzworthy confrontation on a BBC show called Hardtalk, Hampson (raised in Spokane; studied at Eastern Washington; endowed a scholarship at Walla Walla U.) faced down a hostile interviewer’s accusation that opera is only for elitist rich people.

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Vaughan Williams and Ezra Meeker
9:36 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Ezra Meeker, Ralph Vaughan Williams, And Beer: Historic Homes. Historic Hops

Leith Hill Place, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s family home in Surrey, England, just opened to the public this summer.
Credit British National Trust

Perhaps you’re enjoying a cold Northwest craft brew on an August evening and listening to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose sweet orchestral sounds often keep you company on Northwest Public Radio.

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