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NWPR

 Symphony season is coming to a close and summertime is on its way!  That means it’s time for the many fantastic summer classical music festivals here in the Northwest, where regional, national and international stars perform in some spectacular venues, both indoors and out.

·        The Walla Walla Chamber Music Festivals brings regional, national and international stars to the city to perform at vineyards, museums, churches, theaters and other intimate venues throughout June.

Arvo Pärt is one of the few living composers to find popularity beyond the borders of classical music. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Bjork are big fans.

Though New York City-based Gabriel Kahane wasn't raised there, The Ambassador feels like a musical tour of Los Angeles. The album makes 10 stops in the city where the composer and singer-songwriter was born and only came to appreciate later in life, each with a specific address used as the song title.

Jenni Chaffin photograph with Sueann Ramella graphics

Summer is a time of sunshine, blue skies and green lawns; better weather and easy days. Each summer seems to have its own soundtrack, songs you discover or rediscover that capture the very essence of summer. Northwest Public Radio’s hosts are no strangers to these summer tracks and they want to share their favorites with you! So, without further ado, here are some of NWPR’s favorite classic and current summer hits.

Jessie Jacobs, Classical Music Host

Old-time favorite: George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F

Star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gave the 2014 commencement address at Juilliard Friday — and it's a memorable one, both for her words and by DiDonato's own example as someone whose own career began under low heat.

Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.

"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."

That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.

Growing up as a violinist, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto ranked among my top 10 Holy Grail pieces. As I got older, I moved on to his Octet and Piano Trio in D minor, which became two of my favorite chamber works. There's almost nothing comparable to playing Mendelssohn's Octet with seven great string players. It's absolutely thrilling, energetic, virtuosic, youthful, fun and challenging. And to think that Mendelssohn wrote it when he was just 16.

Today at the Cannes Film Festival, attendees marked the 50th anniversary of the spaghetti western at a special screening of A Fistful of Dollars, the Sergio Leone classic that kick-started the genre. Leone's vision of the American West remains singular — and it's impossible to imagine without the iconic music of Ennio Morricone.

Katie Burk / NPR

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! will say goodbye to Carl Kasell on May 17th. He will no longer be the show's official scorekeeper, but will continue to record voice mail greetings for show winners. And those lucky winners will experience the giddy feeling of hearing Carl Kasell say their name.

In 1986, four women gathered in a casual setting to sing through a bit of medieval chant. Little did they know they were launching Anonymous 4, an a cappella ensemble that has spanned nearly 30 years, 20 albums, countless concerts and more than a millenium of music.

Today the group announced that the 2015-16 season will be its last together. But this isn't the first time Anonymous 4 has thought about calling it quits. The group bid a similar farewell in 2004.

Melanie Burford / NPR Music

The Seattle Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, May 6, with John Luther Adams' prize-winning piece Become Ocean headlining a concert devoted to sea and sand that includes Debussy's La mer and an Edgard Varèse piece inspired by the New Mexico desert.

You can listen to the entire concert right here on NWPR.org, just click here!

BBC

The BBC reported that a lost Mendelssohn composition was recently rediscovered. The composition, which was commissioned privately, is a simple piece – and was never intended for public performance. In fact, Mendelssohn asked that it not be circulated. For the first time in more than a century and a half, the piece received a live performance, which you can see on the BBC's website.

It's not easy being a mom, but it's even tougher for mothers in opera. So often they're completely absent while fathers have leading roles in shows like Rigoletto, La traviata, The Flying Dutchman. When depicted at all, operatic moms are usually under supreme stress. They can be murderous, manipulative or simply mad. Only rarely are they the loving moms who brought us into the world. Here your job is to identify the operas and their mothers. Score high and brag to your own sweet (or stressed) mom. Score low and go to your room without supper.

Twenty-nine gentle measures by Felix Mendelssohn are creating quite a stir — after being lost for more than a century.

From The Top’s Teen Musicians Thrill NWPR Audience

May 5, 2014
From The Top

“His hands were moving so fast, all I could see was a blur,” said Judy of 15-year old pianist Derek Wang of Needham, Massachusetts. And Richard, speaking of 15-year old cellist Jeremy Tai’s arrangement of a piece for his cello quartet, declared it “absolutely brilliant!”

In much of the country it still feels like summer is a long way off, but it's not too early to plan on hitting the road and hearing great music. From bucolic college campuses in New England to musical rafting trips down the Colorado, these are 10 of the most intriguing classical festivals. And below them is a listing, by region, of many of the best fests. Been to one we missed? Pass along your own advice in the comments section or via Facebook or Twitter.

Coming Soon To Colorado: Wolfgang And Weed

Apr 30, 2014

Colorado Symphony patrons — if they aren't already — are about to have the option of being Rocky Mountain high.

Born in Kiev a little more than 40 years ago, Valentina Lisitsa came to America in the early '90s to work as a concert pianist.

Soviet composer Vadim Salmanov is little more than a footnote outside Russia, but his four energetic, skillfully orchestrated symphonies are making a small comeback. Russia's venerable Melodiya label has reissued them in a handsomely packaged double-disc set of live recordings made between 1957 and 1977.

Conducted with burning intensity by Yevgeny Mravinsky, Salmanov's rarely heard music soars off these albums with a sound that is thoroughly Russian yet charged with a certain Soviet-era anxiety.

Jordi Savall has made a career of reviving ancient music. Whatever the age of the songs, though, he doesn't play them as museum-piece recreations, preserved in isolation. Savall takes great pleasure in smashing together music from different times and different cultures.

A German quartet calling themselves the Salut Salon is surging in social media right now with a bout of one-upwomanship that mixes together music, acrobatics and some good slapstick timing.

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his St. Matthew Passion for a single purpose — to present the Passion story in music at Good Friday vesper services.

Bach's Passion continues to move audiences nearly three centuries after it was first heard in St. Thomas's Church in Leipzig, Germany. Standing as one of the pillars of Western sacred music, it is at once monumental and intimate, deeply sorrowful and powerful.

John Luther Adams, whose music is inspired by — and sometimes performed in — natural landscapes, has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his symphonic work Become Ocean.

A Debut Symphony That Embraced The World

Apr 12, 2014

Conducting Gustav Mahler's First Symphony is an exhilarating and demanding task. Although it's one of his shortest symphonies (at about 55 minutes), it is an epic journey that requires countless hours of analysis and examination of the score. Still, it is a thrilling process to peel back and reassemble the many layers of Mahler's music.

Seventy-five years ago, on April 9, 1939, as Hitler's troops advanced in Europe and the Depression took its toll in the U.S., one of the most important musical events of the 20th century took place on the National Mall in Washington. There, just two performers, a singer and a pianist, made musical — and social — history.

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