Music News

Phil Mauss

Red Cedar Chamber Music is marking its 20th anniversary with a first-ever passing of the baton. The founders of this unique cultural resource, Jan Boland and John Dowdall, will retire -  but only after they searched carefully for the right successors. They eventually settled on another husband/wife team, cellist Carey Bostian and violinist Meira Kim, and happily, the Iowa City couple accepted the offer.

Iowa photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier and Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt of the Pines are working together on a new project that merge art, music and a concern for a blighted rural landscape. Wilcox Frazier says the collaboration began when the three connected on their Iowa roots.

“If you grow up as an artist or a musician, you see this rich cultural heritage in Iowa and you begin to wonder as your travel around how things became the way they are. For us, this is a longing for home,” he says.

anonymous4.com

When critics chose their favorite classical disks of 2015, they mentioned hundreds of albums at least once, several more than once, and a select few way more than that.  To get the details, my annual "mega-meta-list" tallied 67 best-of-year lists, which included over 160 writers from around the world.

copyright Marco Borggreve (jaapvanzweden.com)

If you could use an extra Wade Goodwyn fix - or just want to hear an American orchestra that is thrilling critics worldwide - join us Wednesday nights at 7 for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in concert. The orchestra's extraordinary music director, Dutchman Jaap van Zweden, kicks off the series tonight with Mahler's First Symphony (including the extra "Flowers" movement), preceded by Ravel's sparkling, soulful Piano Concerto played the noted French-Sephardic pianist Helene Grimaud. And NPR's Dallas correspondent, Wade Goodwyn, hosts the weekly broadcasts. Tune in!

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer welcomes Iowa's own hot new soul group The Maytags. 

Listen in to the podcast below to hear the group's unhurried, inconspicuous brand of soul music that is putting the genre back on the map in the Midwest. 

Today's output of classical albums is (pardon me while I scribble on the back of an envelope) something like triple what it was a generation ago.

Luther College

Our holiday offerings continue throughout Christmas Day with lovely specials from St. Olaf, the Rose Ensemble, Chanticleer, the Christmas Revels, Christmas at Luther, and a live performance of Handel's Messiah. Here's a complete list for Dec. 25th:

IPR Classical's holiday programming continues December 24th with specials that will add joy to your day.  (There's more to come on the 25th; we'll post those tomorrow.) Highlights include A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from the UK, the Spelman-Morehouse Christmas concert from Atlanta, the wfcsymphony from Cedar Falls, Amahl and the Night Visitors from Des Moines, Christmas at Luther, Doug Brown's classic reading of A Christmas Carol, and more. Here's the complete schedule:

So many exceptional classical albums came out in 2015 that reducing them to a "Top 10" came to seem counterproductive - and part of the solution was recognizing that Iowa-related classical musicians deserved a page of their own. Here it is! (The other part was to not limit myself to 10 - here's a link to what I came up with from outside of Iowa.) Below are 2015 releases by musicians who either live in Iowa or were trained here.

Every day, IPR’s sound-engineer extraordinaire Phil Maass solves knotty problems that demand thinking outside the box. So it's not surprising that when I was trying to whittle down my list of classical releases for Charity Nebbe’s year-end show, it was Phil who came up with the fix. Why, he asked, does it need to be the Top 10? Why not 15 or 17 or whatever number it comes out to? [UPDATE: I stopped at 21... see below.]

Bruno Bollaert / Flickr

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Impola and Barney Sherman to look back at some of the best things to come out of the year in folk and classical music.

"Gallen-Kallela Symposium" by Akseli Gallen-Kallela - http://www.sibelius.fi/english/kuvituskuvat/080803/symposium.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gallen-Kallela_Symposium.jpg#/media/File:Gallen-Kall

  Jean Sibelius was a father figure not only for Finnish music but for Finland's emergence as an independent nation. His music, with its references to Finnish lore and its awe at the power of nature, was considered old-fashioned by some in the mid 20th century - but today sounds especially relevant to many of our leading composer (and music lovers!).

Barney Sherman

Violinist Sarah Plum won a gold medal at the International Stulberg Competion (other medalists have included Joshua Bell and Jennifer Koh) and went on to become a great violinist - but less renowned than she deserves to be, because she usually focuses on new music, including a CD this year of two concertos composed for her.  But she also can play Vivaldi and Beethoven like a god, as she's de

www.sundaybaroque.org

Sunday, Suzanne Bona - host of Sunday Baroque - will join Barney Sherman on IPR Classical for a year-end pledge special. Suzanne will be heard as usual from 8AM; Barney will take over at 11; then the two of them join together from noon-2PM. (Barney will remain until 4pm). And from 11Am to 4PM, a special thank-you gift will be available at a reduced price: Stile Antico's beautiful new "Wondrous Mystery" CD.

There’s been a lot of great music released this year, and on this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Public Radio Studio One Tracks hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner about the best new independent and alternative albums of 2015. Then, we get an update about the best in new blues from Bob Dorr, who hosts Blue Avenue, Backtracks and Beatles Medley and is leader of The Blue Band.  

Mark Simmet’s list of best new tracks in 2015

George Kobreek at nicholasrothmusic.com

Nicholas Roth - a professor of piano at Drake and a renowned recording artist - is performing Monday at 7:30PM at Sheslow Auditorium in Des Moines. You should definitely take the opportunity to hear this Yamaha Artist live! Meanwhile, you can hear his recent interview with Barney Sherman (and some samples of his playing) by clicking on the arrow below. The Monday-night recital is part of Drake's "Keys to Excellence" series; be there if you're nearby, but meanwhile, tune in to sample Roth's art!

facebook.com/drjohn

I'll be hosting the Saturday, Oct. 31st edition of Studio One Tracks.  Selecting music for the Halloween show is always a delight, and I think I've come up with a great playlist this year.  It's Studio One, so our approach is not to go in the direction of kitsch and novelty (not that there's anything wrong with that), but rather to present a typical mix of great music- with songs from the latest releases as well as favorites from the past.  For this show, the songs on my playlist all have some connection with Halloween.  Tune in Saturday night 7-10 pm!

gurfmorlix.com

The name "Gurf Morlix" is memorable, and if you've ever listened to alt-country ( a term frequently used to describe a certain type of roots-based singer/songwriter music, often emanating from Austin, Texas) you have probably come across that name.  Morlix began his career in music as a producer for some of the major figures in alt-country.  Only later did he begin to record his own songs.  His new record is Eatin' At Me, and I recently had the pleasure of talking with Gurf about that and much more.

sarahplum.org

Two renowned musicians - violinist Sarah Plum of Drake and pianist Francine Kay of Princeton - are giving a series of concerts in Iowa this week. You can hear them live in Des Moines Wednesday at noon at St. John's Lutheran Church and at 7:30 at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake - but you can get a live preview at 1 PM on IPR! Barney will host them live, as they perform Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 10 and Bartok's Violin Sonata no. 2.

Great news: Curt Snook's The Choral Tradition and Michael Barone's Pipedreams will return to our airwaves on Sunday, November 1st! Curt retired on June 30th (after three decades) and has been enjoying some time off - but we're delighted that he'll again be sharing his extraordinary knowledge and love of choral music with our state.

Dylan Sires and Neighbors

It's that time again! We're heading back to the Des Moines Social Club on Thursday, November 5th. After doing a couple of upstairs shows, we're going back underground to our natural habitat, the Basement. IPR's Mark Simmet will be spinning your daily soundtrack right by the stage, and we'll be joined by the Cedar Valley's Dylan Sires and Neighbors, one of the hottest bands in Iowa right now. They've had a busy year, touring Japan and performing at the Gentlemen Of The Road stopover in Waverly, all while continuing to play across the state and recording their third album.

© Peter Serling

 The LA Philharmonic concert broadcasts return to IPR Wednesdays at 7PM -  and the first concert features a Pulitzer-winning composer trained in Iowa! David Lang won that Pulitzer (and a Grammy) for his incredibly moving little matchgirl passion, and has also been Musical America's Musician of the Year. along with other honors. But before all that, he came to Iowa to study composition at the University of Iowa. He  says "I was happy I did. It was really a kind of golden age. I really loved it." 

  The 2015 Black Hawk Chamber Music Festival culminates Monday night at 7:30 with a Renaissance / Baroque concert at Iowa City's Congregational United Church of Christ. Last Thursday, the soloists - flutist Jeffrey Cohan and plucked-string master Oleg Timofeyev - came into our Iowa City studio t0 give Iowa a live preview. They were interviewed by Barney, who hosted from Cedar Falls. (Listen by clicking the arrow below!)

facebook.com/juliechristensenmusic

If you've listened to songs from the great Leonard Cohen album The Future, you've heard Iowa native Julie Christensen's wonderful vocal contributions on that record.  She also toured with Cohen, and can be heard on live Leonard Cohen recordings of that era.  Or maybe you recall Divine Horsemen, the post-punk/Americana-leaning rock band that Christensen co-fronted (with Chris D.) in the 1980's.  Perhaps you've heard Christensen's solo albums or her current band Stone Cupid.  Join me on Studio One Tracks on Monday, Oct.

Jim Poynter

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR (Barney Sherman): Hebrew was in ancient times a living language. Then, like Latin, it “died” – it ceased to be a native tongue for everyday speech, and was instead used only in liturgy, scholarship, and literature. But in the 20th century it was brought back to life as a daily language. The revival of spoken Hebrew had no precedent and has been challenging to duplicate. Would a similar revival be just as unlikely, then, in music?

http://brucebrubaker.com/biography/

Pianist Bruce Brubaker, born and raised in Des Moines, is  one of today's most admired pianists - and a renowned collaborator with such major composers as John Cage, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk. Bruce is in Iowa this week to work with some other major Iowan musicians in a SummerMusic concert centered on Terry Riley.

facebook.com/AmasaHines

The next Studio One Tracks live broadcast from the Des Moines Social Club is coming up this Thursday, Oct. 1, beginning at 7:00 pm.  We will be featuring a live performance from Amasa Hines, a six-piece band from Little Rock that has been creating a buzz not only in their home state of Arkansas, but nationwide.  You may have caught their excellent set at the 80/35 Festival this past July.  Amasa Hines will be back in Des Moines to play the Kum & Go Theatre at the Des Moines Social Club for this ticketed event.  

Marco Borggreve

Join us on Wednesdays at 7PM to hear concerts from the latest Salzburg Festival. Mozart's hometown focuses, naturally, on the music of its great native son, though in coming weeks we'll also hear other great Austrians, but for the opener, it's all Mozart - and what a program! It begins with the ballet from one of his great operas, Idomeneo; then comes what some people regard as his greatest piano concerto, No. 17 in G major (it's almost an opera for instruments).

facebook.com/pages/the-Mountain-Goats

As I've been preparing for our Studio One Tracks live broadcast of The Mountain Goats this Saturday night (Sept. 12, beginning at 7:00 pm with opening act Kate Kennedy), I've come across many surprisingly varied ways that other writers have described John Darnielle's voice.  One of my favorites is from a Paste magazine scribe who wrote that The Mountain Goats' songs are "steadfastly proclaimed in (Darnielle's) geek who-lived-to-tell wail."  The writer liked  the singer's  voice, and so do I.

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