For immediate release
December 21, 1998


NPR's Performance Today® To Present
Milestones of The Millennium Series
with Companion Recordings from Sony Classical



Washington, DC -- National Public Radio® (NPR®) and Sony Classical have joined forces in a project called Milestones of the Millennium, a two-year series of radio essays on NPR's Performance Today® accompanied by Sony's release of historic recordings highlighting the development of music over the past 1000 years. The series will air once a week on the award-winning, daily classical music magazine NPR's Performance Today beginning on Friday, New Year's Day, 1999. The first of the corresponding Milestones of the Millennium recordings on Sony Classical will be in stores on Tuesday, January 12th.

Drawing on a wide range of concert and commercial recordings, NPR's Milestones of the Millennium series will create a picture in sound of the pivotal events, places, movements, artists and musical works of the past 1000 years. Commentators will include the award-winning biographer Jan Swafford, writer Thomas Kelly and biographer Harlow Robinson. Each Sony Classical compact disc will contain musical choices inspired by the series, with liner notes written by the NPR commentators.

"We were delighted when Sony Classical approached us with this idea – it was the perfect complement to plans we'd been developing for a millennium series on NPR's Performance Today," said Murray Horwitz, Vice President of Cultural Programming at NPR. "Sony's companion CDs, which build upon our broadcasts and independent artistic judgment, will remain as a lasting representation of the series and convey the same editorial and artistic sensibilities that distinguish NPR's Performance Today and NPR."

"We are very pleased to be working together with NPR, and Milestones of the Millennium will also bring some of Sony Classical's rich archive of recorded music to NPR's loyal audience of listeners from across the country," commented Sony Classical President Peter Gelb.

The New Year's Day essay on NPR's Performance Today, entitled "Johann Sebastian Bach: The Brook and the Wellspring," will feature commentary by Jan Swafford. Using the metaphor suggested by the composer's name ("Bach" is German for "brook"), Swafford explains how Bach emerged from a family of musicians to become perhaps the greatest master and innovator of all time. Sony Classical's companion disc will include excerpts from the Brandenburg Concertos, the "Goldberg" Variations, The Well-Tempered Clavier, The St. John Passion and The Mass in B Minor from legendary performers such as pianist Glenn Gould, violinist Hilary Hahn, harpsichordist Igor Kipnis, organist E. Power Biggs, the ensemble Tafelmusik and conductor Carlo Maria Giulini.

Other upcoming radio essays and companion recordings include:

· "Great Film Music," airing on NPR's Performance Today on Wednesday, January 6th, shows the development of original music for motion pictures, from the silent era to the present. Film music scholar and critic Royal S. Brown is the commentator. The Sony recording features music from The Adventures of Robin Hood, Alexander Nevsky, Laura, Captain From Castile, The Red Pony, A Place in the Sun, High Noon, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben Hur, Vertigo, Psycho, 8 ½, The Lion in Winter, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Dances With Wolves and Titanic.

· "Chants: Hymns and Sequences," airing on NPR's Performance Today on Wednesday, January 20th, explores Gregorian chant. The Rev. J.F. Weber, an active Catholic priest and expert on liturgical music, will discuss the music of the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church, which formed the bedrock of Western classical music. The Sony recording features examples of chant in its many uses in the liturgy, recorded by the Capella Antiqua München and Niederaltaicher Scholaren, led by Konrad Ruhland.

· "The Great War," airing on NPR's Performance Today on Wednesday, January 27th, examines classical and popular music before, during and after World War I, an era that profoundly altered the course of Western civilization and culture. Commentator Linda Kobler connects historical events to the revolution in music that occurred at the same time. The Sony recording samples works by Elgar, Strauss, Mahler, Debussy, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Ravel, Schoenberg, Berg and Copland, as well as popular music by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, George M. Cohan and other songwriters of the day.

· Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with commentary by Thomas Kelly, airs on NPR's Performance Today on Wednesday, February 3rd. Kelly, a member of the music faculty at Harvard University, uses research for his forthcoming book First Nights to take us back to the day in 1824 when Beethoven stood on stage, deaf, preparing for the premiere of the work that would become his greatest masterpiece. The Sony companion recording will feature a complete performance of the symphony--the classic 1963 Cleveland Orchestra recording, led by George Szell, with soloists Adele Addison, Jane Hobson, Richard Lewis and Donald Bell and the Cleveland Orchestra Choir, prepared by Robert Shaw.

· Masters of the Renaissance, presented by early music scholar David Fallows, airs on NPR's Performance Today on Wednesday, February 17th. It explores the pivotal age in which music became a formal art, with sophisticated techniques and increasingly complex structures. The Sony recording includes excerpts from instrumental and vocal works by Dufay, Dunstable, Perusio, Tallis, Josquin, Pipelare, Festa, Gombert, Muldarra and others.

Future Milestones of the Millennium topics include Franz Joseph Haydn, the influence of jazz on classical music, nationalism, and pre-Revolutionary Russia, with companion recordings scheduled for release in April, 1999.

Hosted by Martin Goldsmith, NPR's Performance Today is NPR's daily classical music magazine, reaching 1.5 million listeners across the U.S. with the latest concert performances from around the country, plus news and commentary. The program airs seven days a week, two hours a day, on more than 225 NPR stations.

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and providing standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, NPR serves a growing audience of 13.5 million Americans each week on 604 member stations. NPR also distributes programs to radio, satellite and cable listeners in Europe, Asia and Africa via NPR Worldwide, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network, and throughout Japan via the USEN 440 cable service.