Classical Classroom

Classical Classroom

From Houston Public Media Classical 91.7

Classical 91.7 Music Librarian Dacia Clay has a secret: she doesn't know anything about classical music! But, she's willing to learn, and the music experts at Classical 91.7 are here to help.More from Classical Classroom »

Most Recent Episodes

Classical Classroom, Ep 125: The Actualization Of Beethoven, With Simone Gragmalia

We could just as easily have called this episode, Growing Up Beethoven, or Build-A-Beethoven, or Beethoven: From Boy to Boss, but "actualization" is more accurate. As violist Simone Gramaglia of Quartetto di Cremona explains, like any artist we study in hindsight, Beethoven's creative development has distinct, identifiable periods. Unlike other artists, as he evolved, Beethoven moved increasingly away from rules and conventions, and into something transcendent: a full expression of his own unique creative vision. What I'm trying to say is that Beethoven had a lot in common with Prince. All music in this episode from Quartetto di Cremona's Beethoven: Complete String Quartets, including:String quartets Op. 16, 95, and 132Audio production by Todd "La Dolce Todda" Hulslander with Vespa riding by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.

Classical Classroom, Ep 46: Todd Reynolds Defines "Classical Music" – Sorta

Today - that is April 18th 2016 - much of our fair city of Houston is underwater. There was a big scary flood, the power's out, the roads are lakes, and we, the Classical Classroom team, literally can't get to the station to access the files we need to post our new episode. We tried to cobble together an ark, but it turns out that's a whole thing. However! Through sheer grit, determination and the power of the human spirit to use computers, we have unearthed this episode with Todd Reynolds, which we think - nay! - we know you will enjoy. Also, on a serious note, our city is in bad shape and a lot of folks are going to need some help after the floodwaters subside. If you can help, visit the Texas Red Cross Gulf Coast Region website and make a donation. That's also a good place to go if you are in need of help.-----------------------------What do we mean when we say "classical music"? Sure, sure: it refers to a period of music, like "Baroque" or "Romantic". But we largely use the word as a sort of generic brand-name for a specific variety of sound. In this episode of Classical Classroom, genre-ignoring violinist Todd Reynolds attempts to define classical music. Does he succeed? Does he give up and just start talking about Prince instead? Maybe and maybe! Listen to this episode to find out. Audio production by Todd "Timbalander" Hulslander with at least 3 really good suggestions from Dacia Clay. Music in this episode:Third Construction by John CageComposition for Four Instruments by Milton Babbitt"Pulses" from Music for 18 Musicians by Steve ReichSymphony No. 41 (the "Jupiter Symphony"), Molto Allegro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart"Happy" from G I R L by Pharrell Williams"Let's Go Crazy" from Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution"Crossroads" and "Taskforce: Farmlab" from Outerborough by Todd ReynoldsFantasia in G Major, BWV 571 by Johann Sebastian BachTodd Reynolds was a special guest of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. ABOUT THE MITCHELL CENTER The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration across the performing, visual, and literary arts. Based at the University of Houston, the Mitchell Center commissions and produces new works, presents public performances and exhibitions, offers curriculum and scholarships, and hosts residencies with renowned visiting artists from throughout the world. The Center is home to the Mitchell Artist Lecture, an annual event featuring a pioneer in contemporary art-making, as well as CounterCurrent, an annual spring festival of new performance. The Mitchell Center forms an alliance among five departments at UH: the School of Art, Moores School of Music, School of Theatre & Dance, Creative Writing Program, and Blaffer Art Museum. For more information visit For more about Todd Reynolds check out his blog:

Classical Classroom, Ep 124: Hélène Grimaud Wades Into The Deep End Of "Water"

Hélène Grimaud's recent release on Deutsche Grammophon, is a true "concept album." Flowing with water themed music from the classical repertoire it also bathes us with new musical bridges and transitions from composer and producer, Nitin Sawhney."What inspired the idea to record this album is really the fascination that so many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries seem to have had with the element of water," Grimaud states. In this episode, Hélène and Dacia surf through the music selections, and wade through the details of how a project such as this ebbs and flows. They navigate through the process, from a tiny ripple of an idea to a tsunami of musical expression in the final CD release. They also dive into the ecological importance of conservation and Hélène's goal of streaming awareness for safe, clean water around the world. With all of the good music on this show, you might need a bigger boat!Featuring works by nine composers: Berio's Wasserklavier and includes Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch II, Fauré's Barcarolle No.5, Ravel's Jeux d'eau, "Almería" from Albéniz's Iberia, Liszt's Les Jeux d'eau à la Villa d'Este, the first movement of Janáček's In the Mists, and Debussy's La cathédrale engloutie. Audio production by Todd "Trickle" Hulslander with splashing about by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.

Classical Classroom, Ep 85: Mandolin Man, Avi Avital

While we are cooking up new episodes for your enjoyment, please enjoy this delicious dish from our archives. Don't miss Avi's recent in-studio performances at WQXR, btw! -------------------------------------------According to Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Avi Avital, while the bass is not bad, it's more about that mandolin. Which is also what this whole episode is about! Avi tells all: Where did the mandolin come from? Who composes for it? Why does he advocate for such a strange instrument? And how much did he play that one REM song in high school? Learn all of this and more right here!Audio production by Todd "Terrific" Hulslander with electric slides by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Music in this episode:The Music of Brazil / Jacob do Bandolim, Vol. 1 / Recordings 1949 – 1958. "Choro de varanda". Mike Marshall and Chris Thile: "Fisher's Hornpipe". From Into the Cauldron. Hamilton ee Holanda: Choro Caprice for Caprichos. Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonatina for Mandolin and fortepiano in C Major. Diego Fasolis and Duilio Galfetti. Domenico Scarlatti: Mandolin Sonata in D minor Allegro. Camerata Mandolinos Classico. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni, "Deh vieni alla finestra". Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Mandolin Concerto in G major, S. 28. REM: "Losing My Religion" from Out of Time. Antonio Vivaldi, from Avi Avital's CD Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor RV 356Largo from Converto in C major RV 443Concerto in G minor RV 315 "Summer" from The Four Seasons. For more about Avi Avital: Thumbnail image also © Harold Hoffmann, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.

Classical Classroom, Ep 37: George Heathco On Louis Andriessen And Alt-Classical

Louis Andriessen is one of the most important contemporary composers you've (probably) never heard of. His work isn't widely played because he's written many pieces for varieties of ensembles that don't exist. In fact, specially created ensembles have sprung up because of Andriessen's pieces, including the famous British ensemble, Icebreaker. Guitarist, composer, and co-founder of Liminal Space Contemporary Music Ensemble, George Heathco, teaches us all about Andriessen and his contributions to the alt classical movement. Or indie classical. Or whatever you wanna call it. Music used in this episode includes:Hoketus by Louis AndriessenDe Materie by Louis Andriessen (begins with 144 repetitions of same chord)De Staat by Louis AndriessenYo Shakespeare by Michael GordonPierced by David Lang"Bone Chapel" from O Death by Oscar BettisonAudio production from Todd "Twinkles" Hulslander with very marginal oversight from Dacia Clay. PS, One of the images attached to this article is not George Heathco, but his TV doppleganger George from Being Human. Can you tell which is which? One of them loves Twilight. (Apologies, non-specific George!)

Classical Classroom, Ep 123: Rachel Barton Pine On Bach Sonatas And Partitas

Happy Bach's 331st birthday! To celebrate, we had a partita party with violinist Rachel Barton Pine. (What's a "partita," you ask? Listen and learn, my friends.) Rachel explains Bach's sonatas and partitas and what makes them unique, and walks us through several examples from her new album Testament, which she released on March 21st to coincide with Bach's bday. Also discussed: What Bach means to her personally, and whether one needs to wear a beret when playing French music (spoiler alert: oui).99% of the music in this episode is from Rachel Barton Pine's new release, Testament: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach. The other 1% is the producer's fault. Audio production by Todd "Partodda" Hulslander with sarabande by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio.

Classical Classroom, Ep 122: Meet The Sirota – Nadia Sirota On New Classical Music

Nadia Sirota is a busy lady. She's a violist and recording artist, she's a member of yMusic, Alarm Will Sound, and ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), she commissions work from new composers, she collaborates with classical and rock music makers (Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, Jónsi, and Arcade Fire to name a few) and she's the host and co-producer of Q2 Music's contemporary classical music podcast, Meet the Composer. In this episode of Classical Classroom, Sirota talks about new classical music, from what to call it (Alt classical? Concert music? Music?) to the people who are making innovative work right now. Hear music so fresh it will make your clothes smell good. Music in this episode:Clip from Meet the Composer, episode 10Andrew Norman "Music in Circles"Caroline Shaw "Partita for 8 Voices"Donnacha Dennehy "Gra Agus Bas"Nico Muhly "Drones and piano"Audio production by Todd "Touché" Hulslander with whale song by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. To learn more, check out Nadia Sirota's website.

Classical Classroom, MusicWorks, Ep 121: John From Downton Abbey

Masterpiece's Downton Abbey came to an end last night after six seasons. In this tell-all exposé, Scottish composer John Lunn talks about his years with the Crawley family, what Lord Grantham really thought of Branson, and his thoughts on Thomas Barrow's perpetual bad attitude. Okay, okay — not exactly. But Lunn does talk about how he got into writing for TV, how it's different than writing operas and violin concertos, and about being part of the Downton team for six seasons. Past (and future!) secrets are revealed. All in a lovely Scottish accent. All music in this episode (except for the Bach) from the CD, Downton Abbey: The Ultimate Collection: Prelude & Fugue No. 24 in B Minor BWV 893. JS Bach. Angela Hewitt. The Suite Such Good Luck Escapades End of An Era Audio production for this episode by Todd "Lord of Toddington" Hulslander with pregnant pauses by Dacia Clay and assistance from Mark DiClaudio. Learn more about John Lunn here. For more about Downton Abbey, go here.

Classical Classroom MusicWorks, Ep 120: A Musical Life, Indeed – With Hugh Sung

Hugh Sung is a modern classical music renaissance man: He's a podcaster, a techie, a pianist who's collaborated with people like Jennifer Higdon and Hillary Hahn, an author, an inventor, a former Curtis Institute Professor who now teaches online. Sung has crafted a life — and a career — that keeps him close to his passion and that constantly engages his busy mind. In this MusicWorks episode, learn how and why Hugh does it, and be inspired to create your own Musical Life. Music in this episode:Myths Op.30: I. The Fountain Of Arethusa. Karol Szymanowski. Performed by Aaron Rosand with Hugh Sung. Man of Steel. Hugh SungCapriccio-Waltz In E Major Op.7. Henryk Wieniawski. Performed by Aaron Rosand with Hugh Sung. Four Souvenirs: Samba. Paul Schoenfield. Performed by Jasmine Choi and Hugh Sung. Audio production by Todd "Mind Like a Steel Trap" Hulslander with x-ray vision by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. To hear Dacia Clay's interview on Hugh's podcast, go here. For more about Hugh Sung: www.hughsung.comThanks to our MusicWorks theme music composer, George Heathco. MusicWorks is a Classical Classroom subseries that takes a look at what people are doing in the classical music world today.

Classical Classroom, Ep 119: Harping On The Harp With Beyond Pluck

Beyond Pluck is a harp duo, comprised of Paula Bressman and Rachel Miller. In addition to the classical repertoire, they also like arranging pop songs for the harp, working with scientists and artists, touring clubs as well as concert halls, and long walks on the beach. In this episode, Paula and Rachel talk about the history of the harp and how it works, its repertoire, conjuring fairies, and why anyone would want to play something so ginormous. They also perform, illustrating the range of the harp, from Bach to Rihanna. That's right: we found harp in a harpless place. All music in this episode played by Beyond Pluck. Audio production by Todd "Tragically Hip" Hulslander with cagey responses by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Check out Beyond Pluck's latest music video for Rihanna's "We Found Love": Watch the duo recording this episode of Classical Classroom, play their harps, and respond to Dacia's creepy, disembodied voice:To see examples of all kinds of harps, check out the Lyon and Healy website. To learn more about how harps works, check out this helpful introduction.

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