Whenever a symphony orchestra or opera house loses its financial footing, a chorus of classical music "coroners" quickly steps up to pronounce the imminent demise of an entire genre. The pianist and scholar Charles Rosen put it best when he said, "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition."
As proof that classical music in America is alive and kicking, I'd like to direct those perennial naysayers to the radio show, and podcast, From the Top. The program (distributed by NPR) is a potent antidote to any gloom-and-doom doubter.
For over 20 years, From the Top has built an impressive platform to celebrate the music, lives and stories of youngsters playing classical music. That's right. Young people in this country love classical music.
We invited three talented From the Top musicians to the Tiny Desk. No squeaky violins here. These kids are terrific players.
Sparks fly (and bow hairs, too) when 12-year-old violinist Kaia Selden tears into Henryk Wieniawski's rip-snorting Scherzo-Tarentelle. Cellist Noah Lee uncovers fascinating new sounds on his instrument in Mark Summer's Julie-O, while Javier Morales-Martinez makes his velvety clarinet sing in elegant music by Francis Poulenc. From the Top alum Derek Wang is our good-natured emcee, in addition to serving as a sensitive accompanist.
These incredibly talented young musicians are our future. Hear them breathe life into music that is very far from fading away.
- Henryk Wieniawski: "Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16"
- Mark Summer: "Julie-O"
- Francis Poulenc: "Clarinet Sonata, II. Romanza"
Kaia Selden (violin), Noah Lee (cello), Javier Morales-Martinez (clarinet), Derek Wang (piano)
Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Khun Minn Ohn; Production Assistant: Catherine Zhang; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.