Looking For A Challenge On The Piano? David Rakowski Wrote 100 Of Them

Composer David Rakowski loves to write piano etudes. He's created 100 of them. Etudes developed in the 19th century as short practice pieces . They help musicians focus on a technique or build strength or dexterity. Many — like the etudes of Frederic Chopin — were also beautiful. David has carried the tradition into the 21st century, writing etudes based on funk riffs and cell phone rings. And one of the pianists who helped him do it is Amy Briggs — a Boulder-based musician who runs extreme distances in the mountains when she's not performing or teaching. Hear Amy play five of David Rakowski's etudes, and get the story behind them, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Colorado (And Ugly Politics) Inspired Benjamin Park's 'For Purple Mountains'

Composer Benjamin Park felt exhausted during the 2016 election. He remembers the nonstop political coverage and the growing tension within the United States. He decided to write music that embodied the disconnect — and addressed the division. Ben used portions of the melody from "America the Beautiful" to write a piece about the harsh political divide in our country. He also took inspiration from the majestic landscape of Boulder. You'll hear a recording of Benjamin Parks's "For Purple Mountains" in the CPR Performance Studio — played by musicians from the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival — on this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Colorado (And Ugly Politics) Inspired Benjamin Park's 'For Purple Mountains'

Why Daniel Kellogg's String Quartet No. 1 Isn't Actually His First String Quartet

Daniel Kellogg, who teaches composition at the University of Colorado, loves the string quartet. Some of history's greatest composers wrote their most extraordinary music for two violins, a viola and a cello. So Daniel took the job seriously when he set out to write a big statement that he ultimately called String Quartet No. 1. He had worked up to it. He wrote a half-dozen pieces for string quartet before he composed this one. Hear a recording of the world premiere of String Quartet No. 1 — played by the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet at the Aspen Music Festival & School — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Why Daniel Kellogg's String Quartet No. 1 Isn't Actually His First String Quartet

David Ludwig's Lively 'Pangaea' Is A Prehistoric 'Carnival Of The Animals'

Composer David Ludwig wrote his piece "Pangaea" as a "prehistoric 'Carnival of the Animals.'" It's about a time in Earth's history when there was one supercontinent, a vast ocean and a frightening die-off that wiped out most species on the planet. Hear the haunting "Pangaea," performed at the Bravo! Vail music festival by Anne-Marie McDermott, Calder Quartet, Lyris Quartet, Aeolus Quartet and bassist Rachel Calin — and get the story behind David's piece — in the Season 2 premiere of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

David Ludwig's Lively 'Pangaea' Is A Prehistoric 'Carnival Of The Animals'

Season 2 Preview: A Musical Road Trip Through The Rocky Mountains

Centennial Sounds — a podcast about modern classical music, and what inspires some of today's most talented composers — returns soon for its second season. The series, hosted by Brad Turner, features exclusive recordings of music by 21st century composers and stories about what inspires the music. The new season features a twist: It's a musical road trip through the Rocky Mountains, with recordings from outstanding summer music festivals and other venues around Colorado.

In 'Notes From Clyfford Still' Composer Nathan Hall Sets A Painter's Vision To Music

Composer Nathan Hall is fascinated with the huge, vibrant paintings of abstract painter Clyfford Still. Nathan recently set out to compose music about about Still, and combed through the painter's writings to set some of the colorful passages to music. Hear "Notes From Clyfford Still," performed by the Playground Ensemble in the CPR Performance Studio — and hear how Nathan created the piece — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

In 'Notes From Clyfford Still' Composer Nathan Hall Sets A Painter's Vision To Music

Altius Quartet Unveils Michael Ippolito's New String Quartet No. 4

Composer Michael Ippolito tried an unusual approach when he wrote a piece for the Altius Quartet. He sat down with a cello, instrument he'd barely played since middle school. His experiments with an instrument he'd largely forgotten how to play took his music to surprising places. Hear Michael Ippolito's String Quartet No. 4 performed by the Altius Quartet in the CPR Performance Studio — and the backstory of this new piece — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Julia Wolfe Witnessed 9/11 Up Close, And Wrote 'Compassion' In Response

Composer Julia Wolfe lives in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. She and her family watched 9/11 unfold around them, and dealt with the aftermath. She wrote one of her most stark, concise works as a response. She called it "Compassion." Hear the piece performed in concert by pianist Conrad Tao at the Aspen Music Festival and School — and more of Julia's story — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Loretta Notareschi's 'String Quartet OCD' Explores Motherhood And Mental Health

Composer Loretta Notareschi remembers early motherhood as one of the hardest moments of her life. She felt completely in love with her infant daughter but she also grappled with a frightening postpartum mood disorder. She decided to use music to tell her story, and start a conversation with others going through the same thing. Hear Loretta's piece, "String Quartet OCD," performed by the Playground Ensemble String Quartet in the CPR Performance Studio, and the story behind the composition, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Loretta Notareschi's 'String Quartet OCD' Explores Motherhood And Mental Health

Kevin Michael Olson's Jagged 'Dichotomiae', Played By Pianist Hsing-ay Hsu

Composer Kevin Michael Olson used to work in a lab that developed military technology. And he wrote about that experience in his music. It sounded pretty dark. So one day, he wanted to write something that sounded less heavy. The piano music that came out sounded more complicated than he intended. It's filled with stark contrasts. He called it "Dichotomiae." Hear pianist Hsing-ay Hsu play the piece in an exclusive CPR Performance Studio session, and the story behind the composition, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Kevin Michael Olson's Jagged 'Dichotomiae', Played By Pianist Hsing-ay Hsu

Jessica Meyer's 'Luminous Prison' Is A Moving Meditation Composed For A Unique Venue

​Composer Jessica Meyer recently had the kind of experience that gives musicians nightmares. She traveled to the desert in northwestern Colorado to perform a new piece in concert on her viola. It was built on layers of electronic loops. But the unique acoustics at the venue — known simply as The Tank — caused those loops to dissolve into a squall of feedback. So Jessica tossed aside the music she'd carefully composed and created something unlike anything she'd written before. She called it "Luminous Prison." Hear the world premiere of the piece, and the emotional backstory, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Jessica Meyer's 'Luminous Prison' Is A Moving Meditation Composed For A Unique Venue

Egemen Kesikli's Heartbreaking String Quartet 'Pulse', Performed By Playground Ensemble

Composer Egemen Kesikli spent last summer in his home country of Turkey. He was waiting to return to the United States, where he studied composition at the University of Colorado. Then Egemen heard about the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Forty-nine people died at the popular gay club. Egemen, who is gay, felt horrified. He dealt with the shock by writing a string quartet. Hear an exclusive CPR Performance Studio recording of the piece played by Playground Ensemble — and the story of how Egemen shaped his sadness into music — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Egemen Kesikli's Heartbreaking String Quartet 'Pulse', Performed By Playground Ensemble

On 'First,' Son Lux and yMusic Make Chamber Music That Flows Like A Rock LP

The contemporary chamber ensemble yMusic set out to make a different kind of classical record with its latest release. The group enlisted one of its favorite collaborators, Son Lux, to compose an album of compositions with the feel of a rock LP. The result is called "First." Hear a CPR Performance Studio recording of two pieces from the album, and the story of the record's creation, in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

On 'First,' Son Lux and yMusic Make Chamber Music That Flows Like A Rock LP

Carter Pann's 'The Mechanics' Featuring The Black Diamond Saxophone Quartet

A few years ago, composer Carter Pann heard the saxophonists in the Capitol Quartet in concert. The music blew him away. He convinced the group to collaborate with him, and the resulting piece — called "The Mechanics" — made Carter a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Hear a CPR Performance Studio recording of the piece by the up-and-coming Black Diamond Saxophone Quartet — and the story of what inspired Carter's piece — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Carter Pann's 'The Mechanics' Featuring The Black Diamond Saxophone Quartet

Caroline Shaw's 'This Might Also Be A Form Of Dreaming' With Roomful Of Teeth And Playgrou...

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw writes music for the voice that catches you off guard. The singers in Roomful of Teeth talk over each other, break into huge chords and use stunning vocal techniques from all over the world. Caroline has a new piece for Roomful of Teeth, called "This Might Also Be a Form of Dreaming." Here's a live recording of that composition, featuring Roomful of Teeth and Denver's Playground Ensemble — plus a look at why Caroline is so excited about the new piece — in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Caroline Shaw's 'This Might Also Be A Form Of Dreaming' With Roomful Of Teeth And Playgrou...

Reena Esmail's 'Nishani': Matthew Dane Plays A Musical Keepsake For 14 Strings

She's a composer in Los Angeles who blends her favorite sounds from Indian and Western classical music. He's a musician in Boulder who plays the 14-string viola d'amore — a unique instrument that captivated composers more than 300 years ago. Their collaboration created an extraordinary piece of music called "Nishani." Hear an exclusive recording of it captured in the CPR Performance Studio — and the story of how the music came together — in the debut episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio.

Reena Esmail's 'Nishani': Matthew Dane Plays A Musical Keepsake For 14 Strings

Introducing 'Centennial Sounds': A Podcast Exploring Contemporary Classical In Colorado

Welcome to "Centennial Sounds" — a new podcast from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio that spotlights contemporary classical music performed in Colorado. The podcast, hosted by Brad Turner, features exclusive sessions from the CPR Performance Studio as well as live recordings taken from concert venues and summer festivals around the Centennial State. The episodes also feature interviews with 21st-century composers. Centennial Sounds launches in April.

Introducing 'Centennial Sounds': A Podcast Exploring Contemporary Classical In Colorado