Classically Speaking Nashville's backstage pass to classical music. Host Colleen Phelps interviews composers, conductors, and instrumentalists for an in-depth look at their repertoire and life in the orchestra. Get closer to classical music in Music City.
Classically Speaking

Classically Speaking

From WPLN News

Nashville's backstage pass to classical music. Host Colleen Phelps interviews composers, conductors, and instrumentalists for an in-depth look at their repertoire and life in the orchestra. Get closer to classical music in Music City.

Most Recent Episodes

Classically Speaking: Maurice Ravel's Wonderful World of Childhood Tantrums

There's nothing more wild yet utterly predictable than a child's tantrum. But in Maurice Ravel's opera L'enfant et les sortilèges, the consequences take the child completely by surprise. Vanderbilt Opera Theater's production of the piece is Nashville's latest example of how performing arts have pivoted to create new and interesting projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode of Classically Speaking hear from director Gayle Shay and music director Jennifer McGuire about how Vanderbilt students learned a whole new set of skills to put on this production.

Classically Speaking: Maurice Ravel's Wonderful World of Childhood Tantrums

Classically Speaking: Synth Patches, Spy Games, and Songs In Code - Composing 'Call Of Duty'

The newest "Call of Duty" game hit the market in late 2020. In" Black Ops - Cold War" it's composer Jack Wall's job to transport you to the turbulence of the 1980s. From green computer screens to hidden messages in Russian lyrics, Wall's scores are epic thanks to their use of a full orchestra – recorded right here in Nashville. Hear all about building the game's story scene by scene.

Classically Speaking: Synth Patches, Spy Games, and Songs In Code - Composing 'Call Of Duty'

Classically Speaking: Leila Adu And The Fierce Guardian Of Compassion

While this episode of Classically Speaking was prepared in a tumultuous time, we never could have predicted how many more shocking things would happen before its release. That being said, Leila Adu's Mahakala Oratorio is still the right piece of music for this exact moment. The piece itself is well-timed invocation to a deity whose charge is to protect the good in all of us. Adu describes how meditation informs her music making, how she comes to her minimalism honestly, and how the project of premiering this oratorio took on new life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Classically Speaking: Love, Magic, And A Mechanical Tree

From the archive: Perennial holiday favorite The Nutcracker has a special local treatment from Nashville Ballet. This year, as the work makes its local television debut, get behind the scenes with Artistic Director Paul Vasterling.

Classically Speaking: A Bubble, A Chapel, And 30 Million Hearing Lessons And Carols

During the COVID-19 pandemic, singing in large groups has been an off-limits activity. But, King's College Cambridge has gone to extraordinary lengths to continue its Christmas services safely. Hear from Director of Music Daniel Hyde on how King's is carrying on through this challenging time. Woven with the choral music that for many of us, has heralded the beginning of Christmas for nearly a century.

Classically Speaking: A Bubble, A Chapel, And 30 Million Hearing Lessons And Carols

Celebrating Beethoven, On The Count Of Four

Birthday or not, Beethoven has come up quite often in Classically Speaking. So, in this episode we featured clips from previous conversations. In what turned out to be one of composer Christopher Rouse's last interviews before he died in 2019, Rouse connected the opening of his 5th symphony to Beethoven's 5th. That same short-short-short-long also started Mahler's 5th, a parallel drawn by Nashville Symphony conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. Pianists Yefim Bronfman, Stephen Hough, and Lara Downes also illuminate the influence that Beethoven has had on their work, and the canon of piano literature.

Classically Speaking: Harpist Parker Ramsay Pulled Some Strings

Since they were composed in 1741 JS Bach's set of pieces known as the Goldberg Variations have been a favored musical puzzle for keyboardists of all varieties. Now musician Parker Ramsay has taken them on as a harpist on his debut album. From rising above the skepticism behind historically informed performance, to his hopes for the future of the instrument itself, and what we can bring from the past into today's musical experience.

Classically Speaking: Wide Awake With Pianist Lara Downes

If you've been riding a wave of insomnia for the last few months, you're not alone. That's why pianist Lara Downes put together The Bedtime Sessions, an album of lullabies. This collection of soothing music includes Downes's signature expansion of the pianistic canon. Including music by Florence Price, William Grant Still, and Leonard Bernstein, all performed by Downes herself, as well as a piece by Margaret Bonds performed by Downes along with Rhiannon Giddens.

Three Superconductors Take On 2020

With a post-coronavirus return to music-making on the horizon for American orchestras, these institutions are bringing a renewed commitment to a healthier and more representative environment. We assembled three of the orchestra world's superheroes to show us how it's done. Jeri Lynne Johnson, JoAnn Falletta, and Mei-Ann Chen discussed their hopes and their priorities as their ensembles face the rest of 2020.

Classically Speaking: Bespoke Music Making With Jennifer Higdon

Composer Jennifer Higdon has music for just about any ensemble – orchestra, band, opera, choir... you name it. And her catalog of concerti is just as varied. Including her Concerto for Low Brass and Orchestra, the origin of which she describes in this episode of Classically Speaking. She also tells the story behind "Blue Cathedral," and how she now feels that particular piece "belongs to the world." Plus, why she's helped many young band students remember to have a pencil on their music stand.

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