WXXI Classical Blog

Flute gallery


Last week, flutist Bonita Boyd came to WXXI to perform on a live, in-studio show, Backstage Pass. To promote her appearance, I pulled out her excellent CD of Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices, Op. 1, a set of mind-bogglingly difficult violin solos Boyd plays deftly on the flute. Looking at the CD cover, I wondered, what’s with the old car? The expanse of leg? The sexy smile? Paganini, a randy charmer, would most heartily approve.

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Radish-struck

Next week, composer-pianist Cary Ratcliff releases a new recording of art songs. Elegant and spare, many explore the cusp of change, the breath before a new reality takes shape.

I’ve been writing a piece for City newspaper, and I got an advanced copy of Ratcliff’s songs, interpreted by soprano Katie Lewek. They’re luscious and addictive.

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Music you didn't even know you needed to know about

She does it once a week.

In her radio feature “What in the World is Music?” Eastman musicologist Ellen Koskoff takes listeners to some far-flung locale and listens to strange sounds humans make. They might be the yodels of a Bulgarian shepherd serenading the shepherdess babe in the field next door or a Balinese fisherman wailing a song about entrails. Sometimes the singers sound like cats. As the music plays, Ellen describes what’s happening in journalistic language.

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Weekend Update


Monday night, June 9th, the RPO plays Métaboles (Metamorphoses) by the living French composer Henri Dutilleux.

“In the conception of this work,” Dutilleux wrote, “the composer never ceased to dream of the mysterious and compelling realm of eternal metamorphosis. The spirit and the form of the music find their origins in an intense contemplation of nature.”

Hear it Monday at 8:00 p.m. on Classical 91.5 FM, 90.3 or streaming.

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Good for her

Dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt lost a ton of weight and ran into an old flame. There's video!

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Total Re-Carmina

I was just delivered a copy of the RPO’s performance of Carmina Burana! I’m almost afraid to listen to it.

RPO principal flutist Rebecca Gilbert once told me she put off hearing recordings of herself in live performances, especially ones that went well. Said she’d rather hold onto her memory.

I think I know what she means. But I'll listen anyway and report back.

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ER Symphony

Just nights ago I had the unexpected experience of spending about six hours in a hospital emergency room (no worries - everything ended up fine). However, while I was there, alone, awaiting test results, and desperately wanting to sleep, I found myself somewhat comforted by the ER Symphony I began to hear.

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Three quotes from Debussy

Claude DebussyClaude Debussy
I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth — an open-air art, boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea.

The century of airplanes has a right to its own music.

The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.

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Alex is missing

I think someone took my copy of The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. Right off my desk. I want it back. After I get my book back, I shall lock the thief in a dark room for a week with only Cheetos, Yanni, and warm diet cream soda.

I am seriously displeased.

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A Sea Symphony

When soprano Jane Eaglen and baritone Dean Elzinga walked out onto the stage of Eastman Theatre last October, I expected to be dazzled by Eaglen’s powerhouse, Wagnerian voice. But Elzinga was a surprise, equally forceful in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, based on Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Elzinga delivered a warm, rich tone similar to that of Bryn Terfel, but with a mournful aspect. He was, in a word, spooky.

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