Back to School: August Top Ten

Ready for the new school year? Cool off and start the semester off right with these great classics:

10. Sigmund Romberg: The Student Prince

9. John Corigliano: Etude Fantasy   (etude means study)

8. Arnold Schoenberg: Erwatung (Expectation)   (2nd Viennese School)

7. Carl Orff:  Carmina Burana (original latin texts, song of morals)

6. Emile Waldteufel: Estudiantina Valse (Band of Students waltz)

5. Maurice Ravel: L’Enfant et les sortileges: Arithmetic Song

4. JS Bach: Anna Magdalena Notebook

3. Johannes Brahms: Academic Festival Overture

2. Samuel Barber: School for Scandal Overture 

and the Number One “back to school” classical selection?

1. Franz Joseph Haydn:  Symphony #55 “Schoolmaster”!


Listen for these and much more throughout the month on KMFA!

August 15, 2014 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Special Preview! Texas Choral Consort presents Haydn’s The Creation

This weekend the Texas Choral Consort performs two works – Haydn’s Creation and Dan Welcher’s Without Form and Void. KMFA’s John Clare caught the ensemble in rehearsal last weekend and has this report.

Performances take place Saturday night at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 3 in Northwest Hills United Methodist Church. More online at

Here is a sneak peak at Dan Welcher’s work:

More from the rehearsal – pictures of Brent Baldwin and the Texas Choral Consort:

CrystalWaterGlasses                          DownbeatBrent

FromThePiano                          GreatIsHisMight

August 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

From the General Manager: A farewell to Jules – stay tuned for new voices!

Our music library provides a virtual tour of half a millennium of musical creativity.  We want to share the full range and breadth of classical music by striking a balance of old and new, familiar and unfamiliar. You may be hearing some changes to the rich musical mix of KMFA’s daily playlist – we’re paying a bit more attention to choral/vocal repertoire, and to music of the last half century. In any given hour or two on KMFA, you can be sure that you will hear music that you love, and we hope you’ll also discover something new and unexpected.

You will also notice some changes to our weekday announcing line-up.  Last Friday, KMFA bid a fond farewell to afternoon host Jules Brandon, who leaves us after five years to pursue her ever-expanding career in voiceover work.  We wish her all the best – and you’ll still be able to hear her as host of Pianoforte, Saturday 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 5:00 p.m.

There will still be a very familiar voice filling the afternoon airwaves.  Beginning August 18th, Jeffrey Blair, who has been handling the crack-of-dawn shift for 14 years, will be our new afternoon host from 2:00-5:00 p.m.  Not only does this provide Jeffrey with a chance to sleep in, it will also afford him more time to fulfill his expanding duties as Production Manager for our growing Listen Local series of live concert broadcasts. The morning program will now be anchored by KMFA’s new Content Director, award-winning broadcaster John Clare.  His easygoing style and musical knowledge have already won plaudits from a number of listeners during occasional guest shifts since joining the station in May. From 5:00-8:00 p.m., KMFA’s new Music Director, Chris Johnson, will guide you through rush hour and into the evening. Plus, we’ve added more local programming with “Night Music” from 10:00 p.m – midnight.

Very soon, you will also notice a change in KMFA’s online presence, as we put the finishing touches on a brand new web site scheduled to launch in September.   As requested by many of you, the new site will feature a greatly improved and more reliable “now playing” feature, as well as archived copies of your favorite programs like Ancient Voices and Choral Classics. The site will celebrate classical music’s role in Austin and beyond with interesting articles, more music streams, suggested playlists for special occasions, and an expanded calendar of cultural events.   We are grateful to The Still Water Foundation for helping to make the new web site possible.  With our new mobile app already available for download, and the coming new web site, KMFA is excited to be keeping pace with the exciting possibilities that technology offers in reaching into this increasingly tech-savvy community.

Change is exciting, challenging, and inevitable.  We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to fine-tune our efforts to make KMFA a truly “Classically Austin” experience, and thank you as always for your support.


July 31, 2014 at 10:35 am 1 comment

KMFA Live: Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman

JohnClareRichardStoltzman - Cropped

John Clare and Richard Stoltzman on air in the KMFA studio.

World-renowned clarinetist Richard Stolzman and marimbist Mika Yoshida Stoltzman were in Austin this weekend performing for the 2014 Austin Chamber Music Festival. Richard stopped by our studios on Friday to speak with KMFA’s John Clare about the program for their Festival concert, what it’s like performing with his wife, and the acrobatics of playing marimba! Here is an introduction to their conversation, listen to the full interview for all the details.

John: …in the studio is Richard Stoltzman, and we were just listening to some Bach, and you guys do some arrangements. There are, unfortunately, no original marimba and clarinet works by Bach…


Richard: It would be absolutely amazing if somebody found one! However, the marimba is about 50 years old, so Bach would have had to come back. But anyway, yeah, I think the marimba and the clarinet are a beautiful combination because the marimba is a cross between the piano and drums… Chick Corea’s piece is going to be in the performance tomorrow night too, with two of the faculty members here at UT. He said, “My inspiration for Mika playing was that the marimba, to me, was a bridge between the piano and the drums.” He plays both piano and drums – great, of course – but he thought of the marimba as that. And he said, “My inspiration for you, as a clarinet player, was your sound, and the long line of the sound.” These two are fused together in the piece, and I’m getting ahead of myself, but that’s going to be the last piece in the concert by Chick Corea.

Mika and I chose Bach because he’s the universal source of joy and dance-like feelings, and of meditation. We got inspired because Peter Serkin, who is a dear friend of mine and a wonderful pianist, sent for a Christmas present a transcription that he made of the Bach two-part inventions. Each one on a different kind of electronically reproduced organs from various centuries – from ones that wheezed, and burped, and popped, to, you know, like high-tech kind of things. All Bach, but they all sounded unique, and they all sounded like Peter Serkin. Mika said, “Now I’m inspired because I know that Bach’s music can embrace us also.” So we are doing four of his Inventions tomorrow night. I’m playing, and this is a little crazy, but I’m doing the “Chromatic Fantasy” by Bach.

John: Wow!

Richard: Yeah, for clarinet it is a huge piece, of course. First of all, there’s no breath! [Laughing]. But that’s not the main thing…

Listen to the full interview to hear more from Richard. The 2014 Austin Chamber Music Festival continues through July 27th. Find the schedule and ticket information at Listen to KMFA this week for your chance to win tickets to this weekend’s performances. Listen online, on our mobile app, or on your radio at 89.5 FM.

July 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Sonatas and Summer Heat

By Chris Johnson, KMFA Music Director

It was the summer of 1996 when I first opened up my car door and discovered what people meant when they referred to the “Texas Heat.” I had come to study violin at the University of Houston and prior to that, like most people not from here, I could have never imagined the cultural riches that Texas would have to offer. However, I had met a brilliant teacher the previous year who was moving to the area and I wanted to work with him, so I came down for a look-see. Still unsure about the idea of moving to the The Lone Star State, I headed back to my hotel. In the car, I popped in a tape (remember those?) of my soon-to-be teacher Andrzej Grabiec playing an encore during a concert in Boulder, Colorado.

The performance was of the Sonata Ballade by the great Belgian violinist and pedagogue Eugene Ysaÿe (one of his Six Sonatas for Solo Violin). It was the most difficult, most virtuosic, and yet most profound pieces of music I had ever heard. As I started the tape, I was so struck by the nature of the music and of the performance itself that I had to pull the car over and stop driving so as not to cause an accident. It was in that moment that I said, “I’m coming to Texas,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

I never learned to play that particular Sonata, although I studied Ysaÿe in college, but it remains as one of my favorite pieces of classical music ever written. I was reminded of this all last night when I read Eric C. Simpson’s article on Ysaÿe’s Sonata Ballade in the Wall Street Journal that characterized exactly what it is that I find so wonderful about the composer’s music.

“…Mr. Ysaÿe’s tremendous artistry lives on through his sonatas. They demonstrate a principle visible across all art forms, but rarely appreciated: that technique is neither an end in itself nor a creative shackle, but rather a liberating force that makes attainable the greatest artistic achievement.”

Simpson’s article also references many works by Ysaÿe, Bach, and more. To hear some of the music mentioned, check out our Spotify playlist.

Here’s another favorite encore performance of Ysaÿe’s Ballade:

July 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

The Kids Rock the Airwaves!

Bright, energetic, ambitious… those are just a few words that came to mind while watching the campers at Kids Recording Kids Radio Camp this year. Over the course of the week, these youngsters learned interview skills from Dianne Donovan, how to set a mic from Jeffrey Blair, and how to record and edit their own sound bites. At the big showcase at the end of the camp, Louis, Alex, Francesca, Lori, and Braulio were pros as they interviewed, recorded, and hosted two outstanding guest musical performances – Justice Phillips and One Ounce Opera. Camp leaders and staff were blown away by these campers’ enthusiasm and skill.

Camp leader Judlyne Gibson was thrilled with the outcome of the camp and captured her thoughts on the week:photo4

Having gone to summer enrichment camps when I was a kid, I can tell you that I saw the same expressions on our campers faces as I’m sure I had at the camps I attended: excitement, joy and curiosity.  Not all of our five campers were immediately engaged, but within the first hour of the camp they were excited about what they were about to learn and accomplish at Kids Recording Kids.

Each camper had his or her own reasons for taking the camp. Some wanted to find out more about their future career choice:  announcing, a graphic artist, a sound engineer, others were simply curious about the workings of a radio station and once they saw what was involved they were STILL interested.

Our campers were also receptive to the talents of our instructors.  They were fascinated by Jeffery Blair, with his massive knowledge about sound engineering,  including the numerous types of microphones and what they’re used for.  I learned something too.  And film composer Brian Satterwhite whose tales of writing music for film were enthralling and introduced a career that some of the campers didn’t really know existed. Dianne Donovan’s instruction on doing interviews really got the campers attention, especially the parts about what NOT to do.

My joy was in seeing the light bulb of understanding beaming above their heads.

I think our campers walked away with “new” knowledge that they’re excited to build on as they get older and their career aspirations become clear.

KMFA is so proud to offer an enriching and educational program such as this. Be a part of it by tuning in to hear all that the campers accomplished at camp on the KMFA airwaves in the fall. We will be airing their hour long showcase on August 24th and again on September 1.  We hope you can join us!

Kids Recording Kids is sponsored by Austin Optimist Club. Thank you for your generous support!


All of our campers: Lori, Brian, Francesca, Alex, Louis, Braulio, Judlyne

Justice Phillips on the classical guitar

Justice Phillips on the classical guitar


One Ounce Opera performing in the KMFA studio

June 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

From the General Manager: Meet the New Programming Team

KMFA welcomes two new staff members: John Nasukaluk Clare joins us as Content Director, and Chris Johnson is our new Music Director.

JohnClareWith a personable radio style and encyclopedic musical knowledge, John Clare is an award-winning classical radio professional.  He comes to our community from KPAC, San Antonio, where he worked as host and program director.  A former broadcaster for NPR, Clare has also worked with Voice of America, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and stations in Kansas, Nevada, California, and Pennsylvania.  He received the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for radio broadcasting for his work on the contemporary music program “20/20 Hearing” at KCNV, Las Vegas NV.

He’s also a talented violinist who has played with the Mid Texas Symphony, Nevada Chamber Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic and Wichita Symphony Orchestra.  An avid chamber music lover, John founded the Las Vegas Chamber Music Society in 2004.

As Content Director, John will guide the sound of KMFA on the air, as well as helping to shape our rapidly expanding digital presence, including the new KMFA app that launched earlier this year, and our soon-to-be-unveiled new web site.

Chris Johnson has been a popular radio presence in Houston for many years. Most recently he is known for producing and hosting the afternoon drive CJ Headshotprogram on Classical 91.7 FM and for numerous feature articles and concert reviews published in Arts+Culture Texas. Previously, Chris was heard daily on KUHF 88.7 FM as the host of Afternoon Concert and as a contributor for the daily arts magazine The Front Row, for which he was a founding producer and technical director.

As Music Director, Chris will be responsible for shaping the daily playlists that inspire, entertain and energize you throughout your day.   Like John, Chris is a violinist, and played regularly with the KUHF Ensemble around Houston.

You’ll soon be getting to know the voices of these new staff members through on-air appearances on special programs, during fund drives, and taking occasional substitute shifts for our regular announcers.  You’ll also be meeting them at concerts and KMFA events around Austin.  And who knows? Perhaps this dynamic duo will favor us with an occasional violin program as well.

Share your thoughts about the music you love to hear on KMFA at

June 30, 2014 at 10:28 am 1 comment

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