KMFA Live: Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman

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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…

[Laughing]

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 austinchambermusic.org. 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!

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

Justice Phillips on the classical guitar

Justice Phillips on the classical guitar

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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 feedback@kmfa.org.

June 30, 2014 at 10:28 am 1 comment

How to Listen to KMFA Online

We will be performing routine maintenance on the antenna that transmits KMFA’s signal June 7-8. It is possible that some KMFA listeners outside of the Austin area may experience reception problems. Online streaming will be unaffected.

If you have never listened to KMFA from your computer or your phone, you may not know where to start to get the familiar sounds of Beethoven, Bach, and Baccarini streaming from your speakers. Our online streams give you access to the same programming you hear on the radio – in real time! There are a few different ways to listen to KMFA online, so pick the one that works for you.

Listening at work or home

Whether you are comparing spreadsheets on dual screens at the office, propping up a laptop on the kitchen counter while you chop veggies, or studying at a coffee shop for that Econ exam, you can listen to KMFA. Open up your favorite internet browser, and stream KMFA right from our website. Here’s how:

Go to our homepage and click the “Listen” button in the upper right corner.

Listen

Now, pick a stream to download. It may depend on what media player you prefer or what you have on your computer. Have iTunes or Windows Media Player? You’re all set. If you don’t have a media player, you can download one right from our website.

Listen 2

Click the blue play button to download the stream – you are actually downloading a file that will tell your media player how to initiate the KMFA stream – and then open it in iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, etc. A short intro message will play, and then you should hear our regular programming. There may be additional unique settings on your computer that prevent you from hearing our stream automatically. These potential issues are explained further in our Streaming FAQs.

You can also listen to KMFA on iHeartRadio.

Listening on the go

photo 1Listen on your phone wherever you roam! KMFA has a free mobile app for Android and iOS. The app gives you live and on-demand access to your favorite programs, our on-air schedule, news and blog entries on classical music in Central Texas, and much more. Check out some of the top features.

The app makes it so easy to stream KMFA from anywhere. Plus, the app shows the Now Playing data just above the play bar, so you can always see what composer and piece you are listening to. Once you have downloaded the app from either Google Playor the App Store, simply push the play button on the bottom of your screen, and enjoy!

The KMFA app is free and available from Google Play and the App Store. Download it today!

Find KMFA on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for information on classical music events in Austin and central Texas, trending news in the classical world, and updates from around the station.

June 6, 2014 at 11:21 am 1 comment

From the General Manager: Sounds of Summer

Midday Music Series at the Blanton. Photo credit: Ashley Stanford http://blog.blantonmuseum.org

Midday Music Series at the Blanton. Photo credit: Ashley Stanford http://blog.blantonmuseum.org

The traditional September-to-May arts season may have ended, but there is no lack of great classical music to be experienced during the summer in Austin. The 5th annual Texas State International Piano Festival runs through June 8. This year’s festival is the first to be held in the stunning new performing arts center on the TSU campus in San Marcos – well worth a trip.  Later this month, you can climb aboard HMS Pinafore with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, or be carried away by Austin’s remarkable Revel Classical Band at its 2014 Solstice Festival.

Stay cool at the Blanton Museum during their Midday Music series – extended through the summer for the first time – which explores the relationship between art and music. For outdoor fun for the family, The Hartman Foundation “Concerts in the Park” series presented by Austin Symphony showcases a different ensemble every Sunday evening for free on the Long Center City Terrace. There are even more great events to come in July and August – keep an eye on your inbox for information from us on what’s happening in the community.

And each week, you can tune to Dianne Donovan’s Classical Austin show to hear highlights of each week’s coming events, along with musical previews and interviews with top classical performers – Sundays at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. You can also visit KMFA’s Listen Local page to find links to many of our wonderful arts partners – the organizations who bring you these amazing live performances all year long.

We are delighted to be able to help spread the word of all the great music that Austin has to offer, and we thank you, our loyal listeners, for sharing our love of the music and the community it helps to create.

May 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

Saturday Night at the Symphony

I was fortunate to hear the Austin Symphony Saturday night at the Long Center. The delightful program began with a living composer, Robert Paterson’s Dark Mountains. This Copland-esque work is colorful and charming. The piece is in three contrasting sections which is set off with fabulous rhythms and an intimate orchestration. Paterson was present, and came by KMFA last week while he was in town. You can listen to the interview he did with KMFA.

Next up was Mozart’s dark Piano Concerto #20 with soloist Gabriela Montero. Known for her passionate readings and improvisations, Montero took brisk and exciting tempos. Cadenzas were impromptu – a great throwback to “historical” performance. That said, it was awesome to hear on a modern piano, with deep colors and long melodic lines. She stopped by the KMFA studios last week as well to discuss piano, Mozart and Venezuela. Listen to her interview with Dianne Donovan.

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Gabriela Montero rehearses Mozart with the ASO [credit: John Clare]

Gabriela asked for suggestions from the audience (who were on their feet for a standing ovation) for her improvised encore. It turns out she wound up with the same tune to play each night, The Eyes of Texas. Hear her version from Friday night and a different version Saturday night.

The second half of the Austin Symphony’s program was a real masterpiece, Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. Made famous (the first three minutes at least) by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the stage was filled with 103 musicians (reportedly) including two harps, six horns, and an electronic organ! This particular performance was also Music Director Peter Bay’s 500th performance with the orchestra in his 16th full season with the ASO.

John Clare and Peter Bay, backstage selfie [credit: John Clare]

John Clare and Peter Bay, backstage selfie [credit: John Clare]

I am looking forward to many more performances, from the Austin Symphony and other great groups around the area – and hope to see you there too! Say hi, and keep KMFA Classical 89.5 close – on air, online, and with our great app!

- John Clare, Program Director

May 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

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