Archive for October, 2009

My First Firebird

Ballet Season Opener 016The atmosphere at the Long Center on Sunday of the Ballet Austin’s season opener was calm and serene, probably a stark contrast to the people down the road at Zilker Park braving the mud at ACL Fest. 

The make up of crowd was surprising. There were dozens of small children, especially little girls dressed up in tutus, carrying feather fans and signed pointe shoes bought at the colorful swag tables.

The performance started with the second act of Swan Lake. It was traditionally staged and performed, beautiful as it always is.

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I however was more interested in seeing the Firebird. It was my first time seeing the Firebird actually performed as a ballet, and being a BIG Stravinsky fan I was excited. I was so thrilled with the performance, it was truly worthy of it’s composer. The choreography, stage effects and costumes were colorful and moody which perfectly reflected the complex and sometimes quirky nature of Stravinsky and his music. The costumes were fantastic and had a wide range of styles from the traditional red tutu of the Firebird to Kastchei the Immortal looking like he just left the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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Artistic Director Stephen Mills answers audience questions

Afterward, choreographer Steven Mills held a question-and-answer session with the audience. He spoke briefly about the history of the Ballets Russes and the history of the Swan Lake and Firebird, then opened the floor to questions. It was an absolutley delightful afternoon and I can’t wait for Ballet Austin’s next production!

~Sarah Addison, Membership Associate

October 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

The Dynamic Duo is Aptly Named

ONE DYNAMIC DUO - Bates Rectal Hall October 7th, 2009-Butler School of Music –  University of Texas-Austin

Bion Tsang (cellist) and Anton Nel (pianist)

Anton Nel and Bion Tsang

Whether it was the gorgeous chordal surprises of Barber, the playful and percussive folk melodies of  Prokofiev or the lyrical sounds of Grieg, this dynamic duo executed this challenging program with ease and artistry.  Tsang and Nel had a communication that seemed mostly telepathic.

When the audience, on their feet, refused to leave Bates Recital Hall, it was rewarded with a couple of crowd-pleasers as encores — “The Swan” by Saint-Saens, and a Hungarian Dance by Brahms.

It is always a treat to hear two such superlative artists perform together.


~ Dianne Donovan, KMFA anouncer, host, and producer of Classical Austin, airing Sundays at 7pm.


Sonata, Op. 6, for Cello and Piano by Samuel Barber

Sonata in C, op. 119,  for Cello and Piano by Sergei Prokofiev

Sonata in A minor, Op. 36, for Cello an Piano By Edvard Grieg

October 8, 2009 at 5:51 pm 1 comment

Baroque Bliss at St. Austin’s


This is the gallery organ at St. Austin's Church on Guadalupe St.


There are many great things about living in America. But, if you’re an organ nut like me, one of the distinct disadvantages is the lack of authentic Baroque organs. Yes, I miss having a Schnitger down the street!  But the organ at St. Austin’s Catholic Church, recently built in the 18th century South German tradition, warmed my organ-loving heart at a Monday-evening performance by Eric Mellenbruch, organist of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd; he gave a wonderful recital of mostly Baroque works, pieces that really showed what this little organ can do!

We were welcomed by St. Austin’s Music Director, Dr. John J. Hoffman. He invited us to walk around the sanctuary during the concert to hear the organ from various vantage points. Ordinarily I would have loved this, but I opted to remain in my seat to spare my fellow listeners the sound of my clickety-clackety shoes!

Mr. Mellenbruch dove straight into the good stuff with a rollicking Praeludium by Dieterich Buxtehude. (If you’ve never heard that word used to describe organ music before, please, do yourself a favor and listen to a good recording of Buxtehude!) We were also treated to a worshipful and serene ciacona based on a hymn tune by Johann Gottfried Walther, a set of variations by Sweelinck that really showed off the colors of the organ, and a glorious Fantasia by the little-known Belgian composer Abraham van den Kerckhoven. The solo voice used in that piece, the Sesquialtera, was the aural equivalent of a cool, clear cascade of water.

If you get the chance, go hear this instrument! The little organ that can (and does!) open the door for us to travel back to the Baroque — a pleasant journey indeed in the hands of an organist like Eric Mellenbruch.

~Sara Hessel, KMFA  Music Director

October 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

What a GREAT Day!

summer_songIt’s our last day of the Fall Pledge Drive, and we are mere dollars away from our goal as I write this… and everyone is excited and buzzing about, even more than usual!

Announcers are humming as they play music and chat between breaks; my fellow staff members are singing a few bars as they dash back and forth from the pledge room to the Master Control booth; volunteers are excitedly taking calls and sharing the fun as they talk on the phone; and everywhere, someone will spontaneously burst into laughter.

It’s my favorite day of the drive, and while we are always thrilled to achieve this goal, I’m a little bit sorry to see it end. The flurry of activity, the calls and comments of listeners, the fast-paced interaction with colleagues and volunteers…. as well as the insights, observations, and humor that our beloved on-air announcers share with us as they ask us to step up and pledge… these are some of my favorite things about the Pledge Drive.

Before we are swept up in the final wave of pitching and pledging and applause, I just want to thank all our listeners and donors for keeping Austin classical!

Thanks again,

~Alison Cowden, office manager

October 1, 2009 at 11:26 am Leave a comment

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