The Party is over….

.. but we’re still celebrating! Thanks so much for your gifts, comments, thank yous, and support during our Birthday Membership Drive! Because of your support, we’ve nurtured classical music radio for 43 years… and counting.


Here are  a couple more photos to give you an idea of the mood we’ve been in on this last day of the party… (When did our Birthday Drive become the Crazy Hat Drive? Well I’ll tell you: about 2 days ago, apparently.)





and finally….



What a great birthday party!  We have so many people to thank…. visitors and volunteers and vittles-providers… and we’re back to the serious craft of airing classical masterpieces 24/7.

Thanks again!!!

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂 



More pictures from our Birthday Drive….


It’s DAY TWO of the 2010 KMFA Birthday Membership Drive!

We’re handing out Snuggies “Personal Comforters” …. 

(Sarah hands over another "Snuffluffagus" blankie to a happy pledger)



… and we’re giving hugs to our long-time friends…. 



… and we’re giving tours…..



 … and we’re giving each other the giggles… 



… were giving it our best effort… 



… we’re giving out the world’s best cupcakes…. 


 …. we’re giving the new announcers a hard time…. 



…. but best of all, we are all giving the gift of classical music to each other!

Thank you, KMFA members!


~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

Surprise gifts from our Arts Partners

A lot of  our listeners stop listening while we’re having a pledge drive….perhaps they’ve already given their pledge for the year….perhaps they don’t need to hear all the wonderful reasons to support our station, because they are already supporting it and know what a treasure it is. Understandably, they love KMFA because of the constant, beautiful music we offer.

However, here is an insider’s tip: our Cultural Arts Partners often provide gifts of tickets, so we can offer them as incentives throughout each day of the pledge drive.  These are surprise giveaways, spontaneously offered on the air, and some folks have really scored some GREAT tickets! Just now, Kevin Patterson dropped by with some tickets to the Austin Lyric Opera’s upcoming performance of Emmanuel Chabrier’s The Star. Just like that, the next three callers got tickets to this amazing event! So, with just one pledge, they got great tickets AND they get to support classical-music radio all year.

We’ve also given away tickets to the Texas Early Music Project, some theater tickets to FronteraFest, and even tickets to Texas Performing Arts events.

Stay tuned for some incredible offerings coming up, like passes to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Austin Classical Guitar Society…. and of course, we are still playing lots of wonderful classical music!

~posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂

Pledge Drive Fun

Well,  we’re getting lots of phone calls

John, Laurie, and Lucian take those wonderful calls


 and serving cupcakes

Phil serves up some delicious cupcakes from Planet Bonnie

 and extolling the virtues of supporting your classical music station

Jeffrey and Sara take a breath while the music plays

 more photos and updates soon!

~Alison @ KMFA 🙂

It’s our Birthday!

… well, KMFA’s birthday. Can you believe it’s our 43rd year to broadcast classical music, commercial free, in Austin Texas! Thanks to YOU, of course!

We are busy celebrating (you know, our little Birthday Pledge Drive) , so come on down to our Open House, Jan. 27th through 29th, and try one of Planet Bonnie’s amazing cupcakes! Let me tell you, they are the best EVER.  Here’s a photo of some of these delicious bites of heaven:


Oh, and check out the new premium just for this Pledge Drive: a KMFA “personal comforter.” OK, I know that sounds too formal, but it’s because I don’t think we can use the trademark name of “Snuggy.” But you know what I mean. It’s just like a “Snuggy.” Sara Hessel has dubbed it the “Snuggluffagus.” It proudly proclaims your love of KMFA *and* it keeps you warm and fuzzy at the same time! They are a big hit so far. You can view it and other new gifts on our website, just click here. 

 (Special thanks to Holly, our Dir. of Individual Giving, for being our model for the photos. )

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

In the KMFA Studios: Texas Early Music Project



 “Laurie Stevens and Friends” visited the KMFA studios today for interviews and live performances in KMFA’s Studio 2000.  The occasion: Sara Hessel was interviewing them for Ancient Voices this weekend. Tune in at 9am or 4pm  this Sunday as she chats with Laurie Stevens, Manfredo Kraemer, and Paul Leenhouts about their upcoming concert (visit the TEMP website for more info on this wonderful event).  


Here are some fun photos I took while they were warming up.  Enjoy!    


Jeffrey Blair, sound engineer

Dianne Donovan cooks up some jazz

Dianne Donovan, Mady Kaye, and Beth Ullman are The Beat Divas.

As diverse as classical music is,  our KMFA announcers and hosts are also known for their expertise in other musical genres. Our mid-day host, Dianne Donovan, is also a famous for her jazz singing! She is one-third of a group called The Beat Divas, and in addition to preforming at local jazz venues, they also teach a cooking class at Central Market. This class, “Dishin’ up the Divas,” was recently featured in the Austin American Statesman. Click on the thumbnail image below to read the whole article, complete with recipe!

~posted by Alison at KMFA  🙂

In the KMFA Studios: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

Dianne Donovan and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

We were delighted to welcome Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg into the studio today! She spoke with Dianne Donovan in a live interview during the 11am hour.  If you missed the interview, you can listen to it again on our website.

 Ms. Salerno-Sonennberg is an internationally reknown violinist, and she is in town to perform with the Austin Symphony Orchestra this weekend (along with Stephen Hamilton, organist) in celebration of Samuel Barber’s centennial birthday. For more information about the ASO’s event, you can visit their website by clicking here.

When Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg was chatting with Dianne about visiting Austin, she mentioned how remarkable it was that we Austinites enjoy a full-time classical music station….  and she was impressed with the quality and diversity of Austin’s arts events.

Yay! It’s always fun to hear such KMFA is part of what makes Austin unique, especially from such an esteemed artist.

~ submitted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

Ode to a ringtone

These short videos have been making the classical-music rounds… they are each an ode to the ubiquitous Nokia ringtone of yester-year.

First video: Named Valse Irritation , it is attributed to composer/pianist Marc Andre Hamelin. Rumor has it that he plays this spontaneously when he hears a cell phone ring during a performance. Cute!

Second video:  this is a fugue based on the same Nokia ringtone melody, this one composed by Vincent Lo, who states that this ringtone originated from Francisco Tárrega’s solo guitar piece Gran Vals.


~submitted by Alison @ KMFA  :-)

Music as Medicine, Part 2

We found this article here:

Researchers explore how melodies can help regulate heart, boost hormones

Article by Bill Briggs, contributor
As Victor Fabry napped in his hospital bed, a quiet symphony filled his room. The steady pulse of a cardiac monitor marked the progress of his mending heart. Over that beat, the swaying strains of a Brazilian guitarist pumped nearly nonstop from a CD player on the shelf.

For nine days after his surgery at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute in Morristown, N.J., Fabry soaked up that tranquil, wordless strumming. And while he praised his surgeon, he raved about the musical score that accompanied his recovery.

His heart literally fell in rhythm with guitarist Tomaz Lima. The music became his medicine.

“Very restful, very soothing,” said Fabry, 68, now almost two years removed from the surgery. Immediately after his operation, a live harpist also played at his bedside. “The mind influences your recovery. Anything that quiets your anxiety is powerful.”

Listen carefully and you’ll hear the same refrain at a rising number of hospitals. From Massachusetts General to the Mayo Clinic, patients are hearing the first strains of a harmonious movement — the infusion and inclusion of music in the treatment of ailments, from brain disorders to cancer. This goes beyond the psychological smile favorite songs can induce.

Doctors are increasingly studying — and employing — the physiological dance music does with the body’s neurons and blood-carrying cells.

“We’re in the infancy,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the Center for Neurological Restoration at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. During a surgery called deep brain stimulation — performed while patients with Parkinson’s disease are awake — Rezai and his team play classical compositions and measure the brain’s response to those notes. “We know music can calm, influence creativity, can energize. That’s great. But music’s role in recovering from disease is being ever more appreciated.”

Using music to help the ill has been employed for thousands of years, even though modern medicine is just starting to understand how it works, said Dr. Claudius Conrad, a senior surgical resident at Harvard Medical School and, himself, a gifted pianist. He is set to launch the first study of music’s impact on the sleep cycles of acute-care patients.

“Research has already shown that if you play a piece — like Mozart — at a certain slow beat, the listener will adapt their heart beat to the beat of the music.”

From musical notes to hormone stimulation
The anatomical route musical notes take through the body is indeed a busy highway celebrated in many songs, from head to heart. Based on interviews with neurologists and cardiologists, the journey from an instrument string to your heart strings goes something like this:

Sound waves travel through the air into the ears and buzz the eardrums and bones in the middle ears. To decode the vibration, your brain transforms that mechanical energy into electrical energy, sending the signal to its cerebral cortex — a hub for thought, perception and memory. Within that control tower, the auditory cortex forwards the message on to brain centers that direct emotion, arousal, anxiety, pleasure and creativity. And there’s another stop upstairs: that electrical cue hits the hypothalamus which controls heart rate and respiration, plus your stomach and skin nerves, explaining why a melody may give you butterflies or goose bumps. Of course, all this communication happens far faster than a single drum beat.

Before jetting through the blood stream, the signals are converted again — to hormones. At the University of Munich, Conrad was able to show that critically ill patients required fewer sedative drugs when they listened to one hour of Mozart piano sonatas. As expected, the patients’ blood pressures and heart rates eased with the music.

But what surprised Conrad is that the patients also showed a 50 percent spike in pituitary growth hormone, which is known to stimulate healing. Today, at Massachusetts General Hospital, Conrad asks his patients (or their families) in the surgical intensive care unit what music they’d like to hear; if neither is can provide an answer, he often plays Mozart.

Healing dose of Lady Gaga?
Classical is a common pick among doctors and therapists who use melody as a healing tool. The vibrations of stringed instruments in particular are said to mesh with the energy of the heart, small intestine, pericardium, thyroid and adrenal glands, according to a soon-to-be-published study by researchers at Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute in New Jersey. But what about rock or hip hop? Country or house? Does the body react as positively to Lady GaGa as it does Bach? Do you heal faster with Beethoven or a dose of Miley Cyrus?

“I recommend listening to joyful music as part of an overall prescription for maintaining good heart health,” said Dr. Michael Miller, director of the center for preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Joyful? “Music that brings out a natural high in order to maximize endorphin release,” explained Miller, whose research (presented last November to the American Heart Association) showed that hearing your favorite song can cause tissue in your blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow.

Miller examined 10 healthy, non-smoking volunteers before and after they grooved to tunes of their choice and measured a 26 percent jump in the diameter of their upper arm blood vessels. (Conversely, after wincing through music they hated, the volunteers’ blood vessels narrowed by six percent.)

Prescription for helping brain injuries heal?
At Cleveland Clinic, Rezai and other neurosurgeons collaborate with The Cleveland Orchestra to compose classical pieces to play for patients during brain operations. Rezai then gauges how individual neurons fire when the head hears those foreign chords and cadences, and he compares that reaction to how the neurons behave when familiar songs fill the operating room. Hair-sized sensors placed in the brain translate those signals to an amplifier. Study results are expected in three to six months.

The firing of a neuron “may sound like static to some, but it’s music to my ears,” said Rezai. Patients tell him when the music soothes them, and Rezai can hear the corresponding changes in a single neuron. The research, he said, can serve as a keystone for other studies of music’s potential in treating people with traumatic brain injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis and severe depression.

But some of the oldest healing music may still be the most potent. Frescos painted around 4,000 B.C. depict harp-playing priests. Today, live harpists can be heard at Gagnon, at the University of Rochester Medical Center and at least five other hospitals.

“This gentle but powerful instrument goes to the deepest places of the body that need to be healed,” said Tami Briggs, a pioneer in “harp therapy” who has played at the bedsides of hundreds of patients, including many at the Mayo Clinic. “I’m not a nurse, but I know enough about the monitors, and what I see is blood pressure usually goes down (when I play), oxygenation rates go up. That’s connected to that more peaceful place, where they are taking deeper breaths.”

The harp is the only instrument that has 20 to 50 strings and is open, unlike, say, a violin. When a harpist strikes a chord, she also opens vibrations in strings just above and below the few she plucks. Those vibes, Briggs said, are absorbed by the body.

“When I play, it’s as subtle as watching somebody relax in the littlest ways,” Briggs said. “They fall deeper into their bed.”

[We found this article here:]