Classical Crossovers, Part 1 : The Beatles… Classically!

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

Last week, a bunch of us had the opportunity to attend The Eggmen performance  (“with full orchestra”) at the Paramount Theater. It was a BLAST! If you have not yet heard of The Eggmen, they are a Beatles tribute band, winning “Best Cover Band” from the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll for the past 5 years.

This particular concert was a special benefit for the McCallum Fine Arts Academy Orchestra, and the McCallum Chamber Orchestra actually performed with them during their second set. The Beatles used a lot of orchestral music in the recordings of their later compositions, and the McCallum kids really stepped up and did a great job… and looked like they were having a great time, too!

Let me tell you, the singing, the music, the wardrobes…it was just like being at a real live Beatles concert! (Without the screaming girls fainting in the front row, that is.) They sang their first set with songs from the early years, wearing trim black suits and sporting Liverpool accents. For the second set, they changed into groovier psychedelic clothes from their later years, awash with color, including bell-bottom pants, peasant shirts and authentic instruments from the 1970s; there was a great light show in the background, and the whole thing looked like a Peter Max painting come to life!

 I’m pleased to report that they played at least 20 of my favorite Beatles songs.  😉  The highlight for me was the sing-along portions of Yellow Submarine and Hey, Jude. By the end of the concert we were just that giddy!

Speaking of McCallum, the opening act was a short set by The Apple Trio. They are McCallum students who have their own extracurricular trio, and they performed their own compositions which really were impressive.

All in all, it was a great concert, and three hours flew like minutes, it was so much fun. There were even fellow audience members dancing in the aisles! Bravo to The Paramount for hosting this event, and to the McCallum Orchestra fund-raising team, and to The Eggmen, and to the wonderfully talented students of the McCallum Chamber Orchestra.  I can’t wait for next year!  🙂

I love the ’80s…?

LOLz, Kelsey found this funny link on the other day:


Click  on the image to go there….It’s a set of free downloads of classical recordings from the 1880s.

[The title is a spoof on that VH1 show,  “I love the ’80’s,”  that featured music videos from that industry’s nascent period, therefore funny and nostalgic at the same time.]

  • Symphony no. 3 in F Major: Johannes Brahms – London Philharmonia Orchestra – Marin Alsop
  • Symphony no. 1 in D Major (Titan): Gustav Mahler – Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – Michael Halasz
  • Symphony no. 5 in e minor, op 64: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – Antoni Wit
  • Symphony no. 6 in D Major op. 60: Antonin Dvorak – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – Stephen Gunzenhauser
  • Symphony no. 3 in a minor (unfinished): Alexander Porfir’yevich Borodin – Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra – Stephen Gunzenhauser
  • Symphony no. 3 in c minor “Organ”: Camille Saint-Saens – Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra – Imrich Szabo
  • Symphony no. 9 in d minor WAB 109: Anton Bruckner – Royal Scottish National Orchestra – Georg Tintner


~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

Anne Akiko Meyers and Anton Nel perform together at UT

KMFA is out and about on the Austin classical-music scene…. this particular event was the recital with Anne Akiko Meyers and Anton Nel, last Sunday, Feb. 7, presented by The Jessen Series of Faculty Artists — The University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music — at the Bates Recital Hall

(posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA host and producer of KMFA’s Classical Austin)

It was a much anticipated event: violinist Anne Akiko Meyers’ first recital here since joining the faculty of the Butler School of Music at UT. She performed with piano-great Anton Nel (also part of the Butler Music School faculty).

In a varied and somewhat daring program that included Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 5 (The Spring),  sandwiched between pieces by Alfred Schnittke (Suite in the Old Style and Stille Nacht) in the first half of the program, and a new work for electronics and violin by Jakub Ciupinski in the second half. Ms. Meyers proved why she has earned the title of “trailblazing violinist.” She is comfortable in many styles and sonic textures and is always reaching and growing. To cap the afternoon we were treated to lovely readings of the American standards, Autumn in New York (Vernon Duke) and Summertime (George Gershwin) — the former uncannily reminiscent of that hero fiddler of the Hot Club of France, Stéphane Grappelli.

The pairing with pianist Anton Nel was brilliant. They have a beautiful rapport.  I was reminded of how lucky we all are to have such great artists right here in Central Texas. We’ll look forward to this pairing again soon!

~ posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA host and producer  🙂

“From the Top” visits Texas

On From the Top this week, we’ll be hearing a performance by an 18-year-old organist who makes his home in Beaumont, Texas! Samuel Gaskin has been studying the organ since he was nine years old, and has already racked up some impressive credentials: in 2007 he was awarded first prize at the French Organ Music Seminar/Langlais competition in New York City, and in 2006 at age 14 he was the youngest person to be awarded first prize in the high school division of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition in Wethersfield, CT. In the summer of 2005, he visited Paris and performed in recital at St. Roch. Samuel is organist at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Beaumont. 


Here’s the official FTT description:

This week, from Jones Concert Hall at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, our line-up of outstanding performers includes an 18-year-old from California playing a rousing piano version of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and a 17-year-old Texan playing the great Jones Hall organ. You’ll also meet a teenager who is a touring bluegrass and Celtic musician when he’s not playing classical music, and catch up with an outstanding From the Top alumnus who now devotes his life to medicine.

Performers and Repertoire:

  • Violinist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Yurie Mitsuhashi, 17, from Fort Lee, NJ, performs Danse Hongroise by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Pianist Vijay Venkatesh, 18 from Laguna Niguel, CA, performs “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Vladimir Horowitz
  • Organist Samuel Gaskin, organ, 17, from College Station, TX, performs II. Fugue from Prelude & Fugue on Alain, Op. 17 by Maurice Duruflé
  •  Bassoonist and 10th Anniversary Alumni Performer LaMont Barlow from New York, NY, performs I. Introduction and Allegro from Suite for Bassoon and Piano by Alexandre Tansman.
  • Cellist Nathaniel Smith, 15, from Brandon, MS, performs Serenade, Op. 54, No. 2 by David Popper
  • Cellist Nathaniel Smith; fiddler Mia Orosco, 16, from Lorena, TX; and guitarist Simon Stipp perform the traditional “Sally Goodin”

Tune in to KMFA for From the Top, this Saturday at 11am.

Anne Akiko Meyers and Anton Nel visit the KMFA studios

Anne Akiko Meyers and Anton Nel visited the KMFA studios yesterday for a live-to-tape interview with Dianne Donovan for her program, Classical Austin. Their interview premiers on KMFA this Wednesday evening at 8pm.

It was so exciting to eavesdrop through the studio door while they were warming up at their respective instruments…  Ms. Meyers at the Violin, and Mr. Nel on the piano… two of classical music’s brightest international stars, and they live right here in Austin, Texas!

In Wednesday’s Classical Austin, Ms. Meyers and Mr. Nel will be chatting with Ms. Donovan about their upcoming performance at the U.T. Butler School of Music, in the Bates Recital Hall, this Sunday, Feb. 7th at 4pm.  You can find out more about this event by clicking here. 

If you missed Dianne’s interview on Classical Austin (Wednesdays at 8pm) you can listen to the highlights by clicking here.

Everything Old is New Again

(photo credit: Jim Garrison took this spectacular shot from the balcony view at St. Mary Cathedral.)


~ submitted by Sara Hessel, KMFA Music Director 

A fine crowd gathered in St. Mary Cathedral on Friday, January 29 to hear ‘Harmonia Ariosa: Vocal and Instrumental Music from 17th century Austria and Italy,’ performed by Laurie Young Stevens and Friends and presented by Texas Early Music Project. Violinist Laurie Young Stevens is one of Austin’s premier period-instrument performers, and LYS & Friends has become a yearly concert event. If I had friends like Laurie’s, I’d want to show them off, too!

Internationally acclaimed Argentinean violinist Manfredo Kraemer joined in for the first time. He has performed with exceptional early music ensembles like Musica Antiqua Köln and Jordi Savall’s Concert de Nations, and can be heard on countless CDs. What a joy and a pleasure it was to hear him perform works like Schmelzer’s Harmonia a 5 and Biber’s Partita III.

Cellist Phoebe Carrai has become an LYS & Friends regular, and I always look forward to her amazing performances. A highlight this time was a moving canzona by Frescobaldi, in which she made her 17th century cello ring with marvelous sonorities.

Another Friend we’re always glad to see return is recorder virtuoso Paul Leenhouts from the Netherlands. He blew us away (literally!) with his amazing technique, fleet fingers and seemingly boundless lung capacity! The audience loved his performance of Canzone Sesta by Angelo Berardi, judging by the ensuing applause and cheers! Paul also arranged the pieces on the program, and included 3 pieces that he discovered in various libraries and archives around Europe, works never before heard on US soil. It’s amazing to think of ‘new’ early music- pieces that may not have been heard since their first performance (if at all). One of Paul’s finds, Paduana and Gagliarda V by Isaac Posch, was a highlight for me, being exceptionally lovely with just the right amount of Germanic melancholy. My other favorite piece on the program was Georg Muffat’s Passacaglia (sometimes called Chaconne) from Sonata V, a work of absolute soaring beauty that will cure any bout of the blues. You’ll hear it in rotation on KMFA, which I consider a public service.  🙂

Harpsichordist/organist Gabriel Shuford was kept busy all evening playing continuo, but he also had his chance to shine in a solo toccata by Frescobaldi. Frescobaldi was nice enough to warn potential players in the manuscript: “you won’t get to the end without suffering.” But Gabriel didn’t even seem to break a sweat as he wowed the audience with this aural thrill ride, full of bizarre chromatics.

Completing the group of friends were violinist Kathleen Kajioka from Toronto, violist Andrew Justice from Denton, contrabassist David Dawson from Austin, and superlative soprano Jenifer Thyssen, well known to early music fans here in Central Texas.

Keep bringing your friends to town, Laurie! I’m sure I’m not the only one already looking forward to next year’s performance!

(submitted by Sara Hessel, KMFA Music Director )

(Dianne Donovan took this photo of the beautiful church stage)