Kevin Patterson gives a shout out to KMFA supporters (literally)

This afternoon we welcomed another famous Austin Arts personage: Kevin Patterson, General Director of the Austin Lyric Opera!

Kevin visited us during the 9th day of our Spring Membership Drive. He shared several meaningful insights about why he feels it’s important to support and nurture an all-classical community radio station; the one reason that particularly struck me was how Austin’s Opera and KMFA are complementary partners in our wonderful Arts community!  KMFA exposes all varieties of opera to Central Texas, and recently, the partnership that we enjoy allows us to live-broadcast the ALO season premiers. Thank you Kevin for your support of KMFA!

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂

Matthew Hinsley lends a hand to KMFA

Dr. Matthew Hinsley, Executive Director of Austin Classical Guitar Society, stopped by on Monday to lend us a hand during our Spring Membership Drive. He and Dianne Donovan talked on the air about the importance of preserving a local, member-supported classical music radio station… and from a personal perspective, he reminded listeners that KMFA doesn’t just broadcast classical music, but also promotes the study and practice of performing it. (For example, KMFA is a media sponsor for the McCallum Fine Arts Academy, as well as primary sponsor for the KMFA Young Musicians Competition.) 

Thank you, Dr. Hinsley, for your support of KMFA!

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

Maestro Peter Bay on the air

On Monday morning, one of our esteemed visitors was Maestro Peter Bay, the Artistic Director and Conductor at the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Bay is a frequent contributor to KMFA’s program, Classical Austin, often discussing the next ASO performance.

However,  on this visit, Maestro Bay spoke about a slightly different matter: the value of a public-radio classical music station in Austin, Texas!

Of course, it’s not exactly a shocker that a conductor of a symphony would espouse the merits of exposing the Austin area to orchestral delights. But Maestro Bay *did* surprise me when he said that the diversity of our CD library is so extensive that he has actually discovered new works while listening to KMFA… works that are completely new to him, and he has encorporated them into ASO programs.

So there you have it. Our Kent Kennan Library has such a diverse quality that even subject matter experts find new things to like about classical music!

~ posted by Alison at KMFA  🙂

Our Spring Membership Drive kicks off today!

We’re just beginning our annual Spring Membership Drive, as of 6pm this morning! And even though the Springtime Drive is an annual KMFA tradition, each drive is unique to me. Part of the fun arises from the visitors who help us on the air… they are all community leaders who genuinely welcome the opportunity to speak personally about why they value their classical-music radio station.

This morning we especially enjoyed a visit by Khotan Shahbazi-Harmon, who loves community radio. She is well known for her award-winning on-air interviews with humanitarians and authors, and is also a member of the KMFA Community Advisory Board. She said on the air that she loves KMFA because it’s a reflection of Austin’s community… with quality programming, diversity, and enrichment. 

I’ve already pledged, myself, but I’m glued to the radio because I love hearing visitors describe KMFA from their own heart. Invariably, it’s not just about classical music, it’s also about more abstract benefits to the listeners and to the community, in ways unique to that individual. They are so articulate, it’s inspiring!

I’ll try to keep you posted about who’s next in the studio, but I really recommend listening…. And we’re still playing gorgeous music, too!

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

KMFA visits KLRU’s ACL set at UT


~ posted by Jules Brandon, host of KMFA’s Sunday Matinee.

Recently, a group of us at KMFA had the opportunity to be part of the audience at the KLRU-TV taping of Anton Nel and Bion Tsang’s performance in the Austin City Limits sound stage (they were taping a segment for KLRU’s show, In Context). They played a few pieces from their new CD, eponymously titled “Bion Tsang and Anton Nel Live in Concert.” Both performers are instructors at the UT Butler School of music, so this is their “home turf.”

The experience we had was so special! Music like this is always moving, regardless of where you are when you hear it. But to be in such close proximity to the artists was wonderful. It felt like a private concert in a friend’s living room. We witnessed exactly how they bring music to life, as well as the nuances of their interactions with each other as partners who have performed together more times than you can count. All of this added a level of intensity to the experience that was nothing short of breathtaking. I’m looking forward to hearing the CD! And thanks, KLRU, for inviting us to be a part of this “Classically Austin” event.  🙂 


A Russian feast – Barbara Nissman’s visit to the Austin Symphony

 ~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA weekday announcer

Sometimes my ears crave something special. On Saturday the Austin Symphony Orchestra served up a feast for the ears, that featured music by Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.

The program began with a marvelous appetizer, namely, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s gorgeous “Vocalise,” just the piece to awaken the palate before the more dramatic fare on the menu.

The guest soloist with the ASO for this performance was Barbara Nissman, billed as “…one of the last pianists in the grand romantic tradition of Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Rubinstein.” The piece was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor…a real “knuckle-buster.” When I think of this piece, I am reminded of the old story about how Michelangelo created his statue of David: “I just cut out all the parts that didn’t look like David.” I had the sense that Rachmaninoff started with black manuscript and simply erased all the parts that didn’t sound like a piano concerto (at least with regard to the piano part). Ms. Nissman gave a commanding performance.

The pièce de resistance for me was the performance of the Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47, by Dmitri Shostakovich. I have to say that this piece has been a favorite of mine for decades. A composer of the Soviet era, Shostakovich was under fierce scrutiny when he wrote this piece (or any other, for that manner), and that harsh reality is reflected throughout the work. Under the direction of Maestro Peter Bay, the ASO deftly caught the sudden shifting moods, with great attention to dynamics. I thought I saw the audience leaning forward and back, sympathetically, as the orchestra told Shostakovich’s compelling story.

As is often the case with such soirées, everyone in attendance (on stage and off) left the table a little bit slower, smiling and reflecting on the feast and the fine presentation. Kudos to Maestro Bay and the ASO!

Dianne Donovan is KMFA’s midday announcer and host/producer of Classical Austin. If you missed the recent Classical Austin episode (Feb. 24th) featuring Maestro Peter Bay’s insights on this event, you can listen to it again on our website by clicking here.

Austinite musician performs in the National Symphony Orchestra

Because the world of classical music performance is so very competitive, it gives us a thrill when we hear about a local, native Austinite who emerges on the national scene. One such talented musician is Mr. Nicholas Stovall, oboist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Stovall grew up in Austin, and attended the esteemed Interlochen Arts Academy during his high-school senior year.  (Austin has a lot of Interlochen alumni, I’ve noticed…) He was recently lauded in a Washington Post review about an NSO performance (led by guest conductor Frühbeck de Burgos), and you can read the article on the Washington Post website by clicking here. (It might require a free registration).

We wish Mr. Stovall continued success in his career in classical music! And thanks for making Austin proud.   🙂