In the KMFA studios: Robert Kyr and Ryan Heller

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA mid-day announcer and host of Classical Austin

In last week’s episode of KMFA’s Classical Austin, I had the pleasure of interviewing composer Robert Kyr and Chorus Austin’s Artistic Director, Ryan Heller.  They offered a closer look at an event that is part of the Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project. 

If you missed that episode, you can hear the interview portion again here, on the KMFA website.

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA announcer and producer of Classical Austin

Young performers shine at the ACO Pearl Amster Youth Concerto concert

~posted by Hannah Kate Schaeffer, KMFA Administrative Assistant

I had a chance to attend the Austin Civic Orchestra perform at the Bethany Lutheran Church this past weekend.  It’s a local event, with local artists providing their talents to a local audience. It isn’t every weekend you can hear live, classical music in this city, so I felt lucky to have two tickets to this performance.

The program began as a showcase of the talents of four talented winners of the Pearl Amster Youth Concerto competition. Three violinists and one pianist played along with the orchestra as if they had been performing like this for the entirety of their young lives. One blond violinist rocked out on his violin, like a young Mick Jagger who plays Scottish-themed concertos with symphonic orchestras instead of classic rock bands. Their parents and family members watched proudly as the young talents performed. Sure, a few of them have already  performed at Carnegie Hall, but that evening they had their own orchestras to back their solo performances in their home town.

Collin Turner, age 18, performing the final movement of Scottish Fantasy by Max Bruch as part of the ACO sponsored Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Festival at Bethany Lutheran Church on March 10, 2012

After a quick intermission filled with a deep yearning for a slice of the gigantic celebratory cake that sat in the back hall (to be eaten after the performance), ACO played the suite from Bernstein’s quintessential Broadway composition, West Side Story. I later asked conductor Dr. Ferrari why she chose this piece, assuming a connection between the young performers present and the young characters in West Side Story, but she just explained that she loved the musical, and the timing happened to be perfect. Well fine, Dr. Ferrari, but I’d still like to think that there’s something of a cosmic link between the young hopefuls at the concert that night and the adolescents who sang about their life’s springtime in West Side Story. But there at Bethany Church, the world provided a concrete ending to an age-old story that is rarely ever finished – the kids won.
    ~posted by Hannah Kate Schaeffer, KMFA Administrative Assistant

Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves visits the KMFA studios!

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA announcer and producer of Classical Austin

What a thrill it was to hear the great American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. While it was an all-French program, it was a rare treat to have music from such different sources. It was interesting hearing the differences in the timbre Ms. Graves’ voice in Ravel’s hauntingly sumptuous and exotic Shéherazade to the vocal colors she used in the arias, which were delivered in full operatic throttle. There were a few sobs heard as she sang Saint-Saens’ “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila, but when she came back on stage to sing arias from another one of her signature roles, Carmen, we had a taste of the opera itself. In the Habanera, “L’amour est un oiseaux rebelle,” Ms. Graves gave us some very creative, playful phrasing the likes of which I had not yet heard on recordings.

The Austin Symphony under the direction of Maestro Peter Bay was in fine form with the soloist and in the instrumental pieces, the highlight for me being, Maurice Ravel’s, “La Valse.”

Denyce Graves and KMFA's Dianne Donovan

[Dianne Donovan had the great honor of interviewing Ms. Graves while she was in Austin for her performance with the Austin Symphony. If you missed that episode of Classical Austin, you can listen to it again here.]

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA announcer and producer of Classical Austin