Welcome Steinway artist Tony Tobin in this week’s edition of “Pianoforte”

Guest blogger: Sarah Addison, producer and writer of KMFA’s Pianoforte

KMFA Host Jules Brandon and guest pianist Tony Tobin

This week on Pianoforte, host Jules Brandon is joined in the studio by Austin pianist and filmmaker Tony Tobin. Tune in Wednesday night to get a special preview of his new album, Journeys, featuring Debussy’s Preludes, and his new film, Claude Debussy: Light and Impressionism, which will premiere at the Georgetown Festival of Arts on June 1st.

Here’s a preview of his Debussy film:

Toward the end of this video, you’ll see a familiar face: a conversation with Peter Bay demonstrating Debussy as an impressionist. (You can check out more film previews at www.debussypiano.com.)

Tune in for more insights as well as music from Tony Tobin, this Wednesday at 9pm, right here on KMFA, 89.5.

~posted by Sarah Addison, producer of Pianoforte

Let’s Go See the Stars: Wagner’s Rheingold in HD

Guest blogger: Hannah Kate Schaeffer

Last night, I went to see a Metropolitan Opera broadcast on the big screen (at a Cinemark movie theatre near you). This concept may seem odd to you, as it was to me when I watched promotions for it before the movie I paid to see. I always asked myself who would pay to see a 3-hour-long opera at a movie theatre when instead you could see a quick, shallow romantic comedy? As of yesterday, though, I will no longer wonder about the lost souls who spent their money on such an attraction because I am now one of them!

Yes, the production played for 2 ½ hours without intermission, and the local Cinemark is nothing compared to the stunning Met Opera concert hall, but after 2 minutes of Wagner’s Das Rheingold I was hooked. The opera is part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which consists of 6 parts – each playing separately through the next few weeks.

The Rheinmaidens

The curtains opened to three mermaids (or Rheinmaidens) who sang lightly like angels as they guarded Das Rheingold – the golden ring that can only be kept by someone who vows to live without love. The maiden’s flirty voices made a striking contrast against the bellowing song of the god Wotan and his almighty brothers. As Wotan traveled through the gray perdition to find Das Rheingold, he was led by his brother, a god of fire with the loveliest voice of all. They eventually acquired the coveted ring and narrowly escaped the curses of the vengeful and deceitful previous owner. In the end, all was well and Wotan’s brother created a rainbow for the heavenly royalty to pass through to their next journey.

Wotan descends

My favorite part of this production, however, was the stage set. The ambiance was minimalist yet monumental; a row of tall, rotating bars stretched out across the stage and served as both a backdrop and an interactive platform. In one moment, the mermaids used their tails to sweep watery rocks down into the depths of the ocean and in the next a starry sky would appear behind the gods. Wotan’s brother conjured up a thunderstorm as he stood atop the horizontal bars, striking down lightning wherever he thrust his staff. When a god or goddess flew in from the ‘sky,’ they actually slid down the bars on their bellies and landed among the ‘clouds’ where the other gods stood. Wotan and his guide walked completely parallel to the stage floor across the vertical bars and down into the underworld.

Das Rheingold was nothing less than an invigorating journey and an engaging performance from the Met Opera cast. The remaining performances are Siegfried (May 16) and Gotterdammerung (May 19).  They are playing at The Arbor Cinema, the Metropolitan 14, and Cinemark Southpark Meadows.

 ~posted by Hannah Kate Schaeffer, KMFA Administrative Assistant

Videos from the Austin Symphony’s Young Composer’s Concert!

Guest blogger: Dianne Donovan, KMFA-FM announcer and producer of  KMFA’s program, Classical Austin

I had the great honor of introducing the Texas Young Composers Concert last Thursday evening, a presentation of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Long Center For the Performing Arts.

Frankly, I was astonished at the level of polish, maturity and creativity in the pieces, all of which were written by teenagers from a wide range of backgrounds an influences. One could feel the anticipation in the air before each composition was performed by the Austin Symphony under the careful baton of Maestro Peter Bay. This is something these young artists and the audience won’t soon forget. Kudos to A.S.O. Executive Director, Anthony Corroa, for his vision on this project and thanks to the ASO board and The Long Center for the Performing Arts for recognizing young talent, and for understanding this talent needs nurturing.

All the young composer finalists gather with ASO Maestro Peter Bay for a photograph the night of the concert.

Throughout the evening’s performance, Buckalew Media provided brief video interviews with each of the young composers, and if you missed the concert, we are happy to share a few of  them with you now. These young artists revealed themselves to be articulate and insightful beyond their years!

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