Just for fun: “classical” architecture

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂
“When the owner of this structure asked for a music building, the architect took the request quite literally. Located in Huainan City, An Hui Province, China, the Piano House was built by the local government to draw interest to the newly developed area. It’s also a place where music students from the local college can practice and perform. A gorgeous transparent violin is attached to the piano building, which features a staircase that connects the two giant instruments.” ~ http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/the-piano-house

An April Fool’s blog post

~posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂

KMFA just recently wrapped up our Spring Fund Drive (thanks to our dedicated and appreciative listeners and supporters). And while we were able to raise enough funds and awareness to continue broadcasting commercial-free classical music in Central Texas, we did end up a little shy of our goal… and I can’t help but wonder, “What if….?” What if we did not have a successful pledge drive? What if listeners kept listening, but stopped supporting this rare gem?

For the past few years, our average listener base has been approximately 100,000 listeners per week. You might be surprised to learn that only 5% of of that number actually support KMFA with personal donations in any dollar amount.

A while back, my colleagues and I shared a creative-writing exercise during our lunch break. It basically proceeded thus: What if KMFA vanished tomorrow? No longer existed? Poof, gone? We tasked ourselves to eulogize the very radio station that we assumed would be around forever. The point of our exercise was to articulate exactly what we valued most about KMFA, and what we would miss if we didn’t have an all-classical oasis on our radio dial. Of course, to keep it from being too sad, we injected a bit of hypothetical humor as well.

So, in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, here is what we wrote:


On [date of demise], Central Texas lost it’s only source for classical music on the radio. KMFA, our classical music friend and companion, departed this world after a long battle with apathy. It’s last words were reputed to have been “472-2221…”

In its 45 years on this earth, KMFA blossomed from a 1-room, 2-employee, 4-hour operation into a glorious enterprise consisting of a dozen employees and 24/7 service to the community. KMFA dedicated its life to expanding musical horizons in its community while providing the finest classical music programming. It also strove to provide comfort and solace to any who sought the warmth of its welcoming embrace. 

“The community is in a state of disbelief today at the loss of KMFA, Classical 89.5,” said Austin Mayor Leslie Cochran. “We thought it would always be there to provide its rare programming. There were only 9 such radio stations in the United States; now there are 8. Our city’s cultural landscape is devastated by its absence.” 

KMFA will be forever remembered as providing companionship, inspiration, therapy, and solace.

Survivors include listeners, (former) members, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. They will dearly miss the palliative effects on road rage, crying babies, pet-sitting, and late-night studying. 

Fans request that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the KMFA Phoenix Fund.

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂

Just for fun: play Google’s online guitar

When the legendary guitarist Les Paul’s birthday rolled around, Google posted an interactive “Google Doodle” in his honor: an online, playable guitar! Although the birthday is long passed, here’s a persisting archival link to it:  http://www.google.com/logos/2011/lespaul.html

Not only did it allow you to strum the strings with your mouse cursor, it could record what you played and play it back for you. Lots of folks took it to the next level and posted videos of their music-making on YouTube. Here’s one of my favorites (Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9):


~posted by Alison @ KMFA 🙂

McCallum’s music in the park

~posted by Phil Pollack, KMFA Tech Ops Manager

Last weekend I enjoyed the great pleasure of  attending the McCallum Orchestra’s event, Music in the Park.  Held in the Mueller neighborhood’s Lake Park Amphitheater, the Orchestra played musical arrangements from favorite movies.

The student musicians all wore blinking lights while they performed on the night-time stage, and scenes from each film score that they played would appear on the movie screen behind them.  And at the end, how could I miss the 1980’s classic “Back to the Future” that was shown following the concert?

This was a free, family friendly event, encouraging donations to assist with orchestra expenses. It was the second of a series. I definitely recommend attending their next performance!

Here’s a short video clip featuring an orchestral version from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack:

Halloween at the Symphony!

~posted by Holly Algreen, KMFA’s Director of Individual Giving

On Sunday, October 23rd, I had the opportunity to attend the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Children’s Concert at the Long Center. With a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow, we made our way to the Long Center on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We had Snow White, Pinkalicious and Yoda with us, and once we arrived we saw lots of princesses, Tinker Bells, ninjas, and ghosts in attendance.

The concert started out with Marco Perella as the Master of Ceremonies (dressed in a clown costume of course) by greeting everyone and explaining each section of the orchestra with guest conductor Irwin Wagner. As he announced each section they would play something familiar. The kids seem to love hearing the wind section, but the percussion section received the greatest applause. Then we heard The Smurfs March and enjoyed life-sized Smurfs dancing on stage! As the show went on we heard the ET theme-song and were amazed by skeletons and spiders coming down from the ceiling. All the kids screamed and laughed in surprise. Before the main event, “Peter and the Wolf,” we enjoyed a sing along of “My Pumpkin Lives Right Here in Austin,” which all three kids have been singing for days since. It’s now become a theme song in our home. And then we enjoyed a narrative, with music and pictures on the big screen of Peter and the Wolf.

The Concert was a wonderful introduction for kids to the symphony. They loved all the costumes, the spooky decorations throughout the Long Center and of course the music. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween with music and fun for kids! I highly recommend this annual treat for any family with kids!

Just for Fun: Translating weather into music– from stormy weather to “Stormy Weather”

At KMFA we are always on the lookout for interesting interpretations of music. Here’s the latest: Nathalie Miebach, a contributor to the amazing T.E.D. Talks, translates weather and climate data into musical scores, which she then renders into vibrant, whimsical sculptures. She uses them as the basis for collaboration with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres. She says on her website, “Musical notation allows me a more nuanced way of translating information without compromising it.”

Each sculpture maps the meteorological landscape of weather of a specific time and place, but is also a fully functional musical score to be played and interpreted by musicans on instruments, such as piano, French horn and electrican guitar.

"Stormy Weather, Internal Storms --Score for Sculptor and Musician" (You can click on this image to hear the actual music)

"She's Coming on Strong" -- This piece is a rendering of the path of both Hurricane Grace and the Halloween Storm, which created the "Perfect Storm"

"Urban Weather Prairies" is based on data collected in Omaha, Nebraska, during a 2-month period in 2008.

You can listen to the resulting music, as well as see more sculptures, on Nathalie Miebach’s website. One of the songs actually sounds like rain on piano keys. Perhaps playing it would be a bit of a rainmaker here in Central Texas.   🙂

~posted by Alison @ KMFA

Pianos in the Park, Part 2

In response to the blog post I posted about the pianos stationed around Austin last month, I received a nice email from a KMFA listener and musician, Aragorn Eissler, about a multi-media project he created that surrounds the Play Me I’m Yours piano installation around downtown Austin. He told me that he composed a series of nine piano preludes and then performed them in one circuit on his bicycle on the hike and bike trail.

SO, basically, Mr. Eissler composed a short piece of music for each location, then put on his tuxedo, grabbed his video camera, and set off on his bike to perform each one.  The result is a charming group of videos with lovely music in the foreground, with chirping birds and mopeds and the Austin skyline in the background. You don’t usually get that kind of Austin ambience in a concert hall….

On his webpage he says that throughout the day, “Austinites were very friendly. It wasn’t strange at all to see someone playing live music downtown, but riding a bike in a tux down the hike and bike trail earned me some sideways glances!”

Here’s the link to watch all his videos: http://www.aratunes.us

Here’s one of the pieces (all of them are under 3 minutes each):

Thanks for sharing these with us, Ara!

~ posted by Alison @ KMFA  🙂