Kara McLeland

Classical Music Host

A Wyoming native, Kara relocated to Tennessee in 2005 to earn an undergraduate degree in voice performance and composition from Belmont University and a master’s degree in musicology from MTSU.

In addition to hosting on Classical 91.1, she has taught courses in music history and appreciation at Belmont and MTSU. She is also a singer-songwriter, an active member of the Nashville theatre community, and a lover of photography, books, and dogs. She and her husband Ryan live in Nashville with their daughter, Rooney, and goldendoodle, Wallace. 

 

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Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

From violent crashing waves to bubbling brooks, water in all its configurations has long inspired classical composers. On April 30 & May 1, the Gateway Chamber Orchestra will perform a program that celebrates nature’s beauty, with John Luther Adams’s water-centered piece Become River as a highlight. Before you see the performance, here are eight more aqueous works to enjoy as a musical amuse-bouche:

John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (2013)

Danny Clinch / nonesuch.com

A mandolinist, a cellist and a double bassist walk into a barn. No, this isn’t the beginning of some terribly bad joke, but it is how Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma came together to record music of J.S. Bach. Their new album Bach Trios was released earlier this month. 

Wikimedia Commons

The tradition of writing liturgical music began centuries ago, when the main employer of European composers was the Christian church. Since then, an abundance of music has been created to commemorate the Biblical events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Composers approach musical retellings of Christianity's most important holiday from a variety of perspectives; here are just a few pieces to listen to during Holy Week: 

serafinquartet.org/vanderbilt.edu

Playing in a string quartet isn’t easy. “You hear so many stories of how it goes wrong,” says Kate Ransom, violinist for the Serafin Quartet and one of the group’s founding members. “It’s such a delicate balance, you have to work so intimately together” she continues, citing a laundry list of moving parts that keep Serafin running smoothly.

Unknown/Stanley Donwood / Wikimedia Commons/allmusic.com

What do 19th century Romantic-era composer Johannes Brahms and modern alt-rockers Radiohead have in common? A lot more that you might think, according to Steve Hackman.

The young conductor, composer and all-around musician has been making a name for himself in recent years with his orchestral “mash-ups,” which seek to synthesize well known and well loved orchestral and pop masterworks.

Anita Martinz / Wikimedia Commons

Today marks the vernal equinox, and for the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of spring. With the turn of the season comes warmer weather (at least, in theory), the first buds on the trees and blooms on the ground, afternoon thunderstorms and choruses of chirping birds.

If you're smitten with this season, you aren't alone: tons of composers throughout history have been inspired by spring to write some unforgettable music. 

Jim McGuire / edgarmeyer.com

In 1986, Edgar Meyer made his first solo appearance with the Nashville Symphony, performing Bottesini’s Double Bass Concerto No. 2. Now, 30 years later, Meyer will play the piece with the orchestra again. This time, however, the accompanying program will include the world premiere of a new piece composed by Meyer himself.

This isn't the first time the Nashville Symphony has premiered a new work by Meyer, but it does signal a new approach to writing music for the award-winning composer and instrumentalist. 

Bonica Ayala

To get a sense of some of the most unique vocal practices from around the globe – Tuvan and Inuit throat singing, yodeling, Korean P’ansori, heavy metal vocal styles, and Sardinian cantu a tenore, just to name a few—you’d need a hefty amount of airline miles and an extended vacation to travel the world in search of such diverse traditions. 

Or, you could listen to a performance by Roomful of Teeth.

Wikimedia Commons

In 1940, prominent American psychologist and educator Carl Seashore published an article in Music Educators Journal titled “Why No Great Women Composers?” It was a marked improvement over 19th century academic writings that detailed the general inferiority of the female gender.

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Two of the most buzzed about films of 2016, Moonlight and La La Land, have garnered a collective 22 Academy Award nominations between them, including nods for Best Original Score.

On the surface, the music couldn’t be more different: The soundtrack for Moonlight is an amalgam of classical piano, strings, and hip-hop chopped and screwed techniques; while La La Land offers a modern yet starry-eyed homage to Hollywood’s golden age of musicals.

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