Kara McLeland | Nashville Public Radio

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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500 years ago today, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, airing his grievances against the Roman Catholic Church and sparking the Protestant Reformation.

Changes within the church also brought changes in religious music-making, and with Luther came the rise of the chorale. These Protestant hymns showcased some of the biggest departures from music in the Catholic church: a focus on congregational singing, texts in German rather than Latin and melodies often borrowed from secular songs. 

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It's officially the spookiest time of year: the cobwebs are hung and the candy is ready... now for the music. Nashville has no shortage of Halloween-themed performances leading up to All Hallows' Eve, and classical music fans can celebrate in macabre style with a ballet about a suspected murderess, a chamber opera from the perspective of a madman, a live organ performance underscoring the creepiest silent film of all time and more. Just try not to get too scared:  

Lizzie Borden with The Raven at Nashville Ballet

Image courtesy YouTube

Picture the scene: the conductor raises the baton, orchestra at the ready. Shifting in their velvet seats, the audience watches the soloist with baited breath. The downbeat happens, and across the ornate auditorium rings out the first few notes from… an electric guitar? 

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This weekend, the Nashville Ballet opens their season with Tchaikovsky's iconic The Sleeping Beauty. The work is considered the zenith of classic ballet, and all three of Tchaikovsky’s ballets—Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker—have become beloved giants in the modern dance world, described by arts writer Maxim Boon as having been “reinvented, reappropriated, made-over, dumbed-down and spruced-up more than any other work in the canon of the art form.”

Courtesy of Kip Winger

Kip Winger has a career that many aspiring rockers dream of. Early on, he toured as a bassist with Alice Cooper and performed and recorded with rock legends like Alan Parsons, Bob Dylan and Roger Daltrey. In the late 80s, he struck out on his own, forming the eponymous band Winger and selling millions of albums worldwide.

NASA / nasa.gov

Even though Johann Sebastian Bach died centuries before rocket launches and space exploration began, he has still managed to travel farther from earth than any astronaut. Or, at least his music has.

40 years ago, NASA launched Voyager 1 and 2, spacecraft meant to explore the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond. Launched September 5th, 1977, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to cross into interstellar space in 2012. It is now nearly 13 billion miles from Earth.

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With the total solar eclipse set to arrive in Nashville in just a few days, hordes of sky-gazers are finalizing their viewing plans. While a good observation spot and proper eye protection are essential, a carefully curated music playlist can be the icing on the cake in preparation for this extraordinary event. 

Fortunately, classical composers have long been inspired by the heavens and there is no shortage of celestial-themed work. 

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One of the most beloved classical music festivals in the world is midway through its eight-week run. The BBC Proms features nightly concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. From the beginning in 1895, the spirit of the festival has been clear: an informal atmosphere, affordable ticket prices and concert programming that was at once accessible and challenging and that makes live classical music more available to audiences.

Hans Wild / Image provided by the Britten-Pears Foundation (www.brittenpears.org) Ref: PH/5/127

The notion of the traveling musician is nothing new. From the transient troubadors of the 13th century to modern touring artists, musicianship and travel have gone hand in hand for centuries. 

With summer in full swing and families making pilgrimages to favorite beach spots and mountain retreats, spend some time with a few composers that found musical inspiration in their travels.  

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Yes, you read the headline correctly — since 1989, June has been designated as National Accordion Awareness Month. Chances are, if you’ve ever been around an accordion, it’s difficult to not be aware of it; the instruments (and its many variants) are unique in both physicality and timbre. So why a whole month dedicated to them?

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