Classical Music | Nashville Public Radio

Classical Music

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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. 

Nina Cardona / Nashville Public Radio

In their individual careers, husband and wife Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have each used the banjo to both explore the bluegrass tradition and build bridges between a variety of other genres. They come from different schools of banjo technique (she's a clawhammer player, he plays three-finger style) and she's a skilled singer. Since the birth of their son, they've been performing as a duet, blending their approaches to craft a new take on a classic American sound. At the same time, Fleck has written two banjo concertos — the first composed in partnership with the Nashville Symphony — and is working on a third. 

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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

Nashville Public Radio

On September 9, Nashville Public Radio's Studio C buzzed all day with live performances from Midstate chamber musicians. The performers ranged from a high school phenomenon to seasoned professionals; their repertoire covered the gamut from Renaissance dance tunes to 19th century classics, even a galloping improvisation for Chinese and Western instruments.

If you didn't have a chance to listen to our broadcast of the first ever 91Classical Radio Fest (or if you'd like to hear it again) here's another opportunity to enjoy the performances that were featured that day. 

Nina Cardona / Nashville Public Radio

Clarinetist Seunghee Lee is currently preparing for her Carnegie Hall debut and short performance tour of Italy, but Murfreesboro audiences get to enjoy her first. Lee is in town to visit and play with her former classmate and fellow clarinetist Todd Waldecker, who teaches at Middle Tennessee State University. The pair were joined in Studio C by another MTSU faculty member, pianist Eunbyol Ko.

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Technically, John Johns is retired. He doesn't teach at Blair School of Music anymore. However, to hear him tell it Johns is playing the guitar more than ever. Now that his time is his own, he's spending it on fine tuning the small details of long-favorite pieces, some of which he shared during this performance.

photo courtesy of Tracy Silverman

Take one part violin (no, make that electric violin) concerto, one part narrative story about the life cycle of an insect, combine liberally with film projections ... that’s essentially the recipe for "Love Song to the Sun." The collaboration between Nashville violinist and composer Tracy Silverman and video artist Todd Winkler will have its regional premiere Thursday, Oct. 5 at OZ Arts Nashville, performed by Silverman with the Vanderbilt University Orchestra.

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? 

Nina Cardona / Nashville Public Radio

Cellist Michael Samis and pianist Megan Gale returned to Studio C with music by a pair of beloved 19th century masters. For our show, they played selections. They'll perform the pieces in full at a recital on October 20 at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

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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.”

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