Green Mountains


GMCFA very nice 24 hours in Vermont, first having the honor of being the inaugural speaker in the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival’s Perspectives and Contexts series, and then joining morning host (and freshly-minted Managinr Producer) Kari Anderson on the air the next morning at Vermont Public Radio‘s classical service.

The GMCF is run by old friend Kevin Lawrence of the UNC School for the Arts in Winston-Salem, whom I’ve gotten to know through his participation in the “Music and Museum” series I program at the Bechtler Museum in Charlotte. Kevin and his wife Barbara are now steering the Festival – which takes place on the UVM campus in Burlington – through its 10th anniversary season.  It’s an intensive program for string students (generally ranging in age from 15 to 25), led by some first-rate faculty who also concertize a couple of times a week.

I didn’t have the chance to hear much music-making (except for the cheerful cacophony of walking past the all the practice rooms), but I was truly impressed by the smart, engaged students attending my talk, who peppered me with questions about classical music, media, and technology, which was the subject of the presentation. Truly a stimulating evening.  Very nice to visit in person one of the places we featured on one of our New England Summer Festivals programs as well.  You can check it out here.



Up bright and early the next morning to spin some platters with Kari, and talk up some bright young lights in the classical biz. In no particular order: Anderson & Roe (I’m already on record as being a big fan) with their own arrangement of Bizet’s Il Pergolese (“where jazz meets opera”),  the stunning Montreal period-instrument band Ensemble Caprice, with one of the zippiest recordings I know of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos.  As well as a new discovery: the Atlanta-based choral group called the Skylark Vocal Ensemble.



Meanwhile, there are some changes in the wind in classical radio in Vermont, as WVCT, the state’s sole remaining commercial-classical station (an increasingly endangered species), is due to format-flip on July 1.


Favorite Festivals – The NPR Music take

I’ve got my own list, but it does overlap a bit with these destinations….

10 Can’t-Miss Classical Music Festivals



Monadnock Music

A chance to visit my back pages, checking back in after a few decades away with my hometown summer music festival as part of our new series on the radio, New England Summer Festivals.


WGBH Media Player New England Summer Festivals: Monadnock Music

Band of Gypsies – with no Hendrix in Sight


Fun story to write for NPR Music’s Classical pages about a great concert this Spoleto season at the newly-redone Dock Street Theatre, with a stellar cast including pianist Inon Barnatan, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and violinist Livia Sohn….

You can hear the entire concert (nicely recorded as always by South Carolina ETV’s Skip Beach) here.   And read the whole story on the other side… Read more

The Mozdzer Motor

Fascinating visit with the remarkable Polish jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer on the Spoleto Festival, as we recorded an interview between him and Jennifer Foster in the Cato Center.  Here’s the link to the program:
Spoleto Today 2010 June 1

Great dissection of how he channels Chopin into “the Mozdzer Motor” – and his John Cage-like habit of putting drinking glasses, combs, and even his own CDs on the piano strings to combat boredom.  Oh, and along the way we revealed to Mozdzer his unwitting hand in creating the Spoleto Today theme song!

We even had the chance to shoot a little video:

And here are more “Chopin Impressions” from Mozdzer:

400 musicians, 1607 voices…and Bruuuuuuce!

UPDATE: 15 MAY 07: Fred Child has been on location from the Virginia Arts Festival, broadcasting Performance Today from WHRO in Norfolk, along with some select excerpts from the Festival.

animated_final2The Queen may have gone home, but this is actually the big “America 400th” weekend in Virginia. The actual anniversary date of the Jamestown landing is Monday, May 14th. On-point editorial (“From Jamestown’s Swamp“) in today’s WaPo:

Americans love tidy success stories. Jamestown — Pocahontas notwithstanding — was anything but. Many of the original settlers were well-born men of leisure who supposed they would lead a life of ease in Virginia, provisioned by London, fed by docile natives and enriched by vast stores of easily accessed gold. They were misled…

The RoeDeo has been following the Jamestown saga for some time now, both for its historical thread and modern-day musical expressions. The “disovery of America” theme permeates the programming of this year’s running of the excellent Virginia Arts Festival, (a/k/a the “Tidewater Tanglewood.” Check out what’s happening this weekend:

Jamestown 400th Anniversary Weekend
May 11-13, 2007

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Mark Russell Smith, play separately and then combine – for the first time ever – to premier new works written especially for the commemoration by John Corigliano, John Duffy, Adolphus Hailstork and Jennifer Higdon. The works were commissioned by Jamestown 2007, a sub agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, in partnership with the Virginia Arts Festival.

Sure, it’s all a little gimmicky — Sunday, a 400-piece orchestra and a 1607-voices choir will perfom the Grand Finale program that may or may not be televised. But what an impressive line-up of first-rate American composers! (The Arts Festival also runs a John Duffy Composers Institute – this year’s faculty also includes Anthony Davis and Lee Hoiby.) In between, check out this lineup for “400 minutes of Music” Local hero Bruce Hornsby, Ricky Skaggs, and Chaka Khan, headline “an afternoon-long program featuring contemporary rock infused with native American musical traditions from Brule, a mix of folk, world, blues and soul music from South African artist Vusi Mahlasela, folk roots music from Michael Seeger, poetic urban folk from Jen Chapin, and alternative country from Scott Miller & The Commonwealth.”

Wow – that’s a helluva music mix. Mahlasela (former member of the African National Congress!) was just interviewed on Morning Edition, Mike Seeger (Pete’s brother) is an authentic roots-music hero – I can’t believe I first saw him perform – gulp – 40 years ago, with the New Lost City Ramblers. Jen Chapin (daughter of the late Harry) is a promising singer-songwriter whose debut CD Linger I thought was quite good if a tad overproduced. And Scott Miller? He’s been tagged “The Virginia version of John Mellencamp,” which I suppose is as good a description as any.

So, Unusual for most pop musicians, but utterly Hornsby, who’s one of the most interesting musicians around. (Yes, I’m in the tank for the other Bruuuuuce. I had a hand in bringing him to NPR last year. Check out his performance on Talk of The Nation, and/or his solo show at the Gilmore Festival.

You’re liable to hear Bach, Bebop, or bluegrass in the midst of his solo-piano shows, and over the years his collaborators have included (according to Bruce’s website – I can’t keep track of them all: The Grateful Dead, Shawn Colvin, members of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra, Ricky Skaggs, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, Robbie Robertson, Branford Marsalis, the aforementioned Chaka Khan, Roger Waters, Bonnie Raitt, Pat Metheny, Gregory Hines, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.) Oh, and forward-thinking enough that you can
download some of his live shows. For a price, to be sure, but they’ll even make CD copies for you.

On the subject of concert audio, and getting back to where we started, you’ll be able to hear some select Virginia Arts Festival concerts on Performance Today, including the appearance in Portsmouth, VA. by the Academy of Ancient Music. No word yet on if/when the May. 11 concert featuring Duffy, Hailstork, Higdon et al will appear…

Sheesh. Meant this to be short now turned into another novelette of a post…