JPR Classics

JPR Classics is a place to come for all things classical in the State of Jefferson.  We'll honor our rich classical heritage while looking to the future, showcasing inspired performances by the next generation of classical musicians. The classics live on JPR!

This August will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate, the New York Philharmonic has commissioned compositions by 19 women for an initiative it calls Project 19, which had its first concert earlier this month.

It is not a secret that the Academy Awards have historically struggled with gender diversity. Though generally critics point to the lack of women nominated in major categories like best director, a critical part of the ceremony itself has also traditionally overlooked women: the Oscars' 42-piece orchestra.

Remembering Peter Serkin, The Searching Pianist

Feb 3, 2020

Peter Serkin, a pianist who navigated a distinctive course through classical music with thoughtful interpretations of both standard repertoire and bracing new compositions, died Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y. at age 72.

The cause of death, announced by his family, was pancreatic cancer.

Serkin came from a prestigious family of musicians. His father, the celebrated pianist Rudolf Serkin, and his maternal grandfather, the violinist and conductor Adolf Busch, embodied old-world traditions — to reverential acclaim.

Featured Works for February – First Concert
(*Indicates February birthday)

Feb 3 M Felix Mendelssohn*: String Quartet in E flat major
Feb 4 T George Walker: Cello Sonata
Feb 5 W Lodewijk Mortelmans*: Morning Mood
Feb 6 T William Grant Still: Suite for Violin and Piano
Feb 7 F Erkki Merlartin*: Marionettes Suite

We've been starting this new year off with genres of music you might not listen to, or that you say you're not a fan of — so far, we've covered jazz, country and deep house.

Violinist Emily Bruskin and her cello-playing sister Julia Bruskin founded the Claremont Trio in 1999 at Juilliard.  The third member of the group (pianist Andrea Lam) joined in 2012. The ensemble is the only piano trio ever to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

Max Richter: Tiny Desk Concert

Jan 24, 2020

Half way through this performance of Max Richter's achingly beautiful On The Nature Of Daylight, I looked around our NPR Music office and saw trembling chins and tearful eyes. Rarely have I seen so many Tiny Desk audience members moved in this way. There's something about Max Richter's music that triggers deep emotions.

Britt Music & Arts Festival and Britt Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams announced the 2020 Britt Orchestra Season this week, which will run from July 28th through August 16th at the Britt Pavillion in Jacksonville, Oregon.

Harriet Tubman may be the best-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, but a new album highlights another key figure: William Still, who helped nearly 800 enslaved African Americans escape to freedom in the years before the Civil War.

Joyce DiDonato: Tiny Desk Concert

Jan 15, 2020

When opera star Joyce DiDonato told us she wanted to sing centuries-old Italian love songs at the Tiny Desk we weren't surprised. But when she said she was bringing a jazz band to back her up, we did a double take. But that's Joyce, always taking risks. After all, the last time we filmed the down-to-earth diva, she insisted on singing an opera aria at the Stonewall Inn, the iconic gay tavern in Greenwich Village.

Baritone Christòpheren Nomura joined JPR's Don Matthews in the Steve Nelson performance space during his recent visit to the Rogue Valley for a concert called "With Malice Toward None, With Charity For All." Nomura performed "At the River" by Aaron Copland, "A Curse On Geographers" by Stefania de Kenessey and "Gaman" from "Allegiance," and was accompanied by pianist Daniel Lockert.

Bridget Kibbey: Tiny Desk Concert

Jan 8, 2020

After the ferociously talented harpist Bridget Kibbey unpacked her 47-stringed instrument at our NPR Music offices, she proceeded to crush the stereotype of the genteel harp, plucked by angels. She proved that the instrument can be as tempestuous as a tango, as complex as a Bach fugue and sing as serenely as a church choir.

Kibbey is crazy for the harp. She first heard one at a country church amid the Northwest Ohio cornfields where she grew up. Now she's the go-to harpist for contemporary composers, some of whom who are writing pieces especially for her.

One Big Breath And A Blazing Guitar: 2019's Best Moments In Music

Jan 2, 2020

Adrianne Lenker is the guitarist and singer for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based rock band Big Thief. Cecilia Bartoli is the Italian opera singer who thrives on neglected repertoire from the 18th century. The two women might seem like strange bedfellows, but they come together in our series titled "highly specific superlatives," a kind of drilling down to some of the finest and most precise moments in the arts in 2019.

Featured Works for January – First Concert
(*Indicates January birthday)

Jan 1 W New Year’s Day Live From Vienna
Jan 2 T Mily Balakirev*: Tamara
Jan 3 F Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. O

Jan 6 M Henri Herz*: Piano Concerto No. 4
Jan 7 T Francis Poulenc*: Suite from "Les Biches "
Jan 8 W Archduke Rudolph*: Variations on a Theme By Weigl
Jan 9 T Claude Debussy: Estampes
Jan 10 F Louis Massonneau*: Oboe Quartet in F major

Ahead of his performance with the Rogue Valley Symphony as part of their New Year's Eve Gala, pianist Joel Fan stopped by the JPR studio to talk about his background, his work with the Silk Road Ensemble, and his connection with Christine Eggert of the SOU Music Department that led to the concert event.

Commemorating A King's College Christmas Tradition

Dec 22, 2019

Every Christmas Eve at exactly 3 p.m., the Chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England plays A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The tradition began in 1918, and for decades it's been broadcast on the BBC and around the world. A commemorative recording of last year's Centenary Service has just been released; it was the last one conducted by Sir Stephen Cleobury, the choir's music director for 37 years, who died just last month on Nov. 22.

Met Opera Chief Peter Gelb Renews His Contract Through 2027

Dec 20, 2019

Peter Gelb has not enjoyed a particularly smooth tenure as the general manager at New York's Metropolitan Opera. But the company's board expressed its faith in him on Monday by extending his contract through 2027.

The agreement — which arrived a full two and a half years before Gelb's current contract expires — signals the board's strong commitment to Gelb, who earned some $2.17 million in combined pay and benefits during the company's last reported financial year.

At the height of the Cold War in 1958, Van Cliburn, a curly-headed kid from Texas, won the International Tchaikovsky Competition. He was hugged by Nikita Khrushchev and heralded like Elvis Presley when he returned.

10 Classical Albums To Usher In The Next Decade

Dec 12, 2019

Traditions worth saving still need need practitioners and advocates who are willing to propel them forward. Classical music boasts a long, rich history — about 1000 years — of transformation, adaptation, tumult and triumph. From radical, boundary-bashing composers to brave and bold interpreters, the music has remained vibrantly alive even as prognosticators routinely forecast its demise.

Ever since Beethoven's iconic Ninth Symphony premiered May 7, 1824 at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna, it has remained arguably the most popular composition in the classical music canon, thanks largely to its final movement, the "Ode to Joy," with a text by poet Friedrich Schiller.

But Beethoven's music has become something much more than popular. With its expansive length, mold-busting design, and the inclusion of solo singers and chorus, he was proposing nothing less than a philosophy for humanity.