Friday, December 29, 2006

Quick update

Trip has been marvelous...just caught up on some email and I'm keeping an eye on the weather for my return trip home.

You can catch me, Paul Z and our bassist Pete Sunday night in Hummelstown for New Year's Eve at Al Med.

More when I'm back in Central PA.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

'Clarely Classical' Awards 2006

My very own online music awards.
Musician of the year: Augusta Read Thomas. This composer is on the cutting edge and exudes talent and charm whereever she goes and whatever she writes.
Pianist of the year: Helene Grimaud. 2nd year for her to win! Her Carnegie concert was killer.
Violinist of the year: Janine Jansen. Take a listen to her in concert, and be on the lookout for her new Mendelssohn cd.
Singer of the year: Joyce DiDonato. This singer is on the rise - her future is limitless.
Conductor of the year: Esa Pekka Salonen. Leading music past the norm.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Walter Mays. Great composer, excellent teacher.
Personal highlights of 2006
Proudest moment: Getting Composing Thoughts to become a weekly series.
Runner-up proudest moment: Receiving a dedication at a NY concert from Ernesto Tamayo for new music when he played music by Leo Brouwer.
Most affecting moment: Spending a weekend at the chateau of the Wynn family.
Memorable moment: Broadcasting from the new PMC at WITF.
Personality of the year: Dick Strawser. Brilliant person and creative guru.
Family of the year: Baldwin-Way family. They are complete sweethearts.
Woman of the year: Nadine Halko.

See the 2005 awards here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The numbers

Terrible Twos?

Congrats to Dr. Dick's blog turning two years old this month! Just kidding about the terrible - it's a real resource for music, writing and a bit of fun. Oh, and you can learn about WITF behind the scenes too!

3 + 4 + 4 = ?
The answer isn't 11; rather I'm thinking Jennifer Higdon! It's the delightful new Naxos cd with her Piano Trio and 2 String Quartets on it. You should run, not walk to your record store or favorite internet site and pick one up for yourself - and maybe one for someone special!

Visit #7,624
Just this last week I saw a good friend who said, "Oh John! You're always falling in love, I see it on your blog. You so wear your heart on your sleeve." (I'm paraphrasing of course, but his case was I write about what I love and the artists I hold dear.)
Then I see this on my stats/visits:
Search Engine:
Search Words: "in love with" janine jansen

and it led them here. Go figure.
For the record, I do love her playing.

Number of artists interviewed by John in 2006
Composers (31)

Paul Moravec
Bernard Rands
Augusta Read Thomas
Joan Tower
George Crumb
Chris Brubeck
Steven Stucky
John Corigliano
Milton Babbitt
Christopher Rouse
Robert Moran
Danny Elfman
Fred Lerdahl
Libby Larsen
Jose Serebrier
John Eaton
Tina Davidson
Sy Brandon
Robert Pound
Chris Whittaker
Pat Long
Lowell Liebermann
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Kevin Puts
Barry Guy
Arlen Clarke
Simon Andrews & his composition students
John Rutter
Jennifer Higdon
Michael Torke
Ross Care

Other interviewees (37)
conductor Stuart Malina
conductor Stephen Gunzenhauser
conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson
violinist Maria Bachmann
violinist Arnold Steinhardt
violinist Martin Beaver
violinist Rachel Barton Pine
violinist Karen Gomyo
violinist David Kim
violinist Juilet Kang
violinist Jennifer Koh
violinist Odin Rathnam
cellist Josh Gindele
cellist Laszlo Fenyo
flutists Sir James and Lady Jeannie Galway
guitarist Ernesto Tamayo
Juilliard String Quartet
pianist Awadagin Pratt
pianist Jeffery Biegel
pianist Christopher O'Riley
pianist Lilya Zilberstein
pianist Anna Polonsky
pianist Barry Douglas
duo pianists Veri and Jamanis
piano ensemble/siblings The Five Browns
electronic musician Chuck van Zyl
guitarist Art Cohen
American Symphony Orchestra League President/CEO Henry Fogel
American Ballet Theater Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee
Central PA Youth Ballet Artistic Director Marcia Dale Weary
author Matt Lake
author Jack Sullivan
author Kathan Brown
author Don Campbell (The Mozart Effect)
critic/writer Andrew Druckenbrod
Lemonhead's Evan Dando
Stand-up comic Paula Poundstone

8 Days
Time I'll be away over the holidays. Thanks to everyone filling in at WITF. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Elevator Music

Some fun for the Holidays...
John doesn't play your typical "elevator music."
Have a great NEW MUSIC year and happy holidays!

And thanks to Dr. Dick for taking the snaps!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Strange Similiarity

When I saw the trailer for "We are Marshall" I assumed they were changing the name of Wichita State - the facts seemed so close...

You see, there was a tragic crash of the WSU Football team in October 1970.

I was unaware of the crash in November 1970 of the Marshall football team.
The other major difference is that WSU no longer has a football team (except in reruns of "Coach") and Marshall does.
Speaking of movies, I am looking forward to seeing the Good Shepherd; and was mixed about seeing Happy Feet last weekend. If you do see it, I can highly recommend catching it at an IMAX screen!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tee Shirt

Just saw this, from Mormolyke...A T-shirt for violists. I love it!!!!
Be sure to look at the sleeves as well.

Bit of a bio

So, what do you think of this new, conversational bio, geared for kids and their teachers?
John Clare, Music Programmer/Host
I really started music in elementary school, after seeing violinist Itzahk Perlman play a concert. Afterwards, I wanted to play the violin too. I also remember around that same time seeing an opera and the effect it had on me – the voices and drama struck a chord, so to speak, for me. I don’t remember the specifics of the opera, just the impression of seeing it on the television in the library there in elementary school – it must have been fourth grade?
In junior high and high school, classical music was at the forefront of my studies. I went to the university for private lessons, and also used the music library frequently. I also enrolled in music theory classes, which led to composition lessons.
Later in college (Wichita State University) I began my broadcasting career, working on the station’s music library – entering cds to the database. I also trained as a board operator, which led to my first shift, runing the board for NPR’s Performance Today. Eventually it led to programming and hosting my own classical music show, The Music Room. Later I went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., but never gave up playing the violin. In Dallas a few years later I taught private violin/viola lessons and played in ensembles like the Shreveport Symphony and Abilene Philharmonic.
I joined the staff of WITF after working in fabulous Las Vegas at an all classical station, KCNV that I help build from the very start. I now play frequently in coffeeshops and cafes besides interviewing composers for Composing Thoughts.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Danke!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Late Night

Violinist Joshua Bell will be on Late Night with Conan O'Brien this evening (Tuesday, December 19th) - how cool is that?
Check your local listings for the exact time and channel.
This is the 300th post for 2006, woohoo. I've doubled last year's 140 posts - but started 'bout halfway in the year, so I guess that makes sense. It's neat to see the totals on the right side of this page...guess I was busy in August (oh yeah, the move!)...and pretty much busy over the summer.
Thanks for making ClassicallyHip part of your day. Posts will taper off the end of this week as I head home for the holidays - and start up again in 2007!
Update! (12/20) Josh played Schubert's Ave Maria.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nuts about the Nutcracker

Here's a report I prepared last week for WITF's ArtBeat.
It's about the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker! Enjoy.
[mp3 file]

Then take a listen to a very different selection from the Nutcracker. [via Dr. Dick]

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hearing from friends

Great to get greetings from around the country...this comes from an old college buddy who is now in Florida.
Yes, Amy always had a good laugh and sense of humor. Her myspace page is here and she often updates things here.

Klap Ur Handz

An Interview with Maria Bachmann of the Lark Quartet

I recently had a chance to speak with the talented Maria Bachmann about the Lark Quartet and their new cd, Klap Ur Handz. She's the first violinist of the group, besides a member of Trio Solisti and a suberb concert violinist. We focused on the new cd out on the Endeavor classics label (available through Allegro).
[photo of Maria and John at the cd launch party in November 2006]

Part 1 - Talking about all the pieces on the disc and how they ended up on the album [mp3 file]
Part 2 - There's alot of energy in the playing [mp3 file]
Part 3 - I was suprised that there is a remix track [mp3 file]
Part 4 - There's a Harrisburg connection to Klap Ur Handz [mp3 file]
Part 5 - What is coming up in the future? [mp3 file]

Read and hear more about the new disc here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Author interview

Catch my interview with Jack Sullivan over at the WITF New Releases page here.

Jack's new book, Hitchcock's Music is delightful and engaging. For those wanting some insight, interesting stories and real behind the scenes sorta-stuff, check it out.
The interview is in six easy to listen/download segments, about 2 minutes each. Enjoy!

Friday, December 15, 2006

New video

Well this is stunning, musically and visually.
There's a music video of Hilary Hahn playing the slow movement of Paganini's Violin Concerto #1. Check it out here.
There's also an "e-player" from DG here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Lots of chances to tap your foot, sing along and have some fun with Paul Zavinsky and myself over the next few weeks.

This Saturday we're in Camp Hill at Cornerstone Coffeehouse.

New Year's Eve join us at Al-Med in Hummelstown (no word about Dick Clark emceeing for us.)

January we are back at Eckel's Drug Store - where Girl Interupted was filmed.

February brings us to George Street Cafe in Millersville.

Of course, we can play your party or wedding as well!
[photos by Dick Strawser at the New Public Media Center at WITF.]

This day in history

Well, it's been 243 years since this awful violence against Native Americans took place.
Read about it though this wikipedia link
Sad and a bit scary to know this is is not far from where I live currently.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Nice new layout for ArtsJournal, check it out here. Nice job guys!

The newest discs on my desk are tremendous, Michael Torke's Strawberry Fields;


eighth blackbird's strange imaginary animals.

Check them out, you'll be glad you did!
And also, if you need a Mozart score, be sure to check out the Digital Mozart Edition.

Musical Meme

Here's a musical meme from Terry Teachout, via Do the Math.

Give us an example or two of an especially good or interesting:
1. Movie score: John William’s Catch me if you can

2. TV theme: Vic Mizzy's Green Acres theme

3. Melody: Elena Kats-Chernin's Butterflying; Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra, I;

4. Harmonic language: Andrzej Panufnik, John Adams

5. Rhythmic feel: Steve Reich, U2

6. Hip-hop track: DBR's Klap UR Handz

7. Classical piece: FJ Haydn's G major Violin Concerto (Hob.VIIa:4)

8. Smash hit: u2's With or Without You

9. Jazz album: Quintette du Hot Club de France - Volume 1 on Naxos

10. Non-American folkloric group: Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir (Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares: Volume 1)

11. Book on music: Arnold Steinhardt's Indivisible By Four

A) Name an surprising album (or albums) you loved when you were developing as a musician: something that really informs your sound but that we would never guess in a million years:
Getz/Gilberto; Frank Sinatra; Goldfinger Soundtrack

B) Name a practitioner (or a few) who play your instrument that you think is underrated:
Janine Jansen; David Perry

C) Name a rock or pop album that you wish had been a smash commercial hit (but wasn't, not really): Animal Logic II

D) Name a favorite drummer, and an album to hear why you love that drummer:
Evelyn Glennie, Rebounds (1992 RCA album, now out of print)

Now it's your turn!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Timing is everything

I'm afraid you'll probably be seeing and hearing more from this group. No doubt timed for the holidays...
I ran across them in arts news - hehehe - oh the irony.

I shouldn't be so harsh, I've only heard what's on the promotional video through the Amazon-UK site. You can see/hear it here. I'm sure it will reach America soon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Online Journal

Danse Macabre III * The Holidaze Issue
featuring works by
Felicia Florine Campbell
Adam Henry Carriere
John Clare
Charles Dickens
Johannes Gutenberg
Cole Porter and
Elisabeth Riesden
is now up & running at

spend a few merry online moments with us this holidaze season !

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Composer Interview

It was great to catch up and pick the musical mind of Michael Torke on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan for WITF.
We had met previously in Las Vegas for an interview for 20/20 Hearing back in October 2003. Back then, he was in town on vacation and it happened to work out for him and I to do the interview at our studios - I interviewed and engineered from the booth and he was in the next room. Afterwards I dropped him off at the Bellagio. It was novel at the time because a) we had just debuted the all classical station that day; and b) all of the next two years of the show, only one other composer interview was in person, the rest were over the phone.

This time, we talked at Torke's apartment in the village - I know the neighborhood well as I eat and drink at Shopsin's and Mr. Dennehy's quite often - and it turns out Michael's apartment is just around the corner! It was also nice that we had an engineer so I could focus solely on the interview. Keep an eye for it on Composing Thoughts this spring!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

5 Things about Cellist Efe Baltacigil

The "Distinctive Debut" at Carnegie Hall of Cellist Efe Baltacigil and Pianist Anna Polonsky was Friday night at Weill Recital Hall.

1. The program consisted of four sonatas ranging almost 200 years in music (1741 for the Bach and 1936 for the Saygun) and certainly each were treated with stylistic skill by both performers.

2. Efe uses the cello for a wide range of colors and emotions - I'm stunned as a fellow string player at his wide palette. I'm less thrilled with his way too audible breaths - mind you the audience was a bit noisy with coughing and sniffles too. But seriously at one point early on, I thought there was something wrong with his bow, when I realized, no that is his breath. (Some fine tennis players too make a bit too much noise when returning a serve [think Maria Sharapova] and you get over it...)

3. The choice of an encore - which the audience clearly wanted - was quite touching, the Andante movement of the Bach sonata in memory of a past professor at Curtis, Edward Aldwell. Aldwell was well respected for his scholarship of Bach and this was spot on.

4. Anna Polonsky was stunning and near perfect in the recital - especially moving was the Fantasia of Franck's sonata.

5. Most revealing was the musicality Baltacigil exuded in Ahmet Saygun's Sonata, opus 12. It's not a well known or great work, but in the hands of Efe and Anna, it sparkled like a diamond - with moments of pure joy and passion. I'd liken this particular work to a "Turkish" Debussy.

I'm looking forward to another recital this spring at Carnegie's Weill Hall when Joyce DiDonato makes her debut in Great Singers in Weill: Evenings of Song. You'll remember Joyce is a WSU grad and we had way too much fun in school. It's Thursday March 1st, 2007. One not to miss!

Small world

So another run in in front of Carnegie Hall - yes - in a city of 8.2 million, I suprisingly run into an old school chum.
John Hagstrom is the principal 2nd trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Turns out they (the CSO) were in the main hall while I was in Weill hearing Efe and Anna.
Out front I hear someone say "See you John." and I turn around and see a somewhat familiar silhoutte, so I say, "John Hagstrom?"
And he turns around. We exchanged quick greetings and biz cards.
Small world.

Waiting on a Saturday morning

Wonderful views on a Saturday morning in Manhattan.

I was happy with my hotel down in the Flatiron/Garment district...brought old memories from hanging out waiting for Daylene all those years ago. Some of these snaps were the view we had while playing chess in Madison Square park.

Here's the fairly recent Museum of Sex, and their title (ad) caught my attention, as well as a good snicker.
As I was walking down to the park to meet the audio engineer, I saw all of these tourists looking up...

this is what they were eyeing

- the great and ornate architecture.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Quiz

Legal departments can get out of hand with their political correctness, and here at ClassicallyHip, we think that the lawyers have gone too far this holiday season.

Can you name these Christmas Carols?

1. Move Hither The Entire Assembly Of Those Who Are Loyal In Their Belief
The answer: "O Come All Ye Faithful!"

2. Embellish Interior Passageways

3. Vertically Challenged Adolescent Percussionist

4. First Person Singular Experiencing An Hallucinatory Phenomenon Of A Natal Celebration Devoid Of Color

5. Soundless Nocturnal Period

6. Majestic Triplet Referred To In The First Person Plural

7. The Yuletide Occurence Preceding All Others

8. Precious Metal Musical Devices

9. Omnipotent Supreme Being Elicit Respite To Ecstatic Distinguished Males

10. Caribou With Vermillion Olfactory Appendage

11. Allow Crystalline Formations To Descend

12. Jovial Yuletide Desired For The Second Person Singular Or Plural By The First Person Plural

13. Commence Auditory Reception The Announcing Cherubs Vocalize

14. Kris Kringle Will Be Arriving In The City In The Not Too Distant Future

15. Bipedal Traveling Through An Amazing Acreage During The Period Between December 21st And March 21st In The Northern Hemisphere

16. Its Arrival Occurred At Twelve O'Clock During A Clement Nocturnal Period

17. Exclamatory Remark Concerning A Diminutive Municipality In Judea Southwest Of Jerusalem

18. Song of Mirth About the Seat of the Intellect of an Uncastrated Porcine Male

19. Primary Color Between Green and Violet In The Visible Spectrum Annual Festival of the Christian Church Commemorating the Birth of Jesus

20. Female Ancestor Came Against With An Impact And Knocked Down By Large Deer of the Genus Rangifer, of Northern and Arctic Regions of Europe, Asia, and North America

For the answers (the REAL CAROLS!), click here.

Although these titles would work better for Frank's comments...

Enjoy a great holiday tune recorded live in Las Vegas!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Flip flop

So I'm working nights the majority of this week. You won't hear me as you might normally in the afternoons on WITF.
It's different at night - should be fun with requests.

I'm also away Friday - to hear Anna Polonsky in Carnegie Hall (she's collaborating with a cellist in Zankel Hall) and then Saturday I'm interviewing two musicians for Composing Thoughts, Michael Torke and David Little. There's also a Christmas party thrown by a coworker that should be fun that night (yes I'll come back for that - hey, free beer, and what beer, Mad Elf!)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Hard to keep things "normal" when you get a call that your Mom has had a seizure. She's alright, but things have been better. It's hard to be far away when someone you love is in bad health. Things are rough sometimes and not easy on my Dad. I wish I was closer to be able to take care of them.
I'm slowly convincing my dad to visit this spring - with hopes that he will decide to move here. There's not much in Omaha for me, and professionally, I'll be moving further east, not west in the future. At least that's how I see things.
But right now, I just want them to be okay. I am really looking forward to spending a week with them and I know they'll appreciate having me around. Their Christmas gifts should arrive this week - they're travelling right now in Kansas and will be back to Nebraska later this week. Here's to their safety and all my love.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Coming Up

Don't miss guitarist Paul Zavinsky & friends (yes, I'm fiddlin') over at Cornerstone Coffeehouse Saturday, December 16th in Camp Hill.
We'll also be back at Eckel's Drug Store on Friday, January 19th in Mechanicsburg.
Then over to Millersville to George Street Cafe on Friday, February 23rd.

Of course there are other times we're playing, say at Al Med, so why don't you email me and ask? We also play weddings, parties, et al.

Monday, December 04, 2006


So I ran into an old acquaintance this week at work. He stood there, as I was walking toward the radio master control room with a coworker, and we stopped - he tilted his head - as my coworker was still talking and I smiled.
He said, you don't remember - and I had a puzzled look for just a moment, because I couldn't believe that during the first week of our new building, here was another radio person I knew - but a decade ago! He had since worked in California (when I was in Texas & Nevada), and then to Florida (while I moved to Harrisburg.) I always enjoyed his work, and it seemed he was always covering something dangerous for NPR, so I never thought he'd just be standing in the hallway at my work. But there he was.
We shook hands and laughed. He got introduced to my coworker and we chatted for a few moments. Turns out he is AT NPR now, instead of reporting, he's a bureau chief. It's way cool, cause he's a real talent. He mentioned that he'd asked if I was around here - we always seemed to stay in touch, from his reports in Kansas at the State House and on tornadoes; to the Navy deployment in San Diego and then the hurricanes in Florida. I think I had emailed him when I got the Deems Taylor Award last year (who DIDN'T I email then, hahaha!) and we stayed in touch.
So it was nice to get an email a day later with his new contact info. It also brought back some great memories from Lawrence, when my date and I had run into him at dinner at this killer place. I emailed her (we're still in touch!) and it was sweet having all of this to share.

So of course, the guys at work had to give me a hard time about him asking about me: Do you know everyone?! Who don't you know?! God, how do people remember you?!

It's all apart of life. One, it's a small world, really. Two, always treat people fairly and respect talent. Three, why not have fun whenever you can?

I live life to the fullest and have lots of friends. Why not? If our paths cross, I'd just as soon have you remember me for this fun loving, classical geek who lives and loves as much as he can. And remember, you never know when you'll run into somebody!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

5 things about Turtle Island String Quartet

The Turtle Island String Quartet is on tour and visited Central PA.

1. The quartet came to WITF and played in our studios live! Cary Burkett hosted - keep an eye out for a podcast soon.

2. Each member had at least one of their own arrangements on the program and sometimes that meant a solo performance - especially killer was a solo cello version of Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming.

3. Met lots of WITF listeners beforehand and at intermission. Most had heard the quartet that afternoon and loved the concert.

4. Seeing the quartet was fascinating, how they create percusive sounds and rhythms - to quote a certain credit card commercial - PRICELESS!

5. Their encore of "The Peanuts Theme" was charming and the audience wanted much more giving the ubiquitous standing o. The guys were gracious afterwards and signed cds and took pictures with audience and choir members. Keep an eye out for the TISQ's next album with music by John Coltrane!

[photos by John Clare]

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The week ahead

There's lots going on classically in the midstate this week. Don't miss out on these concerts - I'm certainly not!

Tuesday night, From the Top is in Mercersburg, PA for a radio taping. Host/pianist Christopher O'Riley is a hoot. Take a listen to talented young artists and see how radio is made!

Wednesday night, Market Square Concerts presents clarinetist David Schiffrin and pianist Andre Michel-Schub. World class artists in Harrisburg; Something on the program for everyone...

Friday night the Turtle Island String Quartet plays at HACC. They'll also play at the WITF studios on Friday afternoon! Keep an ear out...

Saturday night is the Waverly Consort at Gretna Music. A killer classical Christmas Experience. Also head back to hear 3 Trains Comin' at Suba that night!

And orchestra concerts as well as Nutcrackers are around the corner. I'm doing an ArtBeat about the Nutcracker on December 15th.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Al Med

Here are a few pics from Wednesday night.

The lighting wasn't very good so I had some fun with effects...I'll take more soon.