Thursday, July 31, 2008

The ASO on GPB, July 31 & August 2

Brush up your Shakespeare on GPB! This week's light-hearted program mixes and matches scenes from Shakespeare's plays with orchestral music and songs inspired by the Bard.

You'll hear not only Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Nicholas McGegan, but also four actors from Georgia Shakespeare (Chris Kayser, Megan McFarland, Chris Ensweiler and Melinda Helfrich) and three singers (Ann-Carolyn Bird, Stacey Rishoi and Andrew Garland) in this multi-arts event recorded Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta.

The scenes come from Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The music is by Berlioz, Gounod, Prokofiev, Sibelius, Mendelssohn (including the famous Wedding March) and Cole Porter (songs from Kiss Me Kate, a musical about a troupe performing The Taming of the Shrew).

Host Sarah Zaslaw speaks with high-spirited, well-educated, English-born-and-bred, San Francisco-based conductor Nicholas McGegan about Shakespeare, music and more.

Tune in Thursday, July 31 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, August 2 at 10 p.m. for The ASO on GPB over most GPB radio stations and

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The ASO on GPB, July 24 & 27

For three years as a "conducting fellow" with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Laura Jackson pored over music, peppered senior conductors with questions, led educational concerts, and attended every subscription concert dressed in concert black, in case she should need to step in for the scheduled conductor. In 2007 she struck out to conduct around the country and seek an orchestra of her own.

On The ASO on GPB, Laura Jackson comes back to her friends in the Atlanta Symphony for a concert recorded in May. She talks about the music and her career, and she conducts attractive symphonies by Prokofiev (No. 1) and Dvorak (No. 6).

And host Sarah Zaslaw chats with associate concertmaster William Pu. He grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. When the Shanghai Conservatory reopened after years of forced closure, some 10,000 aspiring musicians auditioned. William Pu, a preteen who had only been playing a few years, was one of the eight violinists selected that year. William talks with us about his background, his violin, the earthquake, and Buddhism.

We'll conclude with the ASO's new CD of La Bohรจme, recorded in concert last September with Robert Spano conducting an energetic young cast and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. (The same lineup repeats Puccini's beloved opera this Saturday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta.)

The ASO on GPB airs Thursday, July 24 at 8 p.m., repeating Sunday, July 27 at 10 p.m. over GPB radio stations and

Note: Owing to technical difficulties beyond our control, Thursday's broadcast of The ASO on GPB has been preempted. Please listen Sunday night instead.  Thanks, and apologies for the last-minute change.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The ASO on GPB, July 10 & 13

Dozens of extra brass players join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for this sonically spectacular concert. ASO principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles leads the massed musicians in a program pairing the Sinfonietta by Janacek - a celebration of life - with Berlioz's Requiem, which sets to music the Catholic mass for the dead.

Bookending Leos Janacek's Sinfonietta is a patriotic fanfare he wrote for an athletic event, a Czech gymnastics festival, in 1926. The piece calls for 14 trumpets, for starters. In Atlanta's Symphony Hall, the brass stood on the choral risers, highly visible and highly audible. (At right: ASO principal trumpet Tom Hooten.)

This concert was recorded in early May. For the second half, the venerable ASO Chorus takes to the risers for the Requiem by Hector Berlioz. This Atlanta performance served as a warm-up for a transatlantic trip two weeks later, in which the ASO Chorus and Donald Runnicles repeated the piece in Berlin, with the storied Berlin Philharmonic. The tenor soloist in the celestial "Sanctus" section, in Atlanta and Berlin, was Joseph Kaiser (right). And let's credit the director of the ASO Chorus too, though he wasn't on stage: Norman Mackenzie.

Also on this broadcast, Donald Runnicles chats about tonight's music and about his two new posts in Europe as of 2009, as conductor of both the BBC Scottish Symphony and the German Opera Berlin.

Join host Sarah Zaslaw for The ASO on GPB, Thursday, July 10 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 13 at 10 p.m. on most GPB radio stations and

(Next week: Donald Runnicles again leads the Atlanta Symphony in a pair of third symphonies: Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" and Brahms' Symphony No. 3.)