Classical | Texas Public Radio


Texas Public Radio Classical Music blog and other stories.

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In these days of uncertainty, music can provide a safe haven, an escape, or even a boost of energy. I've found all of that and more in a new recording of the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the second oldest of Johann Sebastian's musical sons, and a composer who continually fascinates me.

U.S. Air Force

Like their civilian colleagues, the 40-50 musicians that make up the Lackland AFB-based U.S. Air Force Band of the West have been performing their duties "off base," literally. Since Monday, March 16, the members have been sequestered at home, awaiting their next duty call as a live ensemble. That doesn't mean they've been resting on their laurels, though. The band members are still very much on active duty, assisting with other needs in the military, and making music while alone, together.

Steve Peterson in his editing suite.
Madison Perington

The San Antonio Symphony is sidelined until their new season in September. Nonetheless they've found a way to continue playing together — in a sense.  They’re not doing it in person, but in video. How it happens starts with this guy.

Ari Magg

In the arts, an age is usually known by a great artist—Rembrandt, for example. Sometimes there are artists used as bookends to mark an age. In classical music, the English have Henry Purcell, and in the 1950s, Benjamin Britten was hailed as the greatest English composer since Purcell. That’s quite a compliment, encompassing three centuries.

Stephanie Key on Wyoming mountaintop.
Bill Anderson

San Antonio musician Stephanie Key says she considers herself lucky after recovering from COVID-19. Now, she has a plan to help others fight back.

Updated Wednesday at 10:29 a.m.

Cellist Lynn Harrell, one of the finest and most prominent American classical musicians of his generation, has died. He was 76 years old.

His death was initially announced by his wife, violinist Helen Nightengale, on social media. She did not disclose the cause of his death. In a statement provided Wednesday by Columbia Artists, the company that managed Harrell, Nightengale said that the cellist's death was unexpected.

"You can't really have a concert if you can't have an audience," David Roode muses.

His career as a concert trombonist in Cincinnati went abruptly on hold when stay-at-home orders took effect in March.

"I had months of gigs that were just canceled."

Roode and his wife, a concert pianist, have done some recording while on lockdown in Cincinnati. And they've tapped into savings they typically rely on during the slower summer months.

In this time of social distancing, hunkering down and chatting remotely, we might learn some new things about each other. For example, you might know Marin Alsop as the longtime music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading figures in classical music around the world and a frequent guest on Weekend Edition. But you might not know that back in the 1980s, she also led a swing band.

Courtesy photo

Since mid-March, the clubs and performance halls have been silent, and musicians are adjusting to life at home.