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KPAC Blog

The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. Scroll down for feature writings about the music played on air as well as other interviews and essays about classical music. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

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The iconic score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: This is the sound of the American West, at least filtered through the ears of an Italian — specifically, composer Ennio Morricone. He was a giant in the world of film scores who wrote the music for more than 500 movies.

Ryan Speedo Green was 12 years old when he was sent to a juvenile detention facility for pulling a knife on his mother. His behavior got him put into solitary confinement.

But after Green was released, with the help of a series of teachers, he turned his life around, and now he’s an acclaimed opera singer. He tells his story to host Lisa Mullins.

Ramin Samandari

In a time when live musical performances are hard to come by, one San Antonio band has figured out a way to keep the music going.

On Nov. 20, 1934, a brand new symphony brought a Carnegie Hall audience to its feet. The concert featured the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by its star conductor Leopold Stokowski. The music was the Negro Folk Symphony, by the 35-year-old African American composer William Dawson.

Rik Keller

In a pre-interview exchange of text messages between Classics a la Carte host James Baker and pianist Lara Downes, Lara asked: “Do you have my new recording of spirituals and freedom songs?” Later, in the interview, Baker spoke to Downes about the spirituals and freedom songs contained in the album “Some of These Days.” The conversation began with one of the oldest of Black spirituals, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

Rik Keller

Lara Downes describes these times as the "lost season," referring to the blanket cancellations of concert engagements practically every performing artist in the world is now suffering. She may be sidelined, but she is not silenced, musically or on any number of other topics related to music and its power to contribute to our conversations of race, injustice, and Covid-19. James Baker, host of KPAC's Classics a la Carte, recently talked to Lara about her background, her activist roots and making music in a time of pandemic.

When Barcelona's Liceu opera opened on Monday for its first concert since mid-March, it did so to a full house — of plants.

New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center both said on Thursday that they have canceled their performances for the rest of 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The twin announcements from the two New York City landmarks signal that the city's cultural life will be slow to return.

In typical years, late September marks the beginning of the new concert season for two of New York's most famous music venues, followed shortly by the moneymaking holiday season. But 2020 is turning out to be anything but a normal year.

Between the pandemic, the economic crisis and now protests, 2020 has already been a lot. Yo-Yo Ma has been coping, and trying to help the rest of us cope, with music. The cellist has been posting videos of himself playing what he calls "Songs of Comfort."

"I do believe that everything that we do," he says, "people in every profession — medical workers, the delivery people, the politicians — we all are there to serve. We only exist because someone has a need. I know that music fulfills that kind of need."

Clarinetist Anthony McGill posted a video of himself playing a mournful rendition of “America the Beautiful,” then dropping to both knees and holding his clarinet behind his back.

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