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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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Sony Classical

Steven Spielberg has asked John Williams to score almost every single movie he’s ever directed since “Jaws,” which won Mr. Williams his second Oscar, and his first for Best Original Score.  It’s a working relationship that has lasted nearly 40 years, and given us some of the most memorable melodies of our time.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Probably my favorite movie I’ve seen so far this year, “The Tree of Life” approaches for me a kind of magical or spiritual experience. It was recently released on Blu-ray/DVD.

American composer Steve Reich turned 75 this week. The so-called "minimalist" credits jazz, African drumming and Balinese gamelan for inspiring his signature style. His music, from experimental tape loops to the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Double Sextet," has inspired the generations of composers who followed.

In the early 1960s, when Reich was beginning his composition career, the contemporary classical music scene was dominated by atonal music like the works of Pierre Boulez.

"It fell to my generation to basically say, 'Basta! Enough!' " Reich says.

Opera can be many things, but quiet and subtle are not usually among them. André Previn’s operatic adaptation of the David Lean film “Brief Encounter” premiered last year on stage with the Houston Grand Opera, and that performance has now been released on compact disc. What works on stage doesn’t always translate to the aural-exclusive world of home listening, so does “Brief Encounter” hold up?

Continuing our series on classical music and kids, composer Nico Muhly argues that the experience that taught him most about the intersection between emotion, action and music was playing Nintendo. Did specific music hold you enthralled as a young gamer? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

A painter may paint a picture, a composer may write a beautiful melody for solo piano, but in the world of the theater (and here I count motion pictures as well), one person may have a vision, but production is a collaborative art. W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan worked together on a total of 14 comic operas, of which “The Mikado” is far and away the most popular, and arguably the best. Two new releases from the Criterion Collection highlight the work of Gilbert and Sullivan in different ways.

Theodore Presser

"There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication."

Subito Music Corp.

Judith Lang Zaimont’s music is internationally acclaimed for its drama and expressiveness and has been programmed around the globe by major ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi Symphonies, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Czech Radio Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuosi, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (New York and Boston), American Guild of Organists, Harlem String Quartet, International Double Reed Society, World Viola Congress, Norway’s Bergen Wind Quintet, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet and others.

Kino Lorber

The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould had a storybook entrance into the concert world. A famous concert in Washington D.C. of highly unusual repertoire (for the time) drew rave reviews, and shortly thereafter an exclusive recording contract with Columbia, one of this country’s biggest labels. Gould’s first release should have left classical listeners cold; he chose to an abstract sleeping pill written by J.S. Bach for a student’s insomniac patron. But surprising everyone, the album became a best seller which has not gone out of print in 55 years.

As an African-American, George Walker had no prospects for a career in 1940s America. But incredibly, by 1996 he would be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music.

Walker was born in 1922 in Washington, D.C.  He began piano lessons at age five, and entered Oberlin at 14 and the Curtis Institute at 19, after meeting Rudolf Serkin, who took him as a student there. Walker completed a Doctorate at Eastman.  He would then continue to study in Europe with Nadia Boulanger.

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