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The Sounds of Sunrise

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 8/16/2015 2:31:00 PM

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Sunrise. It's beautiful. Or so I'm told. I am *not* a morning person and can count the number of sunrises I've actually seen on my two hands and still have a finger left over to tap the snooze button on my alarm clock. Many composers have also been inspired by sunrises. In fact, some of the most beautiful and exciting music out there depicts sunrise. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Haydn - He took a couple of different cracks at sunrise, including the first-ever sunrise--that is, the creation of light in his oratorio The Creation. Haydn also gave us a symphony and a string quartet called "Sunrise."

2. Richard Strauss - There's the very famous one from Also Sprach Zarathustra (aka that music from 2001: A Space Odyssey), but Strauss also gave us a stunning musical depiction of sunrise in his Alpine Symphony.

3. Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite ...

Ojai Music Festival 2015 Preview

Posted By: KUSC · 6/1/2015 7:52:00 PM

This year marks the 69th annual Ojai Music Festival. The venerable gathering of contemporary musicians and new music enthusiasts has boasted such music directors as Pierre Boulez, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and many others. This year, marks the first time in 69 years that the festival will be helmed by a percussionist. That's Steven Schick. KUSC's Gail Eichenthal gets a detailed preview of the full festival from Ojai's artistic director, and the man who picked Schick to be in charge this year, Tom Morris.

Dido & Aeneas on KUSC's LA Opera On Air this Saturday: Hear our Interview with the Sorceress, Countertenor John Holiday

Posted By: Arts Alive · 5/18/2015 8:31:00 AM

Los Angeles opera fans met countertenor John Holiday just recently, but he made a big impression. He was a 2014 winner of Operalia and performed as the Sorceress in Barrie Kosky's production of Dido & Aeneas at the LA Opera, which you can hear Saturday at 10AM on KUSC's LA Opera On Air.

Writing in the LA Times, critic Mark Swed said:

The cross-dressing sorceress and witches, who connive to send Aeneas on his way, are scene-stealers. John Holiday, G. Thomas Allen and Darryl Taylor are advertised as the first trio of African American countertenors to appear together in an opera production ... this is a trio of vibrant, flexible, funny Baroque singers who might have a road show of their own in their future.

Shortly after the LA Opera production closed, Holiday talked to Brian Lauritzen from the road in Texas. They chatted about how he discovered he was ...

The KUSC Classical Top 100 Analyzed

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 5/4/2015 11:49:00 AM

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Well, the KUSC Classical Top 100 has been fully revealed and with it, some predictable results...and more than a few surprises as well.

To recap, we asked KUSC listeners to vote on their favorite pieces of classical music and then we counted down the top 100 vote-getters on the air. You can view the entire list here. Before I get to what surprised me the most about the results, here are a few things that did not shock me at all.

Predictable result #1: Beethoven dominated. Of the 100 pieces listeners voted as their favorites, 10 were by Beethoven. His music also represented four of the Top 10 works. (You do the math.) In fact, 39.4% of all votes cast in the Top 100 were for pieces by Beethoven. (I did the math.)

Predictable result #2: Bach and Mozart also fared very well. Beethoven had 10 pieces in the Top ...

Mozart at the Bat

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 4/8/2015 3:16:00 PM

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With opening week of the new baseball season upon us, I was thinking about the various songs the players choose for their walk-up music as they head up to bat. It's totally their choice and the picks range from something with a good thumping bass to get the adrenaline flowing to music of menace and intimidation for opposing pitchers. Chipper Jones always used Crazy Train, by Ozzy Osbourne; Yasiel Puig prefers Turn Down For What, by DJ Snake and Lil Jon; while Nick Punto let his daughter pick his walk-up music. Her choice? Shake it Off, by Taylor Swift, of course.

It's not just batters who get to choose entrance music: two of the best closing pitchers in MLB history chose "lights out" music as they entered from the bullpen. Trevor Hoffman always entered to AC/DC's Hells Bells, and Mariano Rivera actually earned his nickname from his theme song: Metallica's Enter the ...

Here's the thing about Gustavo Dudamel...

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 3/31/2015 4:28:00 PM

DVORAK - NEW WORLD SYMPHONY

I've never particularly cared for the third movement of Dvořák's New World Symphony. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, but for me it has only ever been the thing that happens in between the serene beauty of the slow movement and the Jaws-like introduction to the finale. The third movement is fine. I've just never loved it.

Until Sunday afternoon in Tokyo's Suntory Hall. That's when the LA Phil (not necessarily known as a great Dvořák orchestra), conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (not necessarily know as a great Dvořák conductor), caused me to completely change my mind about the third movement of the New World Symphony. It was the final performance of the orchestra's two-week, four-city Asia tour (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo) and maybe there was a little extra electricity on stage because the musicians would soon be Goin' Home. Maybe morale was high because two days before, Gustavo Dudamel had surprised the ...

Le "Sakura" du Printemps

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 3/30/2015 9:57:00 PM

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"Were it not for sakura in this world, our hearts and minds would not be so serene and peaceful." -Ariwara no Narihira (825-880 A.D.)

It's the most wonderful time of the year in Tokyo right now. That fleeting moment that comes each spring when the cherry trees do their best cotton candy impersonation and the entire city comes out to party. Sakura. More than just a flower, it's a state of mind.

When the sakura bloom, Tokyo--already one of the most beguiling cities in the world--is positively radiant. Not only are the views spectacular, but everyone's spirits seem to sparkle as well. Along the pathways of Ueno Park, revelers stretch out tarps and gorge themselves in elaborate picnic feasts (hanami). It's kind of like the Hollywood Bowl on steroids. (For a complete sensory experience, you can taste sakura too, in everything from condiments to fine dining to sakura-matcha Kit-Kat candy ...

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