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Renée Fleming and Francis Collins have something unexpected in common: music.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, plays guitar. Fleming, of course, is a renowned soprano.

For many people, New Orleans is practically synonymous with jazz; it's the birthplace of both the music and many of its leading lights, from Louis Armstrong to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. But now, one organization is working to draw attention to the city's history of opera music.

How is this for a first day on the job: Maurice Murphy, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)'s late principal trumpet player, spent his very first day with the orchestra recording Star Wars' iconic opening theme, with its incredible brass fanfare — and Murphy leading the trumpets.

If the word "aura" is defined as a pervasive atmosphere, then it's a perfect title for this piece by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who has a knack for creating vivid sonic environments.

www.deccaclassics.com

Thanks to love, commitment and efforts of Alicia Torra de Larrocha, the pianist’s daughter, and two archivists, some 10,000 items including sheet music, interviews, photographs, correspondence and recital gowns have been collected into a personal archive to celebrate and preserve her mother's legacy. 

Currently, the archive is housed in the apartment in Barcelona's Sarria neighborhood where De Larrocha lived from 1976 until her passing in 2009.  De Larrocha retired from performing in 2003, after a 76-year career.

Ralph Lauer

I think of it as the “piano Olympics,” but perhaps the best description of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition comes from the Boston Globe: “a cross between the Miss America Pageant, the Olympic Games, the Academy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize.”

Every four years, since 1962, pianists from around the world gather in Fort Worth, Texas to compete for prizes and glory.

Previous Cliburn Gold winners include  Jon Nakamatsu, Vadym Koholodenko, and Olga Kern.


The New York Philharmonic is the nation’s oldest symphony orchestra, but it wasn’t until 2014 that it welcomed its first black principal player. While that fact may seem staggering, recent data paint a bleak picture of the state of diversity in classical music: only 4% of orchestra musicians are either African American or Latino.

Organizers of this summer's Gateways Music Festival are committed to improving that percentage. The festival features musicians of African descent and works by African-American composers. Our guests give us a preview of the festival and discuss how to make classical music more accessible to underserved communities. In studio:

  • Jamal Rossi, dean of the Eastman School of Music
  • Paul Burgett, chairman of the board of the Gateways Music Festival, and University of Rochester vice president and senior advisor to the president of the University of Rochester
  • Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival
  • Dalanie Harris, double bassist, and sophomore at the Eastman School of Music

When John Luther Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014 for his undulating orchestral piece Become Ocean, you'd be forgiven for thinking of him as something like the Jacques Cousteau of contemporary classical music.

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