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Mixed Company®

Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

Main | May 2005 »

April 27, 2005

Integrated Pianist

Even thinking back over the tremendous artists who have appeared on Saint Paul Sunday over the years, it’s hard to come up with a partner who’s more fun to make radio with than Leif Ove Andsnes, who brings a rare combination of high intelligence, lovely sense of humor, wisdom far beyond what you might expect in such a young artist and a fabulous willingness to dive into the radio experience. For Leif Ove, this radio program is not simply a performance, but a conversation, an exposition, an exchange of ideas. He offers his own experience of learning and performing the music, adds depth to whatever I might bring up and is only to happy to play a phrase at the piano to make what we’ve been talking about more clear.

Further, I ought to mention that Leif Ove is also one of the best pianists on the planet.

Listen to his performance of the Schumann, a tortured genius who continually struggled with what we would now call a bi-polar condition. Schumann even named the two principal sides of his personality — Florestan, the extrovert and Eusebius, the sensitive poet. Faschingschwank aus Wien presents these two personalities side by side, again and again, sometimes uncomfortably close. The great virtue of Leif Ove’s reading is that he brings out fully the depth of these contrasts while somehow managing to hold the structure together. This is not only exciting and satisfying, it’s also high art, courtesy of this sensible and warm-hearted young pianist from Norway.

Posted by Bill McGlaughlin at 2:47 PM | Comments (7)


Creating New Music

Everyone has an opinion on new music. At Saint Paul Sunday, we believe that, like any evolving art form, it’s critical that we continue to listen to, program, and yes, even commission music of our time. Classical music is not static. Every performance of a beloved Mozart quartet is different in some ways than the one before. And the performance of a work that has only lived in this world for a short time allows us to participate in the creative process and hear older music in new ways.

So all of this is prelude to our hopes for commissioning some new work during our 25th anniversary. We’ve seen a number of commissioning partnerships “forced” on artists…with the result that a work sits in a drawer after one or two performances. So we like to start with the artist and work with them on choosing a composer who interests them. It’s almost as much work for the musician to learn a new piece as it is for the composer to write it!

Vaughn and I have been working with several artists on identifying their composers of choice to commission. We’re just waiting for a few more pieces to fall in place and we can tell you more about it…. and report in occasionally on how its going. In the meantime, tell us who your favorite living composers are!

Posted by Mary Lee at 1:44 PM | Comments (3)


April 21, 2005

It's Spring!

Spring means booking season at Saint Paul Sunday, so our office discussions include gardening, weather…and which artists to book for the coming season. We try to keep a balance of old friends and new artists to the program. The good news is that there is never a lack of outstanding musicians to choose from.

I’ll ask about new artists soon, but right now, who would you like to see return to SPS next year?

Posted by Mary Lee at 1:52 PM | Comments (2)


Audiophile - Audio File

I have been creating the Web site for 3 years and am always sidetracked when I see who the artist is for any given week — will have to listen to that one! This has gotten me in the habit of hearing the shows online instead of the radio. I wonder how you are like me in that respect?

As we come up on the 25th anniversary of Saint Paul Sunday, I want to make sure that the Web site is meeting the demands of the audience of the 21st-century. What should we be doing different to enable you to listen to high quality performances whenever you want to?

Posted by pwright at 11:19 AM | Comments (1)


April 19, 2005

Who is listening?

When I first came to Saint Paul Sunday several years ago, I knew I loved classical music, but hadn't quite realized how lively and widely appreciated it is. Soon enough the job hooked me, and in one role or another I’ve been here since, now past a decade!

I love the stealth quality of radio; it can be friendly and intensely intimate. Crafting each program so it reaches hundreds of thousands of people with music that inspires or eases or speaks to them is a great privilege and a lot of fun. SPS has always believed that classical music is truly for everyone — it's always been about who's listening. I hope this column extends that spirit.

When we produce the program, it's a lot like sending a message in a bottle. We don't know where or how it finds you. But we want to know! And here's your chance to tell us.

Posted by Vaughn Ormseth at 1:52 PM | Comments (2)


April 18, 2005

Job One

This column is quite a change for the Saint Paul Sunday staff…usually we work hard to stay out of the spotlight. Job One for us is making our musician guests sound as good on the radio as they do in the studio!

I’ve been lucky enough to work on Saint Paul Sunday since the first session and have probably done every job associated with the show except for engineering and hosting. If you’re interested, I’ll tell some fun stories from past programs in this space, as well as tell you about what’s going on now.

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear how long you’ve been listening to Saint Paul Sunday?

Posted by Mary Lee at 3:02 PM | Comments (5)


April 15, 2005

Welcome to the new Mixed Company!

Hi and welcome to the Saint Paul Sunday column.

I work behind the scenes as the associate producer for the show. The idea for this column really came from all of you who listen to Saint Paul Sunday and write to us. Several times, a listener and I have written emails back and forth over an interesting point he or she noticed about the music. And several times I've thought, "if only I could connect Listener X with Listener Y… they'd have so much to talk about!"

Well, I hope that kind of conversation can happen here. So tell me. Do you ever compare notes with a friend about classical music?

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at 1:20 PM | Comments (4)