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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.

« February 2006 | Main | April 2006 »

March 30, 2006

Musical Renaissance Man

I think there is an old stereotype about classical musicians. Often, this is the implied job description: must have started serious training at age of three, preferrably with a stern woman named "Frau Something or Other;" must be extremely diligent in study, which should never be light hearted or—gasp!—fun; thick European accent preferred. Stephen Prutsman is none of the above and yet he is one of my favorite all-around musicians today.

Stephen Prutsman grew up in LA and while it's clear that he studies music just as rigorously as the next top-notch pianist, he brings an easy-going, relaxed attitude to the way he talks about music. For example, as you'll hear in the show he has a profound connection to Bach English Suite, but Stephen's open about the fact that he became interested in the piece because he just like the way it sounded. He heard the opening bars, thought they were so interesting and catchy, he couldn't get them out of his head.

I also appreciate Stephen's music in the variety of music he creates. He's a fantastic soloist, composer and conductor. In the past year, he has been one of the Artistic Partners of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and audiences love what he has done. Have any of you seen him in performance with the Chamber Orchestra or as a soloist or conductor anywhere else? What did you think?

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at 3:02 PM | Comments (5)

 

March 8, 2006

Lots of Noyse

David Douglass, violinist and leader of the King's Noyse, has the distinction of being one of the most frequently appearing artists on Saint Paul Sunday. But unlike other favorites, such as the Dale Warland Singers or Emerson String Quartet, David frequently flies under the radar at sessions, joining us as part of ensembles ranging from Musicians of Swanne ALley to the Smithsonian Chamber Players to his own King's Noyse. You don't need to worry that David can't hold a job--rather he's such a versatile player that the best early music groups all have him on their speed dial.

One of the things I love best about King's Noyse is how they swing. Their performances are as close to jazz as anything I've heard in classical music. And when Ellen Hargis steps into the spotlight, it's a little bit like Sarah Vaughan showing up. Bill's not the only one to have a crush on her. We all get a little goofy when she's in the studio. But isn't it fun to have a soprano-crush occasionally?

Posted by Mary Lee at 1:27 PM | Comments (1)

 

March 1, 2006

Horizon of Orion

I just finished listening to the Orion String Quartet's performance on Saint Paul Sunday and it had been a while since I had heard them perform, but as soon as they played the first note I thought, "Wow, these guys are good." Their playing is so technically precise, the same time also subtly nuanced and never mechanical. One of my favorite things about the Orion String Quartet is that with all of the music they play—especially with this program of well-known pieces by Beethoven, Schubert and Prokofiev—it somehow feels like I'm hearing the music for the first time.

This is also one of my favorite Saint Paul Sunday programs because it was my first show on the staff of Saint Paul Sunday. I remember being incredibly nervous: here are world-class musicians whom I admire tremendously, how could I ever say something interesting enough to hold up a conversation? But it's impossible to be nervous around these four. They are light-hearted, warm and constantly kidding each other. But they're not kidding about the socks. Todd Phillips has an amazing eye for the, well, eye catching.

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at 1:45 PM | Comments (1)