Classical 99.5 WCRB

Landmarks Orchestra's Free Summer Concerts

Friday, July 1, 2011
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Join 99.5 WCRB hosts for free concerts presented by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Wednesday nights at 7pm.


Ray Brown July 13
Rhapsody in Green, hosted by Ray Brown
This year's series launches with the annual green concert, celebrating the beauty of nature through music by Vaughan Williams, Tan Dun, Copland, Gandolfi, and Respighi.

Laura Carlo July 20
Pictures at an Exhibition, hosted by Laura Carlo
Mussorgsky's masterpiece, Pictures at an Exhibition, anchors a program devoted to connections between music and visual art that also includes works by Falla, Loeffler, Offenbach, and more.

Chris Voss July 27
Verdi and Valkyries, hosted by Chris Voss
Soprano Jane Eaglen is joined by the One City Choir, the Back Bay Chorale, and the North End Music and Performing Arts Center Children's Choir in operatic masterworks that include selections from Wagner's The Ring, Verdi's Il Trovatore, and much more.

Laura Carlo August 10
Landmarks Lollapalooza, hosted by Laura Carlo
PLEASE NOTE: Due to severed weather, this concert has been postponed until August 11.
The Landmarks Orchestra and soprano Jayne West are joined by ZUMIX, members of the Longy Summer Music Academy, and members of the HONK! Festival.

Cathy Fuller August 17
Footloose and Fancy Free, hosted by Cathy Fuller
A celebration of dance includes Bernstein's Fancy Free, Richard Rodgers's "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" from On Your Toes, two world premieres, and much more.

Ron Della Chiesa August 31
Rodgers and Hart's The Boys from Syracuse, hosted by Ron Della Chiesa
A swing era re-imagining of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors closes the season in only the second-ever performance featuring the original big band style 1938 orchestrations.

For more information, visit the Landmarks Orchestra.

Classical New England To Broadcast From Bryant University

Friday, September 23, 2011
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On October 6, public broadcaster WGBH and Bryant University will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and live radio broadcasts to mark their collaboration in bringing full-time classical music to Rhode Island.

In early September, the University’s radio station, WJMF 88.7FM, began re-transmitting the signal from WGBH’s Classical New England, returning round-the-clock classical broadcasts to the Providence area.

“We are delighted that we can celebrate this collaboration in bringing classical music back to Rhode Island,” said Benjamin K. Roe, Managing Director of WGBH’s Classical New England. “Having the ability to broadcast live from Bryant University and celebrate this technology and education initiative is a proud moment for us and our listeners.”

Bryant’s student-run radio station now runs on several new technology platforms, including WJMF HD-2, smartphone applications, and uses one of WGBH’s mobile DTV channels. Bryant’s WJMF is the first student-run station in the region to be available on the groundbreaking new mobile service. Additionally, Bryant students now have the opportunity to learn from the best digital and broadcast technology experts in the business working alongside WGBH technicians.

“Our students could not be more excited over this technological overhaul of the station,” said Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley. “This collaboration not only brings WGBH’s Classical New England to Rhode Island, but affirms Bryant University as a media technology leader in the region.”

“This ground-breaking collaboration gives us the unique opportunity to become pioneers in digital broadcasting by enabling a multiplatform approach,” said WJMF General Manager Ricky McLaughlin '12 of Hudson, N.H. “Although it moves WJMF’s traditional open-format student programming off of the analog FM dial, this phenomenal opportunity allows us to reach an increasingly national audience, especially as the technology continues to develop.”

On October 6, Classical New England will broadcast two live programs from the WJMF studios with classical hosts Laura Carlo (6-10am), and Cathy Fuller (2-6pm). At noon, WGBH and Bryant University leaders will gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on campus, followed by an evening reception in Providence marking the historic collaboration.

The Healing Power of Music

By Ben Roe   |   Thursday, September 8, 2011
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The tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, brings a day of special programs from 99.5 All Classical

Full schedule for September 11 on 99.5 All Classical

Ralph Vaughan Williams once wrote, “The art of music, above all other arts, is an expression of the soul of a nation.”

Ten years ago, while working at NPR on a bright September morning, I felt the immediacy and poignancy of the English composer’s words first-hand.

As network journalists and producers, it was our job to report, reflect, comment, and contextualize a series of calamitous events that we could scarcely explain to ourselves. For our colleagues in the NPR newsroom the task at hand was seemingly simple and undeniably urgent. But what role could music play? Every public radio station in the country wrestled with the same question.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the newscast. The soul of the nation was in shock, and needed the therapy that only music can provide. I have chosen to follow a path in music because I feel it is unique among the arts; that is both a deeply personal experience (ask anyone around you with earbuds on), as well as an act of community (ask anyone of the 65 million Americans who have ever sung in a choir).

In those immediate days after 9/11, we witnessed abundant examples of both. For the news producers at NPR, it quickly became apparent that the interstitial music – the “connective thread” between features that are part and parcel of the public radio sound – was as important and necessary as the news itself to millions of listeners; the only way for them process such unrelentingly grim events.

That unconscious national need to come together in the concert hall was evident the first Sunday after 9/11. I will never forget producing a marathon day of memorial concerts from across the nation, a day filled with profound musical utterances, from soloists, choirs, orchestras, all seeking to “express the inexpressible”. Mozart’s searing Requiem from scarred and sooty Trinity Church in New York, hard by Ground Zero. Branford Marsalis’s plaintive soprano saxophone invoking Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday in the cavernous Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A hushed piano solo in McKeesport, Pennsylvania for the heroes of Flight 93. And, yes, a soaring, in-the-moment rendition of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending to an Atlanta audience streaked with hot, wet tears.

It’s been said that artists are merely reporters with a longer deadline: They witness, they interpret, they create…and ultimately tell us a little bit more about ourselves. In those darkest days, I learned a lot about hope, charity, humanity and forgiveness…thanks to the transformative, healing power of music.

Join us on Sunday, September 11, for a day of reflection, commentary, and music, including live performances from Jordan Hall in Boston and our own Fraser Performance Studio, as well as highlights from commemorative concerts from Trinity Church in New York and the New York Philharmonic.

Full schedule for September 11 on 99.5 All Classical


Cheryl Willoughby Named Music Director For Classical New England

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
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After an extensive nationwide search, WGBH’s Classical New England has selected Cheryl Willoughby to serve in the new position of Music Director, overseeing all classical music programming for the Boston public radio station.

Willoughby comes to WGBH from Vermont Public Radio, where she served as Music Director and Director of Programming for VPR Classical. She arrived there at the genesis of the station’s 24-hour classical music network and helped to shepherd VPR’s broadcast stations through their split into two distinct formats.

“We were delighted to find the next leader of classical music programming for WGBH right here in New England,” said Ben Roe, Managing Director of Classical Services. “Cheryl’s passion and knowledge for classical music is unmistakable, and her past work is superlative and inspiring. We’re thrilled she has chosen to share her expertise with us in this leadership role.”

Willoughby has a long history in classical music and public radio, beginning as on-air talent and producer at KUNC-FM in Northern Colorado. From 1993-1998 she was a producer and Assistant Music Director for Colorado Public Radio where she developed local and network music databases and hosted several programs.

In 1998, she joined KUSC-FM in Los Angeles as its Music Director where she created compelling and meaningful programming for the Classical Public Radio Network. In 2004, Willoughby joined Vermont Public Radio, where she supervised the classical staff while hosting a daily program and created partnerships with local arts venues and artist management companies. She was also integral in the development and implementation of VPR’s on-air fundraising strategy and project planning.

Of her new role at WGBH, Willoughby says, “Classical music is one of humanity’s greatest gifts, and WGBH has a long history of offering the New England community an opportunity to engage with this music in meaningful ways. Classical New England has a tremendous reputation for bringing the best of this beloved art form to audiences, and I feel incredibly privileged to take music programming at Classical New England to the next level.”

Willoughby is a former horn player and holds a BA degree from the School of the Performing and Visual Arts at the University of Northern Colorado.

A Listener's Guide To Schubert's 'Die Schöne Müllerin'

By Cathy Fuller   |   Friday, August 12, 2011
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August 11, 2011

Matthew PolenzaniWhat does an opera star love about singing intimate art songs from a barren stage with no sets and no other singers? Lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani adores the sheer directness of it. With no props, no costumes and no distractions, he is free to sing into the very eyes of his audience. While that can be frightening, it's clear that he finds the intimacy refreshing.

"You can sing right to someone and deliver a stab right at them," he says. No fake daggers needed for that kind of stab — just an awful lot of depth, honesty and control.

Critics give Polenzani the highest praises for the near-perfection of his technical command. There's an incredible clarity and flexibility in his voice. It rings even when it whispers. Audiences are riveted — and so was I, sitting close to him in our Fraser Performance Studio, listening to him sing these songs from Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin.

Polenzani has been singing with pianist Julius Drake for five years now. It was Polenzani's manager who suggested the match when the idea of recitals came up. Both artists are relaxed and quick to smile, and they're both happy to rethink their musical decisions. Being a part of such a team means spending time searching together for truth and meaning in the poetry. And, harder still, understanding the brilliant, often devastatingly simple ways that a composer like Schubert amplifies his chosen text.

In the song "Die Liebe Farbe" (The Beloved Color), a wandering miller faces the devastating reality that the girl he loves does not love him in return. Drake marvels at the heartbreaking, unrelenting sadness that Schubert unleashes by keeping one note tolling throughout the song.

"I don't know how he does it," Drake says of the composer. These are the kind of Schubert moments that artists analyze from every conceivable angle, and yet they still find themselves awestruck. As the miller's heart follows its sad and unstoppable march toward grief, Drake remains faithful to the music's constant tolling. He is focused and quiet at the piano. He gives Schubert's blooms of harmony a sad warmth and a deep feeling of resignation. I could see Polenzani falling instantly into the sadness of the atmosphere. You'll hear him allow a new vulnerability into his voice.

It's fascinating to consider the kind of technical awareness that a singer has to maintain, especially at emotional climaxes. How do you keep and lose control at the same time? Polenzani says that, no matter whether you're singing Verdi or Schubert, it doesn't always work. When it does, though, it's as good as it gets.

Full NPR article with playlist.

Fourth Of July Weekend From 99.5 All Classical

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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Join 99.5 All Classical to celebrate our country's birthday!
With programs that offer the full range and vitality of classical music, 99.5 All Classical is the soundtrack to your holiday weekend. 

Saturday, July 2 at 6pm
New England Summer Festivals Goes To The Cape
Sand dunes, lobster rolls, antique shops, and … chamber music! Chamber music is central to the summer experience in concerts presented from Cotuit to Provincetown by the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.  Join us in a celebration of that experience on New England Summer Festivals.  (Repeats Sunday, July 3 at noon, and on demand at

Saturday, July 2 at 7pm
The Boston Symphony Orchestra
America is home to some of the greatest orchestras in the world, and from its very beginnings, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has set the standard.  Join Ron Della Chiesa for selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with conductor Seiji Ozawa.  Also, James Levine conducts two symphonies by Mozart, Nos. 20 and 39, and Ravel's ravishing Daphnis et Chloé

Sunday, July 3, 7am-11am
Baroque in Boston
Wake up with Laura Carlo and the sounds of Colonial Boston, as Baroque in Boston, one of our new weekend programs on 99.5 All Classical. Laura brings you music by William Billings, Moses Kimball, and other Colonial composers in performances by Joel Cohen and Boston Camerata, and much more.

Sunday, July 3 at 1pm
Stephen Foster:  America's Bard
It’s hard to imagine American music without the work of Stephen Collins Foster, born on July 4, 1826 – fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Naomi Lewin of WQXR features Foster's iconic songs, including Oh, Susannah, Beautiful Dreamer, Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair, and more, in performances by Marilyn Horne, Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and many others.

Sunday, July 3 at 2pm
The BSO On Record
Brian Bell brings you Boston Symphony Orchestra performances of music by two great American composers. Seiji Ozawa conducts Leonard Bernstein's Serenade (after Plato's "Symposium") and Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, with soloist Itzhak Perlman.

Sunday, July 3 at 3pm
An American Journey, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin leads the orchestra in the Three Dance Episodes from Leonard Bernstein's On The Town and George Gershwin's An American in Paris. American composers of today are on the program as well, with Mason Bates's Liquid Interface and Richard Danielpour's Pastime, a tribute to baseball's Negro Leagues.

Monday, July 4 at 6am
William Grant Still
As morning dawns on Independence Day, Laura Carlo features one of America's great composers, William Grant Still.  Born in Mississippi in 1895, he pursued medicine in college, but eventually graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and continued his studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Tune in for selections from his evocation of American places, American Scenes. (photo by Carl Van Vechten)

Monday, July 4 at 11am
Copland's Symphony No. 3
Cathy Fuller brings you a true American masterpiece, the Symphony No. 3 by Aaron Copland. Commissioned and premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1946, it expands on the spirit and energy of the composer's Fanfare for the Common Man. But the purity of grace and strength in that earlier piece is embedded within a piece with rhythmic drive and multi-layered orchestration that builds to a triumphant climax.

Monday, July 4 at 2pm
John Harbison's Songs America Loves To Sing
Boston's John Harbison is a major force in music of our time, and in 2004 he drew upon memories: "the family around the piano singing familiar songs, a Currier and Ives print, an album of sepia photographs." Brian McCreath features this piece, built on songs like "Amazing Grace," "Aura Lee," and "We Shall Overcome," in a performance from the Andover Chamber Music Series.

Monday, July 4 at 5pm
Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
The iconic American music by George Gershwin was featured in the January 1961 Concert for the Inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. Tune in for this performance, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and pianist Earl Wild.  

Monday, July 4 at 6pm
The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular!
Ron Della Chiesa and Laura Carlo, live on the Esplanade, are your hosts as America's Orchestra celebrates the country's birthday. Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops, with guest host Michael Chiklis. The U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus, special guest Martina McBride, and audience favorites including "The Stars and Stripes Forever," and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" add up to an unforgettable celebration!

Features and interviews

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