Monday, July 15, 2019

New Release from Yolanda Kondonassis and Ward Stare

Azica Records recently released an album titled American Rapture from Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic. The release contains three American works from three different generations of composers, one being Grammy-winning Jennifer Higdon. Her new Harp Concerto, written for and performed by Yolanda Kondonassis, is a delightful addition to the harp repertoire and one, I believe, will be performed for years to come. You may have recently heard an excerpt from this concerto on WGUC’s New at Noon. Not long after the album’s release, I had the pleasure of chatting with both Stare and Kondonassis about this project. Kondonassis explained to me how the idea for a Higdon Harp Concerto first came about.


She went on to talk about collaborating with Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic to make the recording.


Writing for the harp isn’t exactly easy.


Even though Kondonassis gave Jennifer Higdon a wish list for her concerto, she didn’t want to
interfere too much with the compositional process.

She added a fun Cincinnati connection to the Higdon Concerto.


I next turned my attention to Maestro Stare, who told me about the other two works on this new album.


And of course, my favorite way to end an interview is to ask what folks like to do in their free time! At first, I got a laugh because “free time” is hard to come by. But then they obliged.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Metropolitan Opera National Council Finals Concert

After a series of competitions at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of judges has named five young singers the winners of the 2019 National Council Auditions. Each winner, who performed two arias onstage at the Metropolitan Opera with conductor Carlo Rizzi and the Met’s orchestra, received a cash prize and the prestige and exposure that come with winning a competition that has launched the careers of many of opera’s biggest stars. This year’s Grand Finals Concert was hosted by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and featured a performance by guest bass-baritone Christian Van Horn. One of this year’s winners is Elena Villalón, a student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Just what exactly is the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions? It is the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition that is designed to find young, talented opera singers, and to help them launch a successful career. The Auditions take place throughout the United States and Canada. If you’re interested in the history of the Auditions and more about how they are run, check out the MET’s website for a great video!

This year’s final concert will air on WGUC Sunday, July 14 at 8 p.m. Be sure to tune into 90.9, listen online at, or via our free mobile app!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019