Monday, December 28, 2020

Listening In Every Possible Way To Every Possible Thing

by Elaine Diehl

“Listening is not the same as hearing and hearing is not the same as listening.” – Pauline Oliveros

The Response Project is a commissioning initiative that asks composers and artists to create new music usually for the piano and new works of many disciplines in response to a preexisting artwork or idea.

Premiering in January 2021: Five Cincinnati arts and community-building organizations create a city-wide response to Pauline Oliveros' Sonic Meditations. The Project includes 4 new films + art show exploring music and mindfulness in historic Cincinnati buildings.

Dr. Brianna Matzke is the Artistic Director as well as pianist on much of the music. She chatted with WGUC’s Elaine Diehl about the Project.

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Every year, one of the most anticipated and well-loved holiday programs we bring you on WGUC is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the chapel of King’s College in Cambridge, England. This is one of the few specials we air twice a season because you have made it a part of your Christmas celebration.

King's Choir and College

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
, a program of Bible stories and traditional carols, was first held at King’s College on Christmas Eve 1918 with a chorus comprised partly of Chorus Scholars and partly by older Lay Clerks. Since 1927, the voices you hear are fourteen of the college’s undergraduates.

The order of the service was rearranged in 1919 and new carols have been introduced in the intervening years, but the backbone of the service has remained virtually unchanged. One thing you can always count on is the service’s opening carol will be “Once in royal David’s city” – that has remained the same since 1919.

Other churches have created their own versions and King’s College has received copies of services held in far flung parts of the world, proving how the tradition started in 1918 has been adopted by church communities around the globe.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was first heard on the radio in 1928 and there’s only been one year since then, 1930, when it was not broadcast. Even during World War II, when the chapel had no glass or heat, the broadcasts continued. The BBC began airing the program overseas the early 1930’s. Today, millions of listeners worldwide enjoy the service, plus there have been periodic TV broadcasts and recordings.

Please enjoy this video, created last year during the 100th anniversary of this beloved Christmas event: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

WGUC will air A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Cambridge on Christmas Eve at 10 a.m. and the encore on Christmas Day at 4 p.m. You can listen on-air on 90.9, online at, on the free WGUC app, or by asking your smart speaker to Play WGUC.

Monday, December 14, 2020


Beethoven, 250 years ago this month, was born on the banks of the Rhine in Bonn, Germany. There is no authentic record of the exact date of his birth; however, the registry of his Baptism on the 17th of December 1770, survives, and the custom in the region at the time was to carry out baptism within 24 hours of birth. There is a consensus, (with which Beethoven himself agreed) that his birth date was December 16th, but there’s no documentary proof of this.

Of the seven children in the family only Ludwig, the second-born, and two younger brothers survived infancy.

Beethoven's first music teacher was his father, Johann. The regime was harsh and intensive, often reducing the young pianist to tears. There were irregular late-night sessions, with the young Beethoven being awakened and dragged from his bed to the keyboard.

His musical talent was obvious at a young age. Ludwig’s father, aware of Leopold Mozart’s successes at promoting his son Wolfgang and daughter Nannerl, attempted to promote his own son as a child prodigy, claiming that Beethoven was six (he was actually seven) on the posters for his first public performance in March 1778.

Pianist Stewart Goodyear became aware of Beethoven at a very early age and immediately fell in love with his music and recently Goodyear has, on several occasions, performed all of the Beethoven piano sonatas — 32 sonatas in a single day!

Monday, December 7, 2020

MON AMI, Mon Amour: the new CD by Matt Haimovitz and Mari Kodama

 “We played the music of French masters to our heart’s content…the memories of friendships and once again being transported to this pictorial sound world, takes me out of the oppression of this moment.

-Matt Haimovitz

The new album, “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” by Cellist Matt Haimovitz with Pianist Mari Kodama, was released on November 6, 2020. Mr. Haimovitz talks about the recording process in remarks posted below, and in greater detail throughout the gorgeous, full-color booklet accompanying the disc. The entire CD was recorded in four days in June 2019 at the legendary Skywalker Sound Studio. 

Matt Haimovitz and Mari Kodama

The Artists chose all French composers, much of the music framing the two World Wars. The album opens with Francis Poulenc’s Sonate pour violoncelle et piano. The piece is stunning – especially when one considers that the Composer was quite unfamiliar with the instrument when he wrote it in the 1940’s. In fact, the piece is dedicated to the Cellist Pierre Fournier who assisted Monsieur Poulenc with technical advice about the cello. Mr. Haimovitz and Ms. Kodama jump right into their musical conversation like a pair of long-time friends meeting for lunch. Their musical relationship is clearly something that they no longer must think about – it just IS. Both Artists explore every nuance, every facet of their instrument, at times playful and plucky, then smooth and luxurious, at times angry, devious, curious and always technically perfect. The sound is fresh and extremely LIVE.

Gabriel Faure is represented twice on the album with, Papillon and the closing track, Apr├Ęs un reve. Sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger are both included, as are Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, whose Kaddish was arranged by Matt Haimovitz. It will touch your soul.

I was happy to receive the entire “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” package to enjoy. There is something so lovely about listening to an Album, not downloads or isolated tracks. The sequencing of pieces was clearly done with great care and the music flows from piece to piece naturally. 

Mari Kodama was born in Osaka, Japan, grew up in Germany and in Paris. She is married to Maestro Kent Nagano and performs frequently with her sister, pianist Momo Kodama. Ms. Kodama is especially known for her interpretations of the music of Beethoven, and like so many this year, had planned to mark the 250th Anniversary of the Composer’s birth with a full schedule of recitals and concerts in 2020.

Matt Haimovitz was born in the Israeli town of Bat Yam. His parents had moved to Israel from Romania, and when Matt was five, the family relocated to Palo Alto, California. Matt made his debut at the age of thirteen, with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. When not touring, Matt Haimovitz teaches at McGill University in Montreal and he is the first-ever John Cage Fellow at the Mannes School in New York. 

The album is, “MON AMI, Mon Amour,” available now on the Pentatone label. Matt was kind enough to share some thought with WGUC’s Clef Notes.

For Classical 90.9 WGUC, I’m Elaine Diehl