Monday, August 30, 2021

Bela Fleck: The Impostor

Named after Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, Austrian composer Anton Webern, and Czech composer Leos Janácek. Also a guy who was inspired to learn the Banjo by the Beverly Hillbillies theme song.

Photo credit: William Matthews

If there was anyone who would be able to bring Jed Clampett to the Classical concert hall, it’s Béla Fleck.

Mr. Fleck grew up in New York City and at the age of 15, was given his first banjo- a gift from his grandfather. It was on that train ride home, when a man offered to help tune that banjo (and suggested he get the book “How to Play the Five String Banjo” by Pete Seeger) that a musical icon was born.

Playing in and alongside countless bands since the late 1970’s, Béla Fleck has carved out a marvelous career in Bluegrass, Rock and almost every other genre of music- EVEN CLASSICAL.

In 2001, he joined forces with Edgar Meyer to play his banjo on the album Perpetual Motion- an album that also featured John Williams, Evelyn Glennie, Joshua Bell and Gary Hoffman. After that, he cultivated a relationship with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra that led to a double concerto, a trio concerto and then a true masterpiece- his first stand-alone banjo concerto.

“The Impostor” has been performed over 50 times worldwide and is one of those pieces that stand alone in greatness.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Oscar Rossignoli: Inertia

Pianist Oscar Rossignoli’s debut solo CD, “Inertia,” mixes his love of jazz with his classical training and life as a working musician: “What I love about New Orleans is what I love about Music in general!”

By Elaine Diehl

“Whether the world comes back to normality or not... at least I can say, yeah, I did this in the middle of all this chaos.” Pianist Oscar Rossignoli just released his debut solo piano album, Inertia. And although it took only one day to record, Mr. Rossignoli says he has been preparing for this album his entire life.

I interviewed the classically trained Honduran-born artist who now makes his living playing jazz in New Orleans. Meet Oscar Rossignoli!

Music: “Endless Fall,” and “Preludio for Chick,” written and performed by Oscar Rossignoli

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Radio Family with Community Roots

By Derrick Smith, Classics for Kids Intern

When I started my internship at WGUC, I did not know what to expect—and neither did anyone at the station, really, since I’m the first Classics for Kids intern they’ve ever had. So it’s been a learning experience on all sides. But after two months of trying to absorb and contribute as much as possible, I can say two things for certain: Cincinnati Public Radio is changing (for the better), and is a large family that is deeply rooted within the community.

Cory Sharber and Derrick Smith at Price Hill Creative Community Festival - July, 2021

I was so focused on the “Radio” part, though, I initially overlooked how crucial the “Public” aspect really is. The radio experience was definitely there, from tours through extensive archives and top-of-the-line studios, to shadowing on-air hosts (did you know that Andy Ellis’s golf obsession is on a par with Bach’s feelings about the fugue?), and even learning the process of how all the music you hear on WGUC is scheduled: It’s kind of like a big Rubik’s Cube, week after week, and Classical Music Director Jessica Lorey is a master solver, always mixing in some new colors.

Beyond all that, I learned how involved WGUC really is with the public, in the form of outdoor community events, collaborations with other local nonprofits, and even through my work with Classics for Kids. Yes, seeing the studios in action was all that I expected, if not more, but the many faces I saw seemed to be a bigger portion of WGUC than anything else. From the welcoming Cincinnati Public Radio staff, to regular community collaborators, and even casual passers-by that I had the pleasure of introducing to WGUC... all these people make up the community consisting of the station and the public. It’s like an ecosystem the way the station and the public feed off of each other, constantly trying to build something better and improve communication.

This something better is the change I spoke of earlier. It feels like important conversations that in the past have been avoided are happening more and more at the station. WGUC is working to amplify the voices of historically marginalized groups and truly listen to all those within the community. One example that comes to mind immediately is how Classics for Kids is preparing content for Hispanic Heritage Month (beginning in September). Instead of just throwing out a listening list or featuring one Latinx artist on the website, program host Naomi Lewin and the WGUC team have crafted a full series of original, culturally sensitive content, making everything available in Spanish as well as English, and enlisting the expertise and talent of people within the Latinx community to create said content. This is representation done well, and it’s only possible because WGUC and Classics for Kids have learned something they could only learn from truly listening: that those from historically marginalized communities and identities need to see others like them in these cultural spaces, and need platforms for self-expression, versus having others speak for them.

WGUC, Classics for Kids, and Cincinnati Public Radio are all growing in more than one way currently. Even as an intern I feel like a fully fledged member of the family, and I hope I can keep growing along with them.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Mario Kart and The Great G minor Symphony

Morgan Phillips is currently interning with Cincinnati Public Radio's marketing team. She's a rising senior at the University of Cincinnati, majoring in Communication with a minor in Marketing. For her Clef Notes submission, we asked her to listen to Mozart's Symphony No. 40 (Molto Allegro) and write about what she heard and felt. We thought you'd enjoy her essay.

I have always been a music lover because no matter what you are doing in life, music can be nostalgic and apply to different parts of your life, particularly listening to Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550. I had many feelings and personal experiences rise in me as I listened to the symphony.

 Whenever I listen to an intriguing piece of music, I like to research the concept. Most composers have a message or feeling to get across. Mozart does a great job of reflecting his life in his art. The piece was written in the 18th century. During this time, it was popular in music to put sorrow, and almost a dark, eerie feeling as a concept, especially in the key of G Minor. After the piece, I felt like I went through an emotional roller coaster and felt anxious at times.


The opening moments with the strings and the melody with brass and low tones reminded me of what it feels like to be working on getting things done, and there is a setback, almost like the last lap in Mario Kart. You are moving with the melody through the music, and it slows down, and the melodic line comes back.

I felt on edge not only during these notes but throughout the entire piece. The moments where the music slows down and the notes are very connected, almost seeming whimsical like you are daydreaming, then the tempo excels, and the intensity appears again. It feels like you are trying to escape reality and falling into a daydream constantly. The clarinets through the slow portions almost give a tugging feeling when it leads into faster sections. As the repetition of the melody keeps repeating itself, it keeps building throughout the piece and the acceleration of the ensemble until the end. It's almost like a sigh of relief I felt finally getting through the music, like in Mario Kart finally finishing a race.

I enjoyed this piece, and if you need a boost, this is the perfect symphony to listen to when you are studying, trying to do homework or need to get going for the day!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Catching up with Mark S. Doss

Catching up with, “your juggling, tennis-playing Grammy-winning Bass-Baritone from Cleveland OH,” Mark S. Doss

Mark Steven Doss
was born on July 2, 1957, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Cleveland's East Technical High School, where he was both an athlete and an actor/singer. The school’s production of Godspell, changed his life, as he came down the aisle singing, “Prepare Ye,” he was finding HIS way.

Mr. Doss called to chat, and he sang a bit for us, too!

by Elaine Diehl