Classical Classroom-logo

Classical Classroom


There is a rumor going around that classical music is hoity toity. At Classical Classroom, we beg to differ. Come learn with classical music newbie Dacia Clay and the music experts she invites into the Classical Classroom.


Houston, TX


There is a rumor going around that classical music is hoity toity. At Classical Classroom, we beg to differ. Come learn with classical music newbie Dacia Clay and the music experts she invites into the Classical Classroom.








Classical Classroom Episode 220: Cello, Is It Me You're Looking For? with Joel Dallow

Some musicians slide right into a symphony orchestra position like [insert image of smiling child on slide]. Joel Dallow is not one of those musicians. It took him five years of intense work (on top of all of the work he'd already done as a student at the Peabody Conservatory and as a freelancer, etc., etc.,) to get the position he's occupied in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra cello section for 22 years. And now, he's on the other side of that audition table as part of the panel judging would-be orchestra members. Which makes him the perfect teacher for cellists who aim to play with a symphony. And that's exactly what he does as the Cello Sherpa, and on his podcast. In this episode, Joel breaks it all down for us: what it's like to be on both sides of the audition table, what the audition process really entails, and what judges are listening for.


Classical Classroom, Episode 219: Arranged and Deranged with Joe Burgstaller

Joe Burgstaller may seem like a perfectly normal guy who just happens to have been playing trumpet since he emerged from the womb. But do not be fooled, dear listener. Something is clearly amiss. (See: Joe's music videos, particularly the video we talk about in this episode which took 26 trips through a car wash to get juuust right.) Perhaps it's all of the lip pursing. Or maybe there's something in the brass? Whatever it is has given him a case of hyper-creativity. In this episode, Joe teaches all about arranging music--a creative feat that requires you to commune with dead composers across time.


Classical Classroom, Episode 218: Peter Dugan on the Magic of Collaboration

When pianist Peter Dugan performed on NPR's From the Top at the age of 18, he had no idea that he would one day host the show. In this episode, Peter talks about how he came to be at the helm of a show that's been going for 25 years juuust before a pandemic began. He also teaches us about love, the magic the binds the molecules of music together. And he illustrates how collaborations between musicians have created that magic throughout history, and on From the Top, even in a global pandemic.


Classical Classroom, Episode 217: A Brassy, Classy, Yuletide Concert

Ginger Turner is--excuse us--a brassy broad. She was in the Army and the US Army's Field Band for 27 years. So when it came time to put on the annual Holiday Brass Concert for the International Women's Brass Conference (IWBC) during the pandemic, she did not shrink away from the challenge. She leaned right into it. And what resulted was pure, live, holiday magic. Learn about Ginger, the IWBC, and the feats of strength it took to put on a beautiful Christmas concert *safely* during COVID. And how you can watch it!


Classical Classroom, Episode 216: Merry Melodica Men-mas!

We hope that yule enjoy this holiday-ish show with Tristan Clarke, one half of YouTube sensation, the Melodica Men. In this episode, learn how two Juilliard- and Peabody-trained brass musicians took a detour from their traditional classical music work to play toy instruments on street corners, how they blew up the internet with an 89-second version of "The Rite of Spring," and why they are completely mesmerizing to watch. Also, learn how they distilled "The Nutcracker Suite" down to around 2 minutes of pure Christmas magic.


Classical Classroom, Episode 215: Très Bien! Stéphane Denève Teaches the History of French Music

Conductor and music director Stéphane Denève is a busy guy. He's got at least four jobs on two different continents. But thanks (?) to the pandemic, we caught him sitting still for long enough to teach us the ENTIRE HISTORY of French classical music! He starts at the very beginning with chant, and goes all the way through to contemporary composers. Learn about the pivotal moments in French music history, hear its evolution in musical examples, and learn what defines it--all from one of its biggest fans. Oh! And hear him sing up and down the solfege scale so fast it will make you say, "oui!" (Seriously. It's unreal.)


Classical Classroom, Episode 214: The Harp Will Go On with Yolanda Kondonassis

When it comes to the harp, Yolanda Kondonassis is kind of a big deal. She’s literally written the book on the topic. In this episode, she teaches all about the history of the harp, describes the different kinds of harp, its mechanics, its repertoire, and about harp music being written today. She also tells the story of her personal history with the harp and how those first few plucks altered her life FOREVAH!


Classical Classroom, Episode 213: Orli Shaham Talks Piano (Man)

The piano. A seemingly normal instrument. But where did it come from, and how did it get here? Is it a percussion or a string instrument? Is it safe for young people, or will it influence your child to become interested in (gasp!) music, like it did one Orli Shaham? In this episode, Shaham describes how she was helplessly lured by the piano, as well as how this instrument wound up in peoples' homes. She also talks about its repertoire, and how your child can start playing. Listen at your own peril.


Classical Classroom, Episode 212: All Together Now with Lisa Bielawa

Composer, producer, and vocalist Lisa Bielawa wants you for her project, Broadcast from Home! She's often incorporated community-making and experimental elements into her compositional work, but this project is next level: each week during the pandemic, Bielawa is creating a "chapter"--a piece of music--based on the written and recorded submissions she gets from people all around the globe about their current experience. In this interview, Lisa teaches about other music made in times of plague, and talks about her crazy-ambitious creative process for Broadcast from Home, as well as how you can be a part of it!


Classical Classroom, Episode 211: Music for (Sacred) Space with Michael Whalen

Have you ever wondered what the atmosphere of a space sounds like? Well look no further! In this episode, Emmy Award winning film and TV composer Michael Whalen teaches all about the history of ambient music. He talks about its classical music roots, how circuits and tape collages and German composers had a part in its evolution, and how Brian Eno changed everything. He also talks about his own new album of music for sacred spaces.


Classical Classroom, Episode 210: Derek Bermel on Travels with Bartok

Academy Award-winning composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel does a lot of traveling, soaking up the musical traditions as he goes. His recent album, Migrations, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category. In this episode, Bermel teaches about composer Bela Bartok who inspired one of the pieces on the album. Bartok moved from his native Hungary to New York City at the outset of World War II, and while a lot of great music came out of his journey, his is also a really human story about being a stranger in a strange land. Bermel also talks about the migration of his own European Jewish family and how it influenced his work.


Classical Classroom, Episode 209: Alexander Pushkin in Opera, Pt. 2

Dramaturg and Seattle Opera Podcast host, Jonathan Dean has come back to the Classroom for this epic two-episode series about the bazillion operas based on the writing of the Russian author Alexander Pushkin. In part one, we talked all about who Pushkin was, painting a word picture of what a major impact his work had on...everything. In part two, learn about just some of the operas that Pushkin's work inspired! Also, please keep yourselves safe, and support your local arts organizations as you are able. They love you and so do we!


Classical Classroom, Episode 208: Alexander Pushkin in Opera, Pt. 1

Weeell, we figured that right about now would be a great time to put out some new episodes of the podcast. We hope that all of you out there in the weirdness are staying nice and safe and quarantined, and that these episodes will be a tiny ray of indoor sunshine for you all. Dramaturg and Seattle Opera Podcast host, Jonathan Dean has come back to the Classroom for this epic two-episode series about the bazillion operas based on the writing of the Russian author Alexander Pushkin. Even though Pushkin died in his early 30s, he was massively, hugely influential. We're talking Shakespeare level. His writing not only solidified the Russian voice and inspired other writers, it inspired lots of other art, including so much opera. In this first episode, we talk about who, what, where, and when Pushkin was (setting the stage for episode 2, which is about just some of the operas his stories inspired). Just a note: We recorded this two-episode series well before any pandemics happened, when the Opera was still putting on live shows with audiences and planning for the season to come. There are some Seattle Opera events that Jon alludes to that are no longer happening, though I'm guessing that you could figure that out! Also, though we say this in the episode, it bears repeating: it's SO IMPORTANT to support your local arts organizations right now. Don't ask for ticket refunds, donate if you can, buy merch! Okayloveyoubye!


Classical Classroom, Episode 207: Rachel Barton Pine Gets Folksy with Dvorak and Khachaturian

Violinist and Classical Classroom mascot Rachel Barton Pine is back to teach all about the violin concertos of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak and Soviet-Armenian Aram Khachaturian. Learn about their lives and music! Get lost with Dvorak in New York City! Hear about Khachaturian becoming a new father! Find out who threw shade at Dvorak and mucked up his whole concerto composing process, and how Khachaturian wrote his concerto in a blissed-out creative flurry. Also, learn about what makes "folk music" folksy and other music...not.


Classical Classroom, Episode 33: Cracking “The Nutcracker” with Michael Remson and Shelly Power (RERUN)

No tickets to see The Nutcracker this year? No problem! Experience basically almost the entire thing in this episode from the Classroom Wayback Machine with musical expert Michael Remson (San Diego Youth Symphony, formerly of AFA) and dance expert Shelly Power (Pennsylvania Ballet, formerly of Houston Ballet Academy). Hear the music and the story and learn all about the history of dance and behind the scenes tricks of the trade as you listen. It's like four levels of entertainment at once. Just like Tchaikovsky intended*. *We assume.


Classical Classroom, Episode 206: John Luther Adams Walks Through "Become Desert"

With Become Desert, composer John Luther Adams is done "Become"-ing (learn why in this episode). First, there was the Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning Become Ocean. Then, there was Become River. Finally, in 2019, Adams put his feet on solid ground, in a terrain he's much more comfortable with. And now there's Become Desert. Here, Adams talks about what the deceptively simple pieces of the Become trilogy are, both musically and conceptually, about Desert in particular, and about why music > politics will ever be at saving the world.


Classical Classroom, Episode 205: Nicholas McGegan on Rameau and Music that Stands the Test of Time

Conductor Nicholas McGegan, of San Francisco Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra fame (and so much more) is an expert in conducting Baroque music. To some of us at the podcast, this sounds as obscure as being a modern day village cobbler or ironing one's hair with an actual iron. But in this episode, McGegan explains his love for this music and why it - and other kinds of music - will continue to be relevant for centuries to come. He illustrates his point by teaching about an opera by the composer Rameau with a snarky text (aka, libretto) by Voltaire which is still making audiences laugh today. Ch-check it out. All music in this episode from Rameau: Le Temple de la Gloire, released July 2018 on Philharmania Baroque Productions.


Classical Classroom, Episode 204: A Peculiar Harry Partch Primer, with John Schneider

Guitarist John Schneider is clearly obsessed. In the best, passionate-music-geek kind of way. And the thing is that the object of his obsession - Harry Partch and his work - just engenders that kind of response in people. It probably comes from the fact that Partch himself who was monomaniacally focused: he was so absorbed with the idea that music should be more than just the traditional twelve notes that he invented new musical notation, new notes, new instruments to play said notes, and new music for those instruments. In this episode, John Schneider of the Grammy award-winning PARTCH Ensemble teaches all about the adventurous life and obsessions of Harry Partch, and talks about the PARTCH Ensemble's latest release, Sonata Dementia. Music in this episode:


Classical Classroom Special Assembly with Itzhak Perlman

Going to class is a major part of being a classical musician. But have you heard of a "master class"? One student at a time gets up and performs a piece in front of a class, and then the "master" leading the class critiques said performance. Sounds nerve-wracking (read: the stuff of nightmares) to us. Gather 'round for this special assembly in which Classroom's first substitute teacher, Maggie Molloy, talks to Maestro Itzhak Perlman about the history and importance of the master class, and how his new addition to the MasterClass online series makes it possible for even those of us not attending conservatory to take a class from him.


Classical Classroom, Episode 203: Jason Vieaux and Jonathan Leshnoff, Musical Frontiersmen

Jason Vieaux is not just a Grammy-winning classical guitarist - he's a pioneer, taking on new works that have never been performed or recorded before, like those of composer Jonathan Leshnoff. Leshnoff is an adventurer, too, writing virtuosic material for instruments he's never played, like the guitar. Find out how these fearless frontiersman find the fortitude to forge foreign... they make and play brand new stuff. The end. Special thanks to Todd Reynolds for his music, Taskforce: Farmlab from Outerbourough.