Saturday, February 26, 2011

Opera Quiz For February

It's been so much fun having an occasional opera quiz that we've decided to start a mini-series of them this spring!

Once a month from now through May when you listen to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera with Peter Fox Smith you'll have a chance to hear from a great operatic voice, pick up a clue or two, and take your best guess as to who the voice is.

Our 'mystery voices' so far have included Austrian tenor Richard Tauber and American Wagnerian soprano Helen Traubel. A week ago, we held February's quiz. We were looking for the name of a singer whose most notable role was in the opera Don Pasquale - AND, a singer who was just as famous for his café songs. Any guesses?

We now know this Italian tenor had three Christian names (Raffaele Attilio Amedeo) , none of which were actually his stage name. In 1929, he appeared in a short film, singing an aria from Martha. And, like his contemporary Richard Tauber, also enjoyed success as a conductor.

Ready for the answer?

The mystery voice is.................Italian tenor Tito Schipa!

Thanks to everyone who sent in guesses, the winner of this month's opera quiz is Edward Roesner of Saranac Lake, NY. Congratulations! He will be receiving an inscribed copy of Peter Fox Smith's book A Passion for Opera.

Listen for the next Saturday Afternoon at the Opera quizzes on March 26th, April 16th, and May 7th.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011: The Year Of The Vermont Composer

(Vermont composers with Governor Shumlin)

It's official, 2011 is (as of today) the "Year of the Composer" in Vermont!

Governor Shumlin signed the proclamation this afternoon at the State House with a roomful of composers and a few media folks in attendance.

Northfield-area composer Dennis Báthory-Kitsz accepted the honor on behalf of the Consortium of Vermont Composers:

...and he explained the significance of the decree, when I caught up with him afterward:

From all of us at VPR : congratulations to Dennis, the Consortium, and all of the creative people who make Vermont such a special place to live.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snap Judgment on VPR

This week, we welcome a new series to Vermont Public Radio’s Saturday Special line-up.

Please give a warm round of applause for Snap Judgment; an hour of (self-proclaimed) "addictive storytelling that walks a mile in someone else's shoes."

The stories start with a snap judgment - a decision that ends up having larger than expected repercussions.

Snap Judgment host, Glynn Washington, has a flare for the dramatic, a sharp wit, and a warm sense of humor. He introduces us to people with pivotal stories about turning points and decisions that change everything.

This is a new public radio program and we really want to know what you think. So be sure to listen and send us an email or post on our Facebook wall.

This week’s episode is called “Magic Doors.” Enchanting stories of magic men, well-witchin’, and escapes from certain death by way of a sixth sense.

Hear Snap Judgment Saturdays at 4 February 19th and 26th, March 5, 12th and 19th.

The Snap Judgment Crew. Host Glynn Washington is in the middle of the back row.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Federal Funding in Jeopardy

Dear VPR Listeners,

Federal funding for public broadcasting is facing its greatest threat ever. The House Appropriations Committee has released a continuing resolution (H.R. 1) to fund the federal government when the current CR expires on March 4. This resolution eliminates all federal support for local public television and radio stations.

The loss of federal funding would have a devastating effect on public media across the country including Vermont Public Radio. Federal funding provides 10% of Vermont Public Radio’s funding, approximately $650,000. Some say that there is no longer a need for federal support for public broadcasting. Others believe it’s one of the worthiest places to invest federal dollars. More importantly, though, is what you think.

We hope you will call your members of Congress and tell them how much you value public broadcasting and what you think of the proposed cuts. Vermont’s Congressional delegation is fully supportive of federal funding for public broadcasting, but it’s still important to tell them what you think of the proposed cuts. If you live in another state, I encourage you to contact your representatives as well. And please help us by spreading the word to your friends and family.

Congress could take action on these cuts in the next few days, so please act now. You can also show your support by visiting and sign up to receive updates.

Because the future of Vermont Public Radio and public broadcasting is at stake, it is important that your elected representatives hear directly from you about whether or not funding for public broadcasting should be continued.

Many thanks,

Robin Turnau

Valentines, NPR-Style

You love public radio. Your sweetie does too - so why not show him or her with an NPR Valentine?

NPR developed a series of fun valentines for the public radio fan you love. Download them at our Facebook page or at

Plus, when you make a pledge to VPR this morning, let us know who your valentine is and we'll give him or her a shout out on the air! Call 1-800-639-6391 to make a pledge, or do it online at We'll read as many as we can!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Poem for VPR Pledge Drive

Julie Parker of Granville, Vermont sent us this poem yesterday when VPR's Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb asked listeners for poems about supporting VPR.

We welcome your missives, poems, haiku and songs!

Every day I fall in love with Vee...Pee...Arrr
In fact, I'd just begun an ode on my guitar
When Mitch's call for poems came- coincidence bizarre-
"Send 'em in," he seemed to say, "above or below par."

Radios in Every Room, VPR All Day

Flipping knob at 8am we come to, groggy, twitchin,
Marshall, Keillor, Eye on Sky, we hear you. Now to kitchen.
Straight to boom box, curse the static, on goes 107.
Tom, Good Lord, your Egypt talk has glued us past eleven.
When to ski? It's Here and Now and then Vermont Edition
Racine's right, our state's near broke, but Off with this emission!
I love VPR, but life goes on sans your permission.

Boots off, snow stomped, back for wine, sit quiet by a fire?
Yes. No....Let's just twist the knob, for NPR's late wire.

What would happen if, instead of you friends on the air
Life drove us to Internet, and at a screen we'd stare?
Gone the voices we so love and gone the close connection
Let us Pledge our heart and mind to hold off mass dejection.
-- Julie Parker, VPR Listener

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pushups for Pledges

It all started as Mitch Wertlieb, David Warren, and I listened this morning to NPR's story on First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. It's day two of VPR's membership drive and the story inspired us to pump ourselves up to meet the challenge goal of 200 pledges by 9 a.m. So we began doing exercises in between breaks.

Before I could stop him, Mitch was telling listeners that if VPR received the 114 more pledges needed to meet the goal, that we would do a push-up for every one of those pledges.

We are people of our word,'s the proof. Thank you for supporting VPR! We'll let you know tomorrow whether or not our arms thank you, too!

Monday, February 7, 2011

VPR Penguins Plunge!

For the fourth consecutive year, a group of brave VPR staffers jumped into Lake Champlain in Burlington to raise money for the Special Olympics! It was perfect plunging weather - partly cloudy, temperatures in the low 30's, and little to no wind. Thank you to everyone who came out and cheered us on!

At left: Ric Cengeri and I take the plunge...and yes, my shirt says "I listened to NPR before it was cool!" Photo courtesy Emily McManamy of the Burlington Free Press.

Right: No running and screaming for us, we public radio people are far too dignified for that sort of thing. Instead, VPR Penguinis Jean Ferguson, Alaina Janack, Ric Cengeri, and Michelle Jeffery march defiantly to the water. Photo Courtesy Steve Ferguson.

Finally, I cannot publish this post without noting (okay, bragging) that I plunged TWICE this year, with VPR and with the Green Mountain Derby Dames, my roller derby league. But VPR still got a shout out on that plunge - my derby name is Susan Slamberg, and my number is 107.9 FM! Photo below courtesy of Karen Pike.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Opera Quiz - What's Your Guess?

Last weekend's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, featured another intriguing opera quiz put together by Peter and Sam.

In addition to his singing career, the mystery voice was said to have been a proficient pianist, composer, film and stage star, and conductor.

There aren't many opera singers who qualify on all of those levels - any guesses?

Here's a little more information about him: he wore a monacle because he had a twitch in his eye - not because he needed corrected vision. One of the more famous career highlights of this Austrian native occurred when he took over for Sir Thomas Beecham as conductor of the famous Sunday afternoon concert series with the London Philharmonic. And then, of course, there are all of the recordings - songs, entire operas, and opera arias.

Give up?

Turns out the mystery voice is.....................Richard Tauber!

Thanks to all of you who sent in your guesses - it was Larry Wolkin of Meriden, NH who came up with the right answer. For his efforts, Larry will be rewarded with an inscribed copy of Peter Fox Smith's book A Passion for Opera.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our opera quiz. We'll do it again sometime!