Saturday, July 30, 2011

Opera Quiz For July

July's opera quiz is upon us! Each month, A Passion for Opera with Peter Fox Smith offeres a different "mystery voice" (with a clue or two) and invites you to guess what great operatic voice it is.

This month's singer was born in Spain to Andalusian parents. Her early education took place at a convent, and then as a young lady she entered the Conservatory in her native Barcelona to study singing. She made her American debut in 1915 as Charlotte in Massenet's Werther at the Chicago Opera, where she also sang the fiery title role in Bizet's Carmen. (In fact, one of the recordings Peter and Sam played last Saturday was this singer's recording of "les tringles des sistres" from Carmen.)

Our singer was noted especially for her powerful chest register, and an extremely flexible upper voice that could easily scale the florid passages of Romantic opera. Above all, she was individual and creative in her style.

She made more than 200 recordings in her career, both operatic and in a vast song repertory in Catalan, Spanish, French, Italian and English, as well as pieces from zarzuela and even operetta.

Those are the clues.

Are you ready for the answer? This month's opera quiz 'mystery voice' is...Conchita Supervía!

Thanks to everyone who sent in guesses, the winner of this month's opera quiz is Vesna Danilovic of Buffalo, New York. Congratulations! She will be receiving an inscribed copy of Peter Fox Smith's book A Passion for Opera.

Listen in next month for a chance to guess the August 'mystery voice' on the opera quiz.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Party With The Stars!

This Friday night, VPR and the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury are planning to hold our annual Star-Gazing Party. Take your radio outside at 9 o'clock and gaze into the night sky. Meteorologist and Eye on the Sky forecaster Mark Breen will be our guide on this journey through the cosmos. Here's what he has to say about the evening:

"This is your opportunity to gather friends and family outside, take your radio and cell phone, and enjoy an evening of astronomy, with host Jane Lindholm, and Eye on the Skies Mark Breen. Listen in, or call with your questions, as we discuss the August meteor showers, constellations like the Scorpion, finding the planets Saturn and Jupiter, and much more."

You can also send your questions through

Let's hope the skies are clear Friday night (since we are not planning to reschedule it if the skies are cloudy).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sox Or Yankees?

When you make a pledge to VPR this morning, it doesn't matter what team you root for! That's because we're giving away a trip for two to see the Boston Red Sox vs. the Oakland Athletics on August 8th at Fenway, or the New York Yankees vs. the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on September 24th, courtesy of Vermont Baseball Tours.

The prize includes round-trip transportation, game tickets, a t-shirt, snacks, and on-board trivia with prizes and giveaways.

There will be two drawings - the first winner gets their choice of trips, with the remaining prizes going to the runner up!

And don't forget to listen to Morning Edition this morning for some baseball rivalry, VPR-style between Sox fan Mitch Wertlieb and Yankees fan Peter Biello (pictured above)

The drawing is at 9 a.m., so make your pledge now, and thanks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

VPR Classical's Special Summer

VPR Classical turns seven years old today! And thanks to strong listener support, in that time we've grown from being one station (WNCH, 88.1FM in Norwich) to SIX full-power stations, and many translators to help the signal reach even more listeners in the region.

Along with the expansion of our radio signal, we've also become deeper as a broadcasting service with the inclusion of more live performances, special events, and musical conversations with area artists. Just a week ago we shared the recording we made at the Hopkins Center in May, with pianist Sally Pinkas in her spring recital.

On Monday this week we launched "Marlboro Month", a month-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the legendary music festival. Each weekday our live programs are featuring exclusive recordings from the Festival's rich archives: from Mozart and Bach to Argento, Couperin, Copland and many others. You may also revisit many of these unique performances at our new Marlboro Music page - and find out what violinist Soovin Kim has been working on with friends during his time at the Festival!

I'm also very happy to tell you that this evening we will be broadcasting Counterpoint's final performance with Robert DeCormier, their founder and longtime director who has now moved into an emeritus role with the ensemble. Over the first weekend of April this year Counterpoint performed three "Legacy" concerts with DeCormier, and VPR Classical recorded the final one on the afternoon of April 3rd. Springtime weather made it warm outside St. Paul's Cathedral in Burlington, and the emotional current running through the concert gave the space a special warmth on the inside as well.

This is the latest in our "VPR Classical Presents" series of live concert recordings, and you can look forward to a couple of others from Chandler in Randolph and from the Manchester Music Festival in coming weeks. The Counterpoint Legacy performance can be heard from 8-10pm tonight on VPR Classical, and then later it will also be available for online listening.

Here's a video I took on April 3rd during the final moments of the concert. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you for your continuing support of classical music in Vermont!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Appreciating The "Little Moments" This Summer

I’ll admit that I take summertime for granted, even though in just a few short weeks I know I’ll proclaim, “Where did the summer go?”

Chatting with friends and family at our local creemee stand, it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, we were scraping ice off our windshields and navigating snowstorms. But this summer, I’m determined to spend more time appreciating the little moments that might otherwise pass me by.

As I listen to VPR in the car or to VPR Classical on the back porch after dinner, I will relish all of the great little moments that I hear: the hum of Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion, the way that one of the Car Talk brothers (is it Click or Clack?) snorts as they diagnose an ailing car, and the delicate vibration of a cello during a live studio performance.

I also appreciate the fact that VPR’s summer membership drive is going to be short, taking just three days in late July. But even though it’s short, it’s incredibly important: VPR needs to raise $150,000 to stay on track with its fiscal-year budget.

We’ve put together some great reasons for you to listen during this drive, including chances to win some prizes that would be a perfect complement to summertime in Vermont:

I hope you find time to savor your little moments this summer. Please show your support for the little moments you enjoy on VPR and VPR Classical by making a pledge today by calling 1-800-639-6391 or online by clicking here. Not only will you be entered to win some fantastic prizes, but you’ll be helping VPR meet its budget goal for this fiscal year!

If you are a sustaining member, you are automatically entered in all of our membership drive drawings. And if you are not a sustaining member, it’s a great reason to become one!

Thank you so much in advance for your support.

Friday, July 8, 2011

VPR Cooks: Chocolate Hummus (No, Really!)

As if a sunny, beautiful Friday morning wasn't awesome enough, this is the first email I opened when I arrived at work today. Win!

Producer/Announcer Peter Biello is our resident vegetarian and is known for sharing his creative, healthy recipes with the Vermont Public Radio staff. (We're also pretty sure he's responsible for occasionally leaving quantities of decidedly less healthy candy in the VPR kitchen, but that rumor has yet to be confirmed...)

Anyway, back to chocolate hummus, which combines two of my favorite foods. It was delicious spread on graham crackers with a cup of coffee - and it's a nice way to enjoy chocolate in a somewhat nutritious form! If you need more detail, you'll find the original recipe here.

And don't miss Vermont Edition today at noon and 7 p.m. when we'll celebrate chocolate and hear from local chocolatiers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Josh Ritter: Musician & Best-Selling Author at VPR

NPR affiliated stations will often get in touch with VPR when they need to do an interview with someone in our region that just can't make it for an interview. That situation popped up today with WBUR in Boston.

While On Point host Tom Ashbrook sat in a broadcast booth in Boston, he spoke to Idaho musician/author Josh Ritter, who was here at VPR headquarters in Colchester, Vermont.

Josh Ritter is in Burlington for the day. Hopefully getting an opportunity to enjoy this gorgeous sunshine before his concert at South Burlington's Higher Ground this evening.

Best known for his narrative lyrics and beautiful melodies, Josh Ritter has written a best-selling novel, recently reviewed by Stephen King for The New York Times. Today's On Point from WBUR is a conversation with Tom and Josh about his novel Bright's Passage and the relationship between his career as a musician and the development of his novel. You can listen to the interview or download the MP3 at the On Point website.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Opera Quiz For June

It's time for the latest installment of VPR Classical's opera quiz! Each month, A Passion for Opera with Peter Fox Smith invites you to listen in and identify a different mystery voice.

The subject of this month's quiz was born in Spain to parents who were theater performers, and the family moved to Mexico when he was 8. He attended the Mexico City Conservatory originally as a student of piano and conducting, but it didn't take long for his vocal talents to be discovered. It was a quick ascent from there to international recognition.

Our singer has been a major figure on opera stages since 1959, singing in every major opera house in the world. He's also a favorite performer at the Metropolitan Opera, having appeared there in more than 600 performances of 42 different roles since his Met debut in 1968.

Recent years have also seen him step into leading directorship roles at opera houses in Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

Peter Fox Smith and Sam Sanders selected an unusual aria for the hint on this month's quiz: on last week's show our mystery voice was heard singing the "prize song" from Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg.

It's a little unusual because, for the most part, the mystery voice is better known for his work in Italian Romantic operas.

By now you probably realize that the answer to this month's opera quiz is...Plácido Domingo!

Thanks to everyone who sent in guesses, the winner of this month's opera quiz is Kathryn Tolbert of Westminster West, VT. Congratulations! She will be receiving an inscribed copy of Peter Fox Smith's book A Passion for Opera.

Listen in next month for another chance to guess the mystery voice on the opera quiz.