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10 Shows to Hear this Month on WVIA Radio



Saturday, February 4th, 1pm
Today the Met takes us into the archives for a stunning performance of Verdi’s first opera based on Shakespeare. We are transported back 50 years to February 3, 1973 when Maestro Francesco Molinari-Pradelli led a phenomenal cast: Sherrill Milnes (Macbeth), Martina Arroyo (Lady Macbeth), Ruggero Raimondi (Banquo), and Franco Tagliavini (Macduff).

Verdi’s opera is a powerful musical interpretation of Shakespeare’s timeless drama of ambition and its personal cost. Raising questions of fate, superstition, guilt, and power, it marks an important step on the composer’s path from his more conventional earlier efforts to the integrated musical dramas of his mature years.

Black History Month Special from The Choral Hour

Sunday, February 5th at 2pm
Join host Kathlene Ritch as she celebrates Black History Month! Featuring music of African American composers William Dawson and Moses Hogan. Kathlene chats with composer and conductor Dr. Andre Thomas, as they discuss how concert spirituals and their performance practice have evolved over the 20th century through the present day.

A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood: A Musical Journey in the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, February 5th, 3pm
Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up listening to and singing church songs, and saw gospel and folk music as natural tools to further the civil rights movement.

In this hour-long special from WQXR and WNYC, host Terrance McKnight interweaves musical examples with Dr. King's own speeches and sermons to illustrate the powerful place that music held in his work--and examines how the musical community responded to and participated in Dr. King's cause.

Terrance McKnight is WQXR's Evening Host. He came to WQXR from WNYC, which he joined in 2008. He brings to his position wide and varied musical experience that includes performance, teaching and radio broadcast. An accomplished pianist, McKnight was also a member of the Morehouse College faculty, where he taught music appreciation and applied piano.


Monday, February 6th, 8pm
Tune in for a music and talk celebration of the indomitable spirit and talent that Mavis Staples has shown over a career that tacks from the late 1940’s, into the 2020’s. A panel of top notch music writers and scholars reflect on her rich music history, as Paul Ingles hosts a mix of some of her most important and stirring performances. Available as a 2 hour or single hour special. Hour 1 focuses on her family's early gospel group successes in the 1950's and the beginning of their emergence as civil rights messengers and pop chart leaders in the 1960's and early 1970's. Hour 2 focuses on her family's commercial success of the early 1970's, and how they tried to keep up with trends before eventually discontinuing their recordings as the Staples Singers in the middle 1980's. Then Mavis launched a solo career that bubbled below the radar for many years before taking off in the 21st century.


Celebrating Franco Zefferelli

Saturday, February 11th, 1pm
The Met commemorates the centenary of Franco Zeffirelli’s birth with a special presentation drawn from the company’s radio archives.

Few artists have had a greater impact on Met history than Franco Zeffirelli, the beloved director and designer who died in 2019. Born in 1923 in Florence, Italy, Franco Zeffirelli (pictured below in rehearsal for Otello) created 11 productions for the company over 35 years, starting with his 1964 debut staging of Falstaff at the old Met. Two years later, he would help inaugurate the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center with an extravagant vision of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, starring Leontyne Price and Justino Díaz.

Zeffirelli’s historically informed, intricately detailed, and breathtakingly beautiful approach delighted generations of operagoers, and his productions of such classics as Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (1970), Otello (1972), and Tosca (1985) set the standard for grand Met stagings. His 1981 La Bohème remains in the repertory to this day and, with nearly 500 appearances, is the most-performed production in company history.

WVIA Valentine’s Day Special: LOVE

Sunday, February 12th, 2pm
For Valentine’s Day WVIA offers a broadcast of an original work for chorus and orchestra. It’s a rare occurrence when WVIA music lovers are treated to a world premiere by a regional composer who also conducts the new work. The composer/conductor is the long-time Music Director of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, William Payn. His piece, a multi-movement work for soloists, chorus and orchestra, is a suite of settings of poems dealing with the subject of love. Among the poets that inspired the work are Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Langston Hughes, and E.E. Cummings as well as alumni of Bucknell University where Dr. Payn enjoyed a long teaching career. Soloist Lynne Eustis, soprano, is also a graduate of Bucknell. Joining her for the premiere is Daniel Teadt, baritone, a Pittsburgh native. For this performance, each poem is also recited by WVIA’s Fiona Powell. Larry Vojtko hosts this special broadcast.


Don Carlo

Saturday, February 18th, 1pm
Verdi’s longest and most ambitious opera was created for the Paris Opera which expected grandeur on a spectacular scale. And Verdi did not disappoint his 1867 audience. Yet Verdi was driven to explore the variety of human emotions in all his dramas. Here he offers a profound look at the intersection of the personal and the political spheres. The opera features a number of complex one-on-one confrontations, and the chorus, when it appears, is imposing, most notably in the central auto-da-fé. The grandeur of the score telescopes in Acts III and IV to the individuals, with magnificent and melodically rich solo scenes.

The libretto was originally created in French, but this performance is sung in Italian and stars an unbeatable cast of dramatic voices. Russell Thomas, one of today’s fastest-rising tenors, takes on the title role, a Spanish nobleman caught between private passion and public duty, sharing the stage with sopranos Eleonora Buratto and Angela Meade as Elisabeth of Valois, mezzo-soprano Yulia Matochkina as Princess Eboli, baritone Peter Mattei as Rodrigo, bass-baritone John Relyea as the Grand Inquisitor, and bass Günther Groissböck as King Philip II. Carlo Rizzi conducts one of the repertory’s most epic works.

Pittsburgh Symphony

Sunday, February 19th, 2pm
Christoph König is the guest conductor. He leads the orchestra in the Third Symphony of Johannes Brahms which has been called the composer’s “Eroica” by those who maintain the comparison between Brahms and Beethoven. It is filled with conflicts and warm resolutions, turbulence, gentle sentiment and a twilight serenity. Rising cellist Maximilian Hornung makes his Pittsburgh Symphony debut performing Richard Strauss’ famous tone poem, Don Quixote, which is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ timeless 17th-century novel of enchantments, battles, challenges and loves. In Strauss’ score, the knight himself, Don Quixote de la Mancha, comes to life in the solo cello. His ever faithful “squire”, Sancho Panza is portrayed by the viola, in this performance played by Randolph Kelly.


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Saturday, February 25th, 1pm
Soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva makes an exciting Met debut as the fiery femme fatale at the center of Shostakovich’s searing modern drama, joining forces with tenor Brandon Jovanovich as her illicit lover. Maestro Keri-Lynn Wilson makes her Met debut conducting Graham Vick’s vivid staging, which also features tenor Nikolai Schukoff and bass-baritone John Relyea.

Premiered in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1934, this opera is now one of the undisputed musical masterpieces of the last 100 years. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a bleak, existential drama that is satirical and critical of society, but also retains a sharply focused narrative, with Shostakovich’s thrilling score accentuating each of its dramatic points. Based on an engrossing novella by Nikolai Leskov, the opera maintains its source material’s frenetic pace with propulsive music and a plethora of activity, suggesting that any actions—even of the criminal variety—are preferable to the crushing ennui of conventional life.

Pittsburgh Symphony

Sunday, February 26th, 2pm
Can music answer the most profound questions posed by humankind? “Why have you lived? Why have you suffered? Is it all some huge, awful joke? We have to answer these questions somehow if we are to go on living – indeed, even if we are only to go on dying!” Mahler raises these questions in the first movement of his Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” questions that are later answered in the finale. Manfred Honeck leads the orchestra, along with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and outstanding soloists Ying Fang and Gerhild Romberger, in a performance of this monumental symphony. The concert opens with contemporary composer James MacMillan’s Miserere. The oft-set Latin text taken from Psalm 51 in which the penitent, admitting to many transgressions, pleads for mercy from God.