December 18, 2017

AccuRadio: Hand-crafted by music lovers-not by a computer

My friend Francesca tipped me off about a fantastic world-wide web radio site called AccuRadio.
The listener can choose from dozens of themed-channels, select something called “Surprise Me,” or come up with their own customized station. “Channel a Day In May” is nearing its end, but “Music For the Start of Summer” is just commencing.

Some of the channel selections include Classic Rocktoopia with 1,000 of the greatest songs in rock history, Classical Relaxation with soothing classical melodies, Today’s New Country, Bluegrass Belles featuring all female voices, three opera channels, a gigantic collection of Broadway shows and themes and hundreds of other options. It seems almost every imaginable music genre is represented at this site.

Founded in 2000 as a home-grown Chicago company, AccuRadio bills itself as appealing to adult listeners with sophisticated taste. They have links to music sellers’ sites so you can purchase your favorite songs. AccuRadio is also fully licensed with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange and the RIAA and they state that they pay royalties on every song they play.

AccuRadio does run ads on the radio channels, but I did not find them intrusive like regular commercial AM/FM terrestrial radio stations. You can either access the site from your desktop or download an AccuRadio app to your phone or tablet.

Let me know if you run across anything fabulous!

Asheville, NC and Spartanburg, SC Travel Diary

Former Chicagoan Joyce Heitler invited me down to perform for a benefit in Spartanburg, SC. A mere hour away through the Smokey Mountains is Asheville, NC, a cultural hub in the Southeast with the Biltmore Estate as the must-see architectural jewel of the area. Equally interesting is Biltmore Village, the planned community for the estate workers. The historic houses are now boutiques and charming restaurants making this a shopping and dining destination.

We dined on pecan-crusted trout with sweet potato and salmon atop a  celery root croquette in the very busy, yet cozy Corner Kitchen, pictured above.  For history buffs, President and Michelle Obama dined at this award-winning restaurant in 2010.

Pecan-crusted trout at Corner Kitchen in Asheville, NC

Just a block away was All Souls Church, site of a chamber concert entitled “Songs At Twilight” presented by Amici Music featuring flautist Lea Kibler , soprano Amanda Horton and pianist/impresario Daniel Weiser.

Daniel Weiser of Amici Music

Spartanburg, SC has a vibrant downtown scene with Hub City Coffee and Bookshop along with tony boutiques such as Lily Pulitzer and Couture Closets Consignment. The Chapman Cultural Center is home to nine different cultural organizations such as the Spartanburg Art Museum, Ballet Spartanburg and the Music Foundation of Spartanburg.

Hub City Bookshop

The Carlos Mosely Series at Converse College hosted a recent vocal recital with world-class counter-tenor David Daniels and superlative accompanist Martin Katz. Daniels was being inducted into his home town of Spartanburg’s Music Trail.

Hostess Extraordinaire Joyce Heitler in her historic Spartanburg home.

Elizabeth with David Daniels

Elizabeth with Martin Katz

Opera Beat: Oscar Wilde production starring David Daniels

Would that I could hop on a plane Feb. 9-12 to see Opera Philadelphia’s production of “Oscar,” featuring opera star David Daniels as famous writer Wilde. A co-production and co-commission with Santa Fe Opera which premiered the new work in 2013 , the music is by composer Theodore Morrison and the libretto by Morrison and opera director John Cox. The opera focuses on Wilde’s trial and imprisonment with fellow poet and homosexual Walt Whitman acting as a Greek chorus of sorts. Cox and Morrison were inspired by Richard Ellman’s biography of Wilde, his letters, documents and quotes from his contemporaries. Oscar Wilde’s biological grandson, Merlin Holland also provided scholarly information on his famous forebear. (Oscar Wilde had two sons with wife Thelma Besant and has a male great-grandchild living in London.)

Counter tenor David Daniels, a former vocal student of composer Morrison’s, brings his world class voice to the role of Oscar Wilde. (As an interesting connection, the countertenor voice range is similar to a woman’s mezzo soprano voice. Writer Max Beerbohm, an acquaintance of Wilde’s, said that Oscar had a mezzo soprano singing range.) Reed Luplau dances the role of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, lending a visually lyrical quality to their relationship. Heidi Stober plays his loyal female friend, Ada Leverson. William Burden is cast as journalist and sexual roué Frank Harris who wrote a biography of Wilde.

Here is a fascinating brief interview with Oscar composer, Theodore Morrison:

Opera Philadelphia has a wonderful series of clips of music from the opera and interviews with the performers.

If any of you are lucky enough to catch this production in Philadelphia, please send me a brief review! For now, youtube will have to suffice for those of us not able to journey to Pennsylvania.

"Oscar" opera in Santa Fe