On The Road With NPR Music: Sean MacLean At KING, Seattle, Washington

Beyond travel, we’re also big music fans here at Gadling; largely because music is a great way to get to know a place. This month happens to be Public Radio Music Month and we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.

You might know Seattle for its grunge, alternative and indie scenes – this is after all the home of the Experience Music Project – but as Sean MacLean tells us, if you haven’t been paying attention to the classical music of the region, you’re missing out.

Name: Sean MacLean

Member station: Classical King FM 98.1

Regular Show/Contribution Beat: Northwest Focus, weeknights 8-10 p.m., with live musicians Friday nights at 8. Afternoon/evening host Monday – Friday 4-10 p.m.

1. When people think of music in Seattle, what do they think of?

Options! The Early Music, jazz, rock, and film scoring cutting edge, but also Benaroya Hall, home of Seattle Symphony, where you can sip outstanding Washington State Syrahs while enjoying the view from the giant windows that give out onto beautiful Elliott Bay, then go into the splendid acoustics of the floating hall and have your heart blown wide by timeless music.

2. How do you help curate that musical scene?

Through “Northwest Focus“: since living in Seattle means figuring out what NOT to see that night, we pick the most engaging events to link at our website, and give our listeners a chance to meet local classical musicians on “Northwest Focus LIVE” on Friday nights at 8. The shows are archived and YouTube videos are shared. The groups get exposure, and our audience is enriched. We get a lot of feedback about the quality of the music scene here.

3. How has that scene evolved over the last few decades?

Early Music Mecca! Increase in choral groups! More performances of classical music in crossover venues.

4. What would you say is the most unique thing about the Seattle music scene?

People move here for the healthy lifestyle and surrounding natural beauty. I think you can hear the “health” in their playing. Neither sincerity of interpretation, nor cooperation between musical presenters is not considered naïve. Ironic detachment is not cool here, as it is in many cities. Generosity of spirit is the vibe.

5. What are three new up and coming bands on your local scene right now and what makes them distinct?

In the early music scene, Stephen Stubbs is doing amazing productions with Pacific Musicworks. Then there is Whim Whim who dance to choral music. Amazing. Which brings up The Esoterics, led by Eric Banks, who wrote the music. I don’t know how he ever gets any sleep, with the composing, research, and performance.

6. For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?

“Assez Vif” – Seattle Marimba Quartet
“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (arr. J. Sandstrom)” – Dale Warland Singers
“F. Couperin: Les baricades Mystérieuses” – Les baricades Mystérieuses – arranged by Göran Söllscher
“Gloria: IX. Cum Sancto Spiritu” – Couperin, Francois, Göran Söllscher
“Jardim Abandonado” – Sergio and Odair Assad
“The Great “O” Antiphons – O Radix Jesse (“O Root of Jesse”)” – Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble
“Toward the Sea: III. Cape Cod” – Paul Taub, alto Flute; Michael Partington, guitar

Listen to the complete playlist on Spotify.

The Historic Homes Where Jimi Hendrix And George Frideric Handel Were Neighbors (250 Years Apart)

Jimi Hendrix, Handel House
When walking in London, keep an eye out for the Blue Plaques. These historic markers will tell you where famous people once lived, and occasionally make for strange combinations.

One blue plaque at 23 Brook Street in the exclusive Mayfair neighborhood tells how Jimi Hendrix lived there from 1968-1969. Next door at number 25 is another Blue Plaque, this time for Classical composer George Frideric Handel, who lived in the house from 1723 until his death in 1759. Sadly, there’s no record of what Jimi thought about living so close to an earlier and slightly different composer.

The upper stories of these two homes are now the Handel House Museum, which, as the name implies, is dedicated to Handel and not Hendrix. The house has been refurnished with period furniture and paintings and contains a collection of Handel’s personal items. The museum hosts many special events and concerts throughout the year, including weekly recitals. My wife is a big Classical music fan and taking her here to listen to a string quartet is something she still talks about years later.

One disappointment was not being able to see where Jimi Hendrix stayed. He loved London and loved his place, calling it his first real home of his own. At that time he had no neighbors and so he could practice his music as loudly as he wanted.

When the Handel House Museum opened in 2001, his apartment was restored to look like it had when he lived there, minus the large amount of drugs scattered about. Sadly, the apartment is now used as museum’s administrative offices and isn’t generally shown to the public.

[Photo courtesy David Holt]

VIDEO: Children In Paraguay Create Music Out Of Trash


Life in Cateura, Paraguay, is tough. The neighborhood is built on a landfill and the people there make their living rummaging through the garbage for things to sell or reuse.

Now they’re using their skills to turn trash into beauty. They’ve started the Recycled Orchestra, in which local children play instruments made from trash. As this video shows, it’s not just a cute pastime. The instruments sounds like proper ones and the kids show real musical talent.

Now their efforts have caught the eye of some independent filmmakers who are working on a documentary about them called Landfill Harmonic. Check out their Facebook page and Twitter feed, for more information.

These kids are growing up in the depths of poverty and yet have made something out of their bleak surroundings. One of the girls in this video says she’d have nothing without her music. As their teacher says, “People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly. Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.”

Berlin celebrates 20 years of wall’s collapse

The Berlin Wall was pulled down 20 years ago, giving birth to a new industry: selling pieces of the Berlin Wall. Remember that? Well, all the pieces were probably bought long ago (well, except the “real” one that you picked up last week, of course), but there is still plenty you can do to celebrate. The list of cultural events is long and impressive, like the German translation of a short word in English. So, take a look at what Berlin has to offer.

Long Night of Museums lets you visit 100 museums will be open from 6 PM Saturday until 2 AM on Sunday every weekend from January 31 to August 29.

Take in the 59th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) from February 5 to February 15; more than 400 films will be screened, many of them European premieres.

At the Festival Days at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Wagner’s Lohengrin opera will be staged, and other classical music performances will be available from April 4 to April 12.

Enjoy even more of the cultural stuff at the Extended Opera and Theatre Night on April 25. Half-hour events are available from 7 PM to 10 AM on 60 stages, and buses take visitors from theater to theater.

Other events include:

  • Berlin’s Lesbian and Gay Street Festival, June 20-21, and Christopher Street Day, June 27
  • Fete de la Musique, June 21, free concerts on over 50 open-air stages throughout Berlin
  • Jewish Cultural Days, Aug 29-Sep 6
  • Classic Open Air Berlin, July 2-6; opera, classical music
  • Berlin International Beer Festival, Aug 7-9, when Karl-Marx-Allee turns into the world’s longest beer garden and bar, with 190 breweries offering beer along a mile-long stretch
  • Real Berlin Marathon, Sep 19-20, a 42-km run
  • Festival of Lights, Oct 13-25; fireworks, light shows
  • JazzFest Berlin, Nov 5-8, with big bands and international jazz stars

Noticeably absent from the agenda: David Hasselhoff.
[Via Toronto Sun]