Clef Notes

Bring your love of classical music into your inbox with Clef Notes. Join us each month as we check in with local music makers, share information about upcoming concerts, and expand our musical horizons together.

UI Symphony Orchestra Concert Preview with Dr. Carolyn Watson

We sat down with Dr. Carolyn Watson, Music Director and Conductor of the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, in advance of the ensemble’s World/Folk Music concert on March 23. Dr. Watson is a relatively new addition to the faculty of the School of Music, having been appointed Director of Orchestras at the University of Illinois in August 2022. Read on to learn a bit more about Dr. Watson and the UISO's upcoming program.

Maestro JoAnn Falletta. Photo: Mark Dellas
Mark Dellas

Interview with Maestro JoAnn Falletta

We had the privilege of chatting with Maestro JoAnn Falletta, a multiple-Grammy-winning conductor and the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, to discuss her two latest recordings of Scriabin, Elfman, and Hailstork. Recognized as one of the 50 greatest conductors of all time by Gramophone Magazine, Falletta is a prolific recording artist with a discography of 125 titles.

Cate Blanchett in Tár. Florian Hoffmeister/Focus Features
Florian Hoffmeister/Focus Features

Tár: A step backward for women on the podium?

The classical music world has been set abuzz by the 2022 psychological drama Tár. Written and directed by Todd Field and starring Cate Blanchett, the film tells the story of a fictional female conductor, Lydia Tár, who abuses her position of power for sexual favors and, ultimately, faces the consequences of her actions. But what do real female conductors—who still face an uphill battle in the heavily male-dominated field of classical music—have to say about the film?


Coretta Scott King: From Singer to Architect of the King Legacy

Coretta Scott King was a trailblazer in her own right before she even met her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The talented soprano earned two music degrees, including one from the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston, and sustained an active concert career in the 50s and early 60s. Though she eventually gave up her singing career to support her husband and the cause, her musical background informed her advocacy work as she kept music at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

Dvořák: Cello Concerto

In anticipation of Sinfonia da Camera's upcoming concert with cello soloist Ko Iwasaki on January 28, read up on Antonín Dvořák’s beloved Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B Minor, Op. 104, which will comprise the second half of the program.

Golden Age of English Song

Beloved MASTERPIECE series All Creatures Great and Small so vividly evokes the Yorkshire Dales in the early twentieth century. In anticipation of the release of the third season on January 8 at 8 pm on WILL-TV, we thought we'd help transport you to that same era with a selection of some of the greatest English art songs. Read on to learn more about the Golden Age of English Song and listen to a specially curated Spotify playlist of songs by Roger Quilter, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, and more sung by some of the best interpreters of the genre. 

Christian Steiner

Ned Rorem: In Memoriam

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ned Rorem passed away on November 18, just a few weeks after his 99th birthday. The prolific American composer was especially renowned for his vocal works, writing over 500 art songs—more than any other American composer to date. Read on to learn more about the composer's life, compositions, and writings and to listen to select recordings.

Julia Escobar on her upcoming studio recital

Over the last year and a half, we have gotten to know Illinois Public Media’s first-ever John Frayne Classical Music Fellow, Julia Escobar, through her special episodes of Prairie Performances and Classics of the Phonograph. As the semester draws to a close, we thought we’d check in with her to find out more about her upcoming studio recital on December 4.

Photo Credit: Kevin Leighton

The History of Lessons & Carols

For millions around the world, Christmas isn’t Christmas until they’ve heard the lone treble voice sing the opening verse of “Once in Royal David’s City” broadcast from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. Every Christmas Eve since 1918, King's College has held a service called A Festival of Nine Lesson and Carols. Though it is now inextricably linked with King's and its renowned choir, you may be surprised to learn that the first service of this kind was actually held in Cornwall, not Cambridge.

Photo Credit: Karolina Kuras

Rats Bop to Mozart

Perhaps mice dancing to Tchaikovsky is not so far-fetched after all. Researchers from the University of Tokyo recently published a study in which they found that rats could keep the beat while listening to Mozart. Accurately moving to a musical beat was thought to be a unique innate human ability, but the findings of this study suggest that this ability may be more widespread among the animal kingdom than previously thought.

Illinois Public Media Clef Notes

Clef Notes

Illinois Arts Council Agency

These programs are partially sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.