Friday, December 24, 2010

Nice Christmas Message

As I was looking for Christmas light videos I came across this wonderful video collage someone had made for Jon Anderson's song "All God's Children." I felt it was perfectly appropriate for the season.

Merry Christmas!

These sorts of videos have been around for a long time but it seemed an appropriate way to wish readers a Merry Christmas! Lights synchronized to the music of Jon Anderson, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Mannheim Steamroller.

Pain of Salvation: "Be" with Orchestra

Interesting mix of prog, metal, and folk music dealing with struggles of faith, commercialism, and other social themes. Unique staging puts the small chamber orchestra mixed in with the band members. I'm not a huge fan of the band, but I really like some of it so I've made a playlist of 4 of my favorite segments from the DVD.

Kansas Know Place Like Home DVD-with Orchestra, Kerry Livgren, Steve Morse

This looks like a great new DVD from Kansas! I'm really excited about it -- they sound better than they have for a long time. One thing I really like is that they've got a new singer for the high melodies--looks like Steve Walsh has finally acknowledged that he can't hit those notes like he used to, and he sounds great on the lower vocal leads and harmony parts. Here is the official teaser video.

Another Magenta Cover: Lucky Man

Magenta have recorded their second cover of a classic prog rock tune, giving it a unique Magenta treatment. I've embedded the Magenta version as well as a video of a gum-chewing Greg Lake performing it solo in 1974.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yes Alumni Update: Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson got ill when Yes was to go on tour; rather than canceling the tour Yes found a new singer. Jon has moved on to work with many other musicians, including the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. A new television special was broadcast over the Thanksgiving break of a concert; I can't wait until a DVD is available.

Yes Alumni Update: Trevor Rabin

Trevor Rabin continues to compose and produce music for film and many other venues. His most recent soundtrack was for The Magician's Apprentice. He does a great job of weaving Dukas' music throughout the the score -- sometimes it sneaks in subtly, and sometimes it bursts brazenly in. Here is one bit of it:

I checked out his website and was very happy to find a nice audio player there with some of his music, including the NBA theme, music from movies, and other things. The only Yes in the list was a bit of the song Silent Spring from the album Talk. 

Click here to open the audio player.

I still find it surprising that in 1980 Trevor joined members of the then defunct classically-oriented band Yes to revitalize it as a vehicle for his pop songs, then leave the band to compose movie soundtracks. Just listen to his music and imagine what he could do for a prog rock band. Too bad he didn't take Yes more in this direction while he was with them (although there certainly are elements in the three Yes albums he participated in).

Yes Alumni Update: Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford continues to use his remarkable talents with Earthworks and other jazz projects. While I really enjoy his music I didn't realize he had gotten together with three other amazing drummers, including Chad Wackerman, to form the World Drummers Ensemble. I got to see Chad play with Alan Holdsworth at NEARfest a few years ago, it was amazing. So here is the promo video for their DVD:

And here is a nice Earthworks video from quite a few years ago, when he was in his electronic drumpad kick:

Yes Alumni Update: Rick Wakeman

I recently decided to see what some ex-Yesmen were up to, and was quite happy with what I found. I'll be making a series of posts to share what I learned.

Rick Wakeman just released a DVD of a live piano performance with orchestra in Lugano, Switzerland, in a beautiful outdoor setting. Enjoy this clip of Catherine Howard. Other tracks include The King Arthur Suite, Gone But Not Forgotten, Merlin The Magician and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. See it listed on

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Magenta Real World-Live Acoustic with String Quartet & Oboe!

Official news release from the Magenta Website:

Magenta is thrilled to announce the release of ‘Live at Real World’, the 3 disc set of its acoustic performance at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio recorded in November 2009. This special package features a 2 CD recording of the concert, with the addition of three additional songs also recorded at Real World the following day. A DVD is also included featuring NTSC format video of the entire concert with audio in stereo and 5.1 mixes. Extras include a 5.1 mix of ‘Joe’ from ‘Home’, the promotional video of ‘Blind Faith’ and two photo galleries.

The band has two videos on YouTube from the performance:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yes Union DVD -- mixed reactions

A Concert from the 1991 Yes Union tour is finally being released! I was originally very excited when I heard this news; it was the first time I ever saw them in concert (I was 18 at the time), and it was quite spectacular. "In the Round," performing on a circular stage in the center of the Rose Garden in Portland, with this huge metal multi-armed spider-like light rigging up above them, the stage would revolve slowly giving you a great view of all 8 members of the tour, bringing them together onstage for the only tour in the band's history like this. Just the fact that they were able to get Howe and Rabin onstage at the same time is saying something!

However, I was quite disappointed today when I went and looked at the official video clips on YouTube from this DVD. The concert that is presented in the video is NOT "In the Round," but is on a traditional stage. I was really looking forward to seeing them perform on the revolving stage, as I remember it.

And why does Tony Kaye's T-Shirt say "HARD?" That made me laugh. Perhaps he's finding Wakeman's parts a bit too difficult? Or perhaps he just has a hard time playing them one handed while waving the other hand up in the air?

And poor Bruford looks like he's bored, perhaps thinking... "Only one time signature at a time... sheesh. But at least I get my electronic drumpad endorsement."

I wonder if Rabin plays the same acoustic guitar solo that I still remember way back from that concert I watched in 1991 -- I mean, he's a great guitarist in his own right, but when he's up against Steve Howe, who's doing one of his amazing acoustic guitar solos, perhaps Trevor should have just grabbed his electric instead and done some nice fast shredding or something -- perhaps accompanied by one of the drummers. That's what he seemed best at.

Which reminds me ... Hmmm, I think I remember Bruford and White did a rather awesome drum duet. Might be worth getting the DVD just for that.

I read that this was filmed during the last concert of the tour-- perhaps that's why they all look so tired and disinterested.

All gripes and jokes aside, I'm looking forward to getting this DVD. I just wish they had filmed a concert "In the Round" as I remember it.

I've incuded a short clip of Awaken for your (hopefully) enjoyment.

BUT WAIT!!!!!! Look what I just found: a professionally filmed video clip of Yes performing in the round on the Union Tour in Denver ... so the film exists. Wonder why they never released it? Aparently the sound of the full concert isn't very good, but Trevor Rabin did a nice sound mix for some of the tracks. Luckily someone has put quite a bit of it on Youtube -- 12 segments. I'm guessing I'd like this better than the DVD that's being released -- and since I (and you) can watch it free on YouTube, I think it may be far the better alternative.

The playlist can be found here:

and you can watch it below. I've got the full playlist embedded:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Take a pebble....

I just got a new book of ELP sheet music -- the only one currently in print. To celebrate I'm posting the two-part video of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer performing "Take a Pebble" in 1971. It's a great song with some unusual piano strumming, jazzy improve, and some great drumming and vocals, with a nice folksy acoustic guitar bit in the middle. The video is a little out of synch with the music, but it's still nice.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Caamora's "She"

I heard about this project of Clive Nolan's back when it was first released, but it's taken me until now to get around to getting a copy and giving it a listen. Now I'm wondering what I was waiting for! One of the best new albums I've heard in a long time. It's a 2 hour long symphonic rock opera adaptation of the classic novel She written by Henry Rider Haggard in the late 1800s. A plot synopsis of the opera can be found here.

Clive Nolan has  created something really incredible here. not only did he write pretty much the whole thing and play all keyboards, he also takes on the role of one of the main characters, a lost explorer named Leo. He's joined by the Polish singer Agnieszka Swita in the role of She Who Must Be Obeyed, the 2,000-year-old power-mad god-queen, Christina Booth of Magenta as Ustane, the servant girl who falls in love with him, and Alan Reed, formerly of the band Pallas, who takes the part of his friend and fellow explorer.

She is available as a double CD studio album, as well as a live performance DVD. In the DVD the band (joined by cello, French horn, and various woodwinds) takes on the passive role, similar to a pit orchestra, while the cast and chorus move around on stage in costume as in a traditional opera. While some are undoubtedly inclined to label this as pretentious or overdone, I think they've pulled it off wonderfully. The show has been performed around the world, mostly in countries more inclined toward such musical efforts.

A couple clips of the DVD are available on YouTube, so I've included them here:

The scene at the opening where the two explorers are shipwrecked in a storm.

The confrontation between She and Ustane over the wounded Leo.

Nightwish: Ghost Love Score

Not one of my favorite bands, but one of my favorite songs -- A 10-minute-long, near perfect blend of metal, orchestra, choir, and quasi-operatic vocals. I'm not a huge fan of metal music generally, but since I have a soft spot for anything orchestral I quickly fell for this. They have quite a few other songs backed with orchestra and choir, and they're done quite well.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any performances actually featuring the choir and orchestra -- in this video the band is performing along with pre-recorded orchestra and choral tracks.

I don't follow this band very closely, but I do know that the singer featured in this video has been replaced, which caused quite a stir among fans. I have two of their albums that feature the singer in this video, and really enjoy the more orchestral tracks on them.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ever wonder how Jordan Rudess gets away with only 1 keyboard?

Progressive Rock usually means stacks of keyboards, right? So how does Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater get away with just one? Usually in live performances you'll be able to see Jordan playing just one keyboard, the Korg Oasis -- and he has it mounted on a cool swivel stand so he can sort of move around a bit when he plays.

Well, I found a video where Jordan explains how this keyboard was able to single-board-edly replace almost all his other instruments in live performances. It's a fun video.

Ayreon Live

Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon albums pull together some of the best musicians in rock and metal to present some great sci-fi progressive rock operas. Here are a couple videos from live performances. You'll see a lot of different musicians -- Arjen of course is the very tall guitarist.

Mike Patton singing Italian with Metropole Orchestra

Mike Patton is best known as the versatile vocalist for Faith No More. Just how versatile? He has fronted several other bands, performed compositions of vocal noises by John Zorn, and performed monster noises for movies. He also sang  in concert with the Metropole Orchestra, performing almost the entire concert in Italian. Here are a couple videos from the performance.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

I figured I should post some mention of this great band on the blog, since I recently brought them up in a musical discussion. One of my favorite bands, but unfortunately the only videos I could find did not feature one of their members, woodwind player Ken Fields. Their official site isn't working at the moment, hopefully it will be back. In the meantime you can learn about them and hear their music in these places:

myspace (has some songs you can listen to)
The Classical Connection:
Episode 6: Chamber Prog

Episode 13: Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (hour-long episode featuring, in addition to music by the band, compositions and performances by it's members and music by Schnitke, Piazzolla, Debussy, and John Adams! Go listen to it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Just a quick post to mention that I fixed the embedded audio players on the Classical Connection website. I had originally used a google MP3 player, but it inexplicably stopped working. I have switched to Quicktime. You may need to install Quicktime on your computer in order to listen.

Episodes 1-26 are now, once again, available for listening! That's over 26 hours of great music!

I still need to recompile episodes 27-33, save them as single MP3 files, and upload them.

As for new episodes, I have about 10 in the works in various stages of completion, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Snow Goose

I was listening to music on shuffle today, and Camel's classic "Music Inspired by the Snow Goose" album came up. I realized that I have yet to feature this on my show or blog. It's mellow instrumental progressive rock featuring some beautiful electric guitar and some sections composed for traditional instruments.

This video features a live performance of 3 portions of the album. The middle section, beginning at 3:00 into the video, is a nice woodwind quartet with some help from the keyboards.

I'm working on collecting some more music inspired by The Snow Goose, a short book by Paul Gallico. Hopefully I'll have enough to do an hour-long show on the theme.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm Seeing Magenta and hearing Wondrous Stories

Since I posted yesterday about Karnataka, I thought I'd post about another band featuring a female vocalist, the Welsh band Magenta. I have corresponded with keyboardist/composer Rob Reed via e-mail in the past, and they were the first new prog band featured on my show (episode 4). I actually got to see them perform and met them at NEARfest a few years ago - amazing concert, and great people. Christina even gave me a hug!

They're still one of my favorite bands, even though I disagreed with the subject matter and artwork on their most recent album and as a result don't listen to it much. I'm hoping their next one will be more palatable for me. I do really like their previous albums.

Here is the video for a beautiful recording of the Yes song "Wondrous Stories" that they released earlier this year.

And a live performance from a concert DVD that i own:

Friday, June 11, 2010

You Could Sing for Karnataka!

The excellent British band Karnataka features female vocals and a melodic, peaceful sound. They released their first album in 1998 and released two others before disbanding in 2004. The band then reformed but went through a dizzying maze of line-up changes. They released a great new album in February of 2010 entitled "The Gathering Light," that seems to me to be more musically adventerous than their previous (and still excellent) albums, but I miss the heavenly vocals of Rachel (Jones) Cohen, who had been replaced by Lisa Fury who does a fine job -- but now they are now once again without a singer (as made painfully clear on their homepage, which currently is mostly taken up by a large ad regarding this).

Below is a live performance of "Time Stands Still" (and no, that's not Rachel singing; there are other videos on youtube that have her, but I really like this song).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beatles on a Stick! (Greg Howard Video)

If you've never heard of the Chapman Stick or seen it played you're in for a real treat. Greg Howard is well regarded as one of its most proficient players, and is one of my favorites. I was very happy to discover this new, very clear video taken from a performance in 2009.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bassist Michael Manring

I had heard his name, but it wasn't until a friend of mine sent me a link to one of Michael Manring's YouTube videos that I truly understood his mastery of the instrument. Manring plays a custom built "Zon Hyperbass" that allows him to easily retune the instrument mid-performance through the use of various levers and a special bridge. Special instrument aside, Manring is simply amazing to watch and listen to. He has recorded with a huge list of musicians, performing music ranging from jazz-rock fusion to new age.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Soon... (for Memorial Day)

OK, well, I missed it by a couple days -- I was thinking of Memorial Day and what it means... then I thought of this song. Yes' Gates of Delirium is a 20+ minute epic about war: the music begins with tensions building, then erupts into a frenzied battle, then concludes with this hauntingly beautiful portion, Soon... looking forward to the end of all wars. This video is taken from the wonderful Symphonic Yes DVD.

p.s. for anyone unfamiliar with Yes and guitarist Steve Howe, that's a pedal steel that he's playing. It's usually used in country music. Steve plays a wide range of electric and acoustic guitars during a typical concert; the pedal steel is used sparingly, only appearing on a small portion of songs.

Sonic Circuits Festival in DC

I just got this e-mail from Cuneiform Records concerning the relatively new, annual Sonic Circuits Festival in Washington DC. An impressive list of musicians will be performing there later this year, including my favorites Magma and Univers Zero! Makes me wish we could go visit DC this year!


 TO FEATURE FIRST WASHINGTON, DC APPEARANCES OF MAGMA (FRANCE),UNIVERS ZERO (BELGIUM), FENNESZ (AUSTRIA) and a rare DC performance by MERZBOW (JAPAN), as well as more than 25 other cutting-edge artists from around the world.
Sonic Circuits Festival
September 18-25, 2010 / Washington DC
Washington DC's premiere music festival returns for another exhilarating blast of avant music to challenge, provoke, inspire and delight DC area audiences. The tenth edition of Sonic Circuits will offer up the best in improv, avant rock, electronica, noise, and contemporary composition from around the globe. Our 10th anniversary deserves special celebration, and thus this year Sonic Circuits will shine a spotlight on the Francophone world to reveal some of the most creative and innovative contributions in contemporary music (including music genres that erase the classical/popular divide) and to present an astonishing number of avant-garde music’s most legendary artists to Washington DC audiences for the very first time. 2010 will also see the third installment of the popular District of Noise CD compilations featuring music by DC area experimental artists with a bonus LP of 100 lock grooves. We hope you'll join us for what will be an amazing week of musical discovery!
Magma (France)Led by composer/drummer Christian Vander, the French band Magma is one of the world’s greatest avant rock bands, its music as unique and as significant as such American groups as Captain Beefheart Magic Band or the Sun Ra Arkhestra. Active for over 4 decades, it has released many works widely considered to be among the chief works avant-garde rock. Beginning in the late 1960s/early 70s, Magma combined rock music with opera/classical music, jazz, and elements of trance, Ju Ju and Soul, to create a new, strikingly original musical genre called "Zeuhl". Under the leadership of visionary Vander, Magma operated in a univers of its own making. The band sang vocals in its own, made-up language, called Kobaian, which was simultaneously incomprehensible and universally accessible. Dark, forbidding, powerful, Magma’s music is intense, with wave upon wave of carefully built tension and release. It is also timeless, universal, and globally influential. Other Francophone bands followed Magma’s lead in distilling musical genres in the’70s, to create the new genre Chamber Rock. In the 1990s, the Japanese band Ruins popularized Zeuhl among a new generation, invigorating it with a punk edge and kicking off a massive world-wide revival. Much of today’s cutting-edge rock music is indebted to the French group and its zeuhl. But while other groups today may resemble Magma, Magma does not resemble any other group. Its live performances are legendary; Magma's first-ever Washington DC appearance is a show not to be missed. - Washington premiere!

Magma will be performing at 
La Maison Fran├žaise, Embassy of France on September 18, 2010
Visit Magma online:

Univers Zero (Belgium)
The francophone Belgian band Univers Zero is legendary for their uncompromising musical vision –  a sound and stance Keyboard described as "Chamber music for the Apocalypse". Simultaneously medieval & modern, its distinctive, dark and elegantly beautiful music has set the standard for "chamber rock", a New Music hybrid of Francophone origin and worldwide appeal that UZ pioneered. UZ’s singular sound derives from its unique instrumentation (piano and keyboards, violin, clarinets saxophone, oboe, bassoon, English horn, electric bass, drums) combined with brooding gothic imagery, elements of European folk and other world musics, the iconoclasm and intensity of rock, the relentless sonic experimentation of the avant garde, and leader and composer Daniel Denis’ classically-inspired writing style, influenced by early 20th Century avant garde classical composers. In the hands of some of the best musicians in Europe, these factors result in a group on the cutting edge of
creating a new, vital, and unique fusion of classical and rock music. The band has remained on the cutting edge of New Music throughout the course of a career that began in the '70s and continues today,  stretching and disintegrating the boundaries of classical and rock music alike to create a new, vital, and unique fusion. Today, several decades after Univers Zero first forged its unique sound, critics cite its oeuvre as the precursor to the best avant-garde rock and classical music of the present day, from post-rock, associated with Godspeed You! Black Emperor,
Secret Chiefs 3, Kayo Dot, Tortoise and other instrumentally-based rock bands – to the numerous late 20th/early 21st century classical chamber ensembles integrating rock into their repertoire, such as Bang on a Can, Kronos Quartet and others. When Cuneiform recently released a remastered reissue of the band’s self-titled debut album, critics who heard the band's music for the first time called it a "revelation", "..the
hidden source for every one of today’s avant-garde rock bands"[Organ]. 
Second ever show in the USA & Washington premiere! Univer Zero will be performing at La Maison Fran├žaise, Embassy of France on September 25, 2010Visit Univer Zero online:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


One of my favorite modern prog bands -- if you haven't heard them you simply must.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Magma Rocks

Magma is one of the most unique and amazing group of musicians ever, featuring dense, lenthy, complex classical/jazz/rock compositons with operatic vocals sung in the fictional Kobaian language. Two videos for you of this amazing band: a live performance of material from their latest album, as well as a segment from a live DVD recording.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Glass Hammer

Modern proggers Glass Hammer released a new album in November of 2009 entitled "Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted." I've attached a video for one of the songs, as well as a video trailer for the excellent DVD "Live at Belmont."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Stay Focused with a bit of Hocus Pocus!

One of my favorite videos. The song has been covered by a number of other bands, but you just can't beat the heavy metal yodeling found in the original. This performance from 1973 is just plain amazing, and the video quality is superb given its age. Enjoy! I know I've watched it over and over since I found it a few years ago.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Richard Harvey & John Williams

I could not resist posting some more wonderful music videos featuring the compositions of Richard Harvey. Enjoy! I'm just including links in this post as some of the videos could not be embedded.

These could not be embedded, so here are links to selections from Plague and the Moonflower:

Lots more is available on youtube search for "Richard Harvey."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guitarrist John Williams and Richard Harvey

Most of you will be familiar with the famous classical guitarrist John Williams. You may not be as familiar with the multi-instrumentallist/composer Richard Harvey. Harvey is a graduate from the Royal College of Music and was a co-founder of the '70s classical/folk/rock band Gryphon. Since then he has composed for and peformed on many television and film scores. Harvey is proficient on a wide range of instruments, as can be seen in the two attached videos.

Richard Harvey and John Williams have worked together on a number of projects in recent years. In 1995 Harvey composed the Concerto Antico for Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra. Harvey contributed to William's "Musical Box" album. More recently, The two musicians recorded a live concert in japan that will soon be released on DVD. These two clips are from that concert.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Gryphon Soars Once More

Gryphon was a mostly instromental Renaissance/folk/rock band in the 70's. Their first album was entirely acoustic, with a number of of traditional songs mixed with original compositons. Their albums became progressively more rock-like, but always retained a very strong connection to early classical music.

Over the last few years its members have been working together on new material. In June of 2009 they put on a revival concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This video is from that performance. Unfortunately the camera is panned out too far to really see the various instruments that they play, but it's great to listen to.

Tomorrow I'll be posting some great footage of one of Gryphon's members, Richard Harvey, performing with guitarist John Williams. The music of Gryphon and Richard Harvey were featured on episode 24 of the Classical Connection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On Reflection of Gentle Giant

Recently I've been listening a bit to one of my favorite '70s prog bands: Gentle Giant. When I first discovered this band as a college student I went out and bought every one of their albums in 3 weeks (and it only took that long because I had to special order most of them). The band members all sang and played at least 30 different instruments between them, often trading mid-song! Music was diverse, ranging from Renaissance to 20th C. classical to hard rock ... and beautifully complex. You can find many great videos of theirs on YouTube. Here is one of my favorites: On Reflection, beginning with a rather classical arrangement, then a capella singing, then a good hard rock treatment of the same themes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rite of Strings

This is a great trio consisting of guitarist Al DiMeola, violinist Jean Luc Ponty, and bassist Stanley Clarke. I'll be featuring music by these three and other musicians they've worked with in the future. For now, enjoy this great performance video!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Univers Zero - "If Stravinsky had a rock band, it would sound like this..."

The post title, with it's quotation taken from a review of the band posted on their website, is a perfect description for this amazing Belgian band. In the late 70s Univers Zero was a member of the Rock In Opposition (RIO) movement, whose slogan was "The music the record companies don't want you to hear." Throughout their history they've released 11 studio albums, with the most recent, Clivages, being released in February 2010.

The band features a violinist and two woodwind players, playing bassoon, english horn, oboe, clarinet, and saxophone. Keyboards, drums, and electric bass round out the lineup.

I have featured Univers Zero on episodes 6 and 29, so you can hear more of their music in those shows.

I was very happy to find this great video on Youtube today; enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

KBB: Japanese Quartet Featuring Electric Violin

KBB is a great current band from Tokyo that features amazing musicians led by violinist Akihisa Tsuboy. Their three albums feature very interesting compositions which perfectly blend classical, jazz, and rock influences. I'm looking forward to incorporating some of their music into an upcoming episode.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alphabetical Index of Featured Musicians & Composers

As mentioned previously I've rebuilt the official Classical Connection website and added new content. One of the new additions is an alphabetical index of all composers and progressive rock musicians featured on the show, referencing the musician or group name to the episode(s) they are featured on. In most cases the index does not include the performing ensemble or soloists unless they were responsible for the arrangement or composition of the piece performed.

The file is a two-page PDF, with information about The Classical Connection on the front and the index on the back (or second page). I will keep it up to date when creating new shows. Although the index can be found on the official site, I'm including a direct link for your convenience.

Download the index in PDF format

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Renaissance on Tour of Eastern US

The classic art-rock band Renaissance has been revived by vocalist Annie Haslam and guitarist Michael Dunford. Other musicians in the current line-up include Keyboardist Rave Tesar and bassist/vocalist David J. Keyes (Renaissance, Annie Haslam solo projects), keyboardist/vocalist Tom Brislin (Yes, Debbie Harry, Meat Loaf and Francis Dunnery) and drummer Frank Pagano (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and Smashing Pumpkins).

They will be performing at ROSfest on May 1, then at a variety of other venues across eastern USA. You can also visit their myspace page for updates.

Renaissance and Annie Haslam have been featured on several episodes of The Classical Connection:
Episode 5 (Scheherezade)
Episode 16 (Prog at the Opera)
Episode 20 (Annie Haslam)
Episode 21 (Piano Prog, Pt. 1)

Visit The Classical Connection website to listen to these and other episodes.

I've embedded a very old video of Ocean Gypsy. Unfortunately the quality is not the best, and it's not in color; hopefully the new lineup will make a DVD out of one of their upcoming shows.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Music of the Spheres

The concept of Music of the Spheres dates back to the ancient Greeks. Through history philosophers, scientists, and mystics have sought to interpret the musica univeralis, or the relationships between the motions of the planets and other celestial bodies. The rhythmic motions of the heavens are thought to have their own musical symmetry.

A number of musicians have taken this concept and incorporated it into their work. Most well known is possibly Mike Oldfield's recent orchestral suite Music of the Spheres. As I was researching music to use for an episode of this theme I made a wonderful musical discovery of the composer Philip Sparke and his Music of the Spheres, which musically describes the big bang and a number of other astronomical phenomena. I have been in communication with Philip and am looking forward to featuring an excelent recording of this piece in an upcoming episode.

Below you will find a good video of a performance of the piece, broken into two parts due to YouTube's 10 minute time constraints.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Patrick Moraz Live at Princeton

Perhaps one of the more talented but less famous keyboardists of the prog rock heyday, Patrick Moraz is best know for his work on the Yes album Relayer and his time with the Moody Blues. More recently he has released a couple wonderful albums of his music for solo piano. In 1995 he also released a DVD of a live performance at Princeton. This video is just one of many great perfermances featured on the DVD.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Barock Project

One of my more recent discoveries is the Barock Project, an excellent new band of young Italian musicians. Led by keyboardist Luca Zabbini, pianist and composer at the O.Vecchi musical institute in Modena, the band also features the impressive vocal talents of Luca Pancaldi. The band often performs covers of Emerson, Lake & Palmer music, including Emerson's Piano Concerto and Tarkus, as well as music of other great bands. But it is their original compositions that impress me most.

The band has released two albums, and will soon be releasing a live DVD featuring an excellent performance with a string quartet, for which Zabbini did the arrangements. Several videos from this DVD have been released on Youtube. The video below of Un Altro Mundo should leave no doubt that this is a great new band. I love the emotional and dynamic range in this song, moving from quiet and pensive to strident power.

I have communicated with Luca Zabbini about the show, and will most likely be featuring the band in an upcoming episode.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Cello Rocks! Sneak peek at upcoming episode

One of the upcoming episodes that I'm very excited about will feature one of my favorite instruments: the cello. I'm not going to give away the playlist, but know that it will feature two 20th C. classical works, a heavy metal cello quartet, a fantastic piece composed and performed by a single person recording over 30 layered tracks which feature the cello being played in very unique ways, and some great "kebab- kosher- jazz- film- traffic- punk- music" with heavily distorted cello!

And if you ever get tired of having people tell you classical music puts them to sleep, just let them watch this amazing performance by Janos Starker of the incredibly challenging Sonata for Solo Cello by Zoltan Kodaly (third and final movement).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Introducing the new blog!

I've been getting ready to work on The Classical Connection again. What started as a weekly hour-long Internet broadcast on is growing into a fully-formed independant entity, with a community of its own. I've long wished for a gathering place for fans of the show to post suggestions and make connections. I've also wanted a forum in which I can more freely share some of the wonderful musical discoveries I've made.

I've also begun work on the new official site, to be located at The feature I'm most excited about will be the ability for visitors to listen to EVERY EPISODE at any time they choose. That's 32 hours of musical discovery just waiting for you to click. No more trying to tune in to Delicious Agony at just the right time to catch an episode!

New episodes are on their way, too. When I'm ready I will resume weekly broadcasts on Delicious Agony Progressive Rock Radio. Shows will premiere there before becoming available on the official site.