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.