Podcast

Underscore: Christian Fennesz

Today on Sonosphere Amy talks with Christian Fennesz, electronic music composer and musician. Amy caught up with Fennesz at the annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. As the first in-person fest in two years, Big Ears was bigger than ever. Acts from all over the nation and the world descended upon the smokey mountain city and brought amazing sounds, visuals, and excellence in musical composition. Always a Sonosphere favorite!

Amy and Fennesz at Big Ears 2022

Join Chris and Amy live from WYXR studio in Memphis for some tunes by Fennesz and collaborators like Sparklehorse, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ulver, and more! Christian Fennesz left for his U.S. tour after Big Ears. For more information on Fennesz please visit his website.

Fennesz performing at Big Ears 2022

Track List:

  1. Fennesz/Ulver – Only the Poor Have to Travel
  2. King Midas Sound/Fennesz – On my Mind
  3. Fennesz/David Sylvian – Transit
  4. Glenn Gould Gathering
  5. Sparklehorse, PJ Harvey – Piano Fire
  6. Sparklehorse/Fennesz – Goodnight Sweetheart
  7. Fennesz/Ryuichi Sakamoto – Haru
  8. Tim Hecker – Celestina
  9. Jim O’Rourke/Sonic Youth – Hungara Vivo
  10. Oneohtrix Point Never – Auto & Allo
  11. Jensen Sportag – Rain Code (Fennesz Remix)

Detective No. 1

Ready to score.

Today we talk with Detective – a collective of musicians, singers, songwriters and friends. In 2019 they released an album showcasing the range of their skills – from Blaxploitation to eerie sci-fi synths, this group really does it all!

We discuss Detective’s influences, favorite movies and technique’s they used to arrange the album. We also talk with Josh Breeden, aka St. Francis Elevator Ride, the “visual maestro” of the group. Josh brings video and digital art and design, driving the whole band’s film noir and horror aesthetic.

Come out to Black Lodge on Friday, March 18th for the entire experience!

Black Opera: Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, the Black Swan

Welcome to Sonosphere on WYXR 91.7 FM or wherever you get your podcasts.

Today on the show we feature Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield aka Black Swan in the vocal concert tradition of late 19th century America.

We will hear from Professor Adam Gustafson who has written about Greenfield as America’s first black pop star for The Conversation an academic journal and is a professor of music at Penn State. We talk about the Greenfield’s early life and rise in the operatic and pop scene in the 19th century.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield came of age in antebellum America and grew her career at a time when European operatic, concert songs made singers like Jenny Lind and Catherine Hayes rich and famous.

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, a.k.a. Black Swan

The concert soprano, Greenfield, was different. She was born a slave in Mississippi and raised by an abolitionist in Philadelphia. When she hit the pop scene in the 1850s, in Professor Gustafson words, she “shattered preexisting beliefs about artistry and race.”

In this show we’ll also exclusively hear black opera singers from Leontyn Price and Jessye Norman to Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut up in my Bones, which premiered at the New York Metropolitan Opera earlier this year. While there is no known recording of Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, we will hear Revella Hughes, another great soprano from the 1920s, and maybe one of the first African American opera singers ever recorded. We’ll hear a phonograph recording from 1921 from the Black Swan record label, the label named for Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield.

Thanks for joining us.

Tracklist:

Norma Act 1: Casta Dive (1980) Vincenzo Bellini, Leontyne Price, Henry Lewis

Dido and Aeneas, Z. 626 / Act 3 Henry Purcell, Jessye Norman, English Chamber Orchestra, Raymond Leopard

Porgy and Bess / Act 2 George Gershwin, Willard White, Leona Mitchell, Cleveland Orchestra

Dream with Me – Peter Pan Leonard Bernstein, Harolyn Blackwell

Tosca Act 2: Vissi d’arte, Vissi d’amore Giacomo Puccini, Leontyne Price (1963)

Green Finch and Linnet Bird (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) Stephen Sondheim, Harolyn Blackwell

Vier letze Lieder, 2 September Richard Strauss, Jessye Norman

Peculiar Grace (Fire Shut Up in my Bones) Terrance Blanchard, Will Liverman

At Dawning Charles Wakefield Cadman, Revella Hughes

Underscore: Darius Jones

It’s been 5 years since Darius Jones last released a record under his own name, and Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation), a solo saxophone record, breaks new ground for the genre and for Darius as a recording artist. 

Sonosphere had the pleasure to sit down with Darius and discuss his approach to Raw Demoon Alchemy, his childhood in Virginia, improvisation and black futurism.

Cover art by Risha Rox

We also spoke about the inspiration behind the album’s art, a beautiful world built by Darius for an unknown future.

“Born out of a live performance in fall 2019, during the last stop of his tour in Portland, OR, saxophonist Darius Jones renders a solo effort that evokes sadness, rage, and confusion, all the while still holding for glimmers of hope for the future.” 

Don’t miss this one folks. Tune in weekly on WYXR 91.7 fm and monthly to wherever you get your podcasts.

Photo credit by earshot.org

Underscore: Angelica Olstad

On this episode of Sonosphere you’ll hear from pianist Angelica Olstad on her third EP, Transmute she released back in February. The NYC-based artist creates immersive experiences combining “deconstructed” classical music with electronic elements, field recordings, and film. On Transmute, Olstad re-arranges RavelGriffes, and Fauré to paint a snapshot of NYC during the first months of the pandemic.

We’ll also get to hear some songs Angelica shared that kept her moving through the pandemic at the end of the episode.

Birth of Modern Music Series Part 7: Florence B. Price

In 2009 hundreds of Florence B. Price compositions were recovered from an abandoned house in southern Illinois. Throughout the past decade these pieces began to be transcribed and distributed throughout the world. Florence B. Price’s works pull from negro-spirituals and music of the times.

The southern influence is apparent with jubilee dances and bouncy rhythms drawing you to Arkansas and the natural beauty that exists there. She was also influenced by Russian composer Antonin Dvorak. When she moved to Chicago, her compositions still reflected her southern roots and as you will learn she kept an ear to the ground on the happenings of the music scene during her time in chicago. She was much more than a composer, she also taught many students including Margaret Bonds, who was a black pianist and composer.

On this episode, part 7 of our Birth of Modern Music series, we dive into the life and work of Florence B. Price. We talk with Karen Walwyn, A. Kori Hill, Douglas Shadle and Maeve Brophy about who she was, and how her music told her story.

Thanks to A. Kori Hill, Maeve Brophy, Karen Walwyn, and Douglas Shadle for talking with us, and sharing their experience and knowledge on Florence B. Price’s life and music.

From 1920-2020: The Theremin, 100 Years Later

This week on Sonosphere we celebrate 100 years of the Theremin as our last episode of 2020. It’s been a challenging year, and ending on this challenging, yet, fascinating instrument was fitting.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Dorit Chrysler on her 100 years of Theremin compilation and with thereminist and composer Carolina Eyeck. We’ll start with a brief history of the theremin and with Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore.

The Theremin is an instrument with two antennas that are used to control pitch and volume, using radio waves, by reacting to the position of the player’s hand. The invention of the Theremin by Leon (Lev) Theremin took place in Russia during Lenin’s revolution.

We combine our conversations with thereminists and composers Caroline Eyck and Dorit Chrysler to give you the ultimate Theremin filled episode.

Tune into WYXR 91.7 FM every Monday at 4 PM central time!

Two Turntables and a Mic: Evolution of Record Player and Rise of the DJ

Welcome to Sonosphere. Here we feature our second show live on WYXR. We couldn’t be more excited for today’s show. Last week, we featured an interview with abstract turntablist Maria Chavez and vocalist Christina Carter. Today, we will continue our journey exploring the record player. You will hear some music from Cut Chemist, Handel, Lee Scratch Perry, Cab Callaway, Grandmaster Flash and others during the next hour. We will highlight the rise of the radio disc jockey and sampling.

Thanks to WYXR! Check out the newest station in Memphis.

Underscore: Christian Fennesz Sonosphere

Today on Sonosphere Amy talks with Christian Fennesz, electronic music composer and musician. Amy caught up with Fennesz at the annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. As the first in-person fest in two years, Big Ears was bigger than ever. Acts from all over the nation and the world descended upon the smokey mountain city and brought amazing sounds, visuals, and excellence in musical composition. Always a Sonosphere favorite! Join Chris and Amy live from WYXR studio in Memphis for some tunes by Fennesz and collaborators like Sparklehorse, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ulver, and more! For a full track list visit http://www.sonospherepodcast.com
  1. Underscore: Christian Fennesz
  2. Detective No.1
  3. Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield a.k.a. Black Swan
  4. Sonic Tonic 2021 Finale
  5. Underscore: Darius Jones