Julie Amacher's desire to introduce others to great music is what led her to radio. She began her professional broadcast career at a station in Sun Prairie, Wis. She went from rock 'n' roll to the Rocky Mountains, where she found her niche in public radio at KUNC in Greeley, Colo. Julie spent 13 years at KUNC, where she managed the announcers and their eclectic music format. During that time, she earned four national awards for best announcer. She joined Minnesota Public Radio in 1997 as an on-air host and also produces New Classical Tracks, a weekly podcast critiquing a new release each week. It airs locally at 7:15 a.m. Wednesdays and 5:15 p.m. Fridays.
Favorite classical music quote:
"Never compose anything unless the not composing of it becomes a positive nuisance to you." Gustav Holst
First music recording you ever owned?
Actually, the first album I can remember really being enamored with was one my sister bought when I was 11 Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman.
How did you get involved with classical music?
Virgil Thomson put it best: "Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not." That's pretty much how I came to classical music. I just kept trying it. First as a kid sitting on the piano bench listening and singing as my mother played all kinds of music including classical. In high school, I finally started taking voice lessons. That's when I discovered art songs by composers like Franz Schubert. Before coming to Minnesota Public Radio, I worked at a public radio station in Colorado that included classical music in its eclectic mix. Since coming to MPR, I've really immersed myself in it.
If a listener were to go for coffee with you, what's the first thing they'd learn about you?
That I love chai tea and chocolate! Usually when I get to chat with our listeners the first thing they ask is, "How do you come up with all those interesting things to say?" Well, I do a lot of digging. I'm really curious, and I know they are too, so I love digging for fun tidbits about the music and the artists who perform it.
Your favorite piece from the classical music play list archive?
Beethoven's Choral Fantasy (DG 453 798). Claudio Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic. Pianist Yevgeny Kissin. This is a piece that isn't heard very often, but for me, it epitomizes what Beethoven's all about. It starts off quietly, with piano alone, and gradually builds into a luscious precursor to his Ninth Symphony.
Stories by Julie Amacher
New Classical Tracks Uncut: Rachel Barton Pine
Sometimes the best stories get left on the cutting room floor. This year, Julie Amacher picks those stories up and shares them with you. She'll count down her six favorite New Classical Tracks interviews of 2016 on 'New Classical Tracks, Uncut.' For December 9, Julie shares her full conversation with violinist Rachel Barton Pine.
New Classical Tracks: 'Season of Light'
Judith Clurman and her choral ensemble Essential Voices USA brighten the season with their fourth recording, 'Season of Light.' It's a holiday sampler that celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and the New Year. Learn about the recording and enter for a chance to win a free download of the album.
New Classical Tracks Uncut: Pinchas Zukerman
Sometimes the best stories get left on the cutting room floor. This year, Julie Amacher picks those stories up and shares them with you. She'll count down her six favorite New Classical Tracks interviews of 2016 on 'New Classical Tracks, Uncut.' For December 2, Julie shares her full conversation with violinist, violist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman.
New Classical Tracks: Celebrating the music of Alberto Ginastera
Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis celebrates the life and work of Alberto Ginastera, one of the most important and influential South American composers of the 20th century.
New Classical Tracks: Lara Downes, 'America Again'
Inspired by a Langston Hughes poem, pianist Lara Downes has assembled a recording to represent the American story, the American experience and the American dream.
New Classical Tracks: Barry Douglas, 'Celtic Airs'
Barry Douglas is internationally known for his mastery of works by Tchaikovsky, but on his latest recording, Douglas embraces the music he heard growing up in Ireland. Douglas says there's just something about this music that makes everybody fall in love with it.
New Classical Tracks: Simple Gifts at Shaker Village
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center recorded an album at Shaker Village in Kentucky. 'It's a magical place,' says Artistic Director Wu Han. 'It's a place where people search for a renewal of spirit.'
New Classical Tracks: Yevgeny Kutik - Words Fail
Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik came up with the idea for his latest recording when he considered the breadth of human emotion and how sometimes, music can express our feelings better than words. Learn more about Kutik's new recording.
New Classical Tracks: 'Invisible Stars' - Choral works of Ireland and Scotland
Formed in 1999, the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin are Ireland's leading collegiate choral ensemble. Their new album, 'Invisible Stars' features choral works of Ireland and Scotland, and the album title comprises several symbolic meanings.
New Classical Tracks: Lyris Quartet, 'Intimate Letters'
The Los Angeles-based Lyris Quartet has felt a connection to the music of Leos Janacek ever since it was founded in 2008. Now, the ensemble has released a new recorded anchored in the music that brought it together, Janacek's 'String Quartet No. 2, Intimate Letters.'
New Classical Tracks: Koh collects Tchaikovsky works
Jennifer Koh decided to record Tchaikovsky's complete works for violin and orchestra in part because she loves these pieces, and because she performed all of these works at the International Tchaikovsky competition.
New Classical Tracks: For the Love of Brahms
Violinist Joshua Bell loves working with two of his closest friends, cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk. On their latest collaboration, they unite with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields to celebrate their love of Johannes Brahms.
New Classical Tracks: Cypress String Quartet - Beethoven: The Early String Quartets
This recording of Beethoven's early string quartets marks the beginning of the end for the Cypress String Quartet. After 20 years, they've decided to disband.
New Classical Tracks: Cavatina Duo, 'Sephardic Journey'
On encountering the rich culture of Sephardic Jews, the Cavatina Duo decided to take a musical sojourn in celebration of that culture's music. The result is 'Sephardic Journey.'
New Classical Tracks: Caroline Goulding and Danae Doerken collaborate
Violinist Caroline Goulding has always loved collaborating with other artists her own age. Now, she and pianist Danae Doerken have collaborated on a new album featuring the music of Georges Enescu, Robert Schumann and Antonin Dvořák.
New Classical Tracks: Emerson String Quartet, Complete Recordings
Forty years into its career, the Emerson String Quartet is still going strong. Its creative output is thoroughly documented in a new, 52-CD box set of recordings on Deutsche Grammophon.
New Classical Tracks: 'Dawn to Dust'
Since Thierry Fischer accepted the full-time post of music director in 2011, the Utah Symphony has commissioned at least six new works, three of which appear on its new recording, 'Dawn to Dust.'
New Classical Tracks: Salut Salon, 'Carnival Fantasy'
The inventive quartet Salut Salon create most of their own arrangements on their new album, 'Carnival Fantasy.' The music is enhanced by a zoological theme. Enter for a chance to own the new CD.
New Classical Tracks: Anna Shelest records two Prokofiev piano concertos
Pianist Anna Shelest was born in Ukraine. She moved to the United States when she was 15, but Sergei Prokofiev remains one of her favorite composers. 'As the first composer I loved listening to, there's a little bit of that sentiment of feeling like a kid again when I play his music,' Shelest says. Hear about her new recording of two Prokofiev piano concertos, and enter for a chance to own a copy of the CD.
New Classical Tracks: Zukerman - Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon and Philips
Deutsche Grammophon has released a 22-CD set containing the greatest recordings of violinist/violist/conductor, Pinchas Zukerman. Hear Julie Amacher's interview with Zukerman.